Tuned In

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“Tuned In,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 69–70

Tuned In

On 24 July 1986, Kendall Ross Bean, a Latter-day Saint pianist and composer from Walnut Creek, California, became a music video pioneer. That day, Brother Bean’s performance of the Chopin A-flat Major Polonaise was the first classical music video to be broadcast on national U.S. television. The program was produced by his wife, Karen Lile.

Using a classical music video to reach a national audience is only one of the innovations Kendall has introduced since he married Karen, who is not only his wife but also his manager. The video aired for three years and was nominated for an Ace Award, the industry’s equivalent to the Grammy.

Kendall’s career differs from many other musical performers in several ways. He has his own concert series for children and a separate one for adults. He talks to his audience and has guest artists on his shows. He avoids competitions and has built his career on a local level rather than by going on concert tours because of his desire to raise a family. He and Karen are mutually dedicated to helping other artists develop and use their talents.

After growing up near Oakland, California, in a home where his musical education was taken seriously by both parents, Kendall attended the University of California at Berkeley. He then transferred to BYU. After graduating, he returned to Berkeley and met Karen at the Berkeley LDS Institute. They married and went to the University of Texas at Austin, where Kendall earned a master’s degree and Karen completed her English major. One of the few married couples there, they struggled financially, even though Kendall had a scholarship. They both worked: she typed; he taught piano lessons on campus.

“Kendall has always been mechanically inclined,” says Karen. “With a few dollars for parts and a lot of labor, he could repair just about anything.” Before Kendall’s performing career got going, they started their piano-finders’ service—a nationwide brokerage and piano-rebuilding business.

In addition to their combined career, Kendall and Karen are active in the Clayton Valley Second Ward, Concord California Stake. The Beans are also the parents of two young budding musicians—their daughters, Kyrsten, eleven, and Aneka, eight.

Kendall is at the piano between eight and ten hours a day, either practicing or composing. “I’m a firm believer in discipline,” he says.

Many of his compositions are based on religious themes. In the preface to his vocal collection, The Return of the Prodigal and Other Songs, Kendall summarized his own devotion to art and to a spiritual life: “All true art seeks to give ‘something more’—something more beautiful, more enlightening, more uplifting than everyday experience. I pray that I, and all artists everywhere who have felt the perfect love of the Master, may seek to share it through the medium of their art with their fellowman.”—Terri L. Evans, Davis, California

Classical music videos have been only one innovation of composer and pianist Kendall Ross Bean. (Photo by Terry Hankins.)