Adrian Romoff aims to make a buzz on reality show



The videos are all over YouTube and Vimeo. Here’s Adrian Romoff at age 4, standing in front of a Christmas tree and playing the violin. In another, legs not long enough for his feet to touch the pedals of a grand piano, he is playing a concerto at age 6.

At age 7, he appeared on national television, charming Ellen DeGeneres in an interview.

But tonight, Adrian, now 9, will perform in front of his largest audience yet.

Piano prodigy's appearance on 'Ellen'

Adrian Romoff, a 9-year-old piano prodigy and former Pittsburgh resident, appeared on "Ellen" a year ago. (Video courtesy of "Ellen"; 5/27/2014)

Piano prodigy, 9, to appear on 'America's Got Talent'

Former Pittsburgher Adrian Romoff, a 9-year-old piano prodigy, is making his debut on the season premiere of NBC's "America's Got Talent." (5/27/2014)

Season 9 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” premieres at 8 p.m. Adrian, who was born in Pittsburgh and lived here until the age 6, plays Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.”

“I knew that it was very energetic, very upbeat, and that a lot of people knew the melody,” Adrian said.

He appears unfazed by the panel of celebrity judges: Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Mel B: “They were very nice. I talked to them a little bit.”

The noise, lights and raucous crowd had to be a change from his polite world of classical music. “It was different than being on television [before]. I was more excited than nervous, but you know, if you’re not nervous, it means you don’t really enjoy it.”

The tryout show was taped at Radio City Music Hall a few months back. It was not Adrian’s first trip to New York City; he has performed at Carnegie Hall three times. Two years ago, he took third place in the American Protege International Music Talent competition there.

In the fall, he and mother Olga Romoff will fly up from their home in Peachtree City, Ga., to participate in The Julliard School’s weekly pre-college Saturday program.

“He prepared all of his songs by himself [for the Julliard audition],” said Ms. Romoff. “When he got accepted, we were screaming for hours.”

Ms. Romoff was trained on the violin but is not a professional artist. They lived in the South Hills — Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, Greentree — and from the time he was very little, she said, any trip to the toy store meant gravitating toward plastic horns or pianos.

When her son showed interest in strings at 2 1/2, friends questioned whether he was too young.

“But I said, ‘HE is the one who wants to do this. He follows what he likes,’ ” she said.

Adrian began studying piano in earnest at 4 1/2, and Ms. Romoff has been his primary teacher. Previous attempts at working with an outside piano teacher were not as successful, said Ms. Romoff, noting Adrian was working through two and three books a week.

“He would come home and play, play, play,” she said. “In a way, Adrian is almost self-taught.”

Although he practices up to six hours a day, Adrian still attends school, where he has skipped five grades. Although 9 years old, he is in eighth grade.

A big fan of Lang Lang and Vladimir Horowitz as well as Albert Einstein, Adrian is passionate about science.

“We don’t have a TV in the house, but we have books,” his mother said. “He built his own laboratory in the house, and he [learns] everything off of the computer.”

“My laboratory is where I conduct experiments in chemistry and with electricity,” he said.

So, what does he want to be when he grows up?

“Ah ha, I have a couple of choices, but we’ll see what life will send me,” he said. “One, of course, is a concert pianist. I also want to be president but also as a hobby, I could be a chemist on the side.

“But if chemistry is my job, then I’d like to be the executive chemist.”

For someone who already has gotten to Carnegie Hall with practice, practice, practice, no wonder the kid thinks big.


Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG

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