north east scotland's festival of new music

press reviews

Steve Bingham, Violin/Electric violin/Loops

Written by Alan Cooper


Armed to the teeth with acoustic and electric violins, an array of bass and electronic pedals as well as a laptop computer, Steve Bingham reminded me of a cross between a virtuoso organist and a very upmarket one-man-band. His programme included several of his own compositions or arrangements as well as music by contemporary composers from Germany, Herbert Dietze and Max Bechshaeffer and from England, Andrew Keeling. The masters of minimalism Steve Reich and Philip Glass were represented in imaginative and tasteful Steve Bingham arrangements and to close the performance there were pieces by George Harrison and the rock group Yes.

I was fascinated to note that two very small boys in the front row were particularly charmed and fascinated by this music. In front of me, a two year old (I would guess) got up and danced to three of the first four pieces with a look of absolute delight on his face. He responded to Andrew Keeling's piece You Cut the String by commenting to his Dad, "That's nice!" and the Slow movement of the violin concerto by Philip Glass had his eyelids droop as he was gently soothed almost to sleep. I doubt whether anything I can write can match the eloquent judgement of this tiny yet sincere music critic, but here goes.

To begin with, Steve Bingham's introductions to the performances were most enlightening. He explained that nothing we were about to hear had been pre-recorded; all the sounds were generated and controlled live by Bingham. As I said, only an organist taking care of pedals and stop changes could really match what Bingham was doing.

Stolpersteine for violin and bass pedals by Herbert Dietze used acoustic violin with bass pedals. Its part folk, part jazz flavours produced a very palatable sound indeed. Max Beckshaeffer's two movements from The Image of Melancholy for solo violin though not sounding at all like Bach were still in the tradition of the works for solo violin by that great master of the art. Double stopping and in the second of the two movements, variety of timbre created the kind of broad orchestral spectrum that Bach manages to derive from a solo instrument.

Duplicity for electric violin and delay was Bingham's development for violin of Steve Reich's Clapping Music adding the element of violin melody to the rhythmic effect. Bingham's own Semi-Improvised Looping Piece helped explain the technique of building up an entire orchestral accompaniment generated by the sounds fed into the electronic system by a single instrumentalist.

This technique was put to use in two wonderfully attractive pieces, Andrew Keeling's You Cut the String and the slow movement of the Violin Concerto by Philip Glass.

George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps was given the full orchestral treatment with electric violin and looping but Owner of a Lonely Heart, Bingham's arrangement of a Yes classic had every bit as much impact and excitement delivered by just one solo player and his acoustic violin. Another Art Gallery full house, from the very young, whose enjoyment was obvious and overt, to the older more reserved members of the audience voted this concert a resounding success. Their enthusiastic applause said, "Thank-you Lunchbreaks and thank-you Sound.

  • published on 13 November 2010
  • written by Alan Cooper

Reproduced with permission of the author.

reviewed event
  Date Day Time Location Event Details
13Sat 1.00 pmAberdeenSteve Bingham, violin/electric violin/loops