Westmont Magazine How a Software Career Led to a Conservatory

A cellist who won the Music Guild Instrumental Competition, Tim Beccue ’18 has always been passionate about music. He enjoyed playing in the Westmont Orchestra for four years, but he majored in physics with a minor in mathematics. “I wasn’t committed to the idea of a professional cello career at the time, and I figured it was better for me to study physics with music on the side than vice-versa.”

Tim Beccue

As a student, Tim took the initiative to learn how to take photos with the Keck Telescope on campus. “It’s a fun toy, and I had it all to myself,” he says. See the images he created at timspacepics.weebly.com.

After graduating, he got a software position with Las Cumbres Observatory in Santa Barbara, a small nonprofit with a worldwide network of robotically operated telescopes that astronomy re­searchers use to monitor targets and events. “Software engineering felt like a natural continuation of my physics background,” he says. As part of a small group at the company, he helps develop an educational project allowing students to operate telescopes through a web interface. “Using just a laptop, they can control the telescope, collect data and do things like measure star brightness. It simulates the experience of being in an observatory.”

For a musical outlet, Tim joined two ensembles: the Delta String Trio (named just before the Delta COVID-19 variant emerged) and the Dumpster Cats jazz combo, where he plays bass. Both groups perform primarily in private homes. “House concerts provided a safe place for people to hear live music during the pandemic,” he says. “Backyard concerts provided a safe place for people to hear live music during the pandemic. Playing music in intimate settings like this also allows for more meaningful connections between performers and listeners.”

Then in the fall, Tim left his job and the ensembles to attend a con­servatory, Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. He’ll earn a master’s degree in cello performance during this two-year program.

“I enjoy being around a lot of people who are focused on music,” he says. “I missed learning and the school environment. Music has always been compelling, and I thought it would be fun to live on the East Coast.”

He found another passion after graduating: beach volleyball. “While it’s hard to beat Santa Barbara, I was thrilled to find a beach volleyball scene in Baltimore, and I continue to play as much as I can.”

Tim appreciates adventures and new experiences. During high school, he joined his family in 11 months of travel to 33 countries. He also spent the summer after his first year in college driving around the U.S. in an RV with them. Before starting at Westmont, he went on Inoculum, a wilderness program in the Sierra that his father, Phil Beccue ’81, also participated in. Tim’s sister, Alyssa Beccue ’20, plays the flute, majored in art and designs the Westmont magazine.

He also studied with Westmont in Istanbul for a semester. “I had a wonderful semester living and studying in Turkey and the surrounding region. I especially enjoyed living in a culture quite different from my own. But it wasn’t com­pletely foreign because I volunteered for several years to help internation­al students — including a lot of Saudis — improve their English. It’s great to learn how other peo­ple live and experience a different way of life.”

For now, Tim concen­trates on music. “I re­ally enjoy focusing on something fully, and the conservatory is a great place for that. I love to learn and see improve­ment in myself.”

He’s kept his plans for the future open. “Part of the excitement is not knowing what I’ll do after finishing my degree. I look forward to seeing where the next fork in the road leads.”