Zoë Keating and Robert Hodgin, Into the Trees, South Hall at the Empire Drive-In.

By Kevin Powers

Her tools are few: a chair, cello and bow, laptop, and a set of effect pedals occupy the stage. But it’s what she does with them that are amazing. Zoë Keating’s mastery of her instrument is only enhanced by the technology she uses. She plays solo cello and, with the aid of looping effects, she is able to create a live orchestra that is beautiful, transcendent, and current while being mindful of traditional classical music. Using the aid of live sampling, she is able to control and perform her vision and compositions – solo. 

Zoë Keating at the Empire Drive in. Photo by Kevin Powers

One of her latest compositions, Into the Trees, is collaboration with Robert Hodgin. To accompany the live playing of her cello piece Hodgin created a digital road trip of sorts; an endless road that traveled through forests, and other mysterious landscapes. In some ways the projection resembles an iTunes animation. There were beautiful moments, where the animation and music came together in a striking way, and though I can appreciate the work, I felt there were certain aspects became distracting, particularly the heavy use particle generators, which created flying chunks and bits of debris. I also wanted a break from the snowfall. A highlight was the animated segment through the forest. As the animation urged you along the road, trees would rapidly sprout up; creating a forest that enveloped the viewer.

Zoë Keating performing ‘Into the Trees’ with a projection by Robert Hodgin. Photo: Patrick Lydon

Seeing her perform live adds another layer of appreciation, not only are the multiple layers of sound both beautiful and intense, and one is witness to the skill and aware of the complexity of composition and timing. According to her website, her album, Into the Trees has spent 9 weeks (and still counting!) on the Billboard classical charts and made it to #1 on iTunes Classical” without any marketing or publicity.  It appears that others are appreciating her music, as well.  Check her out on iTunes.

Zoë Keating performing ‘Into the Trees’ with a projection by Robert Hodgin. Photo: Patrick Lydon

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