2ish is the musical collaboration between virtuoso instrumentalists Brandon Scott Besharah: acoustic fingerstyle guitar, hurdy gurdy and saxophones and Saskia Tomkins: nyckelharpa, viola and violin.
The music of 2ish has been described as a “ living film score”, or as the style often referred to as “Heavy Wood”. Purely instrumental, their original compositions often remind the listener of music once created by the artists Michael Hedges, Oliver Schroer, Stefane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.
Saskia was born in the UK and began playing classical violin at 7 years old. She discovered folk music at 11 years, and jazz at 17. Because of her very mixed heritage, she enjoys exploring and connecting to each of these through the music.
Saskia gained a B.A.hons in Jazz from Middlesex University in London, UK, where her biggest influential teachers were Stuart Hall (from Loose Tubes), who introduced her to a myriad of music genres. Chris Batchelor (Julian Argüelles group) and classically, Mike Thomas from the Brodsky String Quartet.
Since then, Saskia has travelled the world learning different violin genres, playing with people such as Laurie Anderson, John Etheridge, Sin E, Uriah Heep, The English Shakespeare Company, The Chieftains, Toronto Tabla Ensemble, and various Dance and Theatre troupes. She has done much work with dancers and theatre companies and taught many summer schools.
Her recording career covers over 30 albums and numerous Radio broadcasts including work for the BBC. She is an all Britain Irish Fiddle Champion. Since arriving in Canada in 2007 with her family, she has been embraced by the music community. Saskia is currently working with 4th Line Theatre Company and Mackenzie Roe Theatre Company; with an Irish/Canadian trio, Cairdeas: is principle viola in the Northumberland Symphony Orchestra and co-runs an Irish session in Bowmanville.
Saskia frequently works with 4th Line Theatre Company, David Newland, Kim Doolittle, an Irish/Canadian trio, Cairdeas which includes her husband Steafan Hannigan, and is principle 2nd violin in the Quinte Symphony Orchestra.
Brandon has studied advanced acoustic guitar technique in France under Pierre Bensusan, and with Canadian guitarist Don Ross for two years. He also studied Jazz saxophone under Kirk MacDonald. and Jazz theory under New York based musician Barry Harris as a participant in his workshops.
Brandon has performed with Don Thompson, Oliver Schroer, Don Ross, Haygood Hardy, Guido Basso, Pat LaBarbara, Mae Moore to name but a few. He has shared performances with Jeff Healy, Ani Defranco, Lighthouse, Colin James, Michelle Wright, Jane Bunnet, Albert King and other well established artists. Brandon currently works out of Toronto Canada as a music educator, composer and session musician.
He has made several appearances on all the major television networks and has had his music video “Try” played regularly on Much Music. Brandon’s instrumental prowess was also featured on the 1998 Juno Award winning album by Judy and David. He had also composed the theme for the 2001 Juno Awards.
Brandon has been awarded several Ontario Arts Council, Factor, VideoFact and Canada Arts Council Grants for several projects during his career.
He had won the award for Best Performer of the year on CIUT’s “Acoustic Workshop” radio show. Brandon has also spent two years working for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as a member of their orchestra, and as assistant Musical Director, traveling all over the world playing music.
Through the North Toronto school of music, and privately, Brandon has been teaching Guitar, flute, clarinet, saxophone and music theory for over 25 years.
Brandon works out of Toronto as a busy session musician and sought-after composer. He has provided over 300 original compositions that include 24 string quartet pieces, a retail acoustic guitar package for Sound Ideas , Rock, Jazz, Funk and World Library music for CTV Music, French Cafe music for Nightingale Music and many thematic titles for use in feature films.
John Northcott, host of CBC’s Entertainment Tonight, said in reference to Brandon that,“when you cross a jazz saxophone player with a guitarist, the result is some remarkable guitar work!”
“Outrageously talented!” is how Kingston’s All Folks Festival described Brandon Scott Besharah.
Recording artist and guitarist, Don Ross, says that Brandon is “an impressive performer…a bright light on the acoustic guitar frontier.”
The Amazing Kreskin had this to say about Brandon’s song composed in his honour with wordsmith Lizzy Shanks:“The song is called the Amazing, but you tell them, they’re amazing, these people really did some job! I’m going out to have a ball this next week when I come to Toronto”(the trip he was referring to was to host Besharah’s CD release at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Theatre.)