His voice has echoed off the walls of Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Opera Theater, Leipzig Opera in Germany and various other national and overseas venues. On Sunday, Markus Beam will perform at the Cultural Center in Lincolnton where he grew up — where his story began.
The 35 year old has been singing since he was five years old, mostly for friends and family, and at church at first. When he was 16, he took his first voice lesson and decided to get serious about his vocal abilities. The world-traveler would hitch rides from his parents to High Point once a week for lessons — a four-hour round trip drive for his folks, he estimates.
A graduate of West Lincoln High and the N.C. School of the Arts, Beam decided to step away from the rural, West Lincoln-setting he was used to, to try something new as he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati to study music, followed up with a move to Philadelphia. There he attended the Academy of Vocal Arts, what he calls a “finishing school for opera singers.”
Today, Beam calls Manhattan his home, but visits the area often to see family and old friends while he’s in town.
This isn’t his first performance at the local venue, however. In 2003, Beam was the first winner of the Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition. As part of the competition, he went back to his hometown and performed at the Cultural Center about nine years ago. Since his first performance in the county, Beam has lived in Italy, Germany and Switzerland, performing in a variety of arenas.
This weekend’s show will be two-fold — the first section which will entail classical music in four languages, while the second half will be more contemporary and entirely in English. The latter portion of the night will not only feature opera ballads, but also have performances by Beam of songs he grew up singing and pop tunes, too — songs he hopes his fans can enjoy and that are relatable.
“Sometimes concerts can be inaccessible or stuffy, it feels like people are often left feeling it wasn’t clear,” Beam told the Times-News on Wednesday. “My goal is to let people into that world. If I’m singing a piece in German or Italian, I’ll read the poem (or whatever the song is based off) and everyone will know why the music was written the way it was, so people can enjoy it without barriers — the barrier of (not understanding) a foreign language.”
Beam promises his audience a sample of several different styles of music, not just opera. He will speak on each piece briefly to help transition from one piece to the next, making sure the audience has a clear understanding of some of the background behind each selection.
Though the musician didn’t grow up knowing he was going to be an Opera singer, Beam has always had an appreciation for communicating through song; Opera is just the outlet he chose to take along the way.
Inspired by the support of his family, friends and community, Beam said he can’t wait to perform back where he started after performing at international venues that those close to him weren’t able to attend; it’s nice to be able to do this as a thank you, he said.
The Lincoln County Concert Association’s show will begin at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, at the Cultural Center. Tickets are $20 and are only available at the door.
For more information, call (704) 732-7287.