Bela Emerson

Combining electric cello with loops and effects, Bela Emerson strives constantly to explore the potential and extend the boundaries of the instrument's place in contemporary music. Passionate and exciting, both musically and visually, she captivates audiences throughout the UK and Europe.

Bela's performances are the stuff of legend: spontaneous, intense, and exhilarating. Her command of her instrument and ability to attune to the uniqueness of the moment combine to produce music that is always different and frequently spellbinding. Using an array of electronics, pedals and effects that take the cello way beyond its usual sphere, Bela builds layers of rhythm and sound not just from strings and bow, but from every bit of the instrument. Sounds are looped, take on lives of their own, bounce off each other, drop in and out... The effect, as anyone who's heard her will testify, is mesmeric.

Though in her element as a live performer, Bela has captured a healthy slice of the excitement of her performance on two solo CDs. 2003's Kissing Nettles received extensive radio play - notably on Radio 3's 'Mixing It', internet station Totally Radio and Oxford's Passion 107.9, where it was played in full as a live set. The second CD, Cables, was released on Quiet Records in October 2004, and Bela did her bit for the vinyl revival in November 2005 by releasing a 7" single, Scythe (on Brighton's own The Slightly Off Kilter Label) launched with a stunningly powerful Samhain/Hallowe'en performance in St. Andrew's Church, Hove that left some dazed locals mumbling about 'gig of the year'.

2005 also saw Bela perform live on BBC Southern Counties Radio (as part of the Brighton Festival), do two UK tours - 8 dates in July and 12 dates in November - and win over the crowds at Glastonbury, Big Green, Brighton, and Shambala festivals.

In 2006, Bela has toured Germany with vj Stephen Wolff, to great success (March); she also collaborated with Stomp for the world premiere of their highly-acclaimed production The Lost & Found Orchestra (May), performed at Aldeburgh Festival's extraordinary Faster Than Sound (with Tim Exile), Bestival, & three Ladyfests, played live sets on Resonance FM, plus shared bills with A Silver Mount Zion & Wolf Eyes amongst many others.

Bela has been playing jazz, folk, rock and experimental music on the cello for over 10 years; as well as her solo work, Bela performs extensively with a wide variety of bands and projects. As a member of lauded three-piece Pico she recorded five Radio 1 sessions - including several for John Peel - and as a session musician she's recently worked with indie faves British Sea Power and The loveGods. When not gigging, Bela can often be found teaching contemporary cello to students of all ages and abilities, in Brighton, where she lives.


Bela Emerson and Eric Leonardson perform together at Peter Jones Gallery on October 25.