Piano Man Helps Launch Philanthropic Partnership

Derek Paravicini, a blind English autistic savant and musical prodigy, performed Saturday at the Venetian to help the Lili Claire Foundation and Simon G. Collections announce their newly created national exclusive philanthropic partnership.

The Lili Claire Foundation helps to ease the challenges these families face by providing a unique and comprehensive blend of support services through our Lili Claire Family Resource Centers in partnership with the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

Each center provides comprehensive holistic programs and services designed to enhance all aspects of an individual’s life: medical, psychosocial, educational and vocational – from infancy through adulthood. Through community outreach, the centers are able to provide a unique blend of clinical expertise to ensure that every child living with a neurogenetic condition receives the best, most compassionate care available.

Paravicini plays entirely by ear, and has a repertoire of many thousands of pieces that he has memorised – jazz, pop and light classical – and he is a great improviser.

Paravicini, now in his late twenties, was born premature, at 25 weeks, and weighing just over half a kilogram. As a result of the oxygen therapy required to save his life, he lost his sight, and his development was affected too. It later became apparent that he had severe learning difficulties. However, he soon acquired a fascination for music and sound, and, by the age of four, had taught himself to play a large number of pieces on the piano, of some melodic and harmonic complexity (such as ‘Smoke Gets in your Eyes’). Almost inevitably, with no visual models to guide him, his technique was chaotic, and even his elbows would frequently be pressed into service, as he strove to reach intervals beyond the span of his tiny hands.