Cellist connects with technology and rock

Photo courtesy of Maya Beiser

The world-renowned Israeli-American cellist, Maya Beiser, took over Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts on March 5 with her rousing solo performance.

Beiser uses cutting-edge musical technology to record herself playing six different parts in Bach’s “Air on G,” then performs the final seventh part live accompanied by videos of the previously-recorded parts projected behind her.

“I think creativity and technology are very compatible; what interests me specifically is the human quality of the interaction that we have with technology,”  Beiser said. “I love the work with this beautiful acoustic instrument and connecting that with technology to see where that takes me. It’s that collision where humanity and technology connect that creates really amazing possibilities.”

This passion for music that has taken her all over the world is something that has driven her since childhood. Maya Beiser grew up in a commune (called a kibbutz) in Israel where her parents and everyone else spent all of their free time creating music. If it sounds like a musician’s paradise, Maya disagreed.

“When they found out I have perfect pitch, they suggested I play the violin; … but I’m a fighter, and I wanted to play the cello,” she said.

Beiser’s cello lessons turned into a chance to tour with her teacher, playing classical music all over the world. This continued until an adolescent Maya discovered rock music.

“There was a dichotomy between my interest in progressive rock and oral music and theater and art and the classical cellist; … I didn’t just want to continue with this mold that I knew or that was expected of me. I wanted to recreate things my own way.”

After this epiphany, Maya began pushing the bounds of her instrument, searching for new ways to express herself and create music. She has recently teamed up with avant-garde filmmaker Bill Morrison to challenge the norm of writing music to embellish a movie. As she exhibited in her show “Films for Cello,” which she performed here on campus in addition to Bach’s “Air on G,” film can be used to enhance the auditory experience of an instrumental performance.

Beiser also enjoys exploring different parts of her heritage through her music. With pieces like Mohammed Fairouz’s new “Kol Nidrei,” the cellist revisits her childhood in Israel through the musical interpretation of the central prayer of the Yom Kippur service.

These influences and her experimentation with new technologies have made her the perfect fit for an environment like Tech, and she wowed the audience with her incredible talent. For those who would like to hear more, Maya dropped hints in her interview about her upcoming summer album.

“I don’t want to say too much about this album but it’s cool; … it’s very trance-y.”

Although Maya Beiser will not be performing another show at Tech this year, the Ferst Center has many unique shows with artists who are at the cutting edge of technology and art. Tech students get $10 tickets to all performances, and the Ferst often offers discount tickets close to the show date.