Amplified: The Electric Cellist comes to Radford University

Jeffrey Krieger and his electric cello. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Krieger.

Jeffrey Krieger’s cello slightly resembles what one might think of when one hears the instrument’s name. And yet, it does not. There is air where a wooden body would be and only curved upper and lower pieces defining the shape of his electric cello. Its sound is created by electronic amplification mounted on the bridge.

Student and local community members can experience Krieger, the Electric Cellist, Oct. 18 at the Radford University Performance Hall in the Covington Center. The University Performance Series is sponsoring this free concert.

“I commissioned Tucker Barret of Vermont to build me an electric cello after I tried one the summer of 1989,” Krieger commented about his electric cello. “I was already playing repertoire for amplified cello, so it really made sense to go in the direction of an electric cello. I could see so many exciting possibilities!”

Though this began as a fun enterprise, it soon took on a life of its own. Krieger played his first concert after only a few months of working with the new instrument. A National Endowment for the Arts Soloist Recitalist Fellowship followed, and then a first recording. The fellowship allowed him to do an extensive tour of the United States.

For over two decades, Krieger has performed at prestigious venues, music schools and conservatories, museums, and international music festivals across the U.S. and abroad. He has received several national awards. Krieger is in the new generation of solo recitalist who incorporate technology into their performances. Along with his instrument of note, he also uses video, and collaboration with other artists to create distinctive concerts.

In two works, students from Dance Professor Deborah McLaughlin’s Dance Improvisation class will perform onstage alongside Krieger. The first work, a musical improvisation created by Music Professor Bruce Mahin, features dancers improvising against the theme transformation in a work divided into five musical sections. This will also incorporate an image sequence created by students from Photography Professor Andrew Ross’ Contemporary Photography course. Projection screens across the back of the stage will display the students’ photographic works. The cello part is defined only in short melodic fragments, which the Krieger will use as material for developing motifs gradually transforming into a complex array of musical ideas, dance movements and photographic collage.

Dancers will also perform a work titled “Rebound” with accompaniment provided by electric cello and audio processed through delays and reverberation modules. They are complemented by Art Professor Andrew Ross’ photographic projections.

The final work on the program, “Reliquary of Labor,” features electric cello and a video produced by visual artist Gene Gort. This work uses harvested video, audio and photographic material from the site of the New Britain Museum of American Art's expansion in 2005-06. Musical and sound composition, and video production uses the resulting material to celebrate labor as a creative process.

The Electric Cellist, set in the intimate environment of the Performance Hall in the Covington Center, is a departure for the Performance Series Committee.

“It is our hope to cultivate interest in new media arts as well as enhance diversity in our arts programming for campus and community,.” said Margaret Devaney, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Audiences can still expect to see world-renowned performances this academic year including the Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China, the Russian National Ballet, and the very popular Boston Brass.

Krieger performs at the Performance Hall in the Covington Center Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Admission for this general seating venue is free.

When not touring as the Electric Cellist, Krieger plays the more conventional-looking cello as principal cellist of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. To learn more about this artist, visit

Oct 6, 2016