Local pianist invited to prestigious international competition

James Williams

ROCKWALL, TX (March 20, 2014) On any given week, nearly 350 students pass through the doors of the Rockwall School of Music for private or small group instruction in piano, guitar, drums, violin, viola, cello, bass or voice. With more than 3,000 sq. ft. and 12 distraction-free, soundproof teaching studios, the facility itself is noteworthy enough – but even more impressive is the school’s compilation of highly qualified, professional instructors.

“Our instructors are more than degreed teachers. They are skilled musicians who are plugged in to the community,” said Russ Porter, who taught at the school with his wife before purchasing it ten years ago.

One such instructor is James Michael Williams, who not only spends his time teaching and performing, but also volunteers with Art in the Evening, a nonprofit organization providing lessons to students who could otherwise not afford them. He contributes to an arts blog on ketr.org, the website for 88.9 KETR at Texas A&M University-Commerce. And in his spare time, the 25-year-old pianist is preparing for a challenging competition across the globe – the Musical Summer International Music Festival & Masterclasses in Málaga, Spain.

“It’s extremely daunting,” said Williams, who was invited to participate in the festival two years ago as a student – a “non combatant” – but returns this summer as a competitor. “The Europeans view classical music in a completely different light than Americans do. While all classical pianists memorize their music as part of our discipline, the difference is the quantity of music they have prepared at any given moment, and the clarity at which they navigate it. They have four hours of music in their head at any given moment. And over there, they don’t make mistakes. I know I may not be able to compete at that level, but I can bring my artistry and passion. I just need a single performance to tell the judges my story with my instrument.”

Williams will perform 2 Liszt concert etudes, Debussy preludes general Levine and Les collines d’ Anacapri, Liszt vallee d’obermann, Beethoven sonata in f sharp op 78, 2 Scarlatti sonatas, Chopin étude op. 25 no. 1 and Mozart concerto in d minor.

“You have to fall in love with the music inside and out, interpret the score the way the composer wrote it. I practice about four to six hours a day,” Williams said.

The 2014 festival, which runs July 11-23 and includes 12 intensive days of lessons, concerts and competition, is presented by the prestigious Vaiman family of Switzerland and the Vaymen ART organization. Throughout its 12-year history, the festival has been held in Moulin d’Ande,France, but this year it will be hosted on Costa del Sol inMálaga,Spain– one of the oldest cities in the world and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Each year, more than 400 students from different continents take part in the event. The 30 combatants invited to compete are automatically entered into the second round of competition, with a chance to advance to the finals.

Listen to Williams and the Jazz Band at Texas A&M Commerce performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue here: youtube.com/watch?v=baOY8ld7Qoo.

By Dawn Redig, Blue Ribbon News, all rights reserved.

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