This week the Artist Spotlight turns to freshman pianist Jesse Pieper. Pieper won the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra’s annual concerto competition this year, along with saxophonist Jesse Dochnahl. This is a remarkable achievement for a freshman and a sign of good things to come from Pieper in the future. Here’s a small glimpse into the musical mind of one of Lawrence’s up-and coming-performers.Where are you from and what’s your major?
I am from Fond du Lac, Wisc., and my major is piano performance.
How long have you been playing music?
I’ve been involved somehow in music throughout my life. My parents weren’t really musical at all. I kind of just played around with the piano and other instruments when I was young, but I never had formal lessons until just before I turned 13. I just liked it starting off and it sort of evolved into being my life, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
When and how did you decide to pursue music as a career?
I decided I wanted to be a pianist shortly after I started lessons. I really don’t know how or why. Playing piano seemed to just fit, and I wasn’t going to argue against it.
Are there composers or performers that have been particularly inspirational to you?
I’d have to say my “composer” idol would definitely be Sergey Prokofiev. As far as other inspiration, my piano teachers are huge contributors. (Especially Larisa Topolkarevea and Professor Dmitri Novgorodsky.
Can you tell us a little bit about the concerto you’ll be performing this spring?
This is Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto in D flat major. It was written while he was still enrolled in the conservatory in Moscow. The intentions of this particular piece are quite interesting. He wrote it especially for the conservatory competition. Usually in this type of competition, the artist would play a masterpiece by some other brilliant composer. Yet, Prokofiev went against the grain and wrote his own concerto. Amusingly enough, he ended up winning the concerto competition. This piece is full of sarcasm, vibrancy, and is in my opinion one of the great neo-classical concertos ever written.
Do you have any plans for the future?
My plans may change, but I just hope I’ll be playing music for the rest of my life.