The inaugural performance of McPherson College’s Fern Lingenfelter Artist Series will include piano selections to appeal to a variety of tastes – from classic Franz Liszt to a sublime, modern work that uses only a few dozen notes.
Pianist Dr. Stephen Beus will be the featured guest performer at 4 p.m. on Sept. 25 for this first-ever concert in the new series. Dr. Beus is planning a diverse program in the college’s Mingenback Theatre, taking a few moments before each piece to introduce it.
“Hopefully there will be something for everyone,” he said, “And even the new pieces will be accessible and understandable.”
In addition to the free public concert on Sept. 25, Dr. Beus will also be holding two masterclasses in Mingenback on Sept. 26 – one for high school students at 10 a.m. and the other for college students at 1:30 p.m. These sessions are also open for the public to attend and have no admission charge.
Dr. Beus is an award-winning pianist and assistant professor of piano at Brigham Young University. His achievements include first prize in the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, first prize in the Vendome Prize International Competition (Lisbon), and receiving the Max I. Allen Fellowship of the American Pianists Association – all of which he accomplished in one four-month period.
His concerts have received high praise from critics, including the “Salt Lake Tribune,” which applauded his performance, saying, “Mesmerizing… explosive… intelligent… he belongs on the world stage.”
He first sat down to a piano at age 2, began lessons at age 5, and made his concert debut at age 9. Since then, he has studied under Leonard Richter, Robert McDonald, Gilbert Kalish, Christina Dahl and Paulette Richards and earned degrees from Whitman College, The Julliard School, and Stony Brook University. Today he lives in Utah and has recorded on Endeavor Classics, Harmonia Mundi, and Centaur Records.
Dr. Beus said he can’t imagine what his life would be today without music and piano.
“I feel that music can take those moments that transcend words, and capture that moment – that experience – that was so formative and changing,” he said. “It expresses the things in life that words can’t.”
The Fern Lingenfelter Artist Series was established this year thanks to a generous commitment to McPherson College, in honor of MC alumna and piano teacher Fern Lingenfelter. Her son, Steve Clark – chairman of Clark Investment Group in Wichita, Kan. – generously established the supporting fund at MC. This cultural series consists of two annual music performance events, with a special emphasis on piano.
Lingenfelter taught piano in McPherson for years – both to traditional college students on the MC campus and younger students at a studio downtown. She developed her skills studying with Jessie Brown at McPherson College – where she earned a certificate in piano in 1924 – and with Swedish pianist Oscar Thorsén at Bethany College. Lingenfelter earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1925 and later a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938 from McPherson College.
Lingenfelter passed away in 1962, but her son, Steve Clark, said he has seen a long and lasting influence from her lifetime of work. Establishing the fund is his way to say, “Thank you,” and to support the music and the instrument she loved.
“Music and piano were her passion, and even years later people in McPherson would tell me, ‘Your mother was my piano teacher,’” Clark said. “I know she would be pleased to know what the college is now doing in her remembrance.
Dr. Beus said he is pleased to be the first performer in the series, and to recognize one committed to a life of teaching music.
“It’s a wonderful privilege. It’s an honor for me to do it,” he said. “I know teachers in my life who were dedicated to the art of music and the art of teaching. I appreciate what they contribute and how they change lives. I’m sure Mrs. Lingenfelter changed many lives.”