Born: November 2, 1968 Primary Instrument: Viola
Leanne Darling creates a powerful new voice for the viola. She draws from her classical technique, her skills in many musical genres, and her passion for improvisation to break the boundaries of this underused instrument. A versatile performer, composer, and improvisor, Darling has has appeared with virtuoso oudist Simon Shaheen in Carnegie Hall, with poets Robert Bly and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes at the Omega Institute, and with the Cedar Lake Ensemble's premiere performance in Chelsea.
Her unique solo viola compositions use the entire scope of her instrument, mixing more traditional sounds with electric sound effects. Using a sampling/looping device, Darling generates layers of sound from lyrical melodies to driving rhythms and textures simulating a whole room full of musicians. The layers are improvised as well as planned, making each performance distinctive. The style ranges from minimalist to free jazz, blues, Arabic, and ambient music. She recently released her debut CD, Spiral, which is now available on CDBaby.
As a player of Arabic music, she has performed with the Near East Ensemble in New York and Philadelphia. With the Sephardic/Moroccan group the Sultana Ensemble, Darling has performed throughout the country and in Italy. She also performs with and composes for the Near East River Ensemble, an Arabic jazz ensemble based in Brooklyn. Her articles on Arabic String playing have appeared in American String Teacher and Strings magazine, and her arrangement of Arabic themes for string orchestra was published this past spring by Alfred Publishing.
As a composer, Ms. Darling’s work on Toy Box Theatre’s The Landlord earned her the Best Original Music award from the New York Innovative Theater Awards in 2007. She has worked with choreographers Jodie Gates, Ann Robideaux, Sara Baird and Aynsley Vandenbroucke, and theater director Richard Calibahn. Performances include Lincoln Center’s Clark Studio Theater, Joyce Soho, Dance Theater Workshop, the Brooklyn Museum and HERE arts space. Ms. Darling also composes/performs with Storahtelling, a Jewish ritual theater company, presenting original theater and music in synagogues across the country. Leanne has performed as a rock/jazz musician with Slow Six, the Foster Family, Los Tramway Rockers and the New York Symphonic Jazz Orchestra.
Before embracing improvisation, Leanne Darling was a well established classical musician. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She was a finalist in the ASTA National Solo Competition and a winner of the Durham (NC) Young Artists Competition. Professionally, Darling has held the principal and assistant principal position in the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Missouri Chamber Orchestra, and the Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie.
Awards:2007 New York Innovative Theater Award, best original music in a play
Few violists have dared to climb out of the classical box to investigate their instrument in new ways. Leanne Darling's brave and dedicated explorations into improvisation, Arabic music, and composition distinguish her as one of the leaders in her field. -Julie Lyonn Lieberman, Improvising Violinist and Author
Leanne Darling is one of the most promising new talents on the scene of improvised classical and world soundings. Her viola is rich with sound and depth, and her control of many musical idioms gives the listener a great sense of inspiration and culture. I highly recommend her considerable talents, both as a composer/performer and as an authentic and inspiring teacher. -David Darling, Cellist,Grammy Nominated Recording Artist and Teacher
This music surprised me. I wasn't sure at first what solo viola with loops would sound like, but the opener, Pollock, grabbed me right away. Leanne has composed the music to work brilliantly with the way she uses the loops, creating a continuous multi-layer sound that shifts and evolves in a very melodic, organic way. This CD really lets you hear what a gifted composer and improviser she is; in the hands of a lesser musician, looped strings could easily result in bland, new-age jamming. In stark contrast, this music is extremely creative, intelligent and soulful. -Brian Prunka, oudist, guitarist, composer
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Teaches all levels violin and viola, beginning improvisation, blues, jazz and middle eastern music, ages 6- adult. Taught for 17 years. Has taught at Brooklyn Conservatory, Op, 118 Harlem School for Strings, Manatee Community College. Holds degrees from Eastman School of Music and Cleveland Institute of Music. Studied with Julie Lyonn Lieberman and Rob Thomas.
StringPlay String students experience music beyond the written note with this dynamic workshop. Using a vocal/body warmup and many improvisational games, including musical "telephone" and "Simon sez," Leanne Darling shows how easy it is to start creating your own music. From there she delves directly into ensemble playing, showing how we can use improvisation to listen and share in our own musical expression. Skills covered include cueing and non-verbal communication, use of dynamics, and exploration of different rhythms, textures and timbres. Suitable for all ages and levels, running time 1 to 2 hours. Contemporary Bowed Strings Builds on the StringPlay workshop, with a introduction in creating your own melodies and rhythms through improvisation. Different musical styles — blues, jazz, rock, latin, arabic — are then explored through their basic structures, chords/scales and rhythms. Each style will be introduced step by step, with all participants learning basic rhythmic accompaniments, followed by plenty of opportunities to solo over the group by using their new improv skills to explore the scales and phrases of each style. Suitable for intermediate players, ages 8 and up, running time 1 to 2 hours. Introduction to Arabic Music Bowed strings are an intregal part of Classical Arabic Music, a rich musical tradition based in the Levant region, from Lebanon to northern Egypt. This expressive, lyrical music brings together unique scales, vibrant rhythmic patterns, and colorful ornamentation. This workshop can take two forms: A lecture demonstration where Leanne Darling guides a string class through the fundamentals of this music: the tonal system, the scales, ornamentation, rhythms and forms. Students will learn scales, improvisation techniques, and some basic repertoire. Suitable for intermediate players, 12 and up, running time 90 minutes to 2 hours.