A standing ovation at a packed Royal Festival Hall is a career high for any musician.
And that’s just what happened when blind and autistic Lucy, 13, gave a jaw-dropping performance to win The Piano last night, the Channel 4 competition to find the UK’s best amateur pianist.
The youngster from West Yorkshire, who was born with cancerous tumours in her eyes and is largely non-verbal, left audiences stunned and many in tears with her flawless rendition of Debussy’s Arabesque.
Classical pianist Lang Lang, one of the judges, called her a ‘genius’, while pop star Mika said hers was the ‘performance of the evening’.
The programme, hosted by Claudia Winkleman, sought to find the best amateur pianists by inviting people to perform at pianos at train stations across the country.
Blind and autistic Lucy, 13, gave a jaw-dropping performance to win The Piano last night, the Channel 4 competition to find the UK’s best amateur pianist.
In the final episode, Lucy competed against Jay, who works on a construction site, Sean, who was diagnosed as neurodivergent at the age of four, and Danny, who used music as a way to cope following his father’s suicide.
None of the four finalists owned a piano of their own and were each given one by producers following the final episode.
For Lucy, music has been more than simply a hobby, it is the way in which she communicates because she is globally developmentally delayed and struggles to hold a conversation.
She has a chromosome 16 duplication which causes autism traits, developmental delay and intellectual disability.
Her mother Candice said: ‘I always knew she would be on a big stage one night.
‘I said to the producers, “You have seen in my daughter what I have seen for years”.’
Lucy started playing the keyboard when she was only two and started piano lessons with her teacher Daniel when she was three through musical charity The Amber Trust.
Her mother said: ‘We were at home and she had a lot of musical toys to play with, but Lucy wasn’t just pressing the buttons, she was making rhythm and music, and I thought that was interesting.
Her mother Candice said: ‘I always knew she would be on a big stage one night’
Her music teacher Daniel said: ‘I’ve never met anyone who has the same depth of understanding of music. Music is the way that she communicates’
‘From a fairy tale book with a piano on it, she started playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star but it was pitch perfect. It was such a moment to hear that.’
The family then upgraded her keyboard and realised she was composing music in her head while sitting on the sofa. She was also able to play back music after listening to it just once.
An emotional Candice was standing by the side of the stage when Lucy received her standing ovation at the venue in London and peeked out so that she could see the reaction.
‘I’m beyond proud of my little girl, beyond proud,’ she said.
When Lucy came off stage after performing, she said to her mother: ‘A round of applause at the Festival Hall’, to which Candice replied: ‘You got more than a big round of applause, darling.’
Her music teacher Daniel said: ‘I’ve never met anyone who has the same depth of understanding of music. Music is the way that she communicates.’
Candice said that she decided to put Lucy forward for the competition as she wanted to show others how ‘amazing’ she was and raise awareness of her condition.
She added it had been a ‘once in a lifetime experience that neither of us will ever forget’ which was ‘literally life changing’.
Since recording the show, Lucy has been learning more and more pieces by artists including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Stevie Wonder.