Oshri Bitau is only 10 years old and started piano lessons only six months ago. But he’s already performed a Beethoven composition at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and three classical pieces in an end-of-the-school-year concert at the Municipal Conservatory in his hometown of Nazareth Illit.
And no sooner did local news media report that Oshri’s family could not afford to buy him a piano than former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak went out and bought him a Yamaha.
“Ehud Barak called us and said, ‘I bought him a new piano. You’ll get it on Sunday. Good luck, and may you be strong,’” Oshri’s mother told Hadashot TV news on July 15.
Previous press coverage of Oshri’s rare talent and economic situation motivated Israelis from across the country to reach out with offers of free master classes and monetary contributions.
The Youth Futures nonprofit organization worked with the Nazareth Illit welfare department to arrange a scholarship for Oshri at the conservatory, where piano teacher Ina Kravitz recognized the boy’s rare musical talent and encouraged him to play before audiences.
“I really enjoyed the lessons, until I knew the piano. I wanted to be a basketball player, but now I want to be just a pianist. I dream about performances in big halls. I go into YouTube on my own, listen to Mozart Bach and Haydn and try to play their pieces,” Oshri told reporters.
He had started out by learning to play an old piano in the hallway of his elementary school.
Kravitz arranged to have Oshri perform Beethoven’s “For Elise” at the June 10 opening of the 2018 International Film Festival in Tel Aviv. Mayor Ron Huldai hugged the boy and cultural icon Gila Almagor pledged to help Oshri realize his dreams.
Now that he has his own piano, courtesy of amateur pianist Barak, Oshri told reporters, “I don’t ever want to leave this piano. This dream came true. Now I will keep going.”