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Frano Zivkovic – 11yr old Croatian Prodigy

By Matthew Todd / a couple of years ago

Frano guitar“With my music I try to paint a picture to make people feel happiness and sadness but also excitement, fear, anticipation and courage.” Frano

Frano is far too humble to admit it, but he is clearly a child prodigy. Specialising in classical guitar, his fingers fly up and down the frets with dazzling speed, his tone and expression is unbelievably mature, and he performs with calm confidence and perfect poise. But Frano is so much more than merely an impressive talent show: we might well be looking at the next Mozart…

I am particularly excited to introduce Frano to Torchlight Talent. The majority of our articles promote young singers performing contemporary pop music. With Frano we are proud to introduce our first classical instrumentalist and composer.

A musical foundation

Frano was born in Rijeka, Croatia, Europe where he still lives with his family. His musical journey began with the great classical composers such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. His biggest contemporary influence is Tommy Emmanuel who has become a great friend and mentor to Frano. More recent composers such as Chet Atkins, Bireli Lagrene, Jerry Reed, Paco de Lucia, John Williams, Villa Lobos, Francisco Tarrega have also had a significant impact on Frano’s musical development and, in Frano’s words,

“The journey continues with a many other musicians and composers whom I yet need to discover.”

Frano is wonderfully articulate and, other than changing the odd word or two for the sake of a clearer translation, I want to let him speak for himself as far as possible. Frano talks about his music:

“My music is often a description of my feelings. I like to write about events I have experienced, places where I’ve been and people or pets from my life. With my music I try to paint a picture to make people feel happiness and sadness but also excitement, fear, anticipation and courage. I play mostly kind, gentle and innocent, classical acoustic music. Many people say that they feel much calmer when they listen to me. I want everyone to feel alive through my music and think of it – as with any other art – as conveying a message and telling a story. When I was having a concert in Italy last year one musician said to me: “Your music is the sound of your parents’ soul”. That was a very nice thing so hear, a powerful thought that stayed in my mind.”

A terrible tragedy

Sometimes life has a strange way of putting things in perspective. Truth be told, we almost lost this incredible talent forever earlier this year due to a horrible accident involving Frano and a drunk driver:

“Recently while playing on my scooter in front of my house, a drunk driver hit me at full speed. I went flying ten meters and landed on my head. I was in the hospital but am now recovered and home. There are no words to describe how lucky and grateful I am that everything turned out OK. I sure got a new birthday! Thanks everyone who sent me their prayers, thoughts and positive energy.”

frano kartingIt seems so wrong and unfair that an amazin young life might easily have been cut short by one thoughtless act. But we, like Frano, are grateful that everything worked out fine and it does not seem to have blunted his enthusiasm in the slightest!

Classical values and youthful passion

As a classically trained musician who loves many styles of music, it excited and encourages me to see young people enthusiastically embracing the disciplines of the classical tradition. The classical music world is by no means an easy environment in which to grow and develop (more about that another time!) but I do fear that there are some key values that are at severe risk of being lost for future generations.

I’m talking about values that say: “practise; try again; keep going; strive for excellence.” This is how a musician grows and finds their own unique gift within themselves. Conversely, there are confusing voices being shouted from our contemporary media and instant entertainment culture. Voices that say: “you either have it or you don’t; never mind hard work, just believe in yourself; you don’t need education, you just need talent, etc.”

One of the inherent features of being a classical musician is that much of your skill, knowledge and ability is hidden. In Frano’s case it is easy to see his talent shining through but, even so, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the visible ability is a vast but invisible knowledge of music theory (including the intricacies of harmony and other compositional techniques) to a level usually studied as part of a university level music course.

You will already have seen one of his guitar compositions above, but I looked through his YouTube Channel to see if I could find an example of one of his orchestral compositions. Imagine my delight (as a lifelong advocate of boys singing) in finding this video where Frano not only arranged the string parts but also sings!

If you still need convincing, hear what this modern Mozart has to say about his recent compositions!

