AT age 12, his first taps on the keys of a piano were the moving strains of Beethoven, played by ear. In under a year, science child prodigy Ainan Celeste Cawley, now 13, has composed many of his own tunes and even a score for a new Malaysian short film.
He is the son of Irishman Valentine Cawley and Singaporean-Malay Syahidah Osman, an ambidextrous portrait artist.
At a recent Press screening for the short film, Reflection, at ZLG Design in Sentul, KL, Valentine said: “We had the piano in our house for six years. One day, Ainan on his own accord, started playing a Beethoven tune that he had heard earlier.”
The 15-minute noir thriller marked the first public presentation of Ainan’s original music.
A series of videos showcasing Ainan performing his original musical compositions on the piano was also screened.
Reflection, directed by Ignas Versinkas, a Malaysian-based Lithuanian director and former Limkokwing University of Creative Technology student, was screened at the recent Vilnius International Film Festival in Lithuania.
In the short film, Valentine, 45, plays an Interpol agent in search of missing girls believed to be abducted by a maniacal killer.
Valentine, an actor, writer and scientist, said his gifted son was entirely a self-taught pianist and composer.
“Ainan’s been composing tunes on a daily basis since he started playing the piano and so far we’ve recorded over 100 tunes, some of which are complete works,” he said.
“This makes Ainan not only the world’s youngest film score composer for his work in Reflection, but also a child prodigy with a multitude of differing talents — an omnibus child prodigy.”
The quiet Ainan’s main interests at the moment are chemistry, mathematics, computer programming and music.
Valentine met the 26-year-old Versinkas while on the set of KRU’s upcoming epic feature film Vikingdom, where they play a couple of Vikings.
Versinkas was introduced to Ainan’s music through Valentine after his friend was unavailable to compose the score for Reflection.
“I felt that his tunes were suitable for films and with the right arrangements, would fit perfectly,” said Versinkas.
When not composing, the shy Ainan plays by ear the music from his favourite video games, as well as classical pieces by Beethoven, List and Bach.
“But he composes his own music about 80 per cent of the time he spends on the piano,” said Valentine who added that his son liked the piano for its flexibility and wide range.
“Ainan doesn’t really like pop or modern music, he thinks it’s simple, repetitive and doesn’t say anything,” he added.
Apparently some of the more recent original pieces that Ainan has composed are more complex.
His father explained that these works have to be played with four hands: “We’d probably have to use computer systems to make it happen.”
He hoped the public will be able to sample his son’s music through public performances.
“I’d like to see if we can arrange an orchestral performance or other public access to his works and maybe publishing opportunities,” he said.
Besides music, Ainan is also interested in animation and has used Source Filmmaker and Vector Animation to create his own short stories and animated clips.
“His stories are funny tales with a punch line,” said Valentine, a graduate in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University. He is also chairman of the Research Committee of the National Association for Gifted Children, Malaysia.
Ainan is currently studying an American Degree Programme at Taylor’s University at the Lakeside Campus in Petaling Jaya.
Majoring in the sciences, his studies include Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Computer Programming and Computer Animation.
He was able to recognise the alphabet at 8 months old, spoke constructed sentences at 12 months, and was reading chemistry textbooks by the time he was 6.
He is said to be the youngest person in Singapore to ever pass the O-Level for Chemistry at the age of 7. At 8, he became the youngest person to study third year tertiary Chemistry at Singapore Polytechnic.
When he was 10, his family migrated to Malaysia where he continued his studies. Valentine explained that the family chose Malaysia to be close to their relatives on both sides of the Causeway. Ainan’s maternal grandmother Sabariah Abdul Wahab was born in Parit Yani, Johor.
Ainan has been featured in documentaries such as Superhuman Genius (ITV1 UK), The World’s Cleverest Child and Me (Channel 4 UK) and Asia’s Wonder Kids (Channel News Asia, in Singapore).
Valentine described his parenting style as non-intrusive. “Ainan’s the least stressed child I know — he has a childhood that most children here don’t have. No stress or external pressures on him, no tuition classes. It’s up to him to discover for himself what he wants to do,” said Valentine, who keeps a blog on giftedness at scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com.
Read more: SHOWBIZ: Talents of a boy genius – Health – New Straits Timeshttp://www.nst.com.my/life-times/health/showbiz-talents-of-a-boy-genius-1.237190#ixzz2xknKhPSR