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items tagged with classical music

Out of His Own Way: William Campbell, April 28 at St. Paul Lutheran Church
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-03-23 14:09:54

William Campbell. Photo by Renee Meyer-Ernst.

William Campbell can’t recall why he became a composer, but he does remember his piano lessons as a youth in Tucson, Arizona.

In an interview last week, Campbell recounted the questions he asked of his Julliard-trained teacher: “‘Why didn’t Beethoven do this?’ And I’d play a little something. And he’d be like, ‘Well, that’s not what this piece is. Did you learn this passage?’ And I’d play the passage, and I’d say, ‘Yes, but why didn’t he do this?’ ... I’d ask about motives and things.”

That instructor was good at many things, Campbell said – “He instilled in me a sense of how to emote on the instrument ... , technique, and also to try your best no matter what” – but he didn’t do much to encourage his pupil’s creativity. The student brought in a piece that he’d composed, and his mentor played a Rachmaninoff prelude as a response.

The 41-year-old Campbell said that he never presented another original composition to that teacher, but three decades later, he is certainly getting more affirmation. An associate professor of music theory and composition at St. Ambrose University, he’s releasing his first solo-piano album, Piano Songs – an event that will be marked by a March 26 concert at the Galvin Fine Arts Center. On April 28, he’ll debut his Piano Quintet with the Maia String Quartet at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport. And in its 2011-12 season, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra will perform Campbell’s Coyote Dances in one of its Masterworks concerts.


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