Music, straight from the source
Performing a new piece of music is always a little nerve wracking, but if one of the audience members wrote the piece you're performing, well, that's a horse of another color.
That's the scenario several of Erin Winchell's piano students found themselves in when, on Sunday afternoon, composer Wynn-Anne Rossi joined them for a special event.
Each year Winchell chooses a different theme for her piano students. This year, she chose to feature Rossi's original compositions. A Twin Cities-based composer, Rossi has written more than 70 published pieces, some of them with kids in mind.
Winchell teaches more than 30 students out of her Rosemount home. For Sunday's event they used Christ Church in Apple Valley. Rossi spoke about how she started in music and shared stories about how she composes her music. Some of the objects from which she drew inspiration included bubble gum, canyon roads, her pets and stars.
"I love going places in my head," Rossi told the students.
Rossi took questions from Winchell's students including about what her most embarrassing moment was. Rossi explained that she performed one of her pieces at a friend's wedding and, in her words, "choked."
While the event was embarrassing, Rossi told the students it was an important moment for her because she learned that she was better at writing music than performing it.
"At heart I'm really not a performer," said Rossi.
When asked why she likes being a composer Rossi answered, "It makes me feel the most like myself." She then encouraged the students to find that for themselves in their future careers.
Several students performed, and Rossi offered some tips. In addition to being part of her piano curriculum, Winchell said she hopes getting the chance to hear from Rossi might inspire some of her students to try their hand at composing music of their own.
Rossi said she enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Winchell's students.
"It's important to me to help students like you learn to write music ... and to learn to express themselves," said Rossi.
The students seemed to enjoy the opportunity to meet and perform for a real composer. One student said she thought composers were all dead and gone, so the event seemed particularly thrilling.