Montreal pianist, 10, preps for Carnegie Hall debut

Devon Packer says playing at the historic venue will be "awesome, for lack of a better word."

Grade 5 Royal Vale student Devon Packer awed by chance to play where idol Leonard Bernstein performed

Devon Packer, a 10-year-old classical pianist, will perform at historic Carnegie Hall. (EMSB)

When 10-year-old Devon Packer makes his debut at New York City's Carnegie Hall on Jan. 30, he'll have one of America's most prodigious classical musicians on his mind.

"It's where some of my biggest idols have performed, like Leonard Bernstein," he told Mike Finnerty, host of CBC Montreal's Daybreak, on Monday.

The young Montreal pianist says playing at the historic venue will be "awesome, for lack of a better word."

At Carnegie Hall, the Grade 5 student at Royal Vale School in NDG will join fellow winners of the International Crescendo Music Awards, which welcomes entries from musicians aged five to 21

Devon won for a rendition of Felix Mendelsshon's Boat Song, which he felt wasn't his best performance of the song.

"Obviously [the judge] felt different," he said.

Devon's been practicing the song for about an hour a day in preparation for his Carnegie Hall performance.

"I think I'm just going to enjoy it," Devon said, dispelling any notion of nerves.

While most kids his age are listening to rock, rap and pop, Devon's been hooked on classics since he was a baby.

"I feel like music today is getting too low compared to the masters like Beethoven, Mozart and Bach," Devon said.

His mother, Paulana Layman, said when Devon was two years old he would conduct along to classical music with a chopstick or a straw.

"We were playing classical music for him when he was still inside me," she said.


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