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“Winter” at Carnegie Hall
A Missouri teenager’s original composition “Winter” was performed at the famous Carnegie Hall’s Christmas concert on December 19th. However, Liam Picker, the talented young pianist who composed the piece was not able hear his masterpiece come to life. Picker struggled with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety, before taking his own like two years ago. Picker was only 18.
“I was incredibly proud of my son. I was proud of his talent. I was thankful for his talent because it brought me so much joy. It brought life to the house,” said Liam’s mom, Lisa Picker. “I would watch his hands. I loved to watch his hands.”
Lisa Steele, Liam’s piano teacher imagined him to grow up to compose music for soundtracks, movies and television. “He could look at something and read a passage of poetry and take the words for the picture and distill it down into music you could feel,” said Steele.
After Liam’s death, Liam’s mom decided to search for a non-profit music foundation her family could support in his honor. She eventually came across the Pennsylvania non-profit, Harmony for Peace Foundation. Founded by Tomoko Torri, Harmony for Peace supports the arts, particularly for gifted children. Picker began an email correspondence with Torri and received a message asking if she had any of Liam’s original compositions. Torri wanted someone to perform Liam’s song, “Winter” during the Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall.
Pianist Gohei Nishikawa was selected to perform Liam’s song at Carnegie Hall. One week before the concert, Nishikawa asked for a meeting with the Picker family and traveled from New York to St. Charles. The Pickers learned they had something in common with Nishikawa.
“I lost my father last year. He committed suicide from depression,” said Nishikawa. “I planning on performing his (Liam’s) music everywhere I go in Japan and introduce his music and his story so he can travel with me in spirit.”
Nishikawa placed a framed photo of Liam on his piano while he played the piece. The Pickers were touched to have their son honored so beautifully and hope to use their family tragedy to continue the conversation about teenage depression.
“If we want our children, our society to be the generation going forward in leading this crusade and this battle,” said Lisa Picker, “we as parents and adults now have to not only start the conversation, but we have to start the movement.”
Jill Hamilton, Project Coordinator, The Kim Foundation
Jill Hamilton has been the Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation since 2014. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from The University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Since working at the foundation, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nebraska LOSS Advisory Committee, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, The Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, Nebraska State Conference Planning Committee, is Chair of the Nebraska LOSS Teams Conference Planning Committee, and serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Metro Area LOSS Team.