Pianist harmonizes her love of teaching with a passion for performance
Rebecca Wilt’s passion for music is rivaled only by her passion for people and the energy she draws from interacting with musicians from around the world. As an artist-in-residence since fall 2003, this internationally renowned pianist performs at competitions, festivals, and solo recitals in the States and at international venues including Thailand, China, Vienna, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Messiah’s director of keyboard studies, Wilt instructs piano students and coordinates musical collaborations with her piano students and others for recitals. She also serves as music director for the Department of Music’s Opera Workshop course, taught by Damian Savarino, lecturer in music.
According to Wilt, performing off campus is crucial to her teaching. “Students need to see that you can do what you’re teaching them to do.” She adds, “If I was not out performing, I’d become complacent,” and risk losing technique, something she says she can’t afford to do. Regularly challenged to sight-read pieces she’s never seen before for master classes and recitals, Wilt is also on the list of substitute Broadway pianists and has traveled to New York to play for vocalists auditioning for parts in Crazy for You, The Secret Garden, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Through her professional example, Wilt strives to demonstrate that “music performance really is a viable career option.” Both the Harrisburg Singers and the Harrisburg Opera Association have discovered Wilt’s talents and have retained her as pianist for rehearsals and concerts. She performs hundreds of times each year and has recorded two CDs, An American Portrait with trumpet player James Thompson (2002) and the Christmas collection ’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime (2005).
As a young musician Wilt decided to focus on performing as a collaborative artist rather than as a soloist, realizing that the solitary life of a soloist was not for her. Playing with an experienced soloist “who’s about the partnership” is the ideal situation for Wilt. But she also enjoys collaborating with less experienced musicians, where she often finds herself in the role of “coach.”
Messiah’s location makes it possible for Wilt to take advantage of many opportunities in nearby metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and New York City. As she is performing and making contacts, Wilt also is doing “amazing work for Messiah—recruiting students and promoting performance both on and off campus,” according to music department chair William Stowman. “Rebecca has completely energized the piano area within the Department of Music. I am thrilled to have a musician of her caliber and reputation on our music faculty. ”
—Susan K. Getty '84