A musical tribute to Nathan

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published October 14, 2015

 Glen Peters School student Nathan Suida was a huge fan of music. His classmates and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra paid tribute to the late Macomb Township resident during an event Sept. 24.

Glen Peters School student Nathan Suida was a huge fan of music. His classmates and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra paid tribute to the late Macomb Township resident during an event Sept. 24.

Photo provided by Jerry Suida

Advertisement

DETROIT — A group of Glen Peters School students got front row seats of a Detroit Symphony Orchestra performance when they attended a practice Sept. 24 at Orchestra Hall.

The event not only gave the special-needs students the opportunity to see the DSO front and center, but it honored classmate Nathan Suida, who died in June. The Macomb Township resident was 18.

Nathan was a true music buff. It helped relax him when he was a patient at Children’s Hospital in Detroit. That’s where he and his parents, Jerry and Vicki Suida, met music therapist Laura Duda. Together, the three of them were able to make it possible for the Glen Peters kids to see the DSO live.

“Laura deserves the credit,” Jerrry Suida said. “Her passion is really amazing.”

Glen Peters, located in Macomb Township, is a school for students with special needs. The DSO musicians and behind-the-scenes staff at Orchestra Hall adapted the show to accommodate the needs of the students, including those that are wheelchair-bound. Glen Peters teachers Vernette Richards and Lisa Miller chaperoned the students.

“We were escorted right from the bus with an usher, and we moved to the front row. It was an awesome experience. All of our students really love music. They really catered to all of their needs,” Richards said. “They adapted all their equipment for the students. They just went above and beyond. Everyone was just astounding.”

When DSO conductor Leonard Slatkin led the performance of Leroy Anderson’s “Waltzing Cat,” the students participated by meowing along with the orchestra.

After the performance, the students relocated into a rehearsal room and formed their own makeshift band. The DSO musicians provided instruments, including tambourines and bells, to the students, who made music with them.

“It was very interactive. The music was just amazing,” Richards said. “They touched on all our kids’ sensories.”

Nathan was supposed to be in the audience with his classmates. The Suidas could feel his spirit during the DSO’s practice.

“They made it a nice memorial for Nathan. He would have loved it,” Jerry Suida said. “It was wonderful seeing their reaction and the look on their faces. It was a little bit like seeing Nathan. He pretty much just liked music, but his preferences were instrumental on the classical side.”

Nathan was born with a very rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 7p, which caused him to have severe mental and physical impairments.

“When he was diagnosed, he was the 11th person in the world that had been born with it,” Jerry Suida said. “(Doctors) didn’t have a lot to offer us as far as what to expect. We just took him as Nathan. We didn’t try to think of what he could and couldn’t do.”

Nathan liked classical music, and to sing.

“He had a great personality,” Jerry Suida said. “He just was a fun guy. He just was happy.”

Nathan also loved being with his twin brother, Calvin, who is in his second year at Central Michigan University.

Advertisement