If you think classical music is boring, think again. Neo and avant-garde classical music is coming around in a big way, blending Romantic-era emotionality with modern pop sensibility. If you love the sound of classical instrumentation but aren't looking to be lulled to sleep with chamber music, here are five unique neo-classical acts for you to check out.
A classically trained cellist, Zoe Keating is among the most well-known neo-classical performers of the twenty-first century. In what she lovingly refers to as her “cello cave,” Zoe writes and records beautiful, sweeping, and often stimulating melodies with layer upon layer of harmony. Zoe's husband died of cancer in 2015, and in addition to her career in music, she has become a tireless advocate for cancer patients and their families. Born in Canada, the San Francisco-based musician tours regularly and is currently at work on a new album.
An old-school gothic act as well as a neo-classical one, Rasputina is best described as a cellorock band that utilizes cello and percussion to create a wholly unique and diverse array of music. They've toured with Marilyn Manson, Cheap Trick, The Goo Goo Dolls, and many others. Rasputina is unique in that they incorporate both visuals and sound that represent and reflect women in history that were important but overlooked, as well as cultures often ignored by the west. Immensely popular among classical music lovers, their most recent EP's presale has sold out.
Founded by violist and violinist Laura Welch, this avant-garde classical music act incorporates elements of Romantic-era classical music, metal, and grunge. Her haunting music frequently explores deeply personal topics, like mental illness, as well as subjects of global concern, like antifascism and socialism. Laura is presently at work on Blood Moon's debut album, and plays shows routinely in New York's Capital Region.
Based in Germany, Qntal combines world classical musical sound with post-gothic electronica. Qntal represents one of the longest-standing neo-classical acts around, having been founded in 1991. With vocals in multiple languages and a seamless blending of multiple genres of music, Qntal's heavily medieval vibe is comfortably modified by modern music sensibilities. They have appeared at some of the world's largest music festivals, include Wave Gotik Treffen and M'era Luna.
Faun is a German medieval music act that focuses centrally on Pagan and Neo-Pagan themes in their music. They tour routinely throughout Germany, and bring together beautiful vocals and unique instrumentation – such as the hurdy-gurdy and the nyckelharpa – to create a mystical and yet driven neo-classical sound. Faun has become a great favorite in the worldwide Pagan community, as well as lovers of early and medieval music. Putting a new twist on an ancient tradition, Faun was founded in 1998, and recently completed a support tour for their most recent album, Midgard.
Each of these five acts has innovated on historic classical style in a unique way – so if you're looking for a brilliant classical sound that won't make you feel as though you need a nap, all of them are well worth your listen.