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Stelios Kerasidis: The seven–year–old classical pianist taking the musical world by storm
by Kelly Fanarioti
Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the greatest composers in Western music, believed what God asked man at the gates of Paradise is if he had used his life productively. If Bach were alive today and met among his youngest admirers, seven-year-old classical pianist Stelios Kerasidis, he would have seen a musical prodigy already celebrated throughout the world.
With seven world, and two Panhellenic piano awards, Stelios has already given recitals at the world’s largest concert halls: including Carnegie Hall in New York City, a musical milestone for all but the most celebrated performers in classical music and jazz.
“When he became two years old, we knew he was a special musical talent,” his father, Fotis, tells NEO. Fotis himself is a piano teacher and soloist.
And he says Stelios, when even younger, would often go to his father’s piano and play on his own with the keyboard. When he gave his first concert at only age three, that’s when his parents could visualize that music would be in Stelio’s life, but not to this extent.
“We couldn’t imagine then, that at the age of six, he would have already played in historical halls around the world, and would play a concert at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. Not even in our craziest dreams,’’ says Fotis.
Their pride, of course, is immense.
“What we feel cannot be put into words,” he says. “Pride and intense thrill, without a doubt.’’
The seven-year-old virtuoso himself, despite his age, shows no stage fright.
“I’m used to the stage and I feel comfortable,” he says. “Sometimes I get a little annoyed by the cameras, the bright lights, and some cameramen who pop out at me like ghosts: I get afraid of losing my musical scores.”
But he says there are rewards: “Sometimes I don’t believe that people love me so much. It’s weird, but I like it. They hug me, kiss me, and ask to take pictures with them. I’m so glad they like my piano playing and music.”
His favorite composers are Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven, but he singles out Bach, whose music he has played and won him acclaim from musicians around the world.
“I would have loved to meet Bach!” says the young prodigy. “He writes so deeply. I would ask him how he managed to write such wonderful musical pieces–while at the same time raising a family of twenty children!” he says with childish wonder.
How does Stelios himself balance his time between school and music? He says he studies piano one or two hours a day, but if he has a competition to prepare for he will devote more time.
“You gain nothing in life without effort and sacrifice,” he says, with startling maturity. “When you prepare for concerts and competitions, “you have to put off other things.”
Except for school.
“He’s still too young to sacrifice his schooling for his playing,” says his father. “Also, he likes school and is an excellent student.”
Apart from music, Stelios loves mathematics and architecture, as well.
“But I think when I grow up, I will want to be a pianist again,” he declares. “That will not change.”
And he is also a composer: last year he wrote a piece dedicated to his sister Veronica.
“I love my sister very much. She is the best sister in the world. Now I am preparing a melody for my younger sister, Anastasia.”
And about two months ago, in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown imposed by the Greek government, he composed a “Waltz of Isolation” for people isolated because of Covid-19, with a message: “Hi, guys! I’m Stelios. Let’s be just a teeny bit more patient and we will soon be out swimming in the sea,” he stated, with a wide smile, at the beginning of the video seen by thousands on youtube.
Which got him featured on some of the world’s largest media outlets–BBC, The Guardian, Reuters. And his waltz became among the most requested music anywhere by major artists and companies asking for the rights of the track to use in shows or commercials.
As our conversation ends, the little prodigy with the glowing face says music can truly change the world.
“How could we live without music?” he says. “Music wakes up the senses. Without it, we would be like a tree that died and has no leaves and no soul.”