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Martha Mooke, Electro-Acoustic Violist / Composer / Producer / Clinician & Educator


"Collaborating with Martha on her work X-ING was an exhilarating and memorable experience!"

— Gary Hill, Director of Bands at Arizona State University


"Martha Mooke's No Ordinary Window on Monkmusic Records is an amazing look into what is possible with one musician and a few pieces of technology, yet it is also a display of an amazing living composer and performer with an imaginative ear."

— Jarrett Goodchild, ICareIfYouListen.com - New Classical Music News


"Even with so much promiscuous eclecticism on display, two segments of the concert stood out. Martha Mooke, using electric violas and effects pedals, bridged the gap between Romantic virtuoso composer-performers like Paganini and Liszt and MIDI-friendly successors like Todd Reynolds and Zoe Keating." (Read more...)

— Steve Smith, The New York Times


"The Scorchio String Quartet played Quantum by the quartet's leader and violist, Martha Mooke, with songful melodies accompanied by tremulous chords and Asian-flavored glissandos."

— Jon Pareles, The New York Times


"Mookestueck, written for the electric 5-string viola of local string whiz Martha Mooke...Mooke's performance is superb and impassioned."


"In performance, a relatively traditional-sounding solo passage will give way to a mesmerizing mood sequence and then, seemingly, half an electronic orchestra has arrived - but it's all her."

Staten Island Advance


"With her white hair and blue five-stringed viola, Mooke is a striking figure, with a Terry Riley-ish array of electronic enhancements and a wider range of styles (from Cagean to minimalist to free jazz and beyond) than many improvisers can boast."

The Village Voice


"Mooke shows off both an impressive dynamic range and a drop-dead-gorgeous tone on her custom five-string electric viola. In her hands, the instrument can sound like a keyboard synthesizer, a guitar, or even a saxophone. Š she seems to be able to translate almost any musical impulse into sound."

Alternative Press


"The very original Martha Mooke uses space age musical colors and patterns, with her five-string electric viola leading the way, altogether exotic, hypnotic, and personal."

The Wax Works



Viola Power: Symphony Magazine, Summer 2018

"This spring, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia took the humble viola and put it center stage with a program that featured not one but two violists. First, Martha Mooke — a multi-genre composer and violist who has performed with classical ensembles as well as rock musicians David Bowie and Patti Smith — was soloist for the premiere of her own Invisible Hands for electric viola and orchestra. The piece was performed twice on the program, led by Music Director Dirk Brossé, with Mooke at various points improvising, walking through the orchestra, and adding electronic effects..." Read the entire piece at: americanorchestras.org/images/stories/symphony_magazine/summer18/Symphony_Summer_2018.pdf#page=14

Martha Mooke: Walls, Windows, and Doors (Frank J. Oteri, NewMusicBox.org, April 1, 2017)
"But no matter what musical activity she is involved in, she always views it as an opportunity not just to break through walls, but to open doors or to look out through a window in a new way."
Read the entire piece.


Mooke, the Maverick (Phil Lederer, SRQ Magazine, March 2017)
"The Sarasota Pops closes out its 41st season in stunning style next month with a final concert, Out of This World, featuring experimental violist Martha Mooke. Armed with her custom-made electric viola and an array of technological enhancements, Mooke's heavily improvisational performances bring the instrument to the edge of its abilities as she coaxes new sounds from the strings and composes onstage for all to see and hear. The result is something more akin to a "performance experience," born of a moment that will never come again, than anything that can be captured on camera. The singular nature of a Mooke performance derives largely from two factors..." Read more...


Noteworthy graduates: Martha Mooke, electro-acoustic violist (As told to reporter Christina Cheakalos, United Federation of Teachers, New York Teacher Issue, June 2016)
"Renowned electro-acoustic violist Martha Mooke has toured the world with Barbra Streisand and the North American continent with Star Wars in Concert. She has played on Broadway and in Carnegie Hall. She has accompanied a dream team of musicians, among them David Bowie, Tony Bennett, Patti Smith, Andrea Bocelli and Philip Glass. But to this day, the acclaimed musical pioneer respects no one more than her Staten Island music teacher at IS 34, the late Leonard Ogren."
Read the entire review.


