Lauded by BBC Radio as “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin”, Tracy Silverman’s groundbreaking work with the 6-string electric violin defies musical boundaries. Formerly first violinist with the innovative Turtle Island String Quartet, Silverman was named one of 100 distinguished alumni by The Juilliard School. The world’s foremost concert electric violinist, Silverman has contributed significantly to the repertoire and development of the 6-string electric violin and the non-classical stylistic approach he calls “21st century violin playing”, inspiring several major concertos composed specifically for him, including Pulitzer winner John Adams’ “The Dharma at Big Sur”, premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the gala opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003 and recorded with the BBC Symphony on Nonesuch Records with Adams conducting; legendary “Father of Minimalism” Terry Riley’s “The Palmian Chord Ryddle”, premiered by Silverman with the Nashville Symphony in Carnegie Hall in 2012 and recorded by Naxos Records; Kenji Bunch’s “Embrace” concerto, co-commissioned by 9 orchestras and premiered by Silverman in 2013; and Nico Muhly’s “Seeing Is Believing,” a full-orchestra version of his chamber work co-commissioned by 5 orchestras and premiered by Silverman in 2015 and 2016.
Shortly after graduating in 1980, Silverman built one of the first-ever 6-string electric violins and set his own course as a musical pioneer, designing and performing on an instrument that did not previously exist. Silverman’s eclectic career has spanned work with the world’s premier symphonies and conductors, including the Detroit Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Adelaide Festival Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival, conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marin Alsop, Neeme Jarvi among many others, as well as recording with the rock band Guster, contemporary music’s Paul Dresher Ensemble, jazz legend Billy Taylor and most recently on his new Delos/Naxos CD, “Between the Kiss and the Chaos”, with the acclaimed Calder Quartet.
In the liner notes to “The Dharma at Big Sur”, John Adams writes, ”Tracy has developed his own unique style of violin playing—a marvel of expressiveness.” At the premier, Mark Swed of the LA Times enthused, “Inspiring. Silverman is in a class of his own.” The Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein wrote of Silverman’s “Blazing virtuosity. You will be astonished that anybody can play a fiddle like that” and Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, raved, “Fleet agility and tangy expressivity with wailing hints of Jimi Hendrix.”
Tracy has appeared on numerous national TV and radio programs, including NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, Performance Today, St. Paul Sunday, and A Prairie Home Companion and has been profiled on CBS News Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. A busy composer, ‘15-16 has included performances of Silverman’s 2nd electric violin concerto, the premiere of “Eclipse” with the Stuttgart Ballet Orchestra and a return to Carnegie Hall to premier Nico Muhly’s “Seeing Is Believing” with the American Symphony. 2017 will include the publication of his instructional method “Strum Bowing”, performances with the Pacific Symphony, Anchorage Symphony among others. A long-standing advocate for music education, Silverman is an in-demand clinician and on faculty at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.