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Fairfield pianist returns to Bridgeport stage

Pianist Alex Beyer of Fairfield, a freshman at Harvard University, returns to the area Saturday, Sept. 28, as the featured soloist in the opening show of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony’s 2013-14 season.

Alex Beyer

Alex Beyer

Beyer will perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concert no. 5, opus 73, E-flat major (“Emperor”) in his third appearance with GBS.

Sept. 28 is the first in a five-concert series, “A Festival of Beethoven,” which will be led by guest conductors chosen as finalists to replace Maestro Gustav Meier. Hailing from all over the world, each guest conductors will conduct a Beethoven concerto with a guest soloist.

Constantine Kitsopoulos of Chatham, N.J.,  will direct opening night. He is the artistic director of the International OK Mozart Festival in Oklahoma, music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra in New York, and music director of the Festival of the Arts Boca in Florida.

Although Beyer is juggling the rigors of classes at Harvard, where he is studying statistics, and the New England Conservatory of Music, where he is enrolled in a five-year master of arts program in music, he is happy to be part of GBS’s opening. He especially loves the Beethoven composition he will perform.

“I have a huge appreciation for Beethoven’s work,” Beyer said.

The winner of the 2008 GBS Young Instrumentalist Competition, Beyer made his GBS debut, under the director of Meier, at the age of 15. He returned to the Bridgeport stage in 2011 to perform the Rachmaninoff’s 3rd concerto.

“They are such a supportive group of people,” Beyer said. “I feel fortunate to have a positive relationship with the orchestra.”

His mother, Misty, praised GBS for supporting young musicians.

“It’s so nice to find a symphony that gives local talented artists an opportunity to perform,” she said.

A professional music teacher, Misty encouraged her son’s aptitude for music at an early age. She said all children have a natural musical ability, but not all parents are willing to commit to fostering those skills and talents.

Alex’s father, Paul, who died in 2008, was “a gifted musician,” said Misty. He once played with the St. Louis Symphony.

However, Misty added, “He didn’t play any instrument after college, though.”

Around the age of 4, Beyer began playing piano. For the past eight years he has studied with Yoshie Akimoto in Wilton. He currently is working with Dr. Matti Raekallio and Melvin Chen.

“I was fortunate enough to begin to take lessons early on,” Beyer said. “My mother approved of the idea of having one-on-one instruction.”

Beyer also studied the cello for seven years. He was also an avid, and skilled, soccer and tennis player. However, he gave up the two sports about four years ago to fully commit to practicing and mastering the piano.

While attending Fairfield Warde High School, Beyer was enrolled in Juilliard School of Music’s Pre-College program. He deferred admission to Harvard last year to study the German language because many of the compositions he enjoys playing are German, said Misty.

Beyer would be happy to devote the rest of his life to exploring the vast collection of music written by some of the world’s greatest composers.

“There’s so much repertoire written for the piano and it’s all so amazingly beautiful and rich,” he said. “I would just like to perform as much as I can and get each performance to a higher level.”

Last year, Beyer spent eight to 10 hours a day practicing the piano. Now that he’s in college, he can only play for four to six hours.

Beyer is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including being named the 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholar for the Arts, and competitions. He has performed with orchestras in New Haven, Hartford, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Thayer and Waterbury.

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