People in Profile
Bentley is an accomplished pianist, talented beyond his years.
“It surprised me. I just assumed he wouldn’t be interested in piano at such a young age,” Eunji Penn said, reflecting on her son’s earliest memories of music. “I play piano and used to sing opera. We have a grand piano at home, so he’d always see me playing. One day he just looked at me and asked, ‘hey, can you find me a teacher so I can play, too?’
At just five years old, Bentley found his passion for piano and began a pursuit of musical excellence that continues to this day.
“He’s actually away for a provincial competition in Edmonton right now,” Eunji said of Bentley’s whereabouts at the time of interview. “Always busy.”
As a young musician, Bentley has already earned an impressive range of awards and accolades.
He’s played in Carnegie Hall twice, in February and November of the same year in two separate competitions and won both. In winning a different competition, Bentley was invited to play with a South Korean orchestra in Seoul.
He’s also won the Royal Conservatory here in Canada,” Eunji said. “He performed at six years old and won the gold medal. He got the highest score in all of Alberta.”
Bentley has style as well as skill to bolster his stage presence and is famous for the exquisitely fashionable suits he wears to every performance.
“I like to dress up nicely, so I always custom order my clothes from Seoul,” Eunji said. “When he started performing, Bentley always wanted to dress up for the occasion, so we have custom suits and shoes sent from Korea for him, as well.”
Off the stage, Bentley stays busy and keeps his interests broad.
“He was into skateboarding for a while, but now he’s really gotten into basketball. He also loves art in every form, so he attends art classes during the week and sings in choir.”
Though Bentley’s skills take him all around the world, the Penn family says they’re proud to call Fort McMurray home.
“We’ve lived here for 15 years and Bentley was born here,” Eunji said. “I’m originally from South Korea, my husband is from Jamaica. We met each other in Vancouver, got married and moved out here when he got a job in the region.
"We love Fort McMurray. It’s a small town, but we know everybody and everyone’s nice. Bentley’s thriving, I have my own business, Inah Nail Arts Salon, and my husband is an area manager for Herc Equipment Rentals. It’s good for us here.”
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