Martha Mooke's No Ordinary Window on Monkmusic Records (Jarrett Goodchild, ICareIfYouListen.com - New Classical Music News, April 2016)
"Martha Mooke's No Ordinary Window on Monkmusic Records is an amazing look into what is possible with one musician and a few pieces of technology, yet it is also a display of an amazing living composer and performer with an imaginative ear. Mooke's compositional craft permeates throughout this album, and the musical worlds she creates are purely authentic. Her compositional style is only matched by her viola performance chops as she is the sole performer on each piece..." (A selection from No Ordinary Window is featured in the icareifyoulisten.com Spring 2016 Mixtape, available for free download here: https://www.icareifyoulisten.com/spring-2016-mixtape/)
Read the entire review.


Violist has had an electrifying career (LoHud - The Rockland Journal News, December 2015)
"Martha Mooke remembers what convinced her to start playing an electro-acoustic viola. Just a few years after taking up the conventional viola in grade school, "I had my mind expanded by listening to Jean-Luc Ponty and Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet." Hearing those two pioneering electric violinists and the genre-busting modern string quartet changed everything. Mooke was determined to find a way to adapt their cutting-edge ideas to her beloved viola. It led her into a remarkable career that has moved fluidly among musical genres and musicians ranging from major pop stars like David Bowie, Phish's Trey Anastasio, and Barbra Streisand to leading modernist composers such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich...."
Read the entire article.


BBC News' 'Day in pictures: 6 March 2015' (BBC.com, March 2015)
The BBC selected the below photograph of Laurie Anderson and Martha Mooke as one of their "selection of some of the best news photographs taken around the world" for 6 March 2015.  The photo was taken at Carnegie Hall during the annual Tibet House Benefit Concert, produced by Philip Glass.
Read the piece.


'Composers Now' shining light on NYC composers (PIX11.com, February 2015)
"When it comes to composers, you're probably familiar with John Williams, author of classic movie themes like Star Wars and Jurassic Park. But how many other composers can you name? Struggling? Well chances are you're not alone. Which is why composer and Brooklyn College Professor Tania Leon formed the group Composers Now...At the Composers Now events, composers like Martha Mooke have the opportunity to meet their audience and discuss the motivation behind their work. Mooke says just knowing that the creator of a work is still living and breathing adds a new dimension to the music for the listener..."
Read the entire article.


X-ING for 5-string Electric Viola and Concert Band (WASBE World, September 2014)
Martha Mooke penned an article for the Official Magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World, for its September 2014 issue. The article, in the Focus on New Music section, is entitled "X-ING for 5-string Electric Viola and Concert Band," and includes the composer's own analysis and explanation of the piece.
Read the entire article. | Click here for more information about X-ING


The Viola Electric (UMass: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends, Fall 2013)
"Martha Mooke, '88G is the kid the cool kids want to hang out with. Artists the likes of David Bowie, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Enya, Moby, Lou Reed, Philip Glass, and Trey Anastasio (with whom Mooke performs in her quartet, Scorchio) have all sought out the signature sound she creates with her electric viola. Always the pioneer, Mooke chose viola as her instrument in elementary school because "no one else knew what it was." When she spied Jean-Luc Ponty's bright blue electric violin, she begged her parents to drive straight to Manny's on 48th Street in New York City to buy her one just like it..." (Read the entire article)


Music of Now Marathon Begins Composers Now Series (Steve Smith, The New York Times)
"Even with so much promiscuous eclecticism on display, two segments of the concert stood out. Martha Mooke, using electric violas and effects pedals, bridged the gap between Romantic virtuoso composer-performers like Paganini and Liszt and MIDI-friendly successors like Todd Reynolds and Zoe Keating." (Read the entire article)


