The Friends of Music concert series kicked off its 2019 season with the first performance Thursday by Dr. Thomas Nixon, a staff piano accompanist.
Nixon’s performance was his first with the Friends of Music, but also as a solo pianist.
“This performance is different because I am all by myself up on stage,” Nixon said. “The majority of my work is collaborative piano, so I am joined by singers and other instrumentalists. A solo recital takes an excruciating amount of work to prepare I started relearning this program 9 months ago. Where as in collaborative piano, we are performing several times a week with little to no rehearsal.”
For his performance, Nixon played pieces that highlight technique, as well as pieces he enjoys playing. The six selections were composed by Mozart, Chopin, Scriabin, Albeniz, Ravel and Wild.
“Since this is my first recital at SFA, I wanted to showcase pieces that I play well pieces that highlight my strengths as a collaborative pianist as well as a soloist,” Nixon said. “I also picked some of my favorites in the repertoire. I never get tired of hearing them or playing them in concert. Hopefully, the audience loves these pieces as much as I do. A lot of the music is very intense and exciting, but I am most looking forward to the intimate, softer moments. Sometimes those can have a longer lasting impact on folks.”
Michelle Kim, a senior music education major from Cedar Park, says that while she has never worked with Nixon, she was excited to hear his solo performance.
“It’s spectacular,” Kim said. “I just got to say spectacular. I hear him practice upstairs before my lesson, and it’s great.”
The turnout to the event,
according to Kim, was successful. She also stated that this performance is a good indicator of how the rest of the concert season will go.
“Most of the time I’ve heard him accompany people. I’ve never heard him play solo,” Kim said. “So, I think it’s really nice to hear him play a bunch of different music just featuring him. I think [his recital] is successful right now. A lot of people have shown up today and it’s the first recital of the semester, so it’s a fabulous start.”
Chair of the Friends of Music concert series and flute professor Christina Guenther, said the series allows for faculty and guest musicians to showcase their skills throughout the year.
“People just pick their own dates,” Guenther said. “So faculty, we have a calendar we can look at, and we can see what’s open, so we see what’s open that works for our guests, if we have guest artists coming in, and what’s open for us. So it’s just, individuals decide when it is that they want to give their recitals.”
This means that Nixon chose to have his recital at the start of the series, after having a summer full of practice.
“I chose to put my recital at the beginning of the semester because I am fresh off of a summer of intensive study at PianoTexas held at Texas Christian University,” Nixon said. “I studied with some of the world’s most renowned teachers, and this was the springboard for a solo recital.”
The opening performance will not be Nixon’s only feature in this year’s Friends of Music series, according to Guenther.
“He is a fabulous performer,” Guenther said. “He’s really musical, and his technique is really exceptional. I’m actually playing a concert with him next semester. He’s new. This is only his second year here. So, I think they’ll find a really exciting performance.”