Preview: Gaelynn Lea at the Pioneer

Folk Fiddler Gaelynn Lea Comes to Indy’s Pioneer on May 8th.

If the prospect of Gaelynn Lea, acclaimed violinist, paying us Hoosiers a visit doesn’t at least pique your interest, get your pause checked. Because you probably don’t have one. A past winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest, Gaelynn Lea’s career shows no sign of slowing down. And now that career brings her to the Pioneer.

A Brief History

Gaelynn Lea’s interest in music begins at an early age. However, she didn’t seriously pursue it until she got a perfect score, the only perfect score in her class, on a listening test in the fifth grade. Her teacher actively encouraged her interest, and soon she was on the path to musicianhood. She choose the violin as her instrument, but found the instrument difficult at first. However, this was more due to her osteogenesis imperfecta, which severely limited her growth, than any lack of talent on her part. She eventually developed a style that allowed her to play without her condition getting in the way.

In 2016, she entered NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. Which, for those of you not in the know, is an annual contest held by National Public Radio to scout out talented musicians. Lea’s entry, “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun” won, beating out 6000 competing entries. Not exactly easy, not exactly simple. Since then, Lea’s kept busy composing and performed, as well as speaking on behalf of the disabled.

Her Sound

Gaelynn Lea draws on classical and Celtic influences, but her music is in a class of it’s own. As is her playing style. Because of her size, Lea can’t hold a violin the traditional way, so she plays it like a cello instead. As a result, she tends to bow the lowest notes on her instrument first, unlike the vast majority of violinists who do the opposite.

One can only describe Lea’s playing as haunting. Her melodic drones, interspersed with nervy pizzicatos, oppress and swell as her mournful vocals trill quaver. As if that wasn’t enough, she achieves most of the violin drones by electronically looping violin samples. The grand result is wistful, even wrenching, but beautiful.

Not happy, by any means, but everyone needs to have their heart broken every once in a while.

So, as always. The venue is the Pioneer, the show begins at 7:00PM.

See you there!



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