An extraordinary young talent

special interview with a special Lebanese talent..Adam Elbanna"

Today we met with an aspiring and creative musician from the East, whose family immigrated to the United States from Lebanon during the Second Civil War. His mission was to transmit his eastern customs, origins, and cultural thinking to explain his musical creations to the world here in his hometown Texas, America. 

1- Please introduce yourself, date, and place of birth.

My name is Adam Elbanna I’m 15 years old, 1/24/2021, and I was born in Houston, Texas.

2- What level of education do you have now?

I’m a sophomore in High school

3- When did you first play the piano, and who inspired you to adopt this idea? 

In 2015 at age 10, my inspiration came from my older brother Alan who started when he was 4 years old. Attending his lessons and hearing the piano around the house throughout my life, and listening to Yanni, inspired me to try the piano, and make music of my own.

4- Who was the first to encourage you; to use this musical instrument? Why did you choose the piano instead of the "violin or any other instrument"?

I would have to say my brother's teacher Ms. Marina Agadjanova, when she saw I was interested in playing the piano whenever I watched my brother's recitals, she told me to give it a shot. The piano was the instrument I’ve been exposed to the most, and the versatility of the instrument really convinced me to play it.

5- Your dad or mom plays music at home. Who are the most affected since the start of the journey?

Because of the civil war in Lebanon, my mom never had the chance to learn about music and instruments. Moving here in America, she wanted her kids to try an instrument and play music. It affected me the most, looking back at it, getting into music and playing the piano are the best things to ever happen to me thanks to the support of my parents.

6- Where did you learn music, and what is the music school you influenced the most? East or West?

I learned music with Ms. Marina Agadjanova under the HTMA (Houston Music Teachers Association) curriculum, and I was introduced to many classical and romantic pieces from Europe throughout my lessons with her so I’ve been influenced a lot by the East. I’m also enrolled in choir at my high school, competing in the Texas All-State competition, and singing compositions by american composers like Eric Whitacre and Micheal Daugherty, gave me an insight on western music.

7- Who is the lead composer you are influenced by, and whom would you like to follow him and learn to play his symphonies?

Yanni is a big part of why I started to play the piano, and one of the first songs I learned to play was “One Man’s Dream” by him. Playing his music is always a great experience.

8- Any music player you always love to play

Again, I would have to say Yanni.

"Music is a worldwide language and healer"

9- What are your future ambitions in the artistic field? Are you planning to compose your album in the future?

I want to explore and learn more about music in college, and composing an album or EP is definitely on my to do list.

10- What is your academic plan?

I want to finish out my education in High school and continue on and get a masters degree in college.

11- What is your favorite music in the East or West?

Growing up in  America, and having Lebanese and eastern music in the household, I got to experience all sorts of genres and artists. I love music from anywhere, and I’ve gotten a great influence from both sides. Some of my songs reflect a mix of the East and West, and I can’t really choose a favorite.

12- Who is your favorite singer? Do you want or are you looking forward to composing music for him to sing his songs?

This is a hard one to decide as there are many singers I love like Wael Jassar, Abeer Nheme, Otis Redding,and Steve Lacy. If I had to choose, it would probably be John Legend, he is definitely one of my favorite singers, and composing a western/jazz piano accompaniment for him would be absolutely insane.

13. What is your advice to young people in the Middle East, specifically in Lebanon and Syria?

Music is a worldwide language and healer, and if there’s any chance for you to learn music, grab it. It gives many benefits to your mind and soul, and can get you through hard times that inevitably come. Your instrument can be your companion when you're lonely, when you're sad, and when good news is scarce. It can get your mind off of the corruption and destructive politics in your nation, and be with you on your journey through life.

this interview is conducted by our colleague Narjess Obeid- 10/2/2021