Singer lends his voice to the community

By 
  • April 20, 2011
Toronto opera singer Robert Pilon, who is a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament parish. (Photo courtesy of Robert Pilon)TORONTO - The room falls silent as Toronto opera singer Robert Pilon sings the first lines of the Les Miserables classic “Bring Him Home.”

Pilon, who for three years starred as Phantom in Toronto’s Phantom of the Opera, has performed this song and other classics at many galas for the Caritas Project, a Catholic charity that works with people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. The organization also supports people with mental health issues and behavioural problems.

Pilon’s volunteer work with the community reflects a successful musical career that is now geared towards helping others and working with charities. He is also involved with Toronto’s Blessed Sacrament Church, where he is a parishioner.

“It is a place of faith. I offer my services at Easter and Christmas to Blessed Sacrament Church so I can thank God for my gift,” he told The Catholic Register.

“Bring Him Home” echoes the beginnings of Caritas: A mother whose son was addicted to drugs made an appeal to Fr. Gianni Carparelli, the organization’s founder, to help her son recover from his addiction.

Outside of this three-year turn in Phantom of the Opera, Pilon also played Jean Val Jean in Les MiserablesPilon’s first association with Caritas began when he met Carparelli and Caritas’ board of directors president Michael Tibollo. Since then, Pilon has formed a choir of Caritas graduates which highlights the organization’s success in helping individuals turn their lives around.

Musical talent runs deep in the Pilon family. His love of singing began with his mother, Rita, who would sing to him at home. A soprano who sang in Montreal’s many cathedrals, she was one of 16 children from a musical family with English and Irish Catholic roots. Their talent was homegrown since they couldn’t read music but could sing four-part harmony.

She passed on her love of music and faith to her son. Pilon counts “Danny Boy” as one of his favourites because it was first taught to him by his mother.

At 20, Pilon moved from Montreal to Toronto to accept a scholarship to the Royal Conservatory of Music, in 1976.

Four years later, he studied voice at the famed Julliard music school in New York.

Outside of this three-year turn in Phantom of the Opera, Pilon also played Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables and had a leading role in the Toronto production of Annie. He sang for Queen Elizabeth II during Canada’s 125th anniversary in Ottawa and for survivors’ families of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

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