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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MU Orchestra features Bridgid Bibbens


Electric violinist Bridgid Bibbens has performed with Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, and now, the Marquette University Orchestra.

Bibbens infused her electronic-rock style into the orchestra’s classical sound at its performance Sunday afternoon.

Dr. Jason Ladd, director of the MU symphonic band and conductor of Sunday’s program has known Bibbens since they played high school orchestra together. She currently tours the country performing her electrical instrument, in addition to teaching public school orchestras.

“In the back of my mind I have always thought about how great it would be to have her here at Marquette,” Ladd said.

The performance featured Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 performed by the entire orchestra under Ladd’s conduction, followed by five pieces that Bibbens performed with the string players.

The students had been practicing the music since November; meanwhile, Bibbens travelled back and forth from her home in Chicago throughout this past week to practice with the group, according to Ladd.

She gave individual lessons to the five students who performed solo pieces with Bibbens using her instrument of choice, the viper. Ladd said that a viper is a mix between an electric guitar and a violin. Bibbens brought two vipers so that a student could play one with her for each piece.

“There’s a big rock influence with Bibbens, and the students had a hard time adjusting from our usual classical sound to a more rock and pop feel, but Bibbens helped tremendously,”  Ladd said. “For example, she taught them how to use their bows in a different way for a more rugged sound.”

Adam Bissonnette, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and Events Coordinator for the orchestra, played in the strings group that accompanied Bibbens.

“A new type of difficulty we had in preparing for this show was trying not to produce a classical sound for the second half,” Bissonnette said. “We see the music, and we want to play it like Beethoven, but we can’t. Bridgid kept telling us ‘Don’t be nice; play it ugly.’”

Inspired by Bibbens’ pop and rock style, the string instrument players sported neon sunglasses while Bibbens and the five student soloists played pink and green vipers. While she and the student soloists jammed out to Inferno and Hoedown on the vipers, the students in the background stood and danced while playing their violins.

“She told us to stop acting like we were in a 40 person orchestra and instead perform like we’re in a five person rock band” Bissonnette said.

Balancing all these different aspects of the show was difficult, according to Ladd. The tech crew worked about six hours on Sunday to make sure that the electric sounds of the vipers, the microphone for the orchestra and the backdrop drum music worked well together.

“The orchestra students that participate get really pumped up, so I would really like to get more students to come for future shows,” Ladd said. “It’s a free event, and it’s really entertaining.”

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