Squeek Steele expected to electrify music lovers

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 12, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Squeek Steele, pianist, composer, and teacher holds a Guinness World Record, and she will display her talents Saturday, Jan. 17 at the historic Berryman Mansion at 345 S. Church St., in Smithfield. Steele firmly believes that &uot;music can save the world&uot; and she electrifies audiences with music selected from the ragtime to wartime era.

The performance is sponsored by &uot;Antiques Emporium of Smithfield&uot; and its owner, Trey Gwaltney.

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&uot;Berryman Mansion is circa 1901, and it’s the perfect setting for Squeek’s performance,&uot; said Gwaltney. &uot;Also, anyone attending in period costume will pay only $19.01, in honor of the year, instead of the regular $25 admission for the performance. We do hope to see many people there in costumes reflecting that era, so it should be a great deal of fun in that respect. Reservations are highly recommended.&uot;

Steele won acclaim through Guinness in 1990, for playing more piano music from memory than any other person in the competition.

She’s also won acclamation worldwide in exotic places like Berlin, Singapore, and Hong Kong, as well as nationally. She is a performer of great renown in the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, Calif., and the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Mo.

As a composer, Steele has written music for many different events, including planetarium shows, children’s’ operettas, television documentaries and theatrical performances. She holds music degrees from Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music and Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and she studied for a year in Salzburg, Austria at the Mozarteum.

A native of Kentucky, Steele re-located from Philadelphia, Pa., to Virginia City, Nev. in 1990 because &uot;there were more pianos per capita&uot; than anywhere else in the United States. At home in Nevada she performs at the state’s oldest hotel, the Gold Hill, and at the Bucket of Blood Saloon. Performing is not her only interest, however. She is a music instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Steele has traveled extensively collecting children’s songs in Nepal, Thailand, and Indonesia. She’s also an avid mountain climber having climbed Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, in 1987.

With the release of 14 albums of music from the 1895-1950 periods, there is a wide range of her talent to listen to, and she can also be seen on her website: www.goodoldsongs.com.

When she performs in Smithfield, Steele’s piano program will include – but is not limited to – ragtime and American popular music from 1895-1925. She is also slated to perform at the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Conservatory of Music, March 2004.

Steele’s Smithfield performance will be &uot;heavy on ragtime&uot; including well known selections, The Entertainer and the Maple Leaf Rag, as well as lesser known Ragtime Nightingale, Pork and Beans, and the Black and White Rag.

She will also offer several ragtime favorites composed by women including Irene Giblin and May Aufderheide, both from the early 20th Century.

Other selections will be Gershwin’s &uot;Rialto Ripples Rag,&uot; &uot;Alexander’s Ragtime Band&uot; by Irving Berlin, and piano rendition medleys of The Good Old Songs, from the period 1897-1930. Although Steele is an accomplished pianist and seasoned performer, her performances never fail to surprise and entertain her audiences with something unique and unexpected from her bag of musical tricks.

For more information, call Antiques Emporium of Smithfield at 375-3304.