A piano genius at only 13

NEW YORK: A Malaysian teenager has been praised as a genius by a renowned classical pianist.

Tengku Ahmad Irfan Tengku Ahmad Shahrizal is a rare talent who, at the age of 13, has shown “sophistication and depth” in his work, according to his piano professor Dr Yoheved Kaplinsky.

Dr Kaplinsky, a lecturer and professor of music at the Juilliard School here, said the young man excelled in piano and composition.

The pre-college artistic director of the institution, who teaches young talented musicians aged between seven and 17, said she was impressed with Tengku Ahmad Irfan's performance even when he auditioned at the school in February last year.

Dr Kaplinsky said Tengku Ahmad Irfan had made tremendous progress although he had only been under her tutelage since last September.

“His compositions are so mature and sophisticated that even his teachers are amazed,” she told Bernama and RTM after a visit by the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Bakti members to the prestigious performing arts school here on Thursday.

Founded in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art by Dr Frank Damrosch, the school accepts less than 7% from the thousands of applicants each year.

Last year, 5,000 people applied for the coveted spots.

Tengku Ahmad Irfan, who is pursuing a double major in piano and composition as well as an elective in conducting at Juilliard, also studies at the Professional Children's School here.

Rosmah said she hoped more talented performing artistes from Malaysia would be given the opportunity to pursue their studies at Juilliard.

She said the Permata Negara early childhood education and care programme, of which she is the patron, had identified under its Permata Seni or Jewel of Arts programme talented young artistes aged seven to 17 who needed international exposure.

Expressing her gladness over Tengku Ahmad Irfan's acceptance to the school the first Malaysian to do so Rosmah said she hoped that under the personal tutelage of Dr Yoheved, he would be able to realise his potential as a pianist and become a world-renowned musician.

Juilliard School president Dr Joseph Polisi, in his welcoming remarks, said the school, which offers education up to doctorate in fine arts, currently had 800 students and only 30% were foreigners.

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