The 12-year-old boy tragically passed away in a freak accident at his family's farm earlier this year.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 15, 2022. It has since been updated.
Twelve-year-old Kyan Pennell tragically passed away in an accident and his life, like the music he wrote, will remain a beautiful unfinished composition. Kyan had learned to play the piano just seven months before his death but he took to music like a duck to water. "He was so full of life, with a beautiful mind, and passion for classical music," recalled his mother Amanda Brierley. The 12-year-old wanted to be a concert pianist and spent every waking hour on the piano, said his mother. After his death, Brierley found a half-finished composition and she longed to hear what her son had composed and posted it to Facebook, asking musicians if they could play what her son had written and so many obliged. "I didn't realize that he knew how to write music," she said, reported ABC.net.au.
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Delta Goodrem were among those who played his composition and also improvised on it to finish what Kyan Pennell had heard first in his head before putting it down on paper. The renditions of Kyan's compositions were played at his funeral. Amanda Brierley thanked all those who played his composition and said she was overwhelmed by the "kindness of strangers".
Kyan passed away after he was caught between a trailer and a gate in an accident at his family's farm near Gympie on January 31. She stumbled onto his first composition in an exercise book that was otherwise empty. She took to Facebook requesting someone to play her son's composition. "I found this. Kyan was composing his own classical and I never heard what he was composing," she wrote. "Is there anyone that can read music and play it and send it to us. It would mean the world to us to hear his composition."
Brierley said her son had grand plans for the unfinished composition. "This was just the intro, it is unfinished, he was building up to a grand mid-section and then would do an ending, but he never got to complete what was in his mind's eye. He imagined it to be performed by wind and string instruments, and of course his beloved piano," she wrote. "Piano was his calling, he was 12, and had 7 months of learning, teaching himself music theory, performance and composition, and he had committed to memory multiple classical pieces and some modern pieces," she wrote. "He was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD and used that superpower to become an incredibly beautiful and unique human who just wanted to learn and excel at everything he could, about everything there was."
She then requested someone to help listen to the music their son had composed. "If anyone can contribute and allow his beautiful unfinished work to be played through the hands of others please do. He would have been so chuffed that all these wonderful people are now playing his music," wrote his Mom. "Little did he know he was actually composing his own funeral song. He did tell me that many people have to die to become famous, well my beautiful boy, here we are."
Many musicians responded, playing his music and even improvising on his work. "The thing that has given us some little part of Kyan to hold onto is when I found this composition he was working on in the middle of a blank exercise book," she told ABC Radio Brisbane. "The kindness of strangers has really changed me over this period of time." They played many of the submissions at his funeral. "By the time it was over I really hoped that tune was in everyone's head, and I think Kyan would have had a bit of a giggle knowing that he'd forced everyone to listen to this beautiful music through other people," she said. "Even just having that very first piece—it was one person playing the piano—was going to be enough for me," she said. "I'm humbled to have everyone's submissions." The family started a GoFundMe account to help with the costs of the funeral and bereavement.