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Tracy Silverman and His Electric Violin Coming to WC's Campus

'I entered Juilliard wanting to be the next Jasha Heifetz but I left wanting to be the next Jimi Hendrix'

September 19, 2012

Tracy Silverman's distinct style on the electric violin offers hints of Jimi Hendrix.

Tracy Silverman's distinct style on the electric violin offers hints of Jimi Hendrix.

Described as “classical music’s newest rock star,” Tracy Silverman will present his groundbreaking work with the 6-string electric violin that defies musical boundaries at Wilmington College Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m., in Heiland Theatre.

His presentation is the second in WC’s 2012-13 Issues & Artists Series, which is free of charge.

Lauded by the BBC as “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin,” Silverman is the world’s first concert electric violinist.

Formerly the first violinist with the innovative Turtle Island String Quartet, Silverman was named one of 100 distinguished alumni by The Juilliard School. Shortly after graduating, he built one of the first-ever six-string violins and set his own course as a musical pioneer, designing and performing on an instrument that did not previously exist.

While developing this new instrument, Silverman discovered that he had also developed a new approach to string playing.

“The additional two lower strings open up a door not just to an additional lower register but also, surprisingly, to a new approach to using the bow,” he said. “The possibility of playing the violin as a chordal instrument like the guitar forced me to imagine a more rhythmic way of using the bow, which I call ‘strum bowing.’

“My voice as an electric violinist comes from the fact that I have always been interested in non-classical music—rock, jazz, music from India, Africa and Brazil. I entered Juilliard wanting to be the next Jasha Heifetz but I left wanting to be the next Jimi Hendrix.”

A favorite of music critics, Silverman has been described as, “A cool character.”

Also, the Chicago Tribune wrote about his “Blazing virtuosity. You will be astonished that anyone can play the fiddle like that,” while the New York Times raved about Silverman’s “Fleet agility and tangy expressivity with wailing hints of Jimi Hendrix.”

Silverman has been the subject of two major orchestral commissions, both composed specifically for and with him.

Pulitzer winner John Adams’ The Dharma at Big Sur premiered with the LA Philharmonic at the gala opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003 and was recorded with the BBC Symphony. Also, Silverman premiered with the Nashville Symphony in Carnegie Hall in May 2012 with the legendary “Father of Minimalism” Terry Riley’s The Palmian Chord Ryddle.