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Janel Leppin


"An Absolute Virtuoso" - Downbeat Magazine

"Her music is stunning." Washington City Paper

"Akin to a fairy-tale forest encased in glass." - Philadelphia City Paper

"Leppin is a rarity..ahhh-vant garde at its finest." - Capital Bop

 

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Janel Leppin


"An Absolute Virtuoso" - Downbeat Magazine

"Her music is stunning." Washington City Paper

"Akin to a fairy-tale forest encased in glass." - Philadelphia City Paper

"Leppin is a rarity..ahhh-vant garde at its finest." - Capital Bop

 

photo by Maria Louciero for Pitchfork at Stay Out West Festival, Sweden.

photo by Maria Louciero for Pitchfork at Stay Out West Festival, Sweden.

Treaty coming soon.. photo by Shervin Lainez

Treaty coming soon.. photo by Shervin Lainez

 

Avant-garde vocalist and cellist Janel Leppin crosses genre boundaries in her first solo recording, Treaty.  Adapting her sound with electronics, Leppin winds through a variety of territories, showing where she has been in her extensive musical training as well as where she is going. The recording brings out her versatile interests in which she composes for analog equipment, alongside acoustic and electric instruments, to create soundscapes interwoven with jagged contemporary jaunts and turntable collage, dream-pop vocal works, Persian classical glimpses, and psychedelic reveries.

 

 

Studio Images

See Janel's images working live in the studio at The Brink and at AVAST! in the STUDIO IMAGES section.

Janel and Marissa onstage at Flow Festival Helsinki, Finland.

Janel and Marissa onstage at Flow Festival Helsinki, Finland.

Janel and Anthony upcoming US Tour

Janel and Anthony upcoming US Tour

On tour with Marissa Fall 2014

On tour with Marissa Fall 2014

LIVE at the Rock and Roll Hotel

'Big Sur' from Janel and Anthony's internationally acclaimed work Where is Home on Cuneiform Records.

New sample of Janel's forthcoming solo vocal record, Treaty.

Marissa Nadler and Janel perform works from July at the Bella Union showcase at Baby's Alright in Brooklyn in May 2014

Marissa Nadler and Janel perform works from July at the Bella Union showcase at Baby's Alright in Brooklyn in May 2014



Janel Leppin is available for string arranging / producing. Contact her at leppinproduces@gmail.com

Janel Leppin is available for string arranging / producing. Contact her at leppinproduces@gmail.com

  Cellist, vocalist and composer Janel Leppin has a highly developed, captivating and unique musical style; she is truly an innovative artist. Through her intense devotion to craft, Janel fuses high levels of technicality with unbridled creativity, moving beyond the conventions of her instrument to create music which exists in unchartered sonic territory.

  Born and raised in Vienna, Virgina, Janel spent over two decades studying and performing classical repertoire on the cello and studying voice privately. Her abilities and proximity to Washington D.C. allowed Janel the opportunity to study with members of the National Symphony Orchestra throughout high school and college. Working with such notable musicians as Loran Stephenson (NSO) and Diana Fish (The National Gallery Orchestra and The White House Quartet), Janel honed her skills to become Assistant Principal of the American Youth Philharmonic, where she played among the most talented players in the Washington Metropolitan area. Eventually, Janel's drive to continue expanding her musical horizons and disillusionment with the culture of classical music lead her to pursue other means of developing her voice.

  As part of her professonal studies in performance on the cello, her ambition led her to study Indian Classical music in both Delhi, India and Amsterdam, the Netherlands within the famed Maihar Gharana, with reknowned indian cellist Saskia Rao de Haas.  The Maihar gharanas line of musical geneology includes master sarod player and the gharanas primary teacher Baba Allaudin Khan who taught surbahar master Annapurna Devi, bansuri master Hariprasad Chaurasia, and famed sitar master Ravi Shankar who was responsible for bringing Indian classical music to the West by teaching the Beatles and George Harrison.  Her study of World Music was integral to her development as it gave her a broader understanding of musical styles as well as eclectic instrumentation. 

  Janel was hired to perform with a Persian Classical Orchestra called the Chackavak Ensemble during her time studying at George Mason University.  She studied the tradition in years of intensive preparations for performances which she has just completed her 10th year playing this style of music. To deepen Janel's understanding of Persian classical music, Janel studied with world renowned Ney player Dr. Hossein Omoumi who taught her how to sing ancient Perisan poetry and ornementations before learning them on the cello.  This has informed Janel's approach with her vocal style.

  Today, she continues to work and collaborate with master composer and tar player Dr. Nader Majd who runs the School for Persian Classical Studies in Washington DC. These relationships have lead to many of Janel's recordings and performances of Persian Classical Music. Through her unique course of study, Janel has emerged as one of the few cello players in the world who plays Persian Classical music and Indian Classical music.

  Having developed her ear through experiences and study of World Music and European/American Classical Music gives Janel a unique approach to improvisation. While many musicians approach improvisation from a jazz influence, Janel brings a more eclectic temperament, which results in a deeply original harmonic and melodic sense. Her many years of intense study of her instrument result in Janel's playing being marked by clear and precise phrasing as she effortlessly incorporates different approaches into her music. By combining her understanding of all types of classical vocabulary with her affinity for many other types of music, Janel has developed a unique and spellbinding approach to improvisation for which she has been invited to display at multiple festivals of experimental music world wide.

  In 2002 her interest in improvisation deepened when Janel began working with one of her creative collaborators, guitarist Anthony Pirog. Leppin began to study more traditions of improvised music, studying jazz, free improvisation and bebop.  Janel and Anthony, has released two albums, which have sold thousands of copies. Most recently, the critically acclaimed Where is Home was released on Cuneiform Records.

  Janel's diverse interests and virtuosic ability have caught the attention of dozens of celebrated artists who have enjoyed working with her as a musician and innovator. Some of these collaborators include Eyvind Kang, the master string player and composer; Oren Ambarchi, world reknowned guitarist and electronic composer; Marissa Nadler, the celebrated songwriter, vocalist and gutiar player; Kyp Malone, the songwriter/ singer/ guitarist for TV on the Radio; Susan Alcorn, the legendary pedal steel player and composer; Skuli Sverrison, the bassist and composer; Gino Robair, the innovative percussionist and electronic musician; and Andrea Parkins, the reknowned accordionist and composer. Janel has recorded and performed with some of the most highly respected musicians in the world, appearing on albums for Touch, Sub Pop, Cuneiform, Tzadik and Editions Mego Ideologic Organ, Thompkins Square Records and many others. Additionally, Janel is an active participant in the experimental community and plays in multitudes of groups in and around Washington D.C. when not on tour internationaly.

 Janel has been leader of ensembles in Washington D.C. starting with a large ensemble called The Janel Leppin Group and Ensemble Volcanic Ash including such diverse instruments as harp, bassoon, cello and saxophone. Ensemble Volcanic Ash made its debut at the Washington Women in Jazz Festival at a sold out concert at the epic jazz center, Bohemian Caverns. Ensemble Volcanic Ash also headlined at the 2013 Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music and completed a successful residency at the famed Twins Jazz in May 2014.

  Performing at experimental music festivals is nothing new for Janel. Leppin has performed in every Sonic Circuits Festival since 2006. She was the first Washington D.C. musician to be invited to the High Zero Festival, an international experimental music festival in Baltimore. She has also performed at Flow Festival in Helsinki, End of the Road Festival in the UK, and Way Out West Festival in Goteburg, Sweden.  In the Spring 2014, Janel started touring and collaborating with Marissa Nadler performing works from her acclaimed album July in numerous international tours. at Between her collaborative work as part of ensembles and her performances with Janel and Anthony, Leppin's schedule remains extremely busy.

  Janel's musical artistry goes beyond simply performing. She was called to work as curator for the Issue Project Room in 2012 as part of Susan Alcorn's residency. Leppin lead a group of world class musicians she chose who met for rehearsals of her arrangements of Alcorn's music. This experience culminated with a concert at the Issue Project Room on May 31, 2012. In 2013, The Sonic Circuits Festival also used Janel as a curator for San Francisco based composer Gino Robair's improvised opera I, Norton, which was performed at The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage as part of the Festival. She also joined Eyvind Kang in several of his ensembles for his residency at The Stone in New York City during July of 2013.

  Additionally, Janel has been hard at work recording an album of Classical Music, playing works by Villa-Lobos with soprano Meghan Whittier. Her group, Ensemble Volcanic Ash, has begun work on an album featuring her original compositions as well as a third album for Janel and Anthony which is underway. Janel is also recording an album of turntablism, exploring her work in the realm of Musique Concrete, which has been a hallmark of many of her solo performances.

Amidst all this collaboration, Janel still makes time for her solo work. For many years she has performed solo projects, often utilizing several instruments, record players and dozens of effects pedals to shape her sets.

  In 2012 Janel recorded an album of vocal and instrumental works in Virginia at The Brink Analog Studio.  She then took the tracks to reknowned engineer Randall Dunn with whom she recorded additional tracks and mixed the album.  After sending it off to Chicago Mastering Services to be mastered by Jason Ward she is working on artwork presently.  She will soon release her first solo album, Treaty, which is a departure from Leppin's previous work. The album incorporates her technical proficiency across a wide range of instruments, myriad stylistic influences and her voice to create a sound that is unique to her as a soloist. Completely written, arranged, performed and produced by Leppin, Treaty represents the next steps in Janel's life work as a truly innovative artist.