To be a concert pianist, university professor, author, researcher, studio teacher, and keynote speaker all at once is not an easy feat.
But William Westney has checked all of those off his bucket list.
“He’s performed all over the world,” said James Holleman, chairman of the music department. “He gets rave reviews from serious critiques. He’s in the top tier of known and traveling and performing pianists. He’s been everywhere and done everything, basically.”
As a part of the college’s performing artist series, Westney will perform a compilation of works by Grieg, Chopin, Beethoven, and Gershwin. The recital will take place in Markel Auditorium on Oct. 31 at 8 p.m.
No one is left out when Westney is on stage. A longtime friend of Westney, Melissa Osmond, professor of voice, said Westney draws the audience into a unified experience.
“I’ve just sat there going, ‘This is just so beautiful.’ He just brings you into what he’s doing,” Osmond said. “I remember when he came to play for the Jackson Symphony, and he played an encore, I think it was Brahms. I was just in tears. It was so beautiful and so moving.”
Osmond said Westney makes the music sound like “many different colors.”
“He can really make it sing, in a way that a lot of pianists can’t, in my opinion,” she said.
Holleman added that these pieces are old friends to Westney.
“You get to a point where you perform certain repertoire, and certain composers, and as you get older with more experience, you just keep having a renewed repertoire and with the style of the composer,” Holleman said. “This isn’t the first time he’s performed these pieces, or the first time he’s put this program together. There will be a very deep understanding of the repertoire that he presents.”
Musicians only have one job, Osmond said: to make the audience — and each individual person feel.
“Music was a part of our being before speech,” she said. “The musical part of our brain developed before our speech developed. It’s supposed to be innate in everyone. I mean, not everyone is going to be a musician, but they have music in them and they can be affected by it.”
Admission to the recital is free, but ticket reservations are required. Contact email@example.com or call 517 – 607-2848.