Derek Paravicini was a preemie. By 25 weeks. Oxygen therapy saved his life, but rendered him blind. And autistic. And, as it turns out, fantastic!
Whether or not the oxygen gave him absolute pitch, he has it. He can listen to a piece of music just one time and then play it perfectly. He played the piano from the age of two after a nanny gave him an old keyboard. Without lessons.
His parents enrolled him in the Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London. The family walked into the music room where the teacher, Adam Ockelford, was playing the piano. Derek marched right up and booted him off the bench, took his place and started playing. He played well enough to impress as Adam Ockelford helped him with daily lessons and he gave his first concert at age seven. At age nine he had his first major public concert at the Barbican Hall in London. He played with the Royal Philharmonic Pops Orchestra.
At age 10 he was given a Barnardo’s Children’s Champion Award by Princess Diana.
After meeting composer Matthew King, the two of them collaborated on a new piano concerto entitled Blue, which was first performed September of this year.
Just a little side dish…..
Derek is also famous adjacent by family. His mom is Mary Ann Parker Bowles. Three guesses who her former sister-in-law is. No, it is NOT JK Rowling…..It’s Camilla, who married Prince Charles. His great grandpa is William Somerset Maugham, so there are those genius genes in there.
Here’s a sample of what this amazing young man can do:
If Derek had not experienced premature birth would he have this amazing musical ability? At this level? Do all of us, deep in our brains, hold savant capabilities? And do these capabilities only express when we experience severe damaging trauma? Shouldn’t there be a way to tap into them from a healthier direction?
If you don’t already play the piano, can you imagine just walking up to a piano and playing so very brilliantly that famous orchestras or Elton John will want to play piano with you! A limo waits to whisk you off to concert tours and recording sessions! All you have to do is give up your sight and ability to reasonably manage your own affairs and become absolutely dependent on others? Wouldja do it? Wouldja?
Derek regards his life as perfectly normal. You and I look at his life and likely judge it as extraordinary and remarkably difficult. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Or something you’ve always wanted to know? And the only reason you don’t do or know this thing today is because you perceive yourself as incapable, or stuck? Here’s an interesting fellow with another point of view, which might just be that thing we would need to play the piano like Derek.
Just a ponder.
Meanwhile Derek will go on enthralling audiences. And I will dream as I play Chopsticks and Groovy Kind of Love.