BRIAN GRIMM (Madison, WI) – Solo Violoncello & 古琴 Guqin Chinese zither
Featured member of Lovely Socialite / The Brothers Grimm / Julian Lynch band / Sound Out Loud ensemble & more!
Cellist & composer Brian Grimm grew up surrounded by Chinese string instruments of every sort. After initiating lessons in with virtuosos Yang Wei (pipa) & Daxun Zhang (bass) of the Silkroad Ensemble, Brian was lucky to continue his Chinese music studies on guqin (zither), pipa (lute), gaohu (fiddle) & daruan (bass lute) in Hong Kong with members of the 香港中樂團 Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra & Wuji Ensemble 無極樂團. Brian’s deep passion for music traditions from around the world has continued to grow and recently he has been studying North Indian Classical music from sitar virtuoso Pt. Sugato Nag (Kolkata, West Bengal, India). Over the last 15 years Grimm has developed a deep language of Free Improvisation & Composition with groups such as The Brothers Grimm, Lovely Socialite, and Brennan Connors & Stray Passage.
Brian Grimm is something of an experimental-music powerhouse in Madison.” – Scott Gordon, Tone Madison, 2016
In conjunction with performing & teaching, Brian runs GrimmusiK Records – a label for all projects involving him & his brother AJ (classical & flamenco guitar). As an educator, Brian teaches all ages workshops on free-improvisation: “Music Improvisation = Conversation”; & Chinese music: “Melodies of China”. Brian loves the enthusiastic questions that arise after his performances. He always encourages the audience to follow their curiosity and learn about more global traditions – thus growing empathy and understanding for the people who have created such wondrous cultures.
What to expect …
Audiences and music critics most often describe Brian Grimm’s performances as: beautiful, transportive & meditative. In Grimm’s solo set, you will hear dances of the unaccompanied Bach cello suites; dulcet turquoise tones of the seven-string Guqin zither from China; ever popular melodies of the Erhu Chinese fiddle adapted for cello; as well as original compositions from his dance/theatre scores & solo albums. Being that Grimm is a musical polyglot, it is also worth mentioning that he has studied Flamenco from his brother AJ (guitarist – The Brothers Grimm), North Indian Classical music from Sitar virtuoso Pt. Sugato Nag, in addition to performing Jazz, Free Improvisation & New Music repertoire for 15 years. These studies of music from around the world, both ancient and modern, find their way into every piece that Grimm performs and gives him a flexibility to tailor each performance specifically to the venue & audience he may encounter.
Grimm graduated with honors from Butler University (IN), earning a Bachelor of Music Composition; with additional studies in jazz, cello performance & traditional Chinese music. Since graduating, BCG has found a niche composing and performing scores for dance and theatre. A frequent collaborator in Madison’s experimental music scene, he “…produces adept and twisted instrumental hip-hop. In performances with Julian Lynch’s band and various jazz and improvisational groups around town, Grimm draws on both formal music studies and avant-garde extremes.” (Arts Extract Podcast, 2014)
For over a decade, Brian has been passionately learning music traditions from around the world. His brother AJ Grimm studied flamenco guitar in Granada, Spain – which has played a key role in their composition process as The Brothers Grimm. In fact, they grew up with a variety of Chinese instruments in their house, shipped to them when their oldest brother lived in Tianjin, China. It wasn’t until college that Brian’s Chinese music studies were officially jump-started by Yang Wei (pipa) & DaXun Zhang (contrabass) of the Silk Road Ensemble. After they graciously taught him some introductory lessons, BCG went on to study erhu 二胡, guqin 古琴, pipa 琵琶, daruan 大阮, & qin-qin with members of Wuji Ensemble, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, & Dr. Sheung-Ping Lai at HKIEd in Hong Kong.
Brian currently teaches cello & jazz at Monroe Street Arts Center and Prairie Music Academy. He leads all-ages workshops in free-improvisation techniques, with an approach that uses ‘conversation’ as the primary model. In addition to weekly performances, Brian runs GrimmusiK Records, a self-release record label for any music projects involving The Brothers Grimm. Much to his delight, he is now studying North Indian Classical music on cello with sitar master Pandit Sugato Nag (Kolkata, West Bengal, India).
