Windsor pianist to present recital

Published 7:38 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

Madeline Bevins of Windsor was 4 years old when she had her first piano lesson with Olga Kravitz, a classically trained pianist who lived next door when Bevin’s family resided in Newport News.

Madeline Bevins

Now similarly trained herself, having continued her studies under Charlene Campbell and Susan Grice of Smithfield, the homeschooled high school senior will present a recital of music by Beethoven, Ravel and Chopin this Sunday, March 17, at Christ Episcopal Church, as this month’s featured “Sundays at Four” performer.

For the past five years, Bevins has auditioned and been selected to perform at the Tidewater Music Teachers Forum Honors Recitals, held annually at Old Dominion University every spring, and will compete again this year. This, she said, is a three-step process where participants first compete in Levels of Progress, and are judged by local teachers and pianists, then audition for the Honors Recital, and, if selected, perform at ODU.

This will also be her sixth year competing in the National Piano Playing Adjudications, which is held at a different location each year. This is sponsored by the National Guild of Piano Teachers, an organization that holds international auditions and sets standards of excellence for piano students. In previous years, Bevins earned the highest grades of “superior” and “superior plus.” She explained the competition as being comparable to the SAT, where, the better the score, the better the outcome.

In 2016, Bevins won first place in the Smithfield Bland Competition. This is sponsored by the Lion’s Club and named for James A. Bland, a black musician and songwriter who lived in Virginia. In 2017, she won first place in the local Bland Competition and the district one, held at Norfolk State University for the Southeast Virginia region. This past summer, she spent two weeks at the International Institute for Young Musicians at the University of Kansas, and this winter, she has auditioned for several music colleges.

In addition to her piano studies and schoolwork, Bevins has also managed to find the time to take up the cello, crochet and sell scarves and fingerless gloves on, and volunteer as a camp counselor for children with special needs at the Craig Springs Camp and Retreat Center in Craig County, Virginia. Three years ago, she took cello lessons for six months, and has been self-taught ever since.

“Having a planner helps,” Bevins said of her hectic schedule. “Developing a skill in any type of field takes a lot of time and commitment, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Having an Etsy shop as my source of income these past few years has made it much easier to keep up with schoolwork and practice.”

Bevins and her family moved to the Windsor area in 2010.

“My family was always looking at land to buy, and that led to us looking at farms in Isle of Wight County,” Bevins said.

When asked about growing up being homeschooled, she described the experience as “amazing.”

“I left private school in second grade because my parents thought it wasn’t challenging enough,” Bevins said. “Planning my own daily routine has made the time necessary to practice much easier to manage.”

Bevins has not made a final decision yet as to where she plans to attend college, but she plans to major in piano performance and eventually become a piano professor.

“There’s a lack of accessibility in the classical music community, which is something that I want to help change,” Bevins said. “Whether it’s setting up scholarship programs or making it more accessible in the public school system, we have a long way to go to make learning music just as accessible as learning to draw or another art.”

Christ Episcopal Church is located at 111 S. Church St., downtown Smithfield. There is no cost to attend, but a free will offering will be taken to benefit Bevins.