'X-ING' marks the spot for violinist, and former Staten Islander, Martha Mooke (Michael J. Fressola, Staten Island Advance)
"Violist/composer Martha Mooke is busy: The ex-Islander will be the star attraction Dec. 3 at an upmarket "Artful Dining" dinner party fund-raiser for Symphony Space..."
Read more: www.silive.com/entertainment/arts/index.ssf/2012/12/x-ing_marks_the_spot_for_violi.html


Crossroads, Guild Hall And WPPB Team Up For All-Star Concert (The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press)
"Electro-acoustic violist Martha Mooke doesn't visit the Hamptons much. But on Friday, November 18, she made an exception. That day, she traveled from her home in Nyack, New York to the East End for the "Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival." Her reason for travelling so far to take in the festival: to see her Manhattan-based string quartet/quintet, Scorchio Quartet, featured in the film "Inside the Perfect Circle," which was screened on Saturday night at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. Later that night, after watching the film, she found herself at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett..."
Read more: www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/East-Hampton-Village/406283/Crossroads-Guild-Hall-And-WPPB-Team-Up-For-All-Star-Concert


The Free George: An Interview with Electro-Acoustic Violist Martha Mooke
"Innovative electro-acoustic violist, composer, and clinician Martha Mooke will appear at the Hand House Parlor in Elizabethtown...as part of the Rites of Strings concert series. Over the years, Mooke has developed a unique musical voice, blending classical music with modern digital effects. Her permutation in the field of five string viola/violin has led to numerous concerts, daytime and late night television talk show appearances, inclusion in the Broadway pit orchestras of Wicked and South Pacific, performing in the touring Star Wars in Concert show, and alongside such artists as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Tony Bennett, David Byrne, Peter Gabriel, Moby, Andrea Bocelli, and Luciano Pavarotti..."
Read more: thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/an-interview-with-electro-acoustic-violist-martha-mooke-performing-in-elizabethtown-september-18th-and-19th/


Focus on Martha Mooke: Reach inside, find your inner voice
"To ground-breaking violist Martha Mooke, musical talent without the soul is pointless. For more than 20 years, Mooke has sought to infuse the maximum amount of feeling, passion and creativity into her acclaimed performances, compositions and master classes. By breaking free from the conventions of the classical music world, Mooke has established a career that's truly unique..."
Read more: Focus on Martha Mooke (jpg)


Glasschord Magazine Blog: Martha Mooke
"Martha Mooke, a pioneer of electric viola, transcends musical boundaries by synthesizing her classical music training with electronics and new techniques. A Yamaha Artist and leading clinician on electric and alternative string playing, she has played with David Bowie, Barbra Streisand, Trey Anastasio, Peter Gabriel, Bon Jovi and others. She is founder/violist of the eclectic Scorchio string quartet...."
Read more: www.glasschord.com/martha-mooke/


Electronics: Not Just for Composers Anymore: Todd Reynolds and Martha Mooke Drag the Author into the New Millennium! by Kyle Gann (Chamber Music America)
"Pardon me for waxing apocalyptic, but I've been talking to two electronic string players, violist Martha Mooke and violinist Todd Reynolds, and I'm dizzy from realizing how last -millennium my thinking has been. Mooke, with striking pure-white hair, started out playing an equally striking blue viola with five strings, whose tone she channels through a series of processing units..."
Electronics: Not Just for Composers Anymore (pdf)


All That Jazz: Mimi Butler offers advice on how to introduce alternative music styles into lessons and explains why this can revolutionise your student's playing (The Strad)
"Martha Mooke expands the musical horizons of young performers..."
The Strad: All That Jazz (pdf)


Breaking Down the Walls: Yamaha Artist Martha Mooke Shares her Success Story (BackstagePASS)
"Martha Mooke isn't one for constraints. This pioneering musician's groundbreaking work on the five-string viola has won fans worldwide and given her many memorable experiences - including collaborating with legendary rocker David Bowie...."
Read more: Breaking Down the Walls



Innovative improvisations: Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia presents 'Mozart, Mooke, and Fauré' (Linda Holt, BroadStreetReview.com, )
An adventurous program by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia featured a world premiere by composer and electric-viola player Martha Mooke.

"Another treat for audiences attracted to the orchestra's audacious programming was the world premiere of Martha Mooke's Invisible Hands for electric viola and orchestra. The title refers to a statement by mythologist Joseph Campbell that he often felt he was held up and supported by "hidden hands": spiritual guides and protectors. Mooke is the second violist Lau referred to, and proof that though Women's History Month may be past, the ways women composers are reinventing classical music is only just beginning.

"Mooke has toured and performed with Barbra Streisand, Patti Smith, and other major artists, and founded the Scorchio Quartet featured on David Bowie's Heathen album. But the impact of her music, not her celebrity associations, is what makes Mooke a force to be reckoned with.

"Brossé programmed Invisible Hands in two parts of the program: just before intermission, in a version for full orchestra, and again as the last work following Fauré's Pelléas et Mélisande. Wearing a long white duster, arms bared, Mooke improvised on electric viola and operated three electronic foot pedals (multi-effects, volume, and loop station). The smooth viola line glided over the orchestra, which played the same score as in part one, while the electronic ambience created an amorphous cushion of sound.

"At one point, Brossé left the podium as Mooke strolled through the orchestra, stopping to "converse" musically with several players, who were challenged to respond with improvised music of their own. It had a kind of '70s "happening" feel, but updated, with new technology and a down-home attitude.

"In conversation after the concert, Brossé and Mooke described the process of continuously refining and tailoring the work right up to the last minute. When I asked Mooke if a recording would be available to the public, she admitted that this type of music needs to be experienced live — but seemed to be thinking it over."
Read more: broadstreetreview.com/music/chamber-orchestra-of-philadelphia-presents-mozart-mooke-and-foure#


Acoustic and Electric Violas in an Ingenious Program (Bernard Jacobson, seenandheard-international.com, )

"Looked at and listened to around the world today (as has been true at any time in music history), composers fall into either one of two categories. There are the ones that write real music, and then there are those that merely go through the motions without producing anything of genuine substance. Having explored a number of her works in recent months, I am happy to assign Martha Mooke to the first of those categories. A virtuoso performer on the electric viola, and associated with a variety of more or less unconventional performing groups and performance venues, she is nevertheless by no means to be denied credit for forging a truly personal style and language that draw on fertile links with tradition.

"Inspired by Joseph Campbell's assertion, in response to a question whether he ever had the sense of being helped by hidden hands, that this happened to him all the time, the work she has created for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia partakes vividly of the mysticism that sits at the heart of Campbell's thought and has also been a powerful element in shaping her own world view. Organized in two versions, Invisible Hands sets out its musical argument first without her contribution as soloist, and then adds the voice of the electric viola as what might be frivolously called the icing on the cake.

"...the combined whole agreeably and often eloquently demonstrated her capacity for balancing luxuriantly saturated textures with zestful rhythmic vitality and a treatment of dissonance that never spills over from the stimulating into the merely torturous."
Read more: seenandheard-international.com/2018/04/acoustic-and-electric-violas-in-an-ingenious-program/


Words Belied by Music: Songs of Dargel and Reich Offer a Deceptive Simplicity (Kyle Gann, The Village Voice)
"Mooke, who played solo for the first half, used to play a blue electric viola and now plays a red one, but the striking contrast with her white hair remains the same. By looping and pitch-bending herself via foot pedals she creates an entire string quartet without assistance. This means that all of her music turns on the device of the ostinato, the repeating loop, though when she wants to, she can so obscure that device that we don't notice it...Mooke never had to worry about straying too far from romanticism: By nature the viola carries its romanticism along with it."
Read more: www.villagevoice.com/2000-06-27/music/words-belied-by-music/1/


harmonicsdb review: Martha Mooke's Interior Motives with BJ Cole
"From Earl Brown and Morton Feldman's graphic scores to John Zorn's Cobra, game pieces & improvisational compositions always assure us of variety. Challenging for the improvising performer and the open minded listener, one never knows what will happen next. Interior Motives by electric violist Martha Mooke is one of those type of pieces: cards are selected from a deck, performers pick cards from a collection and improