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Pianist offers gift of music Saturday

WORTHINGTON -- Back in the 1970s, Jane "Janie" Becker entertained diners by playing the organ -- along with some hosting duties -- at Michael's Restaurant in Worthington.

On Saturday evening, she'll be back at a Worthington keyboard once again, this time performing a concert in the Fine Arts Theater at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus.

"I am very much looking forward to performing my Christmas music for the Worthington community," said Becker. "As my writing and recording have unfolded since 2000, I have always made a point to come home to perform in the area where I got my start."

A native of the Heron Lake area, Becker first took piano instruction from the nuns at Sacred Heart Catholic Church there. By the time she was 10 years old, she was playing regularly for Mass. She earned a degree in music from the College of St. Benedict and eventually was employed as a piano teacher for 20 years at Schmitt's Music stores in the Twin Cities. More recently, she's worked in church music, playing at Christ the King Catholic church in the Twin Cities.

In 2000, Becker began to compose her own arrangements, starting with Christmas carols, and in 2003, she recorded her first CD, "The Holly and the Ivy." She's done several other recordings since and has published companion piano books of her music. Her newest release is called "Forever Friends."

In addition to her recording work, Becker also gained fans when she began playing the piano during the Christmas season at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

"My Christmas collections are my own tantalizing arrangements of timeless carols," Becker explained about the music she will share with the Worthington audience. "The two Christmas CD collections include over 50 different melodies from 10 countries. My intent as I created the arrangements was to showcase familiar and not-so-familiar tunes in a fresh new way. I have numerous fans who find the music so dear that they play the music year round. I will also highlight a few tunes from my non-seasonal collections of original music I have written since 2000."

Admission to the concert is free, but audience members are asked to bring a non-perishable food item or cash donation for the Worthington area food shelves.

"My concerts have always had a charitable element," Becker said. "I recently did a charitable event in Windom. I wanted to do a concert that focused on my Christmas collections, so doing something in Worthington was a logical extension. I do know a good deal of people in the Fulda, Brewster and Worthington area who would find a venue in Worthington more convenient.

"I am also looking forward to playing at the Fine Arts Theater at Minnesota West," she added. "The priority to maintain a quality venue says a great deal about the value a community has for the arts."

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Fine Arts Theater. A reception and CD signing will follow the performance.

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Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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