Local musician plans Carnegie Hall benefit

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Bev Reece

Cape Girardeau musician Bev Reece has performed in a lot of concert halls since she began playing piano at age 2. But before last month, Reece couldn't say New York's storied Carnegie Hall was part of that experience. Now she can.

On Oct. 30, Reece performed at Carnegie Hall, providing piano accompaniment for European violinist Micarca Vibaka, whom Reece met at the renowned Boston University Tanglewood Institute in Lennox, Mass. The performance included selections by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Ravel, as well as Jascha Heifetz' transcription of George Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So." Reece played solo on some selections, as well.

The concert raised funds for the upkeep of Carnegie Hall.

Vibaka is a friend of Reece, and when he found out he'd be playing Carnegie Hall, he called on Reece for accompaniment, Reece said.

"It was just the neatest thing I ever did," said Reece. She has plenty of performance experience to compare the Carnegie Hall concert to.

Reece played her first recital at age 3 -- the same age at which she learned how to improvise musically. She also acquired the ability to duplicate a classical piano composition after one hearing at a very early age.

Reece currently performs with well-known local jazz groups the Jerry Ford Combo and the Jerry Ford Orchestra. She also plays organ at Centenary United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ. Reece also teaches private piano and violin lessons and plays with a select jazz ensemble based in Carbondale, Ill. She used to have a regular gig with the Jack Stalcup Orchestra, which played the old Purple Crackle on Sunday nights, as well.

Ford has performed with Reece for more than 30 years. Ford calls her a "prodigy" who has both perfect pitch and a photographic memory. Ford said playing with Reece is "a hoot musically, because she plays gorgeous, sophisticated chord progressions that you just don't hear around here. She literally is a world-class player, and the thing that makes her unique is that she plays all styles."

About 350 people attended the Carnegie Hall concert. At first, Reece said she was nervous about performing in such a hallowed American venue.

"I was a little nervous, but as soon as I sat down I was ready to play," she said.

Reece said she'll perform the same concert this spring with Vibaka in Philadelphia, Cleveland and Los Angeles.

And if she ever gets the chance to play at Carnegie Hall again, Reece said she won't hesitate to do so.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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