A crew from “60 Minutes Australia” was in Oneonta on Sunday to shoot footage for an upcoming segment featuring Dr. Tony Cicoria, the local orthopedic surgeon who developed a previously unknown ability as a pianist and composer after being struck by lightning in 1994.
The “60 Minutes” crew, under the direction of foreign editor and senior story producer Howard Sacre, spent about two hours on campus recording Cicoria playing the piano on the Hunt College Union stage.
“Working on 60 Minutes takes us to some weird and wonderful places, and we meet a lot of fascinating people,” said Sacre. “One of those lives in your midst: Mr. Tony Cicoria, who was struck by lightning and became a musical savant almost overnight. Who else could compose a new symphony in their own hand without formal training?”
Cicoria, who gave his public debut concert at SUNY Oneonta’s Goodrich Theater in January 2008, was profiled in a 2007 book by noted neurologist Oliver Sacks, “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.” His story has been featured in numerous magazine articles and television programs, including BBC One’s documentary “Imagine” and a PBS “Nova” episode titled “Musical Minds.”
An Oneonta resident, Cicoria practices at Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich. In 1994, while using a public telephone during a family outing near Albany, he was struck by lightning and survived a near-death experience. Shortly thereafter, he developed an insatiable desire to hear and play the piano, and music started coming to him in dreams. After attempting to teach himself, he began taking piano lessons and was soon composing music, including his three-movement “Lightning Sonata,” which is featured on his
2008 CD, “Notes from an Accidental Pianist and Composer.”
SUNY Oneonta Television Producer/Director Jared Stanley, who teaches a documentary production class in the college’s Communication Arts department, and Angela DiCorato, a junior Mass Communications major from Jefferson, N.Y., hosted the television crew while on campus. DiCorato said being able to watch such high-caliber professionals in action—and even chat with them about a documentary she’s working on—was a great experience.
“It was cool to see how everything was specialized, with different jobs that the crew has to do in order to get the footage they need. They were very efficient,” said DiCorato, who aspires to a career in broadcast news or documentary production.
Sacre said the story will be available for viewing on the newsmagazine’s website, www.ninemsn.com.au/sixtyminutes, by summer.