Husband and Wife from Lufkin, Texas to Perform at Carnegie Hall
The dream of many country music singers has been to one day perform on the storied stage of the Grand Ole Opry. A sports car enthusiast would consider it heaven to sit behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. Making it to the Olympics would be the pinnacle for a track and field athlete.
Carnegie Hall in New York City has set the standard of musical excellence since its doors opened in 1891. Tchaikovsky, George Gershwin, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, and The Beatles have all performed there. Now, two of East Texas' very own will get the chance to sing at this venue of musical excellence.
According to a news release from Angelina College, Beckie and Bryan Compton, who recently celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary, met at Jacksonville College as students. Bryan sang in a men’s quartet, and Beckie was “plugged in” as the accompanist.
“I had no experience with any of it,” Bryan said. “I just sang. I didn’t even read music, so she’s been teaching me since Day One.”
Beckie’s passion for teaching music didn’t stop with her husband. For the past 35 years, she’s been involved with music instruction at Angelina College, from her part-time days starting in 1987, to full-time status in 1998 to her current status as Chair of AC’s Visual and Performing Arts Division.
Over the years, Beckie has directed numerous choral and orchestral performances while Bryan contributed his vocal talents. They’ve shared stages together in both Temple Theater and Hudgins Hall. This weekend, the two will share the stage at Carnegie Hall.
The couple – Beckie as an alto and Bryan as a bass – will join 130 vocalists, 35 orchestra members and eight soloists as part of the True North Presents company in presenting a concert hosted by Jubilate Music Group. The performance will feature four pieces of music – “I call it a choir cantata because it’s sacred in nature and has a theme,” Beckie said – including the biblical story of Esther and a piece titled “The Weaver.”
Having performed as a musician with the True North Presents in 2015 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Beckie said she’s remained on the company’s mailing list over the years. When she first received notification of the Carnegie Hall plans, her first reaction was a mixture of shock and doubt.
“First, I thought, ‘Wow, can I really do this? Is this really possible? Will Bryan do this with me?’” Beckie said. “We found out in February, and we proceeded with caution. There were just so many variables and concerns, and so many things that could go wrong, we just didn’t want to get our hopes up too much.
“But as it grew closer and closer, the better we felt about it. I thought, ‘This is our chance to perform at Carnegie Hall.’ This time, I’ll be there as a singer with a mass choir. And the fact Bryan gets to do it with me makes it really special.”
“I think everyone knows Beckie’s the real talent,” Bryan laughed. “I’m thinking they invited me to make sure they’d get her.”
With the performers scattered all over the world, there was no way to bring everyone together for rehearsals. Preparation for the big event was, at the very least, a little unusual for the Comptons, especially considering the number of hours Beckie devotes to organizing and arranging performances at AC.
“They send the music (e-music) and listening files, which are just PDF files, and you get a recording of the piano part, and then a keyboard player on top of that playing your note,” Beckie said. “Bryan got files playing his bass lines, and I got files playing my alto lines. You can learn your notes and rhythms that way.”
Bryan added, “But Beckie had to pull double duty. She can sight read this stuff, but then she had to teach me.”
One might think every youngster learning music has some dream of performing at Carnegie Hall, but Beckie said the idea was never really on her radar.
“I actually have a sort-of bucket list, but Carnegie Hall was never on it,” Beckie said. “It’s one of those things you just think, ‘That’s never going to happen.’
“It’s going to be a really neat thing to share, that’s for sure,” Beckie said. “It’s an honor, and it’s very humbling, but it’s still very exciting.”
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