It would seem that any time that piano collaboration is an option, Irina Nedelcu manages to participate. Now a senior, Nedelcu has accompanied Lawrence University Opera Scenes, concerto competitions, master classes, collaborated with musicians from every studio – except bassoon – and played in more recitals than you can shake a stick at. Nedelcu got her start in piano at an early age in her hometown of Minneapolis, MN. The daughter of two Romanian immigrants, Nedelcu says she became serious about music when she was 15 and decided to go to Romania alone to seek formal classical training. She described the training as “intense, cutthroat and competitive…but that’s just standard Eastern European/Russian training.” It was in Romania that Nedelcu first became interested in collaborative piano, as she took classes that required her to sightread Beethoven symphonies and accompany every imaginable kind of instrument, including a pan flute. Nedelcu returned to the United States for college, and after receiving the Accompanying Fellowship, she decided Lawrence would be the best place for her to continue her studies as a piano performance major. Now in her senior year, Nedelcu is certainly one of the most sought-after accompanists. Next week, Nedelcu will not only play her own recital, but also accompany Patty LeClair’s recital, the Opera Scenes and then play two concerts in Minneapolis that weekend. “Just a regular week, I guess!” she giggled. Nedelcu’s recital will be Wednesday, May 19 at 8 p.m., and will feature works by Clementi, Chopin and Enescu. Nedelcu says the Enescu is particularly important to her because it’s standard Romanian repertoire.”It means a lot to my identity to be able to show these works that not many people in America perform,” says Nedelcu. She also mentioned that she strives to play Romanian music when possible. “But not Bartók,” she amended. “He’s just pretending to be Romanian.” What makes Nedelcu such a valued collaborator is her genuine commitment to the message in the music. She commented, “People should know when they’re going to work with me that I’m going to put everything into it to get that deep emotion from both the soloist and the piano; the piano should be able to say what the lyrics can’t.” Obviously, others have taken note of Nedelcu’s zeal, as she has landed a job as a collaborative pianist at the Interlochen Arts Camp for the summer and from there will attend Florida State University to seek her Master of Music in collaborative piano. After that she hopes to get her Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal coaching and then see where all those degrees take her. So until we have to pay thousands of dollars for Nedelcu to come back to Lawrence and teach master classes, you can still catch her for free May 19 in Harper Hall and hear for yourself why everyone wants to play with Irina.