Some call her hip. Others call her a goddess. But if you really want to understand the presiding nature of cellist Maya Beiser, you need only one word: rebel. She is a classically trained musician who has released multiple albums and has even given a widely viewed TED talk. But she’s also gained notoriety as a classical music iconoclast, particularly after the release of her 2014 album, Uncovered, which reinterprets rock staples from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Nirvana.
It isn’t often that classical artists gain a following beyond the hallowed walls of the symphony hall, but Beiser believes her music is bigger than a label. “We tend to think about different genres and classifications, and to me all of them are irrelevant. It’s about the core of music and how we connect to it,” Beiser explains.
Her latest production, All Vows, co-presented by TITAS Presents and the AT&T Performing Arts Center, will demonstrate the range of her inspiration and talent. The first half of All Vows is classic rock; the second half a musical reimagining of an ancient, prayer-like oath. It’s an intentional juxtaposition, in which Beiser creates a bridge between the classical and contemporary.
“In rock music we experience a form of catharsis that is much like the one we experience when we dive into the spiritual world,” Beiser says. “The connecting tissue is the spiritual part, the ritual part of all music. It’s what the music does to us and where it touches us and how we connect to it.”
Beiser frequently blends styles through collaborations, and indie rock god Glenn Kotche from Wilco will join Beiser onstage in Dallas, having composed a piece specifically for Beiser. “The piece is very demanding and virtuosic because it’s nonstop fast playing. I think about it as Bach on steroids,” Beiser says laughingly. “Glenn is a phenomenal composer.”
As has become customary for the 21st century cellist, Beiser’s performance will include the integration of technology to expand her sound. “What you can do with software is remarkable. It allows me to dream big and create this massive sound,” says Beiser. “I don’t want to ever settle down… I want to keep evolving and finding new ways. Ultimately I think that’s what is going to keep other people interested.”
As a pioneer, Beiser constantly pushes toward undiscovered musical territory, a rarity in the world of classical music. “Learning classical music… it’s a very rigorous and difficult process. Because it takes an enormous amount of discipline, it comes with unfortunate things. Sometimes people get stuck.”
Luckily, Beiser was never stuck, a result of the urge she felt very early on to challenge the status quo. “Groundbreaking is not a choice I make. It’s a deep need within me, questioning conventional and traditional notions, finding ways that rivet me… I was always naturally rebellious.”
Her innovative approach to classical music has united audiences and breathed new life into a genre that some might think a relic. Fans of Beiser are young and old, rock lovers and classical music fanatics, seasoned concert veterans and those who have never before attended a cello concert.
For these new fans, Beiser has a very specific wish.
“I hope they have a great time. I think that music needs to move you and allow you to feel, whatever it is.”
No matter your musical taste, you will find something that amazes you at the Maya Beiser concert. Buy tickets today, and broaden your ideas of what classical music can be!