• Oasis Living chatted to Shaun Agostine, a child prodigy who made his frstprofessional tour as a pianist at the ripe old age of eight

    In a pop music heavy world, where not enough attention and appreciation is given to classical music, it is exciting to hear of a child musical genius bringing new life to the genre.

    14-year-old Shaun Agostine’s passion for piano started at the age of three and he composed his frst piece of music at the tender age of eight; he is fast becoming a Lebanese icon in the music industry, earning himself the title of ‘the next Chopin’.

    We caught up with the young musical sensation following his performance in Dubai last month.

    What led to you performing in Dubai?

    By the time I was 10 I had already performed in several countries worldwide and at that age I also played my compositions at the Word Classical Series in Dubai during a concert by E. Kunz, one of the best pianists in the world. I then appeared at several more international concerts at the London History Museum, the opening of Beirut Museum, the Governor’s Palace at São Paolo, the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, and in Rome, as well as many other major venues and cities across the world.

    Following these performances, I was approached and asked to perform my compositions in Dubai with the Almaty Symphony Orchestra led by the conductor Marat Bengazliev. This was a great honour and one of my biggest successes yet.

    How do you balance between your personal and tour lives?

    I’ve been a student at the International College in Beirut for most of my life, but this year I’m moving to Sagesse High School because it’s closer to my house. This will allow me to dedicate more time to my passion. Math and science are my two favourite subjects. I read a lot about science and I’m very interested in discovering the world and exploring new technologies.

    I’ve also always been interested in mechanical engineering. I speak English, Arabic and French fluently and I love sports, cars, and of course the piano.

    I always try my best to organise my time, give priority to my passion and work on my compositions. I’m a dedicated student and I achieve good grades, especially in the sciences. All in all, I live a normal but very active life.

    What prompted your passion in piano?

    I was three when I frst discovered this marvellous instrument and I instantly fell in love with it. Since then, I’ve followed my passion for music and never looked back.

    I remeber the time I heard my sister Luna and my brother Juan playing at home. Hearing them made me excited for when I would be allowed to join in, which sparked my interest. Soon, I was playing myself and my mother recognised that I had a talent. She believed in me from that day and has been by my side throughout my whole musical journey. She has great musical taste but there have never been any other serious piano players in my family.

    Who are some of your key mentors and influencers?

    I started listening to Chopin because I admire the way he composed, but then I started developing my own style of music. I also admire the flm scores created by Hans Zimmer, which is particularly important to me because I hope to go into flm music in the future. I’m proud to have already recorded fve albums at the iconic Abbey Road Studio Two in London and I hope to compose for the big screen soon.

    Tell me about your frst music piece. I composed my frst music piece at the age of eight and my frst album was Letters to my Mom. I dedicated it to my mother because she is my muse and always encourages and supports me.

    What were some of the challenges you faced and what did you learn from them?

    Life is full of challenges and the biggest ones are those that I set for myself. The piano, my passion, is my world. I compose my music not for the sake of composing but because I want my music to serve a purpose and reach people’s hearts. I want it to mean something to them, so my biggest challenge is to achieve this and reach my own high standards.

    How do you feel about being a protégé?

    To be honest, I don’t feel pressurised to do what I do. My family and friends would support me no matter what path I choose, so I have chosen to do what I believe in most. I am lucky to be pursuing my passion and I want to use to it make a positive change in the world, like I did with my Als concert. I try to use my talent to make the world a better place and this is something that I love.

    What do you love the most about performing?

    I love the rush of emotions I experience when I’m on stage performing my compositions. I enter my own world and invite other people into it, which is a special feeling. Performing is a beautiful experience but it requires a lot of attention and concentration. The expectations can be daunting but they all fade away as soon as I start to play.

    Do you have a philosophy you live by?

    Always pursue your passion fully and surround yourself with supportive and loving family and friends while you do that.

    What’s next for you?

    I’ll be visiting London soon to record my latest compositions at Abbey Road Studio Two. I’m also preparing for my next concerts in Paris and Portugal.