Some giggles broke out in the band room when Biana Pinchuk hit a high note in her rendition of Non ti Scordar di Me by composer Ernesto de Curtis.
It was the first time many of the students at the David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center in North Miami had ever heard opera or classical music before. Almost certainly, they hadn’t heard it performed by one of their peers.
Biana is 11 years old. The Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8 sixth-grader has been billed as a child prodigy who sings more than 200 songs in six languages and plays the violin at a college level. Her father says she can teach herself songs in just two minutes and she performs without sheet music.
On Monday, Biana performed for hundreds of band, orchestra and choir students as part of a schools tour she has recently launched.
“I want to expose you guys to classical music,” she told one class. “It’s like, not boring. It’s fun.”
Biana has been singing since she was 3, after her talents were discovered during a family karaoke session. She began violin lessons at 4 years old, and began voice lessons by 5.
Before she has even celebrated her bat mitzvah (which she’ll do later this month), Biana has already performed on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, was a finalist in auditions for Broadway’s Annie and has traveled to Europe to perform.
Though she is shy without a violin in her hands, Biana said she loves performing above everything else.
“I do this so I can be on stage,” she said.
Instead of a stage, Biana on Monday paced a frayed carpet of primary colors and musical notes. She wore skinny jeans, a striped purple top and gold flats.
Her eyebrows furrowed as she focused on her $20,000 Italian violin. Her arms gracefully rose and fell when she sang.
Students perked up when they recognized Johann Strauss’ Viennese Waltz coming from Biana’s violin. One student waved a pencil in the air as though he were a conductor. Others swayed their arms like a crowd at a concert.
“She was really good,” said Asya Morla, an 8-year-old third-grader.
When Biana performed Fly Away, a pop song she wrote herself, the entire class clapped to the chorus. A tear fell down the cheek of one student.
“New life, new light. We can rise to new heights, somewhere flowers grow and rivers flow. No one there can tell us no,” she sang.
Jessica Levy, a 9-year-old third-grader, was impressed.
“Fly Away was really upbeat, and I like her attitude when she’s singing, her hands moving,” Jessica said.
Biana’s father controlled the sound and cued background music from a laptop, and her grandfather recorded the performance with a hand-held camera on a tripod. As classes changed at the bell, Biana’s grandmother handed her a comb to fix her wavy, shoulder-length hair.
Her family makes sure she keeps up with practice — about an hour a day, Biana said.
“She is doing good. But she needs to be great,” said her grandfather, Gregory Pinchuk.
Sometimes, the life of a performer is tough. Biana recalled missing a friend’s birthday party — which featured a limousine, Biana noted — because of a performance.
The family “cannot even keep up with flowers,” her grandfather said, because Biana’s schedule is so demanding.
Biana has tried gymnastics, ballet and synchronized swimming. But music is “my thing,” she said. She hopes to grow up to be a soloist.
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