FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Alexander Beyer’s first big break as an emerging pianist came as a 13-year-old, when the Fairfield resident won a competition to perform with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony.
Eight years later and significantly more accomplished, Beyer returns to perform with the GBS on Saturday, Sept. 24. Beyer will perform Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto with the Bridgeport Symphony as it begins its 71st season.
Beyer, 22 and a junior at Harvard University, feels his early performance with the Bridgeport Symphony helped launch his career.
“That was the greatest opportunity I could have,’’ Beyer said. “It was a big help to get that exposure. Being an adolescent and having that opportunity was great.”
Beyer’s expertise has evolved significantly since that performance. Perhaps the highlight of his career came earlier this year when he finished third in the Queen Elisabeth Competition. The international field feature pianists from 18-30, and is considered one of the most challenging and prestigious competitions for instrumentalists. Beyer said he prepared for the competition for a year. It was the first time he entered the event.
“You’re always surprised when you get that far,’’ Beyer said. “When the time came I was ready to communicate musically. The audiences are so supportive and very sophisticated. I was as surprised as much as everybody else. It’s really such luck.”
Beyer was also named one of five finalists of the American Pianists Association Award, and in the last year has been a guest soloist with the Brussels Philharmonic, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra and others. He has also performed with orchestras in Charlotte, Hartford, Milwaukee, New Haven and Waterbury.
Beyer, a 2012 graduate of Fairfield Warde, started playing piano at age 4 under the instruction of his mother, Misty, a music teacher. His family lived in Massachusetts at the time, and then moved to California. He won his first significant competition when he was 8 years old while living in Santa Cruz. Beyer remembers falling in love with drawing mental connections to music as a child.
“Early on I got critical exposure to music theory and ear training,’’ said Beyer, who worked locally on his music with Yoshie Akimoto of Wilton. “I had to take a yearly hearing test, and I dreaded it at the time. But I enjoyed getting exposure to new composers and new literature. I would be listening to some great musicians and falling in love with them. I think I fell in love with the idea of learning new music more than falling in love with the mechanics and mastering technique.”
The family moved to Fairfield when he was 11, but Beyer found other loves besides music. He played tennis and soccer, and strived to find a balance between music and athletics. Beyer played soccer through his freshman year at Warde, excelling as a midfielder.
“In my sophomore year I was ready to try out for the varsity but I got injured,’’ Beyer said. “It made sense to not play for the school and I could dedicate more time to piano. If I hadn’t gotten hurt, it would’ve been a hard decision. There was a joy in the sport. It may have been part psychological, but it’s like my mind said my body was too fragile for this. I’m glad that it happened the way it did.”
Beyer still faces a hard balancing act. A mathematics major at Harvard, Beyer would eventually like to consider a career as an astronaut. “I practice first and then do my school work,’’ Beyer said. “There are a lot of other people trying to do the same thing. We inspire and motivate each other. To have the quickness of mind, I need my mind to be fit. For me, it’s critical to learn other things.”
Whatever career path Beyer chooses, his future appears bright. For the short term, he’s excited to return to Bridgeport to perform with the symphony that helped launch his promising career.
“I love coming home,’’ Beyer said. “I love the Bridgeport Symphony for giving me those early opportunities. They helped me get started, and it’s great to come back.”
Greater Bridgeport Symphony concerts begin at 8 p.m. and are held at The Klein Memorial Auditorium, 910 Fairfield Ave., in Bridgeport. Tickets begin at $15. Click here to visit the Symphony’s website and here to purchase tickets.
For more information about Beyer and to see his performance schedule, click here to visit his website.
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