A Young Piano Virtuoso

by BTM

Tue, 04 June 2024

A Young Piano Virtuoso

Brent Cataneo-Amad, a nine-year-old Filipino, is set to dazzle audiences at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York with his extraordinary talent. Edwin D’Souza speaks to the young boy and his mother, Aileen, ahead of the milestone performance. 

Having noticed his great memory, advanced mathematical abilities and advanced sense of rhythm, Brent’s mother encouraged him to take piano lessons when he was just six years old. “I had actually bought him a piano two years prior, but his piano teacher suggested giving him time to mature, as lessons require more focus and concentration,” she says. 

By the time he was five, he started drum lessons but preferred learning with his mother around. Gradually, Brent started to get into the rhythm. “However, the pandemic forced schools to close, so I encouraged him to start piano lessons at home,” she explains. 

To balance his academics and extracurricular activities, Brent followed a routine which included online lessons, playtime and practice sessions. She also instructed his piano teacher to teach him more challenging pieces, despite which, Brent performed admirably academically, receiving A+ grades and awards. 

By the time he was seven, Brent passed the Trinity College of London Grade 1 piano exam with a ‘Distinction’. He even learned 13 songs for his 7th birthday live piano recital, including the compositions of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Fur Elise and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer

Now, his remarkable dedication and skills have earned him a spot on one of the world’s most prestigious stages where he will be showcasing his ability to master complex classical compositions. “Having taken home two prizes from his first international competition at the World Classical Music Awards in Europe, he entered the London Young Musician competition, where he fortunately earned bronze once more. He also participated in the Gulf Musician Idol 2022, where he bagged the Gold Medal despite the fact that his rivals were a few years older,” she explains. 

Having grown more comfortable competing internationally, in November 2023, Brent attempted to enter the American Protégé International Music Competition. “Late last year we learned that he had won and that one of his prizes was an invitation to perform at the Carnegie Hall,” she says happily.

“We were stunned by the opportunity to play at the iconic venue since it’s one of the most prominent competitions in the USA, drawing a big field of young prodigies and competitors from over 70 countries. We are so delighted; it’s beyond our imagination!” says the proud mother. 

Brent has chosen to play Rondo Alla Turca composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, because of the pace and his love for the song. He has persevered to master the piece over the last year and, despite the challenge, had to learn quickly to meet the deadline for the upcoming competition. 

Discipline, values and good behaviour have proved to be cornerstones in Brent’s upbringing. In fact, while his mother considers piano lessons and academics to be essential, she believes allowing him to be a child and have fun while creating great memories is imperative. 

Brent shares that his favourite composers are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig Van Beethoven. He plans to participate in international piano competitions if opportunities arise. “I dream to be able to play other instruments like the guitar. I think playing musical instruments helps me to be more confident. I believe I will continue doing sports and music,” he says. 

Brent’s busy year will see him performing at Carnegie Hall, participating in swimming, taekwondo, biking, art classes and taking up guitar lessons to expand his musical skills. He plans to continue piano lessons to improve technique and prepare for future international competitions.