William Foley: Danny Fulgencio

William Foley: Danny Fulgencio

East Dallas composer, songwriter and professional pianist William Foley doesn’t just play music or hear music; he feels music.

“When I teach students, I’ll say, ‘I’m going to play one note for you, and I want you to take some deep breaths and see how far that note can come into your body, like that note is sustaining you,’ ” Foley says.

William Foley: Danny Fulgencio

William Foley: Danny Fulgencio

“On a piano, when you hit one note, it eventually decays. I’ll say, ‘I want you to see if you can hear that little fine point where the note has finally dissipated.’ ”

To some, that might sound strange or even boring, but Foley claims that’s because the average person in today’s world has very little connection with true stillness and attention.

“They don’t know how to get in touch with that deep connection with music,” he says.

And that deep connection is one thing Foley always has understood. Although Foley’s parents weren’t musically gifted themselves, they inspired him to learn piano because they were so moved by music. When he was a child, he remembers, his parents would lie on the floor and play a recording of classical music, such as Handel’s “Water Music,” and they would hold hands and cry.

“They were so moved by it. Even my mother, to this day when she talks about certain pieces, you can tell it’s like it’s in her body,” he says. “And I inherited that.”

Over the years, he has experimented with every type of music. He took lessons and learned how to read music, but he also began composing his own work at an early age, and some teachers would let him play his own compositions for recitals. In his early teens, he played in rock bands. Later, he received his degree in jazz studies from the University of North Texas, and he also studied in New York City with acclaimed jazz painist Kenny Werner and at Columbia University.

Foley has been a professional pianist, songwriter and composer for more than 30 years. He performs in Dallas and nationally with musicians as varied and talented as Bill Tillman, Marchel Ivery, Shelley Carrol, Drew Phelps and John Adams.

His favorite thing is blending musical genres, mixing pop with jazz or classical with rock, in unexpected ways. He likes his pieces to “defy easy classification.”

“My music is this crossbreed of tunes,” he says. “Some people say, ‘You can’t do that,’ but I think, Why not? For me, it’s not even conscious. I don’t write from a conscious space. I write from an inner, soul space.”

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