A Historic moment

Reno Silva

Hello from Lisbon! It’s been a historic week for our community in light of our very own Peter Serrado first competing in the acclaimed “Festival Da Cançāo.” This was something that nobody else has done because they only made an exception for the first time ever to go beyond their borders this year, choosing Peter. He then further chiseled unbroken ground by being one of the seven contestants from the second phase to advance to the finals in Guimarāes this coming Sunday. The pride within the community there in Toronto for Peter could be felt all the way here. So let’s look at what led up to the moment and what the moments in the green room were, because I can tell you it was special.
Peter arrived in Portugal in late January to acclimatise himself, but by the time I got here last week to meet him, it was very much crunch time to get to work. The first thing we encountered was the wonderfully kind and accommodating staff at RTP. There were 4 days of rehearsals ahead of us. The first day we had an entire half hour to work out kinks, decide to use backing singers or not, get used to the stage and surroundings, but it wasn’t long before we encountered our first hiccup.
One of the rules set out by the parent Eurovision competition, is the fact that no competing song can surpass a strict 3 minute limit. Therefore, every country that would hold its own competition to determine who represents them at Eurovision in May of this year has its limit set at 3 minutes. Peter’s song “Sunset” was originally recorded at 4 minutes and 20 seconds. To cut it down to 3 minutes was achingly difficult to do. Sitting with Peter back in November trying to find out where we could cut the song here and there was heartbreaking, there was so much that was being cut out – full choruses, intros, etc. What we decided to do was to finish the song right at the 3 minute mark by way of ending the song with a vacuum effect, an effect when done right, works very well. Now that we were in the TV studio and the environment that the song would be broadcast, we would have our chance to hear it how everyone would on TV, and for the voting jury. To our horror, the effect was so blatant because Peter’s last chorus has him building up putting so much into his vocal lines, that the effect literally sounded like someone pressed stop on the recording. We were near nauseous with this, myself I could not sleep as a result. That night after a late night of editing and fixing and being creative, we got the song with the proper ending. After another miracle of approval from RTP, they allowed for the changes to be used, even though they needed to re-write the lighting show script that would accompany the song.
With our stomachs settled and more days of rehearsals, we realized with each artist that was before us that this was not going to be an easy competition. SO MANY great songs and singers presenting them. It was amazing how well all of the singers and composers were not only getting along with each other but also treating us, they were all warm to Peter, complimenting his voice and the song. We also saw for the first time the background images for his performance, a beautiful mix of an orange sunset with turquoise highways. Finally on Sunday – showtime.
It was tense as we were separated, me to the greenroom with all the other composers and the singer’s managers. We waited there to see the performances, with each performer coming into the greenroom following their performance. Peter was last, so I had the longest wait. Every time a singer entered the greenroom, everyone clapped loudly, by the time Peter came in after his performance, there was near 100 people in the greenroom. His performance was what it had been in rehearsals, solid and exactly what we wanted. With everyone in the greenroom, we now all waited roughly an hour to have results. During this hour, there was lots of mingling, photo ops with some of the stars there, even dancing.
After getting only 1 vote from the jury, Peter and I were crushed that they didn’t see any more in his efforts to warrant more points. If we were to advance, it would be up to the public vote and for the first part of the public vote reveal we honestly didn’t think it was coming. With only three spots to announce, we were shocked to hear “Sunset was the 3rd highest public voted song, behind only Diogo Picçara and Isaura, 2 of the most famous stars in Portugal. That gave us 8 points for 7th place and after their names were listed ahead of Peter, it meant no song would drop down “Sunset” – we were going to the finals! I ran at Peter with my mouth open screaming, although he didn’t understand yet that he had gone through, he did when I was jumping up & down, soon the both of us together! Everything exploded, the cameras attacked him as well as the other 6 artists that also went through, we went on stage and were presented to the media as the 7 of this phase going through. Quite simply – MAGIC and HISTORY in one single moment! With that, I can most certainly confirm, that Peter Serrado has arrived.

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