Frano pise“Last year I started to play violin in a Music High School Orchestra. Every class was great, I just love that. Then I wrote a Concerto for a String Orchestra. I hope this year it can be publicly performed. It is an amazing feeling to listen and watch orchestra to play my very own scores. Usually I compose with the instrument in my hand or on front of computer software called Sibelius. I start to play some melodies from my head and slowly develop the composition.

Some compositions are a result of recent events in my life, it can be a walk in nature, a pet, a friend, or it can be a result of my homework. For example, the great Swedish guitarist and a composer Johannes Moller with whom I have lessons occasionally, gave me an assignment to write a tango. So now I am writing a tango :)”

Gotta love that: “then I wrote a Concerto” – as you do when you are an 11 year old boy, Frano! Monday – football,  Tuesday – swimming, Wednesday – write a Concerto!

Joking aside, for many artists, their talent is both a blessing and a curse. An older friend said to me recently, “artists often have a unique personality tension: powerful feelings combined with powerful discipline.” I liked that description a lot. The truth is, these ‘powerful feelings’ often make life pretty tough for artists. It can often feel like you are at war with yourself, constantly fighting the feelings that you reject and searching for the ones that you need. This has the potential to make us a very inward looking and even selfish species, until we fully come to terms with the reality of why we do what we do.

It is deeply encouraging and even moving for me to see a musician as young as Frano who seems to already have an acute awareness of the greater purpose of his music. Having the opportunity to discover and promote those unique and special young people is one of the greatest joys of writing for Torchlight Talent:

“My dream is to be a versatile artist. I would like to use not just music, but also drawing, painting and writing stories in my art. I see myself travelling around the world, giving shows to make people happy, composing, conducting, acting in movies and helping others. I would like to develop my School Tour project and have concerts in many schools and countries.”

Frano Schools Tour

Frano’s advice to aspiring young musicians, as you might expect, is an honest reflection of his work ethic:

“Recently I saw one inspirational quote: “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” That would be my advice also.”

Zivkovici TubingenHow can we help?

I asked Frano how we can best support him in his career:

“I guess like every other musician the huge support for me is buying and listening to my music, sharing my videos with your friends, and buying tickets to my concerts or helping to organise one. I love to travel & play live. Supporting me in that way is a direct donation to my schooling and I am very thankful.”

And finally, I asked Frano who he would especially like to thank for helping him get this far:

“I would like to thank to my parents, who are with me every step of the way. They are totally amazing and put a lot of time and energy to cover all of my activities on daily basis. I love them more than anything.

My mum says life is a bucket of flowers and every person that comes along the way is giving you one flower. Each of flower is different but important. Many flowers in my bucket are my teachers who helped me and are still helping me to develop my potential. One of them, professor Maša Legac is really special as a teacher and also as a person, she takes care of me like I am her own grandson. She often calls to hear how I am doing in school, how I did in exams, where I performed or to arrange for me to meet her grandsons for a lego party or a football game.

Learning from the master - Frano with Tommy Immanuel

Learning from the master – Frano with Tommy Emmanuel

I am beyond grateful to the one only Tommy Emmanuel, for being the one and only Tommy Emmanuel! With a big heart and always a nice word and support for me, sharing the stage with my hero is a dream come true. I’m growing up listening to his music and watching his concerts.

Also, I would like to thank all of the people who are buying, listening and sharing my music and writing nice comments on my social media. That gives me motivation for more writing and playing. When I am about to publish a new video I am really excited about the comments that are coming from all over the world. It’s so nice to read: “Hello Frano, greetings from Argentina/ Poland/ Russia/ Japan/ USA/ Brazil.” I go to the map and see how far away they are. I would like to visit all of those countries some day.

And thanks to you [Torchlight Talent] for making this interview! :)”

Stay up to date with Frano

 

Frano’s Official Website

Frano’s YouTube Channel

Frano’s Facebook Page

Frano klavirPlease support Frano if you can by buying his amazing original music:

Physical CD

iTunes

Amazon

Sheet Music

 

About the author

Matthew Todd

Matthew is the owner and author at Torchlight Talent. He has a passion for stories which he believes have the power to inspire and transform. Matthew lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with is wife Lisa. He is a director of Lux Ventus, a company with many creative ventures.