Rock meetsRachmaninoff

William Joseph listened to classic rock before piano lessons in classical music. Now he blends those two styles to create an original sound. Joseph performs Wednesday (Jan. 16) at the Port Theatre. - Photo contributed
William Joseph listened to classic rock before piano lessons in classical music. Now he blends those two styles to create an original sound. Joseph performs Wednesday (Jan. 16) at the Port Theatre.
— image credit: Photo contributed

Think of William Joseph as the ultimate crossover artist.

The classical concert pianist loves rock music and melds the two together to create his own original sound.

His album Within, released in 2004, features Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir and Dust in the Wind, by Kansas, plus other well-known rock songs, orchestrated with Joseph on piano.

“It’s a mix between classical and rock,” Joseph said from his home in Arizona. “It’s a crossover genre.”

Joseph produced his first album independently before meeting uber-producer David Foster, which changed his life forever.

“I was playing at malls, selling CDs out of the trunk of my car,” Joseph said.

He met Foster at a charity event honouring Muhammad Ali. Joseph played an original piece, which later became the title track to Within, and impressed Foster with his precision and talent.

“Just to meet him was exciting,” Joseph said.

He signed to Warner Brothers and released an album that fused classical music with classic rock. Soon after, he performed as the opening act on Josh Groban’s tour.

“That was huge exposure,” Joseph said. “That really got a lot of attention.”

Joseph first took to the ivory keys as a child and spent 13 years under the strict tutelage of Russian teacher Stella Saperstein, learning the classics of Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Bach and more.

But his exposure to music to and from piano lessons helped shape his tastes.

“We were listening to classic rock on the way there,” Joseph said.

Now he incorporates rock and pop elements into his classical training.

“That’s basically my sound,” Joseph said.

Joseph’s new album, Beyond, is due out later this year and features more writing from the musician.

“The album, Beyond, is very well thought out – it’s not as rushed,” Joseph said.

Within was recorded in just seven weeks. Beyond allowed Joseph more time to practise and plan orchestral arrangements.

“I feel like I’ve really come a long way as a writer,” Joseph said.

Besides classic rock, Joseph is a fan of movie scores – melodic, dramatic pieces from the likes of John Williams and Danny Elfman.

“They have such a unique, great sound,” Joseph said.

Movie scoring is one of his many musical goals.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to tour the world with an orchestra and a band,” Joseph said. “When I met David, all of those dreams became reality.”

Joseph performs at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre Wednesday (Jan. 16), 7:30 p.m. Tickets $32; $29.50/students and seniors.

Please call 754-8550.


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