Arbutus Duo

About The Arbutus Duo

In 2020,Vancouver-based violist Thomas Beckman and pianist Kitty Lam embarked on a journey of “living room” house concerts, with the aim of bringing live performances into the homes of classical music lovers. In their past house concerts, Thomas and Kitty performed late classical/romantic works from the 19th century for the viola and piano, including Sonatas from Schubert and Glinka, and Rachmaninov’s Vocalize. Like the rest of the music community, the global pandemic has put their house concert series on hold. However they continue to make music and rehearse as a duo whenever possible. In July 2020, they released their first produced video of Faure’s Pavane. In November 2020, they released their second video – Ave Maria by Bach/Gounod. The video has been dedicated to health workers who have shown absolute kindness and courage to the millions affected by the pandemic.

The Players

Thomas Bechman, Viola – CMC associate composer and violist (MMus from UBC), Thomas Beckman, serves as Festival composer for the Artists for Conservation organization, in-house composer for Mills Pictures Studio, and film composer for the ongoing Promising Practices documentary series. As an active musician Thomas also serves as principal violist for the Prince George Symphony orchestra and lead violist for entertainment group Sons of Granville. His projects have varied widely from independent feature film scores to documentary soundtracks, to concert classical music and environmental/science themed commissions. Recent works include this year’s ‘Metatation’ for the AFC, the Key to Christmas soundtrack, and a host of music videos that showcase his numerous collaborations. In 2019, Flux commissioned by the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, and the St Roch Suite commissioned by the Prince George Symphony Orchestra led to his induction within the CMC associate composers list.

Kitty Lam, Piano – Pianist Kitty Lam began her piano training at the age of six and is currently studying with Ellen Silverman. Her musical credentials include a Licentiate Performance Diploma from Trinity College London(LTCL).Kitty has been actively performing as a solo pianist, accompanist as well as chamber musician for over 20 years. As the Principal Pianist for the Vancouver Pops, Kitty performs regularly with both its Orchestra and Choir at the Chan Centre and has toured internationally with the ensemble to venues such as the Carnegie Hall, New York and Suginami Koukaidou, Tokyo (partnering with the Tokyo Seraphic Orchestra).Apart from her musical pursuits, Kitty obtained her Master of Engineering Degree at UBC and is a full-time IT professional specialized in data management.

About the Performance

The program will include two parts. In the first part, we will perform Franz Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata in its entirety. The Arpeggione Sonata was originally written for the arpeggione, an instrument that dates from the early 19th century. As a seemingly hybrid invention it operated with six strings much like the guitar yet bowed like a cello. In recent times itis now most commonly performed by the cello and the viola. Because of its early assignment to the arpeggione the piece contains some very distinctive features, making it a tough and unique challenge for the more modern string instrument. Tonally, Schubert adroitly juxtaposes the highly lyrical and sentimental with the jovial and playful, the latter of which on both occasions crescendos into a virtuosic display, peaks and then transforms seamlessly back into its more languid and romantic origination. The second movement calls for long graceful sweeps and phrasing, serving as the perfect intermediary before the wild and once again, highly contrasted third movement.

In the second part of our program, we will premiere Thomas’ most recent work titled Oceanus. Derived from the lunar valley, Oceanus Procelarrum, Oceanus is a piece for viola and piano  inspired by the emotional tides between people. Akin to how the moon exerts its gravitational influence over the oceanic tides of the earth, so do hidden forces preside over the ebb and flow of feelings between people within close relationships. This dynamic flow is captured via waves, whether in arpeggiated chords in the piano, or in the asymmetrically recurring rhythmic gestures by both viola and piano together. Tonally, the register tends to sit lower from where the viola can showcase its most regal and dark qualities, with the piano doing similar in harmony to achieve a dark and more sonorous sound in combination. This work is dedicated to Elaine Anita Joe.

Visit Thomas’ website to learn more about his compositions

KnoxVan Events Presents
The Arbutus Duo

An Instrumental Measures Musical Highlight

A Free Virtual Performance

Tuesday, November 24 2020
7:30PM – Video Release
8:00PM – Performer’s Talk-back

Please join us via Zoom for Talk-back: click here

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