New head of piano program at Millikin University plays a different tune


A new face of Millikin University's piano program means new goals. WAND's Elise Menaker sat down with Silvan Negrutiu to learn how he's already transformed the program.

It's the sound of a new beginning.

"We will transform the piano program at Millikin into a world-class piano program," Negrutiu described.

Negrutiu is new head of the piano program. He plays a different tune than those who came before.

"What I am trying to do is to inspire the real artistry and the realities of the musical life nowadays so that when they graduate they know exactly what they're getting into because it's not easy," he said.

Growing up playing piano in Romania, the assistant professor has lived in Ireland, Virginia, where he completed his doctorate, and now Decatur.

"Since it was my number one job on my top job that I applied for, I said "Yes," so that's how I came," he explained.

The top spot for Negrutiu. The top pick for Millikin University.

"it just became obvious when push came to shove that Silvan kind of rose to the top and it was a unanimous choice," said Steve Widenhofer Director of the School of music.

Negrutiu struck a chord with the director.

"To see him play and to hear him play here was quite amazing for us... In fact I made the comment he was playing a Beethoven piece, I don't know which one, but he got so much sound out of this piano that it almost felt like the piano was moving... We were very fortunate he looked favorably upon our offer and so the rest is history.

Now Negrutiu is making history. He's been with the university since August but has already started the school's first ever piano club. One of its members, Christina Cummins who also takes lessons from Negrutiu.

"One of the things he's like, 'Are you up for it?' and I was like, 'Yeah, yeah.' At first I was really timid about it, nervous but I decided to take on the challenge and I'm really glad I did," she described.  "He sets high expectations for his piano students and you can see in his eyes like the passion he has for it."

"I try to make my students aware that every single piece was composed with certain feelings and with certain thoughts," Negrutiu said.

It's been through teaching Negrutiu said he's become a complete musician, and he's a man with unmatched passion.

Negrutiu has been playing piano since he was seven years old. His mother urged him to play the violin, but at his first grade music school audition Negrutiu heard the piano. He was fascinated by the sound it makes and against his mother's wishes, chose piano. He hasn't looked back since.

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