Piano Prodigy Revives Ragtime Spirit
11-year-old Daniel Souvigny shares his youthful passion for old-time music
HAMPSHIRE – While most modern-day youngsters are grooving to pop stars and rap artists on their iPhones and laptops, all that Daniel Souvigny needs for his music is a “handful of keys.”
This is because Souvigny, an 11-year-old pianist, is an upcoming old-time music maestro. Recently, he has been receiving recognition by performing ragtime classics at venues across Illinois.
“I just enjoy playing music,” Souvigny said. “I really like the sound of the piano.”
Souvigny’s love of – and talent for – music-making is evident. This past May, Souvigny came in first place at the Junior Division of the World Championship Old Time Piano Playing Contest in Peoria, Il. Souvigny swept this award with his performance of the songs “Mack the Knife” and “Handful of Keys.”
“It went pretty well,” Souvigny said. “I got a nice big check and a nice big trophy.”
But it’s not the monetary reward that truly drives this aspiring artist; it’s the audience. Souvigny also devotes his time to performances in local cafes and farmer’s markets, as well as monthly shows in the Prairie Lodge for residents of Sun City.
“I play about a half an hour program [in Sun City], usually a mix of classical, jazz, and ragtime piano. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and made some friends. It works out really well,” Souvigny said.
Souvigny’s love of old-time music began when he was only five years old, when his father gave him a Jo Ann Castle CD for his birthday. From there, Souvigny’s fascination and passion ensued.
“I put it in the CD player, and I was astonished by how fast and well Castle played, but clean, too. That’s what got me interested in ragtime,” he said.
But Souvigny’s musical passion doesn’t end at the piano. Although he started learning this instrument at the age of four, he also plays violin, guitar, and the drums, his latest endeavor.
But where does Souvigny, who is entering sixth grade this fall, find the time to perfect his musical skills and entertain the crowds as well?
“I’m homeschooled,” said Souvigny. “I have always been homeschooled, and it’s really nice because I have more time to practice.”
Although this practice, which includes long drives to private instructors, has already begun to pay off, Souvigny still has a focus on his future goals, and he plans to pursue a career in music. But for now?
“Some days, when I can be at home most of the day, I just get to practice my music,” he said. Reflecting on the joy of an average day, Souvigny added, “I also get to do my school and other fun things.”
Daniel Souvigny’s next show is Wednesday, August 22nd at 11 a.m. at the Prairie Lodge in Sun City.