Lightning strikes chord with musician

Dr. Anthony Cicoria plays the piano.
Dr. Anthony Cicoria plays the piano.
Dr. Anthony Cicoria enjoying music on the piano.
Dr. Anthony Cicoria enjoying music on the piano.

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In 1994 a lightning bolt struck Dr. Anthony Cicoria outside a payphone.

"It hurt where the lightning hit me and where it went out," Cicoria said. "It hurt like crazy."

Cicoria survived and soon discovered the near death experience had given life to a new passion.

"All of the sudden I had started having this desire to hear piano music,"said Cicoria."My mom had made me study piano for a year when I was seven, and I hated it."

But now an adult and accomplished surgeon, Cicoria had without explanation fallen in love with it.

"It was almost haunting because it wouldn't stop if I didn't pay attention to it," Cicoria said. "It would become more insistent."

"It's possible that after a neurologic injury caused by lightning an individual may develop a new interest, but there's no reported cases in the literature of a new musical talent," said Dr. Julio Chalela, a neurologist at MUSC.

Cicoria could not play the piano right after the lightning strike. He has spent years ferociously learning how, sometimes at the expense of his personal life.

"If there's ever a contribution to marriages breaking up that was my half, and I really lost sight of things that were important," said Cicoria.

Cicoria's fixation with learning and composing music is included in Musicophilia, a book by famous neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, which delves into case studies about music and brain.

Despite his inclusion in the book, Cicoria admits openly he is still working to master the piano.

"I'm not at all a professional musician," said Cicoria.

According to Cicoria he occasionally composes music in his dreams. After a discussion, Sacks encouraged Cicoria to capture it on paper.

"He looked me right square in the eye and he said, 'You know the music from the dream went through an awful lot of trouble to get here. The least you can do is write it.'" said Cicoria.

Four original pieces of music later, Cicoria now performs several times a year and knows all about the unoriginal feeling of stage fright most performers get.

"It's been tough," said Cicoria. "I mean on Sunday I'm going to play with professional musicians, and all I can do is ask their forgiveness for all the things that I do are incorrect."

Cicoria will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at  the Citadel's McAlister Field House. For information on tickets visit:

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