There is something amazing that happens when cultures converge. There is surprise and enchantment, chaos and dispute, but in the end, there is always something new. That is where violinist Elinor Speirs likes to set up residence - at the cusp of the conversation.
The progeny of a viking and a celt, raised at the southern tip of Africa with ashkenazi jewish heritage, it was almost inevitable that Elinor would flee the constraints of the orchestra and join the fire and dance of improvised music. Versatility and flair for style have ensured her place in musical genres across the board.
Classically trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and jazz and free music trained at New York University and New England Conservatory, Elinor is an experienced orchestral and chamber music performer with a burgeoning career in jazz, world music fusion, free music, new music and interdisciplinary arts. Based primarily in New York and Boston but active internationally, Elinor has performed, composed and recorded in a multiplicity of styles including Klezmer, Yiddish, Balkan, Flamenco, Brazilian, Afro-Peruvian, Bulgarian, Korean, Scottish and Swedish. Some career highlights include performing solo at Schøn Conference Augsburg, duo at the Boiler House Jazz Series, recording Instantiation:Paradoxical with the Joe Morris Ensemble, interdisciplinary arts with Masary Studios at the Museum of Fine Arts and as contemporary improvising soloist with the NEC Symphony at Jordan Hall.
At heart Elinor is an innovator, pulling together some of the finest women in jazz for her doctoral recital in 2017. Touchstone performed a program of original music, an unorthodox combination of contemporary classical, jazz and free music for violin-led jazz quintet, string quartet, vocalist and improvising dancer. In 2018 Elinor began an open-ended series 100 Painting Interpretations where she spontaneously improvises in response to artworks at international shows and exhibitions and uploads these new works to social media. 2019 marked a year of return to New York and involvement with the highly creative free music scene there; currently Elinor is engaged in exploring improvised extended techniques, noise music, classical improvisation, Brazilian-South African jazz hybrids and new composition-improvisation structures.
'For me the ultimate thing is not the language or the style...though that's very important of course...but rather it's about getting to the heart of a thing...getting right into it and adding your own passion. Then you will carry an audience with you - and that place... where we're tracking together and moving as one...that's heaven...that's why I play the violin.'
For the more musically inclined:
Elinor studied classical violin with Noel Travers and Diana Cummings and received master classes from Anker Buch, Hu Kun, Lydia Mordkovitch and Siegmund Nissel. Elinor freelanced in the UK and France and performed with all the major ensembles in Cape Town as member, leader or soloist. Elinor completed her master's in jazz performance at NYU under the tutelage of formidable jazz pianist, Kenny Werner, frequently performing in venues in the west village and Brooklyn. Inspired by the education she received, Elinor won a place in the prestigious doctorate of musical arts program at NEC where she received jazz instruction from pedagogue extraordinaire Jerry Bergonzi, classical composition lessons from Stratis Minakakis and rarified free music training as a member of the Joe Morris Ensemble.