Cameron Stuart | Radio Director
World-renowned pianist Helge Antoni is in the midst of a two-week trip to Baylor, where he will lecture to students and play a show open to the public at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Roxy Grove Hall.
Antoni’s lectures this week have been to students of the Baylor School of Music, the Honors College and children from the Vanguard College Preparatory School. The young demographic, especially college students, is what he wants his music to appeal to most, Antoni said.
“University and education is about being presented different things,” Antoni said. “I just want to plant a little seed so that students realize that this type of music and art also exists.”
Dr. Alden Smith, classics professor and associate dean of the honors college Dr. Alden Smith is a longtime friend of Antoni and was integral in bringing him back for his third trip to Baylor. Smith believes Antoni’s visit will have a cultural impact on Baylor students.
“His resume is impressive, but it’s not the most impressive part about him,” Smith said. “He is an extremely witty and brilliant person, and I wanted students to spend time with that rare a person.”
Antoni has played for distinguished individuals such as Nobel Prize winner and was the first musician invited by the Georgetown University’s political science department to perform at the school.
Swedish-born Antoni has been playing live shows for over four decades after studying at the Malmo Academy of Music, drawing inspiration from musicians such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Domenico Scarlatti.
“Musicians like Scarlatti and Mozart were so inspired by music from other cultures,” Antoni said. “It is that type of feel and cross-cultural theme that I have put into my program.”
Antoni has used that inspiration not just to make music, but to be as passionate a performer as possible, putting as much emphasis on his presentations as he does his concerts. While he said he believes the music is powerful, he opts for silence as his favorite part of each of his shows.
“The last piece I play from my shows is hypnotic, it will change you after you hear it,” Antoni said. “When I play it there is this incredible silence after it’s finished, and the crowd all lands together and that is the most beautiful part of the concert.”
As word gets around Baylor, some students, like Corpus Christi senior and organ performance major Hank Carrillo, are excited to see Antoni perform.
“As performers we are seen as kind of stoic and not engaging with our audience outside of maybe some program notes,” Carrillo said. “I think it is really refreshing to have someone who is willing to be more interactive with their audience.”
Even though his music catalog ranges back over 300 years, Antoni also sees modern comparisons to the type of art and passion he tries to bring to his own music.
“I think Lady Gaga is very artistic, and she too is classically trained,” Antoni said. “She has found her art in her music, and she has convinced millions of it.”
The concert at Roxy Grove Hall will be free to the public and will be Antoni’s only public concert of his trip.