Recently, Brian has helped to launch #TheUniversalLanguage initiative with fellow 2015 Global Musician Workshop participant Shih-wei Wu. This initiative asks artists who have had positive experiences learning from other cultures to share their stories of connection. The arts are a direct window to how another group of people expresses emotion and communicates their life experience. The Universal Language centers around a message of learning through cross-cultural collaboration & spreading understanding through empathy – rather than spreading hatred, xenophobia, racism and discrimination because of ignorance. [#TheUniversalLanguage invitation video: https://youtu.be/7CNftF9BCus]
Brian Grimm @ Silkroad’s Global Musician Workshop 2016
Brian Grimm – Acoustic Clips
Brian Grimm in Sound Out Loud Ensemble
PHOTOS (click thumbnail to view & download full resolution)
for “Redolent Spires” (2012) CD by The Brothers Grimm
“ (Brothers Grimm) … compositions are both classical and experimental, both disciplined and exploratory“
— Isthmus Daily Page, 2012
“ (Brothers Grimm) … able to create extremely striking contemporary classical with only string instruments. Compositions like “Stochastic Contexture: Heads” possess the unique ability to calm and agitate almost simultaneously.“
— AV Club, Madison, 2012
for “The Ideating Knell” (2014) CD [via Signal Dreams]
“Madison-based multi-instrumentalist Brian Grimm specializes in playing the guqin and guzheng, Chinese zithers that sometimes run as large as a small canoe. He’s also a classically trained cellist and, under the name Brain Grimmer, produces adept and twisted instrumental hip-hop. In performances with Julian Lynch’s band and various jazz and improvisational groups around town, Grimm draws on both formal music studies and avant-garde extremes. …His new album, ‘The Ideating Knell,’ plies his expertise with Chinese stringed instruments into something resembling abstract electronic music. …Where most of us would be intimidated to touch one of these instruments, Grimm subjects them to alternate tunings, digital processing, and tools including mate straws and, according to his liner notes, “broken teaware.” Amid all the outlandish instrument-hacking, most of the tracks retain a certain tuneful minimalism, perhaps best demonstrated on ‘Flock Migrates Over The Pines’.”
— Arts Extract Podcast, 2014
“Madison, WI-based avant-jazz explorer BC Grimm is well known locally not just for his phenomenal cello work in live collaborations with artists like Julian Lynch, Spires That In The Sunset Rise, and the mighty Db Pedersen (to name just a few), but also the mind-blowing improvisational chops he showcases with his brother A.J. Grimm in cello-guitar duo The Brothers Grimm and his worldly and detailed production work as Brain Grimmer. More recently, Grimm’s work has been shifting focus toward his intriguing work with two different Chinese zithers, Guqin and Guzheng. We’re extremely proud to present ‘The Ideating Knell,’ a staggering album that combines Grimm’s deep experimentation with the zithers with his love of detailed processing.”
— Signal Dreams, 2014
for “Orbis Obscura” (2016) CD [via Other Obscura]
“– a totally immersive, blissed-out trip that transports the listener away to distant climes…simply beautiful!”, “…glimmers of ‘sci-fi’ noises bleed through the drones. Over the course of the 35 minutes it totally immerses the listener in wave upon wave of gorgeous drones and otherworldly noises – utterly bewitching.“
— Dayz Of Purple And Orange, 2016
“ Madison composer and cellist Brian Grimm’s meditative, experimental soundscapes blend modern improvisational styles with ancient Chinese string instrument technique. …Prepare to be transported into a beautiful dream. “
— Isthmus Daily Page, 2016
“ Brian Grimm is something of an experimental-music powerhouse in Madison.”; ” …one of the most sonically untethered things Grimm has put out there so far—which is saying something, and also not a complaint. He uses this eccentric but relatively stripped-down setup to veer through an array of warmly distorted drones, sticky pulsating rhythms, and layers of scratchy texture. The release is also the first from a new Madison- and Milwaukee-focused label, Other Obscura. ”
— Scott Gordon, Tone Madison, 2016
“ [Orbis Obscura] … builds, peaks, and resolves through a series of aural whirlwinds and jolting, churning dialogue between the ancient sonic traditions of a 2,000-year old instrument and a just-encountered effects pedal. “
— Emili Earhart, Tone Madison’s “Top 20 Best Madison Records of 2016”