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Musicians of Rochester serves as a portrait of musical life in and around the greater Rochester, New York region.

Musicians of Rochester: David Costello

David Costello

Pianist and composer David Costello wants you to relax.

His most recent album “XVII” is a series of unnamed instrumental piano pieces – not exactly classical music, but something drawing on different styles he has played. 

These instrumental pieces are the culmination of years and years and years of practice. Actually, having to take some percussion courses actually helped. When I was in high school, we did a lot of jazz ensemble. So all that rhythmic stuff that you learn that’s in your head – kinda plants itself in this instrumental music.

Some of that jazz ensemble training came from studying with Ned Corman at Penfield High School.  After high school, Costello let music go for a few years before coming back to it, studying Music Education at Nazareth College. He then stayed with music as a songwriter and playing keyboard in bands, both sacred and secular. 

As a keyboard player in a band, Costello has been used to playing energetic music – and filling in whatever part is needed.  For this new music, he takes a different approach.

We purposely put in a lot of stops and quiet moments – because it was meant to be reflective. When I was working with Jonathan, he said: 'Look, this stuff is really good, but if you want people to really enjoy it, one, you got to slow down' – because I’m all full speed ahead. When you’re a keyboardist, you try to play everything; you play everyone’s parts. I appreciated the fact that he said ‘You can slow down.’ He gave me permission to go slower.

While people often asked Costello about his inspiration - or what the pieces are about - he says those questions don't really have a simple answer.

You know, I don’t feel anything. I sit down, and I think about it, and I hear something, and then I play – but I’m not sad, I’m not happy, I just don’t really know. It just comes to me, and I sit down, and I write it. I want it to be peaceful. That was my whole thing: I want people to relax. So that’s what I did.

You can read more about Dave Costello and his music on his website.

Mona Seghatoleslami is the host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m., interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.