Leanne Darling draws from her classical technique, her Arabic and jazz skills, and her passion for improvisation to break the boundaries of traditional viola playing. She has performed with Simon Shaheen in Carnegie Hall and with poets Robert Bly and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes at the Omega Institute. After her recent appearance with the Cedar Lake Ensemble modern ballet company in New York, The Gay City News proclaimed "Violist Leanne Darling stole the show...." Collaborations include choreographer Jodi Gates, speaker Iyanla van Sant, Storahtelling, a Jewish ritual theater company, and Middle Eastern groups the Sultana Ensemble and the Near East River Ensemble. In a previous life Leanne was assistant principal viola of the Florida West Coast Symphony and violist of the New Artists Piano Quartet. When not performing, she leads classes in 'StringPlay', a curriculum she designed to teach improvisation to string players of all ages.
Leanne Darling uses the entire scope of her versatile instrument, mixing more traditional sounds with electric sounding effects, to create her own compositions. Using a sampling/looping device, Darling generates layers of sound — from lyrical melodies to driving rhythms and textures — simulating a whole room full of musicians. The layers are improvised as well as planned, making each performance unique. Her musical style ranges from minimalist to free jazz, blues, Arabic, and ambient music. With the aid of the loops she demonstrates the full potential of this beautiful yet little heard instrument.
"Spiral" is Leanne's debut album. All material is written and performed by her, using a looping/sampling device. All selections are performed as they would be live, using absolutely no overdubbing. Each piece has its own style and character, from the classic minimalist "Pollock" to the bluesy "Bad Haircut" to the Eastern European "Gypsy Dream" to the hip hop/Jazzy/Middle Eastern "Spiral". The album was recorded at Seizure's Palace in Brooklyn in 2005. It was engineered by Paul E. Mitchell, who has worked with string quartets Ethel and Invert, and mastered by grammy nominated Silas Brown at Legacy Sound.