Concert pianist Josh Wright to perform at BYU-Idaho

Some boys dream of becoming astronauts, not Josh Wright.

As a child, he dreamed of playing professional basketball. But fate intervened and soon, Wright’s dream shifted from NBA arenas to performing in music halls as a concert pianist.

Today, he’s living that dream.

At 26, Wright has performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall and toured throughout U.S. and Europe. He also has held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Classical Traditional chart. The Utah native will visit Rexburg on May 31, when he performs in concert at Brigham Young University-Idaho’s Barrus Concert Hall.

Wright was 10 years old when he abandoned his basketball dream. He saw a performance of the Utah Symphony, featuring Ryan Brown of the classical piano ensemble, “The 5 Browns.” That’s when he decided he would become a concert pianist.

“After I watched (Brown’s) performance, it really inspired me,” Wright said. “My old dream of playing in the NBA went out the window. I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

Not only did Wright’s parents embrace his career choice, they created a plan to help him achieve his goal — it centered around practime time. Wright was expected to practice the piano 2-½ hours a day. If he missed a day, he was expected to practice twice as long the next day.

“My parents were always really supportive,” he said. When I told them what I wanted to do, they were totally behind me from the beginning. They helped me figure out what I needed to do to achieve my dream and they held me to that plan.”

Wright is working on a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Michigan. When he’s not in class or touring, Wright manages to find time to teach piano lessons.

Don Sparhawk, BYU-Idaho Center Stage and performance tours coordinator, said Wright’s upcoming performance may surprise some concertgoers.

“Sometimes people think of classical music as being boring,” Sparhawk said. “His show is definitely not boring. He’s a very energetic guy and brings that to the stage.”

During the second half of his concert, Wright will be joined on stage by a special guest performer, his wife, Lindsay Wright. She holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Utah.

“We’ll be performing Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.” It is a really amazing piece that we both love to perform,” Josh Wright said.

Wright’s goal as a performer is to offer something that appeals to classical music fans and novices alike.

“The concert is really split in half,” he said. “The first half will mainly feature pop songs and some pieces off of movie soundtracks. Then, in the second half of the concert, we will have classical pieces and traditional hymns. It’s a pretty diverse catalogue of what I’ll be performing.”