Washington student ready to hold piano recital April 21

Holly Richrath

The sounds of Beethoven, Chopin and Gershwin will soon be heard at ICC’s Recital Hall.

Eighteen-year-old Jared Rixstine of Washington will perform pieces from the greats at his senior piano recital at 6 p.m. April 21.

Rixstine said his love of the piano came at a young age.

“I had my first piano lesson on Feb. 14, 2001,” he said. “I was 7 at the time. Previous to that, my dad — a former all state jazz tenor — saw that I enjoyed music and taught me some simple tunes on the piano.”

Rixstine said he was “hooked.” He started out playing “Do-Re-Mi” from “The Sound of Music” and the theme from “Chariots of Fire” repeatedly. After time, his parents decided he could use more variety and signed him up for piano lessons.

“I was one of the few young kids that actually wanted piano lessons,” Rixstine said.

Since then, the home-schooled senior said he has enjoyed accompanying local middle school students for the Solo and Ensemble competition each spring and giving private piano lessons.

Rixstine won the Bradley High School Piano Competition in November. He is a two-time winner of the Peoria Area Music Teacher’s Association Scholarship Competition and winner of the PAMTA Sonata Competition in 2009. 

Yet, Rixstine said his biggest accomplishment as a pianist was attending the Indiana University Summer Piano Academy on a merit scholarship.

“IUPA is one of the top summer piano camps in the nation,” he said. “Only 65 people from around the world were accepted for the three-week intense training and I was selected to receive their highest merit award — a 50 percent tuition decrease.”

Rixstine plans to continue his career as a pianist this fall at Decatur’s Millikin University, where he will major in piano performance and political science.

“I love it down there and can’t wait to get started,” he said. “My career goal is to teach piano and music theory at the university level which means I will have to pursue both a mater’s and a doctorate degree.”

Rixstine said the feeling he gets prior to performing is not easy to describe. 

“It’s nervousness, excitement and tons of other stuff,” he said. “At this point I’m more focused and excited than nervous. I’ll be playing my whole program memorized and right now I’m polishing and perfecting the final few pieces. Ask me again on the twentieth, and I’ll be nervous.”

The hour-long recital will include nine pieces including J.S. Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” Aaron Copland’s “The Cat and the Mouse” and Chopin’s third Ballade in Ab Major.