When 12-year-old Daniel Eras speaks about the chance he has to play piano with Austria’s Vienna Residence Orchestra, his preadolescent voice cracks with uncontainable excitement.
“I want to play with the Vienna orchestra more than any other in the world,” he said. “I am very happy. I have been waiting to participate in international (concerts) for a while.”
The sixth-grader earned the privilege of performing with the orchestra by winning an international youth competition for Piano Fest Austria, a Mozart festival that pairs promising youth pianists from around the world with a top-notch orchestra.
The program will also include two weeks of study at the acclaimed Altenburger Musik Akademie in Vienna, alongside young prodigies from Panama, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore and Indonesia.
Daniel is scheduled to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15 K450 as a soloist, with the backing of the orchestra of his dreams, at the festival July 31.
But the struggle to make his dream come true is not over. Daniel’s mother, Ana Gabriela Saborío, is in the process of raising funds to buy her son’s plane ticket and pay for his trip and classes.
“We have raised $2,000,” Saborío said. “We need to raise $3,000 more.”
Saborío teaches second and fifth grades at the Kenely school in the southern San José suburb of Hatillo. Her modest salary cannot cover the trip, and the family is desperately seeking sponsors.
“We have confirmed (for the trip). We don’t know what will happen if we don’t raise (the money),” Saborío said. “It’s an opportunity for (sponsors) to help out a kid … We don’t have a lot of money. Right now, we need help.
“This is a great opportunity for him to pursue his dreams. It’s a chance for a Costa Rican kid to gain international fame.”
This unlikely story started with a 5-year-old child learning to play piano with his grandfather.
“When I was learning with my grandfather (I found it to be) very easy,” Daniel said. “I like the piano because it is the king of the instruments in the orchestra.”
At age 7, Daniel started taking special classes with the University of Costa Rica (UCR) School of Music in the eastern suburb of San Pedro.
The following year, he started tutelage under Elena Hernández at the Castella Conservatory in Heredia, north of the capital.
In 2005, he was accepted by the piano program of the Higher Institute for the Arts (ISA) in San Francisco de Dos Ríos, southeast of San José, where he studied under Valentina Tumanova. The NationalUniversity in Heredia accepted him into its piano program in 2006, and he has been studying there and at ISA ever since.
Daniel has played in concerts and recitals in venues ranging from the UCR to the JuanSantamaríaMuseum in Alajuela, northwest of the capital, to the National Auditorium inside the Children’s Museum in downtown San José. Last year, he played with the National Symphony Orchestra as a participant in the “Young Soloists” contest.
Daniel is one of Costa Rica’s brightest rising stars in the arts. Talent like his may be a rare thing, but it is his motivation that really shines through when he speaks.
Tentative and shy as any preteen talking to a journalist might be, he speaks with confidence about what he would like to accomplish.
But most of what he can muster is the repetition of a simple phrase that perhaps best explains what it must be like to succeed at his age.
“I’m happy,” Daniel said. “I’m very happy.”
For his excitement to become a reality, he awaits the support of beneficiaries he doesn’t know.
“(This is) the realization of a dream,” Daniel said. “It would be a huge help (if anyone) has the money to help send me there.”
Those interested in helping Daniel may contact Saborío at 8386-7151.