Sophia Serghi rocks the Kennedy Center

Sophia Serghi's fingers hurtle from one piano key to the next, dashing to form sounds both strident and soothing. Her back is straight and her eyes are closed as she fires off one note after another.

She gives an emphatic, almost violent, nod for violinist Susan Via to join her. She jumps in, her own hands engaged in a sprint down the page of Serghi's Toward the Flame.

It's all blissfully athletic business for the two William & Mary Department of Music faculty as they rehearse six of Serghi's original compositions for an October performance on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C.

The concert, From Byzantium to Punk Rock, was sponsored by the College and the government of Cyprus.

"Most of the music springs from my experience from the Byzantine church," Serghi said. "But embedded in there are all these wonderful rhythms that come out of my rock experience. It's a very strange combination. But it works."

Serghi's music has been performed around the world. But the opportunity to appear at the Kennedy Center is special.

"I'm really happy about the Kennedy Center for two reasons," she explained. "One, it's so close to my home and a nationally renowned venue. Two, there's a good chance for the Greek community to have access to music that for many reasons was inspired by my Greek heritage."

For the most part, Serghi composes at breakneck speed. She finished two of the Kennedy Center selections, about 20 minutes of music, in two weeks.

"I don't wait for inspiration to come; if it's there, it'll come out," she said. I