Monday, May 16, 2005

Mystery Piano Man Found in Soaking Wet Clothes Still Unidentified

Fantastic Response to Piano Man

A helpline set up to identify a mystery man who stunned carers by giving a virtuoso classical piano performance has been inundated with calls.
The man has not said a word since police picked him up wandering the streets of Sheerness, Kent, in a soaking wet suit and tie on 7 April.

His social worker Michael Camp said the man, in his 20s or 30s, is usually very anxious but "comes alive" at the piano. Orchestras around Europe are being contacted to see if they know him.

The National Missing Persons Helpline is appealing to anyone who recognises the man to come forward. Mr Camp said there had been a "fantastic" response. "We have had one definite lead, but I haven't had time to follow it up yet. "A name has been given of a possible person from the Sussex area.

"We had one of these before, from the local area, and it sounded promising but... we'll just have to wait and see."

The man's talent came to light after staff at the Medway Maritime Hospital gave him a pen and paper in the hope he would write his name. Instead the patient, dubbed The Piano Man, drew very detailed pictures of a grand piano. The man shocked staff with a performance of classical music after Mr Camp showed him the piano in the hospital's chapel.

Mr Camp said: "When we took him to the chapel piano it really was amazing. He has not spoken since the day we picked him up. "He does not make any sounds but I think I can communicate with him through tiny nods." The man has since written music, which has been verified as genuine.

Mr Camp added: "It is extraordinary. The first time we took him down to the piano he played for several hours, non-stop."

Several lines of inquiry have been followed, and the hospital brought in interpreters to see if the mystery patient was from Eastern Europe. He is now being held in a secure mental health unit in north Kent while an assessment is carried out. Mr Camp said he was "extremely distressed" and may have suffered a trauma.

'Very frightened'

Karen Dorey-Rees, adult mental health manager for the West Kent NHS and Social Care Trust, said the mystery man was very vulnerable. "He is not talking at all, he is very frightened," she said.

"We are aware that he is a very vulnerable man and we would be putting him in a dangerous situation if we let him go." She said that the labels had been removed from every item of clothing the man was wearing when he was found on The Broadway in Minster, Sheerness.

The case has drawn comparisons with the 1996 film Shine which depicts the story of acclaimed pianist David Helfgott who suffered a nervous breakdown. Ms Dorey-Rees was unable to say what music he had played.

"Nobody was skilled enough to recognise the music, they just knew it was classical music and he played very well." Anyone who has information about The Piano Man is urged to call the National Missing Persons Helpline on 0500 700700 .

I once heard an NPR report on prescription drug abuse among orchestra people. They spoke with a few who made it clear that it auditioning and performing is so unbelieveably stressfull. I hope if this guy suffers from mental illness that he can let go of that stress and work on taking care of his mental health.

I used to play an instrument on the Church scence and also Jazz/fusion scene and it was extremely relaxing and fun. The reason is that jazz and gospel and many other types of music allow for self interpretation, a mistake could work in favor of the music. But with classical pieces, everyone knows what the piece is supposed to sound like and if you get it wrong. I suppose if your livelihood were riding on such perfection, sound mental health may not a be luxury you could afford.


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