Musically gifted

Child prodigy gets a new piano — from a former PM

Oshri Bitau, 10, from Nazareth Illit, has a rare talent for the piano, but his family couldn’t afford one. That’s when ex-premier and lifelong amateur pianist Ehud Barak stepped in

10-year-old Oshri Bitau at his new piano in the family's Nazareth Illit home, July 15, 2018. (Hadashot screen capture)
10-year-old Oshri Bitau at his new piano in the family's Nazareth Illit home, July 15, 2018. (Hadashot screen capture)

It’s the heartwarming story of an immigrant boy with a remarkable musical talent, and the former prime minister who made his dream come true.

Oshri Bitau, 10, from an Ethiopian-Israeli family in Nazareth Illit, was discovered by his piano teacher Ina Kravitz. His rare musical talent has seen him playing before audiences at prestigious venues like the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

But until this weekend, Oshri had no piano at his home. His family couldn’t afford one. He practiced on an old piano in a hallway at his school, the Golan Elementary School in Nazareth Illit, often all alone after school.

Last week, Hadashot television news broadcast a story about the young talent.

According to the network, “the news desk was then flooded with offers by viewers to help him buy a piano.”

10-year-old Oshri Bitau playing on his school’s old piano, in a hallway at the Golan Elementary School in Nazareth Illit, July 15, 2018. (Hadashot screen capture)

When the network reached out to Oshri’s mother Alam, they discovered that someone had already bought him one. That someone: former prime minister and lifelong amateur pianist Ehud Barak.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

“Ehud Barak called us and said, ‘I bought him a new piano. You’ll get it on Sunday. Good luck, and may you have strength,'” Alam Bitau told the network in a followup story broadcast on Sunday.

“I didn’t think it would go this far, that he would be this well-known,” Alam confessed of her son and his music skills.

Neither did Oshri, who says he was skeptical about his music lessons at first. “When I started, I thought this won’t work. But look at this, I’ve succeeded.”

Alam Bitau, left, mother of 10-year-old Oshri Bitau, at their Nazareth Illit home, July 15, 2018. (Hadashot screen capture)

Showing off his new Yamaha upright piano in the family’s modest apartment, he said it evoked “a feeling I never felt before, that a past prime minister brings you a piano. I don’t ever want to leave this piano. This dream came true. Now I keep going. It’s just the beginning.”

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