Violinist David Kempers is an extraordinary musician, who is equally at home on the concert stage or in the recording studio. Mr. Kempers has served as Concertmaster of the New Orleans Symphony and Associate Concertmaster of the Fort Worth Symphony. As a section player, David has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, Sante Fe Opera, Cleveland Opera, Chicago Sinfonietta, West Virginia Symphony, Akron Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony and the American Sinfonietta.
David has been a soloist with major orchestras under the batons of conductors Maxim Shostakovich, Catherine Comet, and Erich Kunzel, and has been a featured performer with the Bolshoi Ballet.
Mr. Kempers has worked extensively in commercial music, with artists ranging from Johnny Cash to Bugs Bunny. He has backed up YES, Styx, Josh Groban, Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Ray Charles, Vince Gill, Sarah Brightman, Smokey Robinson, Chris Cross, Jewel, ELO, The Moody Blues, Sheena Easton, and Jon Secada. Mr. Kempers has performed at the New Orleans Jazzfest and was in the all-star band backing Brian Wilson on his Imagination TV special.
As a recording artist, David has done countless commercials and has performed on over 50 album projects. Mr. Kempers received a multi-platinum award for his work on the CD Out of Time with the rock band R.E.M. David’s talents as a musician, producer, and arranger are on full display in his Four Winds debut album “Electronic Symphonica.” He produced and engineered the entire recording, and plays most of the instruments on every track.
Notes on Electronic Symphonica
The blending of orchestral and electronic instruments has been a popular concept for many years now; composers such as Messiaen, Honegger and Martinu added a groundbreaking electronic instrument called the Ondes Martenot to their compositions. During the same time period, the famed conductor Leopold Stokowski was introducing a generation of listeners to his transcriptions (or re-workings) of the classics, most famously the Bach Toccata and Fugue. As electronic instruments advanced (and adapted the name “synthesizer”), it seemed a natural progression to mix the modern electronics with new re-workings of the classical repertoire. The commercial breakthrough of this combination came in the 1960’s with the release of the hit album Switched- on Bach by synthesizer legend Walter Carlos.
By the 1970’s, the advances in synthesizer technology changed the musical landscape. Synthesizers were no longer merely novelty items nor the exclusive realm of scientists. They were bona fide musical instruments, creating colors and timbres previously unknown. A Japanese composer named Isao Tomita was keenly aware of their potential and started re-orchestrating the classics with a palette of sounds made solely from synthesizers. His recordings of works by Debussy, Ravel and Mussorgsky gained legions of dedicated fans and inspired a generation of film scores. The synthesizer became the dominant instrument of Hollywood studios and remains in that place today.
The progressive rock movement of the seventies added a new twist to the re-workings of the classics: groups such as YES and Emerson, Lake and Palmer performed the classic works of such composers as Brahms and Copland with a new attitude and a different beat. Some of these experiments were musically (and commercially) successful, some less so (disco versions of Beethoven come to mind). In today’s musical world, the torch has been passed to groups like Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, while film composers delight in “borrowing” musical excerpts from the masters to beef up their material.
In keeping with this tradition, the ten tracks of Electronic Symphonica were recorded using combinations of instruments (traditional and electric), genres, and 21st Century technology. Indeed, the advances of computer and internet technology have forever altered the way recordings are conceptualized and produced. In this case, it was possible for one violinist to “overdub” as many violin parts as needed. Some of the tracks have up to 39 violins, all played by the same violinist ( me!). The invention of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) language has seamlessly integrated synthesizers and personal computers into a composer’s dream, a virtual sonic soundscape at one’s fingertips. Long-distance recording is no longer a fantasy. The various musicians performing on this CD have never been in the same room together. They are spread throughout the U.S. Everyone recorded their individual contributions at their home studios and sent them via the internet to my studio in Ohio, where I had the rewarding task of “assembling” each part into a cohesive piece of music.
Working on this project was a joy and a labor of love. Every composer represented has been a musical hero of mine. I have been given the pleasurable task of following in the footsteps of those I so deeply admire: Tomita, Carlos, YES, Stokowski and the rest. I owe a debt of gratitude to them, as well as the wonderful musicians performing on this CD. ~ David Kempers