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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

World Piano Day showcases student pieces

Students and faculty performed in honor of World Piano Day. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College Communications)

A World Piano Day performance was staged last Thursday, the 88th day of the year — like the number of keys on a piano — featuring student and faculty performances in celebration of the timeless instrument.

Director of keyboard studies Holly Roadfeldt, among other pianists in the community, performed pieces at Williams Center for the Arts in honor of the holiday.

Roadfeldt brought World Piano Day to Lafayette a year ago. She was inspired by social media posts she saw of people showcasing pieces.

“It was because of that that I thought, ‘If we’re really going to have a World Piano Day, let’s actually see why the piano makes such a huge difference in people’s lives,'” Roadfeldt explained.

At the performance, Roadfeldt played two student compositions by Conrad Tilroe ‘25 and Owen York ‘26.

“I knew they were going to be writing them, and then once I had them, I said, ‘You know what, I think I want to do this for World Piano Day,” Roadfeldt said. “They were really good. They were really, really good.”

Tilroe came to Lafayette with the intention of studying physics and mathematics and no previous music theory experience.

“When I came here, I was like, ‘Okay, let me take a music theory course, and then I just got sucked in,’” Tilroe said.

York did not always feel hopeful about his career in music. Through the encouragement of his peers and mentors though, he changed his tune.

“I’m trying to make [music] work out in my life as a job,” York said. “[Roadfeldt] made me feel really welcome in the music department.”

Last year’s World Piano Day promoted music from all over the world, whereas this year, Roadfeldt decided to collaborate with her friend from the chemistry department, professor Heidi Hendrickson, after discovering a correlation between music and chemistry.

“The idea was we could talk about all sorts of composers that used their harmonic language in a new way,” Roadfeldt said. “You can kind of think of it as alchemy.”

Roadfeldt used the technique of color as an example of how music is the chemistry of sound.

“So, if you curve your fingers more, if you flatten your fingers more, if you go and play the key with a faster attack or a slower attack, or you use more of an arm as a rebound, that’s color,” Roadfeldt explained.

“It’s a lot about balancing colors and creating images with how we’re balancing the colors,” Dan Ruggiero ‘25, a student performer, elaborated. “So, the piece I’m playing is called ‘The Sunken Cathedral,’ and it’s my job to teleport you into a story of a cathedral that’s sunken underwater.”

The goal of World Piano Day at Lafayette is to bridge people of different backgrounds and interests, according to Roadfeldt.

“It can encourage empathy,” Roadfelt said. “It can embrace humanity. It can give you an intellectual awareness of something that you didn’t know. There’s no right or wrong way to listen.”

“I think it’s a shame that more people don’t come to these concerts and experience it because no harm can be done,” Tilroe said. “You go in, you listen, you have a good time, you don’t have to worry about wasting any money because it’s free, and I think more people should take advantage of the opportunity to hear music like this while they’re here because they might not get to once they move on from this place.”

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