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Jul 23, 2020

CSS Duo of the Month for Jul 2020: B-L Duo

The Composers Society of Singapore (CSS) kickstarts 2020 with a new monthly series for our Musings section called Composer of the Month!

Like last month, we also have something special this time round: We will be featuring CSS Duo of the Month for Jul 2020, B-L Duo! This piano duo is formed by Bertram WEE, who is our CSS Full Member, and Lynette YEO!

B-L Duo

Interviewer: Emily KOH

How did you both meet, and when did you start playing together?

Bertram: We met as students in London at RCM (Royal College of Music at London, UK). Growing up, I played a lot of piano duo music with friends in Singapore, and really just wanted to continue doing so for fun – we met, and after a bunch of sight-reading, discovered that we had some semblance of ensemble chemistry – the rest is history! 

How did you conceive of the NGS Cao Fei program?

Bertram: There has always been concert music out there with qualities analogous to that of visual art, and we thought that it was an appropriate time to present some of this music. We had recently begun work on for melodicas by Weston Olencki, and have had David Lang’s after gravity set in our to-do list for years. Both of these are immensely characterful pieces that have multivalent qualities, lending themselves comfortably to comparisons with the experience of kinetic sculpture (like Cao Fei’s 浮槎 Fú Chá, now showing at National Gallery Singapore (NGS)). It was also an opportunity for me to write something for the duo, something that I’ve not (successfully!) done in our 7 years of playing together.

What are some bucket list pieces for the duo, and what can we expect to hear next?

Lynette: There is a lot of music out there that we want to play, so a bucket list would go on for a while! That said, we were preparing one of these bucket list pieces (Enno Poppe’s Rad), and going to perform this in a little new music project with violist Christoven TAN in May earlier this year – obviously all of those plans have been shelved for now [thanks to COVID-19], but the moment live music can happen again, we will get back to it! Rad is a fiendish work for two keyboards that through the course of 20 minutes plows through about a hundred different tuning systems, and comes across at times like strange microtonal Nancarrow – we look forward to presenting that at some point.

The B-L Duo performed an online programme for NGS ART + LIVE: Resonates With on 25 Jul 2020 (Sa) 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM. Watch the programme now!