WATCH NOW: The piano and violin duo’s concert on Sunday will raise funds to restore the Hearst Center Steinway | Local News

The duo – Hilbert, a pianist from Waverly, and Risse, a violinist from Sumner, have been performing together ever since. She is 63 and he is 21.

“We ended up doing improvised music at my nephew’s wedding. We had never played together before, but we got on really well,” said Hilbert, a music teacher and nationally licensed composer. Since then, the musicians have often performed together at their respective churches and at venues in the Valley of the Cedars.

On Sunday, Hilbert and Risse will perform a piano and violin concert at the Hearst Center for the Arts, 304 W. Seerley Blvd., in Cedar Falls. The event begins at 1:30 p.m. Attendance is free, but donations will be accepted to help fund repairs to Hearst’s Steinway piano.

Violinist Jacob Risse and pianist Jean Hilbert


They will perform arrangements of beloved hymns, folk tunes, and classically styled pieces, as well as original works composed by Hilbert.

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“I think it’s our similar background growing up and playing sacred music, and it helps that Jean is a really, really good player,” said Risse, a senior at Hillsdale College in Michigan. During school holidays and summer holidays, he likes to share the stage with Hilbert.

“We play for fun and we both like the same kind of music. I like the Beatles, he likes the Beatles. And he’s always happy to play my original songs. I describe my pieces as very flowing, meditative, lyrical and relaxing,” Hilbert explained. She also wrote a violin piece for Risse.

His passion for music and composition dates back to his childhood. “I don’t come from a family of musicians at all. I was 4 or 5 years old and I loved the piano in church. My mother had a metal chair in the kitchen on which I drew piano keys and used forks and spoons to “play”. It was kind of obnoxious,” Hilbert recalls with a laugh. “But I got a piano when I was 7 and took lessons in high school.”

She majored in business at Hawkeye Community College and “did music on the side. I’ve done a lot of Christian and contemporary Christian music.

Hilbert began recording and performing her own songs in 1994. She was co-founder and pianist of Reflections, a Christian singing group from 2000 to 2011. In 2014, Hilbert took early retirement after a 30-year career in music. mortgage banking sector to focus solely on his music.

The pianist has curated six solo piano albums containing mostly original works, as well as cover arrangements and a collection of hymns. She enjoys encouraging and collaborating with young musicians.

Risse looks forward to accompanying Hilbert as she plays Hearst’s grand piano. “I love the grand piano and it’s always fun to play Jean’s music. She has an arrangement of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ which I really like, and a song I’ve come to love is ‘Celebration’ with its syncopated beat,” the violinist said.

He describes playing with Jean as both “really cool” and “an honor”. Risse started asking to play the violin in kindergarten. “I pestered my parents, but they thought it was a passing phase and didn’t want to invest in a violin,” he said.

Finally, in second grade, his parents said they would buy him a violin if he could find a teacher. He found his first teacher, Carol Limburg, through a woman from their church.

Risse will graduate next spring with a degree in economics and a minor in math. Although he is still studying the violin with Melissa Knecht, he never wanted to become a professional musician. “It’s just a hobby for me, something I like to do. I like to play hymns and sacred music.

Hilbert said their performances are “fulfilling. Jacob is very motivated and he loves to play. It shows in his performance. You can tell he really feels the music. He has a good tone and we play each other. We just click, which is awesome.

The duo performed an online concert for the Hearst Center during the pandemic. Risse has also recorded with Hilbert. The CD, featuring a mix of folk tunes, hymns and original Hilbert pieces for piano and violin, will be released on August 15. Copies of “Tranquility” will be available for purchase during the Hearst event. Hilbert’s original music can be found on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and more.

For more information on the Steinway fundraiser, visit the Hearst Center website at or call (319) 273-8641.