A passion for music brings duo to CCC

First Posted: 4/17/2013

LUMBERTON — Out of the many interests that Beverly Biggs and Elaine Funaro share, one thing will unite them on Sunday — the harpsichord.

The duo will perform in a concert at 3 p.m. at the Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater. Tickets are $10 a person and free for students with a current student ID.

Biggs’ passion for music took root in elementary school.

“I was 8 years old and it was Christmastime,” said Biggs, a Lumberton native. “My parents gave me a toy instrument and according to them, once I opened it, I wasn’t interested in anything else.”

The toy that sparked Biggs’ love for music was an 11-by-7-inch Magnus Organ. Bigg’s parents enrolled her into piano lessons shortly after recognizing her obsession with music.

“It was like something that I, perhaps, was born to do,” Biggs said. “It was my nature to have had a career as a pianist.”

After receiving a master’s degree of music in piano performance from Southern Methodist University, Biggs had a change of heart and decided to take a different musical road.

“I was introduced to the harpsichord and fell in love with it,” she said.

The harpsichord is a musical instrument played using a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.

Biggs is the artistic director of Baroque & Beyond, a period-music concert series based in Chapel Hill. Before moving back home to Lumberton in 2004, she lived in the Pacific Northwest, where she was founding artistic director of two period music organizations. Biggs has recorded CDs from the Baroque, classic and early romantic periods on harpsichord and forte piano, with other instruments. She has toured throughout the western U.S. and Canada in solo and duo performances and performed in hundreds of concerts.

Biggs contacted Elaine Funaro because she had heard of her reputation with the harpsichord.

“We have grown to be such close friends now and we are a lot a like,” Biggs said.

Just like Biggs, Funaro started out playing the piano, but later switched to the harpsichord.

“… I found that there had been too much competition amongst pianists,” Funaro said.

According to the civic center’s website, Funaro is a frequent performer at international music festivals and the artistic director of Aliénor, a nonprofit that sponsors a worldwide competition for new harpsichord music. Funaro has premiered pieces on five continents, performing Amsterdam, Rome, Manchester, Berkeley, Boston and Tokyo. In addition to her many solo recitals, including concerts at the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, Funaro has played with numerous symphonies and chamber music ensembles. She has recorded for the Arabesque, Centaur, Gasparo, Wildboar and the Classic Concert labels.

This will be the first time Funaro, originally from New York, has performed at the Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater.

“I’m very excited because this is her (Biggs) old stomping grounds,” Funaro said.

Out of the 11 instruments that Funaro has played, the harpsichord is her favorite.

“It’s sound is so direct and so rhythmical,” Funaro said.

The duo will perform songs from France that date to the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of the songs that they will perform will be music that was originally written for a solo performer, but were made into a duo by Biggs and Funaro.

“It will be like a conversation among friends,” Funaro said.

Tickets can be purchased from 1 to 5 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday at the administrative offices on the theater’s second floor, or by calling the center at 910-738-4339. The theater’ box office opens one hour before performances.