Christen Lien is a provocative composer, storyteller and performing artist. Her original compositions, primarily on viola, represent her passion for challenging the status quo, and a call to all who are willing to listen. Her album Elpis, which explores the dark side of hope, will be released in 2016.
Christen plays her instruments through guitar effects and looping pedals. Beyond the viola, her instruments include harmonica, kalimba, Moog synthesizers, bass guitar and drums.
Christen Lien is a provocative composer and performing artist. Her original compositions primarily on viola represent her passion for challenging the status quo, and a call to action for all who are willing to listen.
Expanding on her professional background in film, communications and non-profits, Christen is a full-time artist forging a new business model. It centers on community building, leveraging shared values and digital tools around the kind of music that moves people to transform not just themselves but also broader society.
Prior to boldly dedicating herself completely to her music, Christen began her career working for John Cusack’s New Crime Productions. This experience prepared her to serve as Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, which Variety rated as one of the 10 best in the world. During her tenure, the festival sued the state of Michigan over politically-motivated censorship attempts and won, relying on a coordinated global effort by stars like George Clooney and fans who believed in upholding first amendment rights. Never one to cower in a tough situation, Christen drew on the lessons she learned organizing alongside these artists to stand up for what she believes in and continue pushing boundaries on an even bigger scale.
The result is her highly-anticipated project Elpis, scheduled for release in fall of 2016. Elpis is a 12-track concept album that explores the dark side of hope and how it can paralyze people in oppressive and unjust circumstances. The concept is based on little-known elements of the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box. In 2016 and beyond, Christen will explore the critical themes of Elpis through different mediums and collaborations. The music will provide a much-needed platform for examining one of our culture’s most dangerous blind spots. (Read Christen’s introduction to the concept and album with her Huffington Post essay Post-Hope American Opens Pandora’s Box.)
Entertainers, activists, scholars, and supporters have responded to Christen’s work. She has been a featured TEDx speaker and performed at legendary venues like the REDCAT Theater at the Walt Disney Music Hall. Her music has been licensed by producers looking to compliment narratives of determination and fortitude. Christen and her team look forward to intriguing audiences all over the world through art and actions with the release of Elpis. [Send serious inquiries about participating in the project to greg(at)christenlien(dot)com.]
Classically trained in the Suzuki method, Christen began performing for audiences at age nine. As a teen she was an understudy of The Cleveland Orchestra, and a member of the National Youth Guild Symphony Orchestra, which showcased the leading young musicians from throughout the United States at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Lien began to use effect pedals and looping machines in her performances in 2005, exploring unexpected uses of technology and experimental techniques with her viola. Lien’s music has been used in media that includes HBO Boxing, feature films Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth and Occupy Love, commercials, live theater, dance performances and international political protests. Upon hearing her music, KCRW suggested that we will “inevitably see her follow in the footsteps of modern master composers like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yo-Yo Ma.”
To geek out on music with Christen, visit her site www.itsnotaviolin.com.
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