Pianist brings wit, music to campus

(PHOTO/  Hui-Ting Yang)
(PHOTO/ Hui-Ting Yang)
Julian Gargiulo, pianist, teaches music students at a workshop on Troy's campus.
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Pradyot Sharma

Staff Writer

The Troy Arts Council hosted pianist Julian Gargiulo, who performed at a concert titled “Roll over Beethoven” at the Claudia Crosby Theater on Tuesday.

Gargiulo, whose stage name is “Julian G,” is a pianist, composer and recording artist, according to his website.

The concert began with Gargiulo performing “Fire Dance” composed by Manuel de Falla. Gargiulo went on to play a variety of pieces, composed by distinguished composers including Beethoven and Chopin.

He also played two pieces he had written and composed titled “Tango of the Whistling Ducks,” and “Puerto Rican Day Parade,” along with tango music, which he transcribed for the piano. His composing style, as he put it, is a mix of both jazz and classical music.

Before the concert, Gargiulo shared his inspiration for music.

“A girl could reject me …but the piano couldn’t,” he said.

“I come from a family that wasn’t a musical family, but they loved music.”

When Gargiulo first began, he played by ear, but went on to receive formal training when he was 13 and was accepted into a music conservatory.

“I met a very inspiring teacher, and she, I guess, was kind of the catalyst and everything happened very quickly,” Gargiulo said. “That’s all I wanted to do really. . . I only wanted to play piano.”

Gargiulo also supervised a master class for Troy University students earlier that day, and said  he was impressed by the level at which the pianists were playing.

“They were very good,” he said. “It is always exciting to get to listen to and work with young, aspiring musicians because they do things in a different way and it is interesting.”

John Jinright, member of the Troy Arts Council and associate professor of piano and double reeds, expressed enthusiasm over having Gargiulo at Troy.

“His concerts are fun, and he usually includes some of his own composition and speaks about how he composes music,” he said.

In the performance, Gargiulo had a story for every piece he performed. The concert ended with a performance of all three movements of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” that encouraged the crowd to its feet.

He not only showed his skills on the piano, but also entertained the crowd with his sporty humor and quick wit.

For Gargiulo, comedy is now an essential part of his performances.

“It became one of those things that is addictive to see if I could make the people laugh and enjoy themselves,” he said. “And now it’s almost like a show.

“My experience (with concerts) aims to be more interactive and I strongly encourage feedback,” he said before adding, “mainly in the form of applause.”

Students were inspired by his performance.

“I’d say one thing—it was absolutely amazing,” Josh McInnish, a senior music industry major from Ashford, said.

“I really enjoyed the music . . . the phrasing and interpretation he uses is just so beyond what I have ever heard,” McInnish said. “Working with him earlier in the master class was a privilege and an inspiration.”

Jinright said he was pleased with the event, and elaborated on the importance of a unique skill set and ability to connect with an audience, which artists like Gargiulo possess.

“We got to see a side of classical music that really needs to be seen, as many artists have lost touch with the audience,” Jinright said. “And this is a good example of what we need to do to bring many people back to high quality music.”

Gargiulo said his goal is always to connect with the audience.

“I felt I connected with Troy University today,” Gargiulo said. “I really felt . . . one with the Trojans.”