Piano recital is another first for recording studio

March 01, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

Music major Omar Williams Jr. recording a recital while instructor Dr. Jelena Vladikovic listens.

Music major Omar Williams Jr. records a recital while instructor Dr. Jelena Vladikovic listens.

Story by Laurie Merrill, GCU News Bureau
Photos courtesy of Eric Johnson, recording studio manager 

Something special happened last week in GCU’s five-month-old Worship Arts recording studio.

It was more than the sweet sounds of yearning and triumph that music student Omar Williams Jr. spun from the piano during his recital of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Now Comes the Gentile’s Savior.”

It went beyond the palpable web of concentration cast by instructor Dr. Jelena Vladikovic, who listened with intense stillness as her student played and who described herself in a single sentence: “I manufacture pianists.”

It wasn’t simply the joy that filled those fortunate to be present as Williams’ fingers danced across the ivory keys. One of the listeners was another music aficionado, Eric Johnson, the recording studio manager.

What was exciting about Williams’ rendition of the song, which in German is “Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland,” was that he was GCU’s first classical music student in the College of Fine Arts and Production to use the studio for such a purpose, Vladikovic said.

Williams, 20, was creating a tape to use when he applies to the PianoTexas International Academy and Festival, a prestigious event, Vladikovic said.

Instructor Dr. Jelena Vladikovich pauses during a recital by Omar Williams Jr.

Instructor Dr. Jelena Vladikovic (left) and Omar Williams Jr. take a break from his recital.

His isn’t the typical path of a great pianist, Vladikovic said. He had some formal training when he was about 6 or 7, dabbled in the saxophone in high school, but never had another piano lesson until his freshman year at GCU.

“Three years later, he is finishing his junior year as a music major,” Vladikovic said. “The rest is history.”

Williams didn’t plan on attending GCU, and he didn’t intend to major in piano performance. He originally planned to be a nurse, and then he wanted to be a band teacher.

“Now I feel like I’m where I need to be,” he said.

Vladikovic, who Williams describes as his “piano mother,” said it is unusual for a talent as exquisite as Williams to come through a liberal arts school instead of a music conservatory.

“Every once in awhile, an Omar comes along,” Vladikovic said. “It doesn’t happen by accident. It’s doing what God told us to do.”

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected] 

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