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July 19, 2013
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Cellist Zoë Keating brings enchanting sounds to stage tonight

One-woman orchestra, avant cellist Zoë Keating will entertain Grass Valley audiences during a The Center for the Arts performance tonight.

Keating has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists, including Imogen Heap, Amanda Palmer, Tears for Fears, DJ Shadow, John Vanderslice, Rasputina, Pomplamoose and Paolo Nutini.

She has collaborated and performed with WNYC’s Radiolab and is also known for her work in film and dance.

Keating has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and awarded a performing arts grant from the Creative Capital Foundation.

She serves on the boards of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, the Magik Magik Orchestra and CASH Music.

In January 2011, Keating won the award for Contemporary Classical Album from The 10th Annual Independent Music Awards.

Using a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layer upon layer, Keating creates intricate, haunting and compelling music.

Keating is known for her use of technology to sample her cello onstage and for her independent marketing ethic that has resulted in the sale of over 60,000 copies of her self-released albums and a devoted social media following.

Keating has invited local students to see first-hand how she mixes technology and music during her sound check, beginning at 5:30 p.m. today at The Center for about 30 minutes.

During this free access time, Keating will demonstrate her techniques — giving students insight into her foot-controlled computer and looping technology that she incorporates with her cello playing, according to staff members at The Center for the Arts.

Keating’s unique form of music derives from paying attention to her own emotions.

“Every piece of music starts with some strong feeling that I get swept up in. To put this feeling into music, I have to lock myself in the studio, immerse myself in that feeling and go explore the bleeding edges of it,” she said on her blog.

Born in Canada and classically trained from the age of 8, Keating obtained a liberal arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College. In her 20s, she worked in the software industry while moonlighting as a cellist in rock bands.

Eventually, Keating combined the cello and the computer, developing her signature style of live-layered music while improvising for late night crowds at a San Francisco warehouse.

Her style developed from paralyzing stage fright. She found when she improvised on stage, her fears of trying to maintain perfection dissolved.

“I found that when I would improvise, I didn’t care about the technique. I would just put my mind outside of where I was and just be in the music,” she said.

In 2003, Keating quit her comfortable tech job to focus on her music. She made the choice to release her music without a label, believing that her listeners were out there and she needed to find them.

She reached her audience using social media such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Soon, Keating caught the attention of public and press with her grassroots, label-less approach.

She speaks regularly on artist empowerment, sustainable careers and the concept of artist-as-entrepreneur.

Now a mother, Keating has toured North America in recent years, baby in tow, to support her CD, “Into The Trees.” The recording spent 49 weeks on the Billboard classical charts.

Commissions include music for San Francisco MOMA and soundtracks for the films “Ghost Bird,” “The Devil’s Chair” and “Frozen Angels.” Her music has been used by BBC, ITV, PBS, NPR, NBC, Intel, IBM, Apple, Patagonia, Specialized Bikes, the Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance, Parsons Dance and San Francisco’s ODC and was recently used in the Broadway play “Wit,” starring Cynthia Nixon. Her cello playing can be heard on Mark Isham’s scores for “The Conspirator,” “Warrior” and “The Secret Life of Bees.”

Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert are $25 for members of The Center and $28 for non-members and can be purchased in person, online or by phone, at The Center’s box office or at BriarPatch Co-op.

For more about tonight’s show, visit http://the centerforthearts.org/.


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The Union Updated Jul 20, 2013 09:25AM Published Jul 22, 2013 07:04AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.