Caroline Oltmanns explains that her parents were unhappy with her plans to study piano.
“They wanted me to do something to make a living at,” she said.
Oltmanns’ parents probably learned to accept her musical studies. They’ve led to a career of concerts throughout the world and to rave notices for her as playing as “light and scintillating” and “filled with fantasy in the greatest sense of the word.”
All of this will be on display on the evening of March 4, when the pianist brings to William M. Lowman Concert Hall the “charismatic persona” and “delicacy and elegance” praised by other critics.
Born in 1962 in a small Bavarian city as one of five children who she recalls “all played the piano,” Oltmanns’ concessions to her parents would include two years of law school until the force of her nature prevailed. She left law school for five years of study at Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, more than 200 miles from her home.
A Fulbright Scholarship brought her farther away, to the University of Southern California for her doctorate, which in 1994 took her to Youngstown State University, in Ohio, where she chairs the Piano Department.
Individual lessons for as many as a dozen students and weekly group lessons leave time for touring — this January, Oltmanns is in Germany and Macao, and she’s in London in February — as well as for a recording career.
Her latest CD, “Ghosts” (Filia Mundi), on which she performs compositions by Chopin, Brahms, Schumann and her husband, James Wilding, confirms what five previous recordings had suggested: that wherever life takes her, an artist is most at home when creating.
The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, at Lowman Concert Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus.
The concert is free and open to the public. Space is limited.