For some, a piano is just a piano. For Plattsburgh State music professor Louise Dionne, a piano is everything and so much more, as she performs in a solo piano recital titled “Creativity & Artistry” this Sunday at 3 p.m. in Krinovitz Recital Hall in Hawkins Hall.
Dionne, an alumnae of PSUC who joined the music department faculty in 2001, is a professional pianist, applied instructor and recording artist. In addition to teaching Piano I and II, she also directs “Keystrokes,” an annual piano recital for students in Dionne’s Piano II class.
The first half of Dionne’s recital, which represents “creativity,” will feature eight original compositions written from 2005 to 2016, ranging from small etudes, or short musical compositions, and love ballads to lively Spanish flairs and pieces inspired by her real-life relationships with people closest to her.
“Each one has a specific imagination behind it,” Dionne said.
The “artistry” section of the concert will showcase seven more etudes from famous pianists and composers Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt.
One of her favorite compositions to perform this weekend will be “Floating on Lake Champlain,” which serves as the feature and title to her 2011 CD. Another piece, “Sailing on Lake Champlain,” was inspired by her adventures on a Daysailer 3 sailboat with her husband on the lake.
Dionne said piano is the universal instrument for solo musicians because of its expressiveness.
“There is a piece for every style and every taste of solo piano,” Dionne said.
The music department holds faculty recitals periodically each semester.
PSUC Performing Arts Coordinator Dwayne Butchino helps organize a performance by arranging posters, programs and other press.
“I try to help them as much as possible to bring their concert to life,” Butchino said.
While Dionne enjoys performing for her love of music, she also enjoys being a live example for her piano students and sharing her music with them.
“Today, especially with technology, you can see anything on YouTube or any pre-recorded material,” Dionne said. “You can see them in millions of ways. To see it live, you feel something. You see the audience and the performer and each little thing the performer does.”
Junior music major and journalism minor Angelika Velez took Piano I during the spring semester of her sophomore year and Piano II last semester with Dionne.
Velez said she learned a lot about Dionne as a professor and pianist, especially when sight-reading one Bach chorale every day for piano homework in Dionne’s Piano II class.
However, Velez said the sight-reading helped her and other students in the class grow.
“At that point in Piano II, we were all music majors, so we needed to take Piano II not for just the credit but to help our skills as musicians,” Velez said. “[Dionne] likes to make sure we’re being as honest as possible as students.”
Velez and five other piano students were a part of last semester’s “Keystrokes,” where the students rehearsed a specific suite, and each student was added into the performance for each movement of the piece.
“It was just piled on until it was all six of us playing a piece together, and it was ridiculous,” Velez said.
Before that performance, Velez said Dionne coached her and the students well, telling them to relax, take deep breaths and focus on the music.
“She’s makes it very much so that it’s not just about you, it’s about the piece itself, and the piece is using you as their instrument,” Velez said. “She gives music a life, and that’s what I love about her.”
Velez said Dionne has her Piano II students purchase her CD for the class, which is available at the college bookstore, local Plattsburgh music stores and online, and she still listens to the CD regularly.
“It’s such a beautiful collection of pieces that she composed and performed herself,” she said.
Velez is excited for Sunday’s recital, and when it comes to watching Dionne perform, she said there is nothing like it.
“When you actually see her [play] and physically see her hands and how fluid and graceful she is, she’s so beautiful in her performance,” Velez said. “I think it’s a treat to see Louise Dionne play. I’ve never been able to personally see a pianist like [her] in awhile.”
While Dionne’s recital will be an afternoon of original piano compositions and virtuoso studies, Butchino said attending any free music department performance is worth the experience.
“We have fantastic faculty that are all amazing performers themselves,” Butchino said. “If you have the chance to see Louise, or any of our faculty perform, it’s an excellent opportunity.”