LIMA — Robert Wisniewski knows first-hand the benefits a music scholarship provides. Now with nationwide accolades for his pipe organ performances and a premiere job at the St. Joseph Cathedral in Columbus, he’s excited to kick off this year’s Ronald W. Richards Music Series on Sunday.
“Because I was a recipient of scholarships when I went to school, I realize the importance,” Wisniewski said in a phone interview last week with The Lima News.
Indeed, Wisniewski received his master’s degree from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. While there, he was drawn to the pipe organ.
“I think I was attracted by the sheer variety of sounds the organ can produce and the wealth of music composed for the pipe organ. Much of that music spans 500 years. It’s not one of the easiest instruments to master, but I find it a very rewarding instrument to play,” he said.
At St. Joseph Cathedral, he plays the Fritts organ, ranked as one of the largest such organs in the United States.
But along with performing, he also composes music. One of those compositions will be among the offerings on Sunday.
“Also, I’m improvising a piece for the end of the program. It provides some spontaneity. I ask someone to give me a theme, and I will compose something based on that theme,” Wisniewski said.
While a challenge in anyone’s book, it’s something Wisniewski has been doing since his second year of piano lessons.
“I remember playing a melody on the piano, and I just began experimenting with the chords under that melody. I began improvising, and I’ve done a little of that at many concerts since then,” he said.
Wisniewski travels the country performing on the pipe organ and hopes his work inspires audiences.
“I want people to take away from my concerts a sense of the grandeur and the variety of sounds a pipe organ produces,” he said.