Sunday recital benefits ORC roofPublished 8:27pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Pianist Anthony Beer showcases 13 music students Sunday, July 21, at the Old Rugged Cross Church and Museum, 61041 Vermont St. in Pokagon.
“I push students knowing beautiful music is a discipline. I always tell them, ‘When you’re playing a piece, it’s like being in heaven for 10 minutes of your life.’ Their music is a gift they need to share with the world and can be life-changing because it’s a universal language. Communicating the power of music is important. I’ve seen it change people,” Beer said.
The 3 p.m. recital raises funds for the new roof with a free-will offering.
Beer, of Niles, grew up in Milford, Ind., and graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.
He was at the church on Wednesday morning acclimating two brothers, including his youngest performer at 9, to the acoustics and to the 1910 Richmond, Ind., piano with ivory keys donated by the Brocks of Niles.
The 15-year-old attends Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind.
The 9-year-old, also a violinist, has entered Hoosier Auditions and aspires to becoming a concert pianist. At home, they practice on a new grand piano.
Sunday’s concert includes cellists, woodwinds and vocalists in addition to piano.
Beer, formerly of Wesley United Methodist Church in Niles, is an accompanist at Riley High School in South Bend, Ind., and affiliated with the music club at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph.
“Most students will be coming from South Bend-Mishawaka, St. Joseph and the Berrien Springs area,” he said. “At 4 I’m rehearsing three sibling boys. You strive to show them what work ethic is about because we have a generation where things need to happen quickly. In here, they have to listen on a higher level than they’re used to.”
Beer started piano at 3 as the youngest of 10 children.
Adopted from the Dominican Republican, he practiced five to six hours a day “totally by choice. I couldn’t get enough.”
All took piano lessons, but he’s the only one who pursued formal training.
But family jam sessions, including 31 nieces and nephews, sound like something to behold.
Beer fancied himself strictly a performer until piano pedagogy was imposed on him at Goshen College and he found he loved teaching. His initial reaction had been, “Wouldn’t that cut into my practice time? God gave me the ability to not only perform, but to teach as well. I came to South Bend for a while and studied at IUSB with an artist in residence, John Owings, who is now at TCU (Texas Christian University), where the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is held. I also studied with a Cuban pianist and with Alexander Toradze from Russia. I’m very connected now to St. Joe. This Friday at 7:30, I’m collaborating with Paul Mow (Southwestern Michigan College theater director), at the Heritage Center. I’m guest artist next June and doing a concert with (soprano) Michelle (DeFrancesco) Bythrow and (Niles trumpeter) Bill Camp. She’s a dear friend and will be singing Sunday. She sings a lot with Lake Effect Jazz,” which performs tonight in Dowagiac’s Beckwith Park.
The Old Rugged Cross Foundation is restoring the church where composer the Rev. George Bennard of Albion introduced the famous hymn publicly in its entirety 100 years ago in 1913.
The site is a block south of Pokagon Highway, just east of M-51 halfway between Niles and Dowagiac, and includes a half-acre memorial garden.