WytoldTakoma Park, MD
Wytold plays an electric cello with two extra strings that allow him to capture the depth and power of a stand-up bass, the rich tonal timbre of the acoustic cello, and the bright crispness of violin solos and harmonies. In many of his original compositions, Wytold records these sounds live on both electric and acoustic cellos to create his own rock-orchestral accompaniment on stage, often accompanied by bass, viola, violin, flute, saxophone, guitar, banjo, and/or percussion. Most recently, Wytold performed his original compositions with the National Symphony Orchestra for a sold-out audience of 3,000 at Echo Stage, which the Washington Post hailed as "virtuosic" and "hard to top". He was also recently accepted to study international music techniques and traditions with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble in their 2015 Global Music Workshop. Wytold has performed at the Sundance Film Festival, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the French Embassy, the National Geographic Museum, the Strathmore Performing Arts Center, the Levine School of Music, the Phillips Collection, Sydney-Harman Hall, the DC Jazz Festival, the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Atlas Performing Arts Center, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival, among many other venues.
Wytold is an NS Design featured artist, recent Strathmore Artist in Residence, and received a 2014 Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Two of his songs are featured in the Sundance award-winning documentary, Blood Brother, and Wytold is currently composing for the Washington, DC portion of Through Positive Eyes, an international short film and photography project telling the story of the 4th decade of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as supported by the UCLA Art & Global Health Center . He also received a 2011 Young Artist Grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to help fund his first solo album: When Fulvio Finds Celeste, four songs of which received airplay on European and Australian radio. As an educator, Wytold teaches both classical and exploratory cello lessons and strings workshops, and frequently travels throughout DC, VA, and MD offering ‘Classical Hip-Hop’ educational programs to elementary, middle, and high school students with GRAMMY-nominated progressive hip-hop artist, Christylez Bacon. In addition, Wytold regularly performs at Walter Reed Military Hospital and co-leads workshops that help Wounded Warriors heal through art at local USOs. Wytold is also actively composing and performing several commissioned works with the contemporary dance company, Christopher K Morgan & Artists (CKM&A). The most recent project with CKM&A will take Wytold on a 2-week residency at the Maui Cultural Center in Hawaii to create Pohaku, a piece that explores historical and current interactions between western and native Hawaiian cultures. Wytold will compose the score for Pohaku collaboratively with traditional Hawaiian musicians, and the piece will premier in a 4-island Hawaiian tour in February 2016.
Wytold (William Wytold Lebing) began private lessons in classical cello repertoire at age 10 and participated in school and regional youth orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, often as principal chair. Wytold always dreamt of going to college to study cello performance but was held back by carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by an over-zealous and technically unsound approach to the instrument. After a 1.5 year hiatus, Wytold reintroduced himself to playing music by learning folk songs on the acoustic guitar. Guitar strumming and finger-picking gradually reintroduced Wytold’s fingers and wrists to the motions involved in performing and also instilled a new soul and passion for heart-felt musicianship and the musical experience.
Shortly thereafter, Wytold translated to the cello the techniques he learned on guitar, such as strumming chord progressions, finger-picking, playing improvised solos, and writing songs that incorporate contemporary grooves with a verse-chorus format. Just before receiving two Master’s Degrees from Pitt and moving to DC (one in Philosophy, one in History and Philosophy of Science), Wytold taught himself to play the shoulder-strapped six-string electric cello with live-looping. His mathematical studies helped him visualize and manipulate his different cello layers when composing and performing, often inspired by outdoor rock climbing and hiking trips in West Virginia and California. Energized by DC’s cultural and musical diversity, Wytold quickly became immersed in many different non-classical collaborations that in turn influence his own playing and compositions, including classical Hindustani, middle eastern percussion, hip-hop, go-go, folk, indie rock, americana, and jazz. Most recently, Wytold led a chamber ensemble in "Biggie, Beethoven, Busta, and Bach" – a sold-out Atlas INTERSECTIONS festival performance of Wytold’s classical remixes and instrumental covers of popular rap songs. Through performance, composition, and education, Wytold continues to learn from and synthesize these various influences while encouraging budding strings musicians to explore non-traditional musical styles and techniques.
Wytold Collaboration with National Symphony Orchestra
Wytold performed his original compositions with the National Symphony Orchestra for a sold-out audience of 3,000 at Echo Stage, which the Washington Post hailed as “virtuosic” and “hard to top”.
Remix of Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major
Wytold performs his Remix of the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, featuring beatbox by GRAMMY-nominated progressive hip-hop artist Christylez Bacon and dance by contemporary dance company Christopher K. Morgan & Artists. Filmed at The Mansion at Strathmore, where Wytold was formerly an Artist in Residence.