Weems’ concert kicks of week’s events

Becky Husky

As a child, Nancy Weems begged her parents for piano lessons. She got her wish at the age of seven, and has since turned that childhood desire into a lifelong passion.

Weems, a praised concert pianist, has shared her gift in 13 countries. She has performed in three international concert tours as the United States Artistic Ambassador and was nominated for a Grammy award in 1990.

Although she grew up in a household with no piano, Weems said she always knew she wanted to play.

“Playing a musical instrument involves the whole person – physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual,” she said. “It is an activity that lasts throughout an entire lifetime.”

Her life is dedicated to music, and Weems also loves teaching the activity she enjoys so much. She is currently professor of piano and coordinator of the keyboard area at the Moores School of Music, part of the University of Houston.

“Teaching is the love of my life, and my students bring me constant joy and, sometimes, frustration, of course,” she said. “I have a large class of students from all over the world at the Moores School of Music of the University of Houston, where I have been privileged to teach for the past 25 years.”

It is from her teaching experience that Weems partly draws her inspiration. But, it is also the understanding of musical composers and her own unique perspectives that motivate her.

“Inspiration comes, partly, from an intensive study and absorption of the composers’ intentions in a piece of music,” she said. “Then, of course, each performer contributes his or her own set of life experiences and distinct musical personality to every performance.”

Extending her teaching and performing to foreign audiences, Weems has traveled Europe, Mexico, Asia, Central America, and the former Soviet Union. But, out of her travels, one place in particular captured her interest.

“One of the most unusual and favorite places was Iceland, where I have performed several times,” she said. “I remember thinking that landing at Keflavik Airport looked a bit like landing on the moon. The people there were amazing hosts, so very interested in classical music and supportive of the arts in general.”

Though Weems says music is “all consuming” in her life, she does make time fo traveling with her husband. She also enjoys reading, gardening, and the company of her two Persian cats, Snicker and Bella.

In May, Weems plans on teaching in Malaysia and performing for the Kuala Lumpur International Master Class series. She will also visit Spain and China to judge piano competitions.

As an experienced musician, Weems has some words of advice for students in pursuit of a similar path.

“More than anything else, never give up,” she said. “This is an extremely competitive field. But, the world is an enormous place and there is always room somewhere for a dedicated musician to carve out a life and a career.”