Even in the kitchen, sophomore music major Antonio Plumer thinks like a musician. He likes to start with the basics and then improvise, adding a pinch of flavor here, a touch of color there, until he’s ready to serve the family dinner — and he loves to make a “hit.”
His parents and sisters enjoyed the Middle Eastern chicken dish he recently prepared. “That was a hit,” he says.
Though his duties as a percussionist in the University orchestra keep Plumer busy, he makes time to focus on his “main instrument” and lifelong fascination, the piano. His father, a musician and teacher, noticed his attraction to music at an early age and started giving him lessons.
His sisters, a violinist and pianist, are singers, too. All three siblings perform with their father at various area venues. When Plumer was 12, he won second place in a piano competition with a performance of Debussy’s “Gardens in the Rain” from the suite Estampes. He performed in a winners’ recital at fabled Carnegie Hall and put his $500 prize in the bank.
As a first-year student in fall 2018, Plumer won Catholic University’s Concerto Competition. He played the first movement of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and repeated the performance at the spring orchestra concert.
As you might expect of a multi-instrumentalist, he likes all kinds of music. “For classical music, my favorite composers are Ravel, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff,” he says. “I love the rich chords, the drama. It’s very colorful, very expressive music, and very tender music at the same time.”
When it comes to jazz, his favorites are pianists Oscar Peterson and Cyrus Chestnut, along with horn players John Coltrane and Roy Hargrove. (Plumer has played the latter’s “Strasbourg / St. Denis” in performance.) Vocalists who rank high on his list include Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter.
“Honestly, I will listen to anything,” he says. “I appreciate every type of music.”
Musical pursuits combine with his many other interests, cooking and martial arts among them, to make Plumer seem like a one-man symphony orchestra.