Wytold plays an electric cello with two extra strings that allow him to capture the depth and power of a stand-up bass, the rich tonal timbre of the acoustic cello, and the bright crispness of violin solos and harmonies. Wytold creates his own rock-orchestral accompaniment through live-looping, often accompanied by bass, viola, violin, flute, saxophone, guitar, banjo, and/or percussion.
Wytold is an NS Design featured artist, recent Strathmore Artist in Residence, and received a 2014 Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Blood Brother, an independent film that won both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He received a 2011 DCCAH Young Artist Grant to help fund his first solo album: When Fulvio Finds Celeste, four songs of which received European and Australian radio. Wytold is also actively composing and performing several commissioned works with the acclaimed contemporary dance company, Christopher K Morgan & Artists. In addition, Wytold teaches alternative cello lessons and co-leads ‘Classical Hip-Hop’ educational programs with GRAMMY-nominated progressive hip-hop artist, Christylez Bacon. Wytold and Christylez will perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at Echo Stage on January 9, 2015.
Wytold (William Wytold Lebing) began private lessons in classical cello repertoire at age 10 and participated in school and regional youth orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, often as principal chair. He dreamt of studying cello performance in college but was held back by carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by an over-zealous approach to the instrument. After a 1.5 year hiatus, Wytold reintroduced himself to playing music by learning folk songs on the acoustic guitar. Guitar strumming and finger-picking gradually reintroduced Wytold’s fingers and wrists to the motions involved in performing, and also instilled a new soul and passion for heart-felt musicianship and the musical experience.
Wytold's early original songs consisted of simple guitar chords, simple rhythms, and introspective yet quirky lyrics. He performed some of those early songs around Johns Hopkins University with his band "Loosely Affiliated," whose glory days ranged from playing inside the student library to receiving an award from a student talent show. In the meantime, Wytold studied mathematics and philosophy while drawing creative inspiration from rock climbing trips in West Virginia and California ("American Dreams", in its original guitar+vocal format, was written on airline napkins flying back from a 3 week climbing stint in Joshua Tree). Before leaving Baltimore to study History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, Wytold developed an insatiable appetite for practicing and song-writing. Soon he seriously revisited the acoustic cello and rewrote many guitar parts for rhythmic cello bowing. He tested the new cello+vocal arrangements at open mic nights around Pittsburgh, culminating in a packed coffee house with lighters raised in the air while Wytold performed a medley of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone".
Shortly thereafter, Wytold took a long break from guitar playing and singing to fully devote himself to the cello (he's still on that break). He began collaborating and songwriting with Between Liberties (previously known as Colorful Speech), whose recording of "In the City" received airplay on national public radio station 91.3 WYEP. Just before receiving two Master's Degrees from Pitt (one in Philosophy, one in History and Philosophy of Science), Wytold taught himself to use a loop pedal and to play the shoulder-strapped six-string electric cello. His mathematical background helps him visualize and manipulate the different cello layers when composing and performing, and also provided a foundation to study audio engineering when recording and mixing "When Fulvio Finds Celeste" and to explore using MIDI commands to trigger looping functions in computer software Ableton Live.
Wytold's composing inspirations come in all shapes, sizes, and colors - literally (he is synesthetic and mentally envisions colors, shapes, and textures that represent melodies, rhythms, and particular cello sounds). Hearing music in his head at almost all waking moments, Wytold often sporadically runs to the cello (or recorder) to figure out and capture a new part or melodic line that he just 'heard' for the first time. Sometimes the rest of the song naturally unfolds in the next five minutes, whereas other songs hibernate for years in various corners of Wytold's consciousness before completion. In any case, Wytold's songwriting always centers on tuning in to what is natural - where it feels like the song should go, and how. The songs are always in motion - building layer upon layer, establishing a foundation for an improvised solo, adding a new harmony to a previously established theme for a different perspective on the same progression, repeating an established chorus to prepare for and emphasize an upcoming change. . . Wytold runs through many possibilities in his head, on his instruments, and by listening to practice recordings until he knows it feels right and fits.