Eric Eid-Reiner ’11 began making music with his family when he was just five years old. This week, the versatile pianist from Lexington, Mass., celebrates the release of his second CD, “On a Meadowlark Night,” with a performance at Wheaton featuring music from New England, Ireland, Scotland, Québec and Cape Breton.
The performance will take place at 9 p.m. on April 10 at the Lyon’s Den Coffeehouse. Admission is free and all are invited.
“On a Meadowlark Night” features over 70 minutes of folk and acoustic music by Eid-Reiner, with cover art by Erin Binkley ’10.
Music has been a central part of Eid-Reiner’s life since he took up the violin as a young child. He went on to master the piano, which became his primary instrument. At the age of five, he became a part of the Reiner Family Band along with his brother Andy and their parents. Soon they began playing for contra dances with local musicians.
“The family band began as a casual, small idea,” says Eid-Reiner. “My brother and I played a lot of music together at various places, including a bookstore and music store in Lexington, and from there it grew to playing for dances at local schools.”
What began as a casual family affair developed into a passion. Eid-Reiner went on to play with well-known traditional musicians, produce his own solo CD, and become a founding member of the three-piece band Matching Orange.
He continues to perform at many venues as a solo musician and with his bands. Over the years, he has learned from a number of music teachers, including his primary teacher and mentor, Jacqueline Schwab. He has performed with many prominent artists, including Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, hammered dulcimer player Ken Kolodner, and Jewish singer/songwriter Rachel Cole.
Eid-Reiner’s first CD, released in 2005, was a solo album called “Grand Tour: Traditional Music on Piano.” Music critic Arthur Ketchen, writing in Celtic Beat Magazine, said of that recording: “Eric Eid-Reiner is a genuis by virtue of his knowledge, a craftsman supreme by his playing, and an artist by his understanding…. This is a musical buffet, but of the first quality, as the artist here is first quality.”
Like most of his musical endeavors, the album featured a mix of Irish, Cape Breton, bluegrass, Jewish, old-time, ragtime, jazz and French Canadian tunes.
“I enjoy all of these genres, so I haven’t narrowed them down, and a lot of them work well together at concerts,” says Eid-Reiner. “While my first CD was mostly solo, I’ve now expanded to playing with other people–I appreciate the creativity that comes from working with other musicians.”
Matching Orange consists of Eid-Reiner on piano, Brendan Carey Block (fiddle), and Eric McDonald (mandolin). The band has played at Boston coffeehouses, contra dances, farmer’s markets, the Boston Celtic Music Festival, and here at Wheaton.
“The members of Matching Orange originally pulled together to perform for a dance,” explains Eid-Reiner. “It went really well, so we got together at someone’s house to learn a few tunes. I went to grab some folders to hold the music, and they happened to be orange. From there we came up with the band name of Matching Orange!”
Along with his musical pursuits, Eid-Reiner is active in many organizations at Wheaton. He is the vice president of the LGBTQ Alliance, through which he recently sponsored a campus visit by Steven Greenberg, the nation’s first openly gay Orthodox rabbi. Eid-Reiner has also participated in the World Music Ensemble, and he currently is a member of the International Cooking Cluster in Beard Hall.
How does he manage to accomplish all this and still keep up with the coursework for his independent major in public policy?
“I am involved in a lot of things, but I’m really passionate about all of them,” says Eid-Reiner. “I don’t want to give up any of them. It can be a very busy schedule, but it allows me to feel relaxed if I plan things well.”
“On a Meadowlark Night” reflects the contributions of many people, including Eid-Reiner’s longtime piano teacher Schwab, the Matching Orange band members, brother Andy and the other musical friends who joined Eid-Reiner on the CD: David Reiner, Ken Kolodner, Kimberley Fraser, Anna Grosslein, Billy Novick and Will Lydgate.
“Music will always be important in my life,” says Eid-Reiner. “I will keep playing and having fun with it. I hope that people will enjoy listening to the new CD, because it contains some of my favorite tunes and compositions. I just hope to get people smiling, with their toes tapping.”
For more information, visit www.EricEid-Reiner.com.