Pianist Beus shares passion with audience

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Stephen Beus performs Sonata Tragic; op. 39; no. 5 by Nikolai Medtner at the International Piano Series. Photo by Preston Zubal.

Stephen Beus performs Sonata Tragic; op. 39; no. 5 by Nikolai Medtner at the International Piano Series. Photo by Preston Zubal.

The anticipation in the theater heightened as the lights dimmed, revealing the gentle glow of the large piano on the stage. Men, women and children stood to acknowledge the man who rendered music for the next two hours at the International Piano Concert Series.

This man is internationally acclaimed pianist Stephen Beus. Currently a professor at the University of Oklahoma, Beus has won a series of competitions, including the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and the Juilliard School Concerto Competition.

Despite his fame, Beus exuded humility as he greeted the crowd and began with a brief explanation of himself and his profession.

After doing so, he sat down at a glistening Steinway & Sons piano and described the first composition of the night. By providing the audience with a brief overview, Beus created a deeper level of understanding of the sounds radiating from the piano as well as a means for the audience to connect with the pieces.

As part of the show, Beus incorporated aspects of his personal life. Compositions included Johann Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in A Minor” and Nikolai Medtner’s “Sonata Tragica.”

But the one that stood out was 19th century composer and musical virtuoso Franz Liszt. Three out of the seven pieces played were Liszt’s work.

“I do love Franz Liszt. His works are simply breathtaking,” Beus said.

Even though the compositions performed were from various eras, Beus skillfully channeled the uniqueness of each time period into his performance. With precision and poise, he rendered each piece with a passion that was both breathtaking and enthralling. His facial expressions and movements changed with the tone of the music, while his fingers continued to tickle the ivories. As he hit somber notes, his expression reflected the sadness of the chords. When a gleeful tune was played, his expression softened.

“Music is a powerful thing. It is hard to play, or listen to, tunes so lovely without radiating some of their emotions,” he said.

Beus’ passion radiated to the crowd, and audience members could be seen wiping away tears as the performance concluded. Beus’ performance was captivating and genuine. Before the audience was a man who loves the art of piano-playing and inspiring people through music.

“I hope they feel enriched and personally moved in some way. Music can make us feel something inexplicable, and I hope they felt that from my performance,” Beus said.

In fact, many audience members did obtain a personal enrichment as Beus had hoped.

“Beus is an inspiration to me, and he made me realize that I can also do great things,” said 10-year-old Jacob Holtz.

e.etokidem@chronicle.utah.edu


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