Are you familiar with pianist Charlie Albright? Charlie, who grew up in Centralia, Washington, started playing the piano at age 3 1/2 and quickly became known as a child prodigy. Please allow me to do you a huge favor by providing two links to Charlie playing some fantastic piano.
The first video is when Charlie, who could not yet read music, was able to play 75 songs by ear and memory at age 4. The footage shows Charlie playing like a kid and then playing like a really short concert pianist. He was so short, at his young age, his feet did not reach the piano pedals.
The second video is Charlie at approximately age 25. Charlie often asks random audience members for random notes and then proceeds to magically improvise a piece of music built around 3 – 5 audience notes.
Some months ago, Tacoma Symphony Music Director, Sarah Ioannides, learned that her guest pianist canceled because of illness. At the last minute she called Charlie Albright, who had played the piece, which was part of her planned program, five years earlier. Charlie said, yes. With just three days’ notice, Charlie came to Tacoma’s Pantages Theater to perform with Tacoma Symphony. I had the great pleasure of performing the roll of audience member the night Charlie performed on stage.
Usually, my columns stretch out longer than this 260-word story. By cutting this one short, you will have more time to experience Charlie Albright by video and in doing so, observe an amazing human being.
Of course, if I were an amazing human being, I would have written a longer column and shown you videos of me.