February 24, 2004

SIUC pianist to play solo debut in New York City

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Pianist Heidi Louise Williams, a faculty member in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's School of Music, will play her solo debut in New York City on April 17 in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, 66th Street and Broadway.

While Williams has previously performed in the Big Apple - at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall - this is the first time she will have the stage all to herself.

It's every young artist's dream to have a debut in New York City - it's one of the major musical centers in the world," Williams said.

It's the home of the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the Juilliard School, Carnegie Hall - and, of course, Lincoln Center. The legacy of great musicians, great concerts is perhaps richer there than in any other city in the U.S."

Her 90-minute program, which begins at 8 p.m., will feature works by J.S. Bach, Alban Berg, Chen Yi, Claude Debussy and Samuel Barber.

It runs the full spectrum - emotionally, spiritually, technically, coloristically," Williams said. "It's designed to fill Tully Hall in terms of range and depth and to cater to the highest intellect that would be present."

Williams is particularly excited about playing Chen's "Ba Ban," a 1999 work included in the Carnegie Hall Millennium Piano Book (10 pieces commissioned from 10 international composers).

Chen Yi is one of the foremost composers in the world," she said. "It's exciting for SIUC to have this connection to such cutting-edge work."

Preparation for the concert will include two weeks of coaching from Chen and a series of "run-throughs" - full-scale performances on the road.

It's a wonderful way to showcase this program and an invaluable experience in getting ready (for the New York debut)," Williams said. "You try it out ahead of time before a variety of audiences under a variety of circumstances - some of them adverse!"

Practice time in the two months leading up to the concert runs between 30 and 40 hours each week, Williams estimates.

It's just like a world-class athlete," she said. "If I want to be at a top level of performing, there's no other way."

Tickets to the concert cost $20 and are available now through the Tully Hall box office, 212/875-5050. SIUC alumni may buy two tickets for the price of one through the School of Music, 618/536-8742, up until April 9.

Williams joined the SIUC faculty in 1999. She is a three-degree graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Md., earning her bachelor's in 1993, her master's in 1995 and her doctorate in 2000.

For more information about her, visit her Web site at http://www.siu.edu/~music/faculty/williams.htm. Look for her concert schedule on the Web at http://www.siu.edu/%7emusic/faculty/williamsrecital.htm

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