Visiting Artist Spotlight: Gretchen Yanover
At Eastmont High School, about 70 band, choir and orchestra students assembled in the auditorium to hear Visiting Artist Gretchen Yanover perform and have a Q&A session about her musical career, stylistic choices, inspiration for her compositions and more.
Gretchen played her electric cello, which is narrow and solid-bodied and explained she began with classical acoustic cello training and still performs with an orchestra in Seattle’s Northwest Sinfonietta.
Gretchen uses a looping pedal. In the moment, she records the rhythmic lines and then add layers on top of it, building complexity. Nothing is prerecorded. Some of her music is energetic and lilting, while other songs are emotionally wrought, mellow melodies.
SeaTac airport has a music program that engages renowned performers like Gretchen to perform for travelers. From her airport experiences, she composed a song that imagines three different journeys.
After laying down one layer, Gretchen appeared to hug her cello close, pressing her cheek into the neck. She explained this helps her hear the sound more accurately because an electric cello doesn’t create sound reverberations like a hollow instrument does.
The students were full of questions to chip away at the mystery of a life dedicated to music. Asked about challenges, Gretchen spoke about how there are so many people making content. It helps to be financially savvy because the industry is a blend of musicianship and business.
Her electric cello work distinguishes her from those who only play acoustic cello. She has more options and has found her voice in neoclassical music in addition to the work she does with orchestras.
How did Gretchen know this was her destiny?
The answer: when she found herself practicing for hours every day in high school. She feels lucky that when she started in middle school, she was granted two loaner cellos, one for school and one for home. Her family couldn’t afford to buy them, but with rentals, she could hone her new passion. A teacher who recognized her potential told her parents to start private lessons. They made it happen, and she never looked back.
Written by Marlene Farrell
Learn more about the Icicle Creek Visiting Artist Series here!