His name is Savio Haykal, he is 18 years old and he has been living in Paris for five months. The young man has made his mark on social media through a video that went viral for a few days. We see him playing a song by Feyrouz on a piano at the Monoprix on the Champs-Élysées, a song that seduced foreigners and obviously moved the expatriates, Lebanese and Arabs, who were passing by. This was not Savio’s first performance in this and other public places in the capital.
He was born in Tripoli, and after completing his studies at the Greek Orthodox National School for Girls in Zahriyeh, he was admitted to L1 MIASHS (Mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences) at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
“Since my arrival in France,” he told L’Orient-Le Jour, “I have been living with my uncle’s family, who does not have a piano. This pushed me to look for places where I could play and especially practice. After a little research, I discovered that many public places in France have pianos available to play, including train stations and Monoprix stores.”
That’s how it all started, with the idea of playing in public, filming and sharing these moments on TikTok and Instagram.
Last week, the young man accumulated over 43,000 followers and hundreds of thousands of views. Even though he chose to study away from the world of arts, Haykal has loved music since childhood. “It’s thanks to my parents who passed on this passion to me... We have two pianos, one at home and the other at my grandmother’s. My mother has a beautiful voice,” he said.
“Although separated from my father, she insisted on enrolling me in weekly piano, singing and dancing lessons, and music competitions. She always sends me songs to learn to play or sing. She never stopped encouraging me,” he explained.
The budding musician began learning piano at the age of eight with a home teacher, Michel Haddad. “He taught me the basics and reinforced my musical technique. With him, the one-hour class stretched over three or four hours. He pushed me a lot while being very demanding. I remained his student for eight years.”
At the same time, at the age of 14, he was enrolled at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music “to obtain a diploma. I stayed there until level seven. I couldn’t go a day without playing the piano, it became a way to entertain myself and relax too.” What especially marked his childhood, he said, besides performing in concerts at the Safadi Cultural Center was his participation in The Voice Kids in 2015.
“An experience that gave a major boost to my self-confidence. I was 11 years old, I was on Nancy Ajram’s team, and I made it to the Battles.” He also made a few TV appearances on OTV or Al Jadeed. Now settled in France for his studies, he continues to frequent these places where he plays happily in front of strangers, moving them suddenly out of their routine.
“Music and piano have always been a talent for me that I will develop throughout my career. In school, I was strong in math and computer science and I found this training in France (MIASHS) that combines the two. Maybe later on I will focus more on my music career, but right now I am in France for that, and I am glad that this country also offered me the chance to show my talent to so many people. I will continue to play throughout my studies,” he reflected.
These impromptu mini-concerts allowed him to meet people from all over the world, but also pianists, a violinist and a singer. “We met once a week and played at the Monoprix on the Champs-Élysées, each in turn. As for me, I go there once a week, often on Saturdays, because of my studies. What attracted people to Monoprix the most,” he stressed, “was Feyrouz. I met Lebanese, Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians and even French people, who recognized the songs I was performing. Their reactions made me too proud.”
So, for this pool of memories and this unforgettable air from Lebanon, visiting @saviohaykal on Instagram is a beautiful sweet break for those who are not in Paris. For the others, go to these public places to follow Savio Haykal and breathe a little bit of the air of Lebanon. He will provide information on the dates on his account.