Leanne Darling creates a powerful new voice for the viola. She draws from her classical technique, her skills in many musical genres, and her passion for improvisation to break the boundaries of this underused instrument. A versatile performer, composer, and improvisor, Darling has has appeared
with virtuoso oudist Simon Shaheen in Carnegie Hall, with poets Robert Bly and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes at the Omega Institute, and with the Cedar Lake Ensemble's premiere performance in Chelsea.
Her unique solo viola compositions use the entire scope of her instrument, mixing more traditional sounds with electric sound effects. Using a sampling/looping device, Darling generates layers of sound from lyrical melodies to driving rhythms and textures simulating a whole room full of musicians. The layers are improvised as well as planned, making each performance distinctive. The style ranges from minimalist to free jazz, blues, Arabic, and ambient music. She recently released her debut CD, Spiral, which is now available on CDBaby.
As a player of Arabic music, she has performed with the Near East Ensemble in New York and Philadelphia. With the Sephardic/Moroccan group the Sultana Ensemble, Darling has performed throughout the country and in Italy. She also performs with and composes for the Near East River Ensemble, an Arabic jazz ensemble based in Brooklyn. Her articles on Arabic String playing have appeared in American String Teacher and Strings magazine, and her arrangement of Arabic themes for string orchestra was published this past spring by Alfred Publishing.
As a composer, Ms. Darling’s work on Toy Box Theatre’s The Landlord earned her the Best Original Music award from the New York Innovative Theater Awards in 2007. She has worked with choreographers Jodie Gates, Ann Robideaux, Sara Baird and Aynsley Vandenbroucke, and theater director Richard Calibahn. Performances include Lincoln Center’s Clark Studio Theater, Joyce Soho, Dance Theater Workshop, the Brooklyn Museum and HERE arts space. Ms. Darling also composes/performs with Storahtelling, a Jewish ritual theater company, presenting original theater and music in synagogues across the country. Leanne has performed as a rock/jazz musician with Slow Six, the Foster Family, Los Tramway Rockers and the New York Symphonic Jazz Orchestra.
Before embracing improvisation, Leanne Darling was a well established classical musician. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She was a finalist in the ASTA National Solo Competition and a winner of the Durham (NC) Young Artists Competition. Professionally, Darling has held the principal and assistant principal position in the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Missouri Chamber Orchestra, and the Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie.