Ainan Celeste Cawley, my eldest son,
composed the music for the film, “Reflection” , at age 12. The short film (15
minutes), written and directed by Ignas Versinskas, is premiering at the
Vilnius International Film Festival, which is from March 14th to March
28th, in Lithuania.
Now, I don’t know if you know much about
film scoring...but Google taught me something very interesting. In the field of
film music scoring, a youthful composer is thought to be one in their twenties.
I couldn’t find any examples of ones anywhere near as young as Ainan was when
he composed the music used in Reflection. It seems, therefore, that Ainan is
the youngest film score composer, in world history.
It came as a big surprise that Ainan, who
has over the years been primarily interested in science, computer programming,
mathematics and digital animated film-making, should suddenly emerge as a
composer. It was very sudden. We had a piano in our house for six long years –
and Ainan never touched it. He seemed utterly uninterested in it. Then, one day,
I heard music coming from the piano room, when Ainan was in the early months of
his 12th year. It was very familiar music...Beethoven, in fact. I
approached the room, very curious as to what I would find. There Ainan sat, at
the piano, playing Beethoven, without any sense, at all, that this might be
considered unusual – considering that he was doing so, without any piano
lessons, or aid, whatsoever. I listened and didn’t interrupt until he had
finished. It was only then that I told him how beautiful it sounded. He quietly
absorbed my words without comment.
“How did you learn to play that?” I further
“Oh, I heard it somewhere, before.” He
It turned out that he remembered the music
from months ago and had worked it out, by ear on the piano.
Within days, Ainan was composing his own
pieces. I learnt this by asking him who had composed the piece he had just
played one day.
“Me.”, he answered, simply and started to
play another – of his own, it turned out.
Music emerged from him, spontaneously and
with considerable skill, considering how little time he had been playing and
My friend, Ignas Versinskas, a director,
writer and actor, whom I had worked with on Vikingdom, (both of us were actors
on it) was making a film. He invited me to play the lead, Trent, in the film
Reflection. Trent is an Interpol agent – a detective whose life consists of
inquiry into the darker acts human beings are capable of. I agreed to do the
role. However, Ignas had a problem – the composer he intended to use had gone
overseas and was difficult to contact. That gave me the idea of a solution. I
invited Ignas round to listen to Ainan play his music.
Ignas was smitten at once. Ainan’s music
was just what was needed for Reflection. He decided then and there to invite
Ainan to compose the music for Reflection.
Ainan composed the music for Reflection
over a few weeks, at a few minutes, to tens of minutes, a day of work. He is
quite spontaneous with his music and it didn’t need all that much time to
compose the pieces. He ended up composing quite a few more works than were
actually used: the ones most suited to the needs of the film, were chosen.
Ainan then played the music into a computer
system, which recorded his performance in complete detail.
Then the music was
output, sometimes as a piano, as it had been input – but sometimes as other
instruments. Thus, the music used in the film was all performed by Ainan as
well as composed, but his performance is disguised by the fact that some of it
had been output to sound like different instruments, to the piano he plays.
You will note that Ainan is now described
as a composer and is listed as the composer on Reflection.
If you click through to the full cast and
crew page for Reflection, here:
You will see that it states “Original Music
score by Ainan Celeste Cawley”.
Of all of Ainan’s many achievements in his
life, this one is the one of which I am both most proud and most surprised. I
regard it as my favourite achievement of his, because of its utter
unexpectedness – and because it shows creativity in a domain that I did not
expect him focus on. It also shows genuine creativity and that is something
many prodigies do not display (many of them just show skill, not creativity).
Ainan is showing something more than that, therefore...he is showing the
working elements of true genius, too – that is, originality and creativity.
I have always described Ainan as a scientific
child prodigy – because that was his focus when he was very young. However, his
mind has broadened over the years. He is now operating at a high level in many
domains, scientific, mathematical and artistic. There is a term for such a
prodigy: it is called an omnibus prodigy. The composition of the film score for
Reflection, establishes Ainan as an omnibus prodigy. If you do some research
into it, you will find that this is the rarest kind of prodigy, since almost
all prodigies operate in a single area. Not so, with Ainan...his mind now
encompasses many facets of human endeavour. I am left to wonder what he will
become in the years ahead and what more surprises there might be.
As for now, I am pleased just to be able to
listen to his music composition, on a daily basis when he comes home from
University. It is, now, one of my greatest pleasures, in life.
Thank you Ainan.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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Labels: child prodigy composer, creativity in music, film score composer, Ignas Versinskas, multi-talented, omnibus child prodigy, Reflection, Universal Genius, Vilnius International Film Festival