Solo cello in the Barrio - San Diego Reader

Bonnie Wright kicked off the Fall schedule of her Fresh Sound series on Sept. 13 at brand-new venue Bread & Salt with a full, enthusiastic house taking in an amazing performance of solo cello + electronics by string virtuoso Eric Byers.

Byers opened the first piece with tremolo bowing, slow trills, and subtle sampling via laptop--repeating back certain ideas in different registers for a chamber group effect. He continued with left-hand hammering over an open-string, looped and layered to create a mesmerizing rhythmic tapestry which he drew yearning arco cries over. There were moments of joyous contrapuntal activity as the various motifs orbited around each other like a hyperactive string quartet.

On the next one, he used short, fast bow-strokes to create a buzzing texture and a rhythmic device to string together a stair-stepped ostinato over which he combined long and short bowing and software looping for interlocked melodies. His upper-register timbre is full and rich, and his low notes had a baritone resonance that filled the room.

Sometimes the computer would drone a single note which he would dovetail with real- time harmonies, others were created one line at a time. Pizzicato arpeggios provided the hypnotic bed for one piece as bowed harmonics and glissandi completed the cycle.

The surgical manner in which Byers used the bow was a joy to experience and the intricate fashion in which he connected his live playing with sampling to conjure real- time string ensemble sonics earned the cellist a long, hard ovation at the evening's conclusion. 


Robert Bush