Saturday, 6 June 2009

Daily Telegraph: 'Human iPod' Derek Paravicini to give first full concert

Derek Paravicini, the blind musical savant nicknamed "the human iPod",
is to give his first full concert accompanied by an orchestra.
By Ben Leach
Published: 8:08AM BST 28 May 2009

full article at:

The 30-year-old will play a series of concerts in Bristol and the
Queen Elizabeth Hall in London's Southbank Centre.
He incurred brain damage during birth and suffers from severe learning
difficulties and autism.

He is blind, unable to read Braille and can barely count, let alone
read music, but thanks to his extraordinary memory, he can play
anything after hearing it only once.

Paravicini's teacher and mentor, Adam Ockelford, a professor of music
at Roehampton University, said the concerts will mark the next stage
in a turbulent relationship between the two.

"It took quite a few months before he would let me play his piano at
all," he said. "It was his territory, and if I tried to play a note on
it, he'd hit me and push me out of the way with his head.

"The only way to teach him was to pick him up, shove him on the other
side of the room and quickly play something before he could get back
to the piano.

"It was a good game, because that way he could copy what I played. He
didn't talk very much, but music became a sort of proxy language. He
realised he could communicate with people through his music."

Roger Huckle, director of Bristol's Emerald Ensemble, the orchestra
that will accompany Paravicini on his tour next month, says the
pianist's unpredictability is also his greatest strength.

"He has no fear," he said. "Most musicians will be very aware if they
play a wrong note, but that critical side of it isn't really in
Derek's make up.

"If he does play something wrong he can cover it up within half a
second. But having said that, I don't think he really perceives it as
making a mistake."

Paravicini's is the great-grandson of the writer William Somerset
Maugham, the great-great-grandson of Dr Thomas Barnardo, founder of
the children's charity, and also the nephew by marriage of Camilla,
the Duchess of Cornwall.

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