Adam Mandela Walden

L.A. County Holiday Celebration featured peformer


A Los Angeles native, Adam was diagnosed with moderate/severe autism at three-years-old and was also diagnosed as a prodigious music savant by the famed neurologist and author Oliver Sachs. At six, he played his 1/4 sized cello on MSNBC's exploration of the rise in autism diagnosis. Adam became the first autistic student requiring an aide, to attend a LAUSD performing arts magnet school after he played Bach for the school board, thereby opening those 181 schools to severely autistic students. During his elementary school years, Adam studied classical cello repertoire at the Colburn School and played jazz with the World Stage Youth Orchestra in Leimert Park. He became a member of the Harmony Project for seven years and became the first autistic musician to tour with conductor Gustavo Dudamel  and YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles).  Despite  having limited functional speech, Adam graduated with an academic diploma from  Roman C. Cortines High School for Visual and Performing Arts and won a full academic scholarship to Berklee College of Music/Boston Conservatory, where he is currently a senior. He attends every class with a communication facilitator provided by L.A.'s Lanterman Regional Center.

When Adam was eight, he starred in the Emmy winning documentary Autism: The Musical. Last year, HBO traveled to Berklee and filmed another documentary with Adam titled Autism: The Sequel, which showed what college is like for severely autistic students. Adam appeared on Lifetime's Genius series and has been featured in San Diego's Mainly Mozart Festival in their Mozart and the Mind concerts. Adam has won gold and silver medals at several classical music competitions and is the face of autism for Infiniti Motorcar's autism awareness commercials in China. Adam also composes music and has had several pieces published. This holiday performance is especially wonderful for Adam as he and his family, for years, have lined up outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and watched the L.A. County Holiday Celebration live.