Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Derek Paravicini

Ciao dear friends! I am taking a small detour today, and am featuring an extraordinary British pianist (of Italian descent) named Derek Paravicini. Derek is blind, autistic and severely learning impaired, but he has been given a tremendous gift of music by God. While he cannot see and cannot make much sense of life and things around him, when he sits down at a piano he is simply in command as a virtuoso, playing at the highest possible levels as a pianist. To watch him play is simply awe-inspiring. In this post, I have included links to a British documentary about Derek; the programme is in 5 parts, all of which I've included here. I found this documentary simply riveting and beyond heartwarming. Perhaps "stunning" is the best word I can think of to describe this young man, his abilities and his kind heart.

I must say that I am completely biased toward Derek in this Blogiorno post because I play piano myself, and have done so since age five. It's a lovely instrument and it just "speaks" to me in a way that other instruments do not. So, I have a warm place in my heart for other pianists, and those who do it so beautifully.

Of particular interest for me is that Derek plays piano entirely by ear, as his blindness makes him unable to read music. I also play almost exclusively by ear; while I took piano lessons for several years as a child and adolescent, I could never really relate to notation very well, and rarely, if ever, use it these days. Of course, Derek plays worlds better than I, and his skill is completely innate; he hears things on a supreme, otherworldly level and can translate what he hears to the piano in a completely accurate manner, or even an improvisational manner if he desires. Just brilliant.

Another personal observation is that Derek and I share the same birthday, July 26. How super is that?! (Also born on July 26 is Mick Jagger, thus proving that, for every uplifting thing, there's always a diametrically-opposed sinister thing which threatens to drag you down to the depths of despair...ha, just kidding Mick!)

So that is it for this time, amici miei. I simply was awestruck by this story and wanted to share it with you. However, as I mentioned, Derek has an Italian surname, so that's reason enough to be featured here on Blogiorno!

Please, take some time to watch Derek in the feature, "The Musical Genius". I've provided the YouTube links below. (Please note, you will also be able to click on each of the 5 portions of the programme from within YouTube as well.)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Derek has a CD available for purchase, including on iTunes.

Click here to visit Derek's page on iTunes.

(For Derek's iTunes link above, you will need to have iTunes installed on your machine; otherwise, you will be redirected to the iTunes download page.)