By Michelle Caceres

Members of The Gulf Coast Youth Choir performed with musical prodigy Ethan Bortnick and special guest Damian McGinty at The Power of Music concert at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers.

Bortnick is a 13-year-old pianist, singer, composer and entertainer, the youngest performer ever to headline his own international concert tour. McGinty is a former star of Glee and Celtic Thunder.

Choir members Kristin Reagin (an eighth grade student at Randall Middle School) and Megan Hoening (a sixth grade student at Barrington Middle) will never forget the experience.

Hoening thought singing with Bortnick and McGinty was a really cool experience.

“I give it an 11 out of 10,” she said.

Reagin, a member of the choir for more than a year, was excited to perform in front a big crowd on such a large stage with McGinty and Bortnick. During rehearsals, the stars would play around on stage while the choir practiced.

“It was fun to see that even though they are serious performers, they are kids too,” said Reagin, whose musical talents, in addition to singing, include piano, clarinet, hand bells and organ.

The choir, whose mission is to offer talented young people the opportunity to explore and experience the power of music in their lives, was contacted by Bortnick’s team and invited to participate in the show.

Choir Director Deah McReynolds said it was a perfect opportunity to collaborate with young performers who share their belief that music changes lives.

“The time and effort spent in the weeks leading up to the performance was well rewarded as 70 of our middle and high school-aged singers lit up the stage singing along with Ethan, Damian and their band of professional musicians,” said McReynolds.

The Gulf Coast Youth Choir, formed in 1992, is the Youth Choir in residence at the University of South Florida School of Music. Its groups have performed coast to coast in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Walt Disney World, The St. Louis Cathedral and the Florida State Capitol.

For more information about The Gulf Coast Youth Choir or to learn about its upcoming performances or auditions, visit For more information about Bortnick, visit

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Michelle Caceres
MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.