Mililani teen performs beyond his years at international piano festival

He's been playing since he was 3!
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jairus Rhoades has been a prodigy in training since the age of 3 and playing the piano is both entertainment and escape.

“If I’m mad or if I’m sad, I can always vent it of course by putting on the headphones and playing whatever I want,” Rhoades said. “Not even just regular pieces. Just improvisations.”

The Punahou senior recently shared his talents at the Aloha International Piano Festival.

The 17-year-old couldn’t compete in in the high school division because he already won that bracket.

So he went up against 19-to 25-year-olds, including musicians who train at Juilliard and the New England Conservatory of Music.

“He had no other choice, but to step up to the young artist division and compete with the conservatory students,” said Festival Artistic Director Lisa Nakamichi.

When looking at his competition, Rhoades tempered his expectations.

“At first, I was thinking I’d be so happy with third place,” Rhoades said.

“I’ll be happy with whatever I can get because the people I’m competing with, I see their bios and they have a very experienced history.”

The competition was entirely online with submissions sent in and judged.

Rhoades’ performance, nearly 12 minutes of Rachmaninoff, earned the top prize — and exhaustion.

“It’s very tiring,” Rhoades said. “Every time I’m done playing, I’m always sweating and usually I have to wear a dri-fit kind of long sleeve that’s somewhat formal because I’m always sweating after these performances.”

He hopes the prize will be a springboard to help grow classical music interest across the state and he’ll soon be taking his skills to college.

“I’m pretty into my studies,” Rhoades said. “I like science and I would like to have a career somewhat in biology or medicine and figuring out how to put music in between that.”

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