First Lady of Piano at Emory University's Oxford College
“It is part of the wonder and miracle of what I do – the music stays the same and it speaks to people in all countries and all states, and people of all ages and all backgrounds,” Walters said during a recent telephone interview. “This is the world’s music and it is a legacy we share as human beings. I see it as a real mission and a ministry and as a gift to share, and I love what I do.”
Known as the “International First Lady of Piano,” Walters will make her East Metro debut in a concert hosted by the Arts Association of Newton County at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Williams Hall on the Oxford College Campus of Emory University.
Arts Association Artistic Director Ric Chiapetta said that attracting an artist of Walters’s stature is a satisfying achievement. “Ms. Walters is a very fine pianist and we’re excited about presenting her,” Chiapetta said. “Walters performs nonstop, and she’s an artist who just loves to bring fine music to people.”
For much of 2011 and 2012, Walters traveled the globe performing the works of Franz Liszt (1811-1886), who was not only celebrated for his compositions but also for his virtuosity at the piano. Now that her global homage to Liszt has ended, Walters has designed a new program for her new season, which began in September and ends next July.
At Oxford-Emory, Walters will perform pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, and Robert and Clara Schumann, among others. She said she hasn’t abandoned Liszt, as she’ll perform his Liebestraume No. 3, and Walters will close her recital with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
“After playing all-Liszt programs around the world for the Liszt Bicentennial, this season I wanted a change of pace,” she said. “This program is based on music that I grew to love as a child. There is something for everyone. Actually, the program is based upon love in its various forms, from the romantic to the agape. It’s a program that I’ve always wanted to perform.”
In addition to being a virtuoso at the keyboard, Walters is an educator of a sort as her concerts often feature what she terms “Keynote Comments,” where she shares with her audience interesting facts about the pieces she performs.
“That has evolved every year,” she said. “I began doing this on college and university campuses and then I started doing it internationally, sometimes with a translator if I don’t speak the language. The feedback I get from audiences afterwards is that they really enjoy it.”
“Often, in classical music concerts, the audience is sitting in the dark and they can’t read their programs, so I like to talk about each piece right before I play it. I don’t necessarily talk about scholarly things, but human-interest information about the composers and the circumstances under which the music was written, and I talk about why a piece is meaningful to me.”
“Most people who attend concerts don’t know about every piece, so it’s nice to have somebody tell you something about the piece and the context in which it was written,” Chiapetta added.
To that end, Walters will remain in the area on Monday for a series of school residencies for Newton County School System students. Chiapetta said that some 1800 school-age children will hear Walters play at three different events during the day. “That is one of the things we look for in an artist, one who will not only perform a concert but will also share their talents for the school community,” Chiapetta said.
“One thing that I’m looking forward to is the school residency,” Walters said. “That means that I’ll have the opportunity to reach out to students, especially because the program I’m playing this season features works that I learned to love when I was a child. I see this as a special opportunity and I look forward to it very much.”