Stephen Beus has come a long way from the quiet farm boy with a shy smile he used to be, to the piano virtuoso with a charming sense of humor he is today.
He has performed at Carnegie Hall, obtained a master's degree in music from the renowned Juilliard School of Performing Arts, as well as performed in concert halls in Paris, Casablanca, Beijing, Lisbon, Hamburg, Venice and Tbilisi, Georgia, just to name a few.
But this world-class musician, who turned 30 this year, hasn't forgotten the sanctuary of the Othello farm where he grew up.
"I love coming back to my parents' farm where it's always so quiet and peaceful," Beus said via email. "I always love my time there. I'm so lucky to have such great parents and such a supportive community."
Beus will be making that journey back to the Northwest this weekend to perform two concerts as part of the Camerata Musica concert series. The first concert will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Battelle Auditorium, on Battelle Boulevard off George Washington Way in Richland. Then at 2 p.m. Nov. 20, he will perform again at the First Methodist Church at the corner of Dayton Street and Kennewick Avenue. Both concerts are free.
When the Herald caught up with Beus recently, he was in Cannon Beach, Ore., getting ready for a concert. But playing piano isn't the only thing that occupies him these days. Marriage and fatherhood take up a good deal of his time. He is married to Alainna Fielding, whom he met years earlier while attending Whitman College, and they now have two sons.
"Alainna was introduced to me as the best and most beautiful singer Walla Walla has ever seen, and it was true," Beus said. "She was still in high school then, but we put together a few performances, dated off and on for six years, then got married in 2008."
After finishing his doctorate in New York, Beus moved his family back to Salt Lake City.
"I'm teaching at a few schools here and flying out of the centrally located Salt Lake City airport for performances," he said. "Mostly I perform in the states, but I have international trips every season."
His most recent trip abroad was to the Baltic country of Georgia near Turkey, where he performed a commemorative concert in remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil.
"It was a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of the country," he said. "It was an amazing experience, and I met a lot of really amazing people."
Beus says his love of music has a broad range of styles, from popular to the classics. But it's classical music that has always stirred his soul, though up until recently, he never cared much for opera.
"There was a time when I didn't like opera," he said. "It sounded loud and sometimes even obnoxious to my ears. And, the story lines of some of the famous 19th century operas seemed so overly dramatic as to be absurd."
But, he admitted, his wife is an opera singer and eventually taught him to appreciate and understand opera.
"I took some classes on opera in graduate school and have spent time listening and learning about the voice and about the music," he said. "And now I can say that some of the most gorgeous moments in music are found in opera. I accompanied a fantastic opera singer (who sang) Dvorak's Song to the Moon and thought it was one of the most delicious and exquisitely beautiful things my ears had ever heard."
And when he isn't being a serious musician, Beus describes himself as pretty silly.
"I'm 30 years old now -- actually 30 going on 13, according to some of my friends," he quipped. "My kids do bring out my silly side"
And most importantly, Beus admits, "I'm not afraid of making an idiot of myself with some high-pitched baby talk."