March 22, 2010
10-050

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Piano Whiz Takes Stage March 26

The university’s most advanced freshman piano major will perform during the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra (VSO) Youth Concert program at 10 a.m. Friday, March 26 in Whitehead Auditorium.

Tyler Walker, who began plunking on ivory keys at the age of 4, beat out a dozen masterful musicians during the ninth annual VSO Concerto Competition to secure the honor of playing with one of the region’s most prestigious symphonies. VSO Director Howard Hsu said the promising young talent plays with a maturity and grace that makes it difficult to believe he is only 19. Walker is much less boastful about his natural talent. The native of Patterson, Ga., plays the piano to relax, to worship and to entertain. It is his greatest passion.

“My favorite thing about playing is ability to express myself freely. With words, one might get offended; but through music, one has more liberty to express anger and other strong emotions,” said Walker, who serves as the church organist at First Baptist Church in Quitman and has held similar positions since the age of 14. “I am a little nervous about playing with the VSO, but mostly just excited. Besides, being nervous is a positive thing if you take control and use it for good.”

Walker will challenge symphony patrons with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major. Professor of Music Dr. Lyle Indergaard, who has instructed Walker for the past three years, said Walker’s emotional playing has raised expectations throughout the music department, and his performances throughout the state have brought notoriety to VSU.

“Tyler exemplifies these attributes of Mozart's music in his performance. His playing exhibits a technical security and musical maturity that is exemplary for a pianist of his age,” said Indergaard. “Aaron Copland, the great 20th Century American composer, wrote that Mozart's music is a ‘happy balance between flight and control, between sensibility and self-discipline, simplicity and sophistication of style.’ That is what people can expect from Tyler.”

Walker has twice been selected first place of the Georgia Music Educators' Association Solo Piano Competition, both as a high school senior in 2008 and college freshman last year. He was also one of eight piano majors selected to participate at the Georgia Governor's Honors Program in the summer of 2008. Walker has been invited to perform at Atlanta's Spivey Hall during a master class taught by world-renowned pianist Jeremy Denk.

The passionate musician said he hopes continue his piano instruction and earn a doctorate in collaborative piano so that he can teach at a university. Regardless of his career path, Walker said his passion for sacred music remains a constant in his life. He hopes to one day write choral music and arrange hymns.

“I feel that the best career is one that you are happy with, and one in which you always strive to be better,” Walker said. “One of my favorite things to do is to just sit at the piano and play something. I believe it is the best way to let out what ever it is that is on your mind. Piano is very natural to me. I basically learned to play as I learned to talk, and I don’t feel limited to what is written on the page."

The VSO Youth Concert is an opportunity for area youth to experience orchestral music. Parents are invited to bring their children to this free event, but it is not open to the general public. For more information about the hourlong program, call the Department of Music at 229-333-5804.