This could be the subplot of a Christmas movie. On Christmas Eve 2022, 9-year-old Rebecca Seziba sat on the stool of a public piano on a landing in Table Bay Mall. It wasn’t her first time playing here. On 18 April 2022, she posted two videos of herself playing the mall piano. On 2 August she posted a third. The videos were amateur, with poor sound
While doing last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve in Cape Town, South Africa, Rudi Smith chanced upon Rebecca playing Celine Dion’s My heart will Go On. He filmed her and shared it on his Facebook page. Within two weeks the video had a million views. When Rebecca was contacted by UK-based pianist Rahul Suntah, she made local newspaper headlines.
Rahul Suntah, a classical pianist from Mauritius, was shown Rebecca’s Christmas Eve video by his manager, David Gummers. Suntah was so impressed that he contacted the Seziba family and proposed a collaboration with Rebecca. Within weeks of Rudi Smith’s post, a contract was signed. Gummers has said that what most impressed Suntah and him was the way that Rebecca could play so well in a bustling mall without notes. Here is a video of Suntah playing Despacito Live at St Pancras Station London, 2017
No wonder the composer and pianist Rahul Suntah was impressed by Rebecca. He knows how hard it is to concentrate when playing piano in a busy shopping precinct in front of a sizable audience! According to Classic FM, the collaboration between Suntah and Rebecca has already commenced. They are working towards playing Suntah’s composition Home Bound in the form of a merged video London/Cape Town piano duet.
Table Bay Mall set up its public baby grand piano in 2019. While the Seziba family bought an upright piano last year, after years of the children using an electronic keyboard, the family still visits malls with public pianos once a month so that the three Seziba pianists can play in public on upmarket pianos. Fortuitously, one of those mall visits was on Christmas Eve 2022.
The last word in this heartwarming Christmas story can go to Rahul Suntah’s manager, David Gummers: “We have said it and we will say it again, Rebecca is very very good. She even writes her own stuff. So the two of them working together is going to be interesting. This is all about baby steps. I am quite sure that she will get more invites. I consider her talent special.” Gummers added that he hoped that the exposure will lead to Rebecca Seziba getting a scholarship to study music.