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Aonce-in-a-lifetime musical talent deserves the biggest stage they can get, and for one teen prodigy, this meant a royal celebration. Lucy Illingworth, a 13-year-old blind and neurodivergent pianist, first marveled the world a few months ago. Her performance of a Chopin nocturne on a piano in a train station in Leeds shocked the judges of the British talent show The Piano, and moved passersby to tears. Now, Lucy has played for a much larger audience in an unbeatable setting—she performed for 20,000 people, including King Charles III and Queen Camilla, at the Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle.
Lucy, who has severe autism, shared the stage with contemporary singers and musical legends such as Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Take That, and Andrea Bocelli. The teen prodigy performed Bach’s “Prelude in C Major,” a short yet uplifting melody that encapsulates the young girl’s path to that moment. In her performance, Lucy happily bobbles her head from side to side, throughly feeling and enjoying the music she is playing. She also seems to have grown comfortable with applause and the sounds of people. While the video of her Leeds train station performance in February showed her quickly covering her ears, this time she just smiles, and awaits with her hands locked in front of her body. With a little help from her companion, she even takes a bow.
This wasn’t the only massive feat Lucy has accomplished in the last couple of months. Weeks before playing the Coronation concert, Lucy joined The Piano finale at the Royal Festival Hall in London. There, she once again took the judges’ breath away with a performance of Debussy’s “Arabesque No.1” alongside her teacher, Daniel Bath. “This piece is slightly harder,” Classic FM reports judge and celebrity pianist Lang Lang commented. “Because the Chopin nocturne, it’s easier to control the speed. This piece has to be… like you’re opening a treasure. This is a challenge, this piece. But no challenge, no fun, right?”
The young pianist was not only up for the challenge, but her performance made her the winner of the competition. In regards to selecting her as the winner, judge and pop singer Mika said, “It was about just highlighting if something extraordinary was to happen. Something that no-one could forget… and that happened.” Lang Lang also seized the occasion to describe the girl as a “real genius.”
Lucy is part of the Amber Trust, a non-profit that provides musical opportunities for blind children. The organization first spotted her love for music and has supported her over the last eight years by funding her piano lessons. “It’s a phenomenal moment when such talent is recognised internationally,” they wrote on Facebook. “Congratulations Lucy!”