Low Strung
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Low Strung


Band Classical Classic Rock


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"Hitting all the right notes"

Cello rock took Southwestern Indiana by strum Wednesday.

Also by pluck, bow and rap, as Low Strung, an undergraduate cello ensemble from Yale University, played music of The Who, AC/DC, Michael Jackson and a dozen of other classic rock acts as chamber music for audiences in three venues in Vincennes, Ind., and Evansville.

The group, composed of undergraduates from California to New York and England, came home for spring break with Anna Graber, an Evansville cellist and Yale senior. They started the day playing for busloads of elementary school students in Vincennes, at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center.

At 5:30 p.m., they played a rehearsal room in The Victory, performing a miniconcert for students in the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, a group Graber played in several years with while a student at Memorial High School.

And at 7 p.m., the group played to a packed house in the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana's Bower-Suhrheinrich Foundation Gallery. It was the busiest day yet on a tour that began Sunday with a sold-out house concert in the home of Harry and Linda George of Evansville.

Low Strung redefines chamber music with their seamless blend of classical and rock, opening with introductions that sound like Bach or Beethoven leading into rock anthems like AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" or the Eagles' "Hotel California."

Thursday's Evansville performances included a sumptuous arrangement of Michael Jackson's "Beat It," a sweeping rendition of the Mamas and Papas' "California Dreamin'," and screaming performances of The Who's "Baba O'Riley," (a.k.a. "Teenage Wasteland").

They played the Beatles "Birthday" for someone in the evening audience, and they showed a bluesy, jazzy side in "The House of the Rising Sun."

They sold CDs and T-shirts at every stop, and seemed to gather energy and enthusiasm right to the end, when they stood for a standing ovation in the Bower-Suhrheinrich Foundation Gallery.

For Graber, one of the most rewarding experiences of the day was performing for the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, she said.

She learned orchestral repertoire there, she won the chance to play a concerto, and she even traveled to Japan with the orchestra, she noted.

"I thought then, 'if the cello can take me there, I'm onto something good."

Low Strung will perform again today at 5 p.m. in the UE's Neu Chapel. Admission is free and open to the public.

They'll travel to Henderson, Ky., on Friday to perform a pair of benefit concerts at the Riverbend Academy, 145 N. Main St.,

The group will play 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and again from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., with a wine-and-cheese reception between performances. Tickets ($10 in advance, $15 at the door) include admission to the reception and one of the performances. As of Wednesday, the first show was sold out and only a few seats remained for the second performance. For information, call the Riverbend Academy at (270) 827-9420.
- Roger McBain, Courier & Press

"Don't stop believing: Ivy League cellists leave Henderson audience in awe"

The darndest thing happened at Second and Main streets last Friday night.

A classic rock concert took place.

"Rock" in that it included Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun," the Mamas and Papas' "California Dreamin'," The Beatles' "Hey Jude" and more.

"Classic" in that the entire concert was played on cellos. Seven of them.

I should have known it was coming. But it took three dogs to get me there.

Dragging home from work on a Friday evening, a little tattered and a little torn, I'm usually just anxious to pull the door to and stay in for the evening. But last Friday, my neighbor was on his porch with his well-behaving dogs, J.P., Abbey and Cricket. I stepped over to say hey.

In the course of discussion, Connie asked what we were doing that weekend. Our agenda was pretty slim; we've had a challenging several months, and I looked forward to little more than a quiet evening.

What, I asked politely, were they doing?

They were going downtown, to Riverbend Academy, for a cello concert.

I gazed back stupidly. "All cellos?" I asked. Connie nodded.

"I heard something on WNIN about this group of cellists that play classic rock," I said dumbly.

Yes, he nodded.

"But the cellists I heard about are from Yale," I said.

He nodded.

"So they are playing in Henderson?" I asked feebly.

I did the unmentionable. I told my wife, on a Friday night, that I was willing to attend a concert involving classical instruments.

We ran across our friends Joan and Jo at Second and Main. They were walking out of the Soaper Building, where Riverbend is based. Their eyes were electric. They had attended the first of the two presentations of the group, who perform as Low Strung.

"It was amazing," they said.

We walked in. We paid $15 apiece. A friend bought us each a glass of Ruby Moon's excellent Chambourcin wine.

Donna took me by the elbow to direct me to our seats. Our seats were where no one else wanted to sit.

On the front row.

We sat inches from one of the seven college students. They sat with the necks of their cellos resting on their shoulders. They held their bows in their right hands. Their slender fingers rested on the strings.

With a nod, they began. And the electricity commenced.

Pluck, pluck, pluck. The draw of their bows across the strings.

An hour later, the 80 or so in attendance searched one another's eyes. Can you believe what we just heard? Or saw?

Could you imagine that shadows of Elton John of The Who or David Bowie could be cast across our Main Street?

Can you believe such a thing could happen in downtown Henderson on a lazy Friday evening in March?

Can you believe seven Ivy League cellists would come to Henderson in the first place?

Can you believe 80 Hendersonians would leap to their feet in applause of seven cellists? Can you believe Low Strung would say that we were their best audience of this visit to the Tri-state?

Don't stop believing. - Chuck Stinnett, The Gleamer


Low Strung album - June '07



Dave Rector founded Low Strung at Yale University four years ago, and he has reformed the group with New York cellists who are glad to let their proverbial hair down and take a break from Bach. Opening “Stairway to Heaven” with strains of Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers”, or leading from Beethoven’s brooding Symphony No. 7 into “Hotel California”, Low Strung makes old classics materialize from even older classics. Whether you’ve got a poster of Pete Townshend or Beethoven in your room, Low Strung is a musical spectacle you do not want to miss.

The group’s eponymous first album became a hot commodity upon its release in 2007, and its sales since demonstrate that Low Strung appeals to a wide range of people -- from the middle-school orchestra to undergrads hanging out in dorm rooms to symphony-going baby boomers who grew up listening to the original tunes. According to the UK’s Blackpool Gazette, Low Strung “could, literally, become the new rock and roll” (1/12/08).