The spirit of Sandy Beam had to be smiling Saturday night, as family, former students and friends gathered at the Andy Griffith Playhouse to honor his memory the only way they knew how — through song.
“Sandy Beam: Remembered” was organized as a tribute to the beloved artist and teacher, and featured music that ranged from Brahms to Simon and Garfunkel.
“Sandy Beam meant so much to so many people, and we’re honored to have his family here today,” said Patti Fulk, the master of ceremonies for the evening.
One of the performers, Melissa Lawrence, said Beam’s guidance has shaped her life.
“I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today if Sandy Beam hadn’t said that I should sing,” she said.
The featured performer for the evening was well-known local artist Melva Houston, who performed Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” as well as Lerner’s “On a Clear Day.”
Beam was a long-time Mount Airy resident, living in the area for five decades.
He began teaching music at Franklin Elementary School, where he founded the Franklin Boy’s Choir and the internationally-renowned Franklin Treble Ensemble, a collection of his best students from years of teaching.
He became the choral director at both North Surry High School and J. Sam Gentry Middle School, where he remained until his retirement in 1994.
After retiring from teaching, he developed Voce’, a choral ensemble made up of residents of the area, which is still in operation today.
In addition to teaching and developing young talent, Beam served as the music director at First Presbyterian Church for 44 years.
Beam died unexpectedly on Feb. 18, 2010, at his home on West Church Street. He was 73.
After his death, his beloved Yamaha baby grand piano was donated to the Surry Arts Council by members of his family.
That piano was on stage, sounding as good as ever, Saturday night.
As he sat down to play Brahms’ Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2 in A minor, Tony Robertson — who succeeded Beam as the leader of Voce’ — looked at it lovingly.
“This is a wonderful instrument,” he said quietly.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.