Adrian Anantawan is more than a rising star in the classical music world. He is a shining example of the power of perseverance in transcending perceived limits.
"I guess when you see a one-handed violinist play the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, you can always say that there's a story behind the notes," the musician said.
Anantawan was born without a right hand. The son of parents of Thai-Chinese descent living in Ontario, Anantawan nonetheless began taking music lessons when he was nine, with a rehabilitation center in his native Toronto helping to create an adaptive device for his violin.
These experiences transformed his life. His memories of life before this point were of being "marginalized" in school for being "slightly different," he said. But his world opened when he joined a chamber orchestra at age 12 and the focus became the sound he created, rather than how he looked, he has said.
Fast-forward eleven years and his musical exploration would bring him to a solo debut performance, playing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The performance was captured in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary, "Adrian Anantawan: The Story Behind the Notes."
Next came entrance to Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music for a bachelor's degree, and later to Yale University, where he received his master's degree in music in 2006.
Since then, his professional career has included performances at the Athens 2006 SummeOlympic Games and Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and the Aspen Music Festival. He has performed extensively in Canada as a soloist with the Orchestras of Toronto, Nova Scotia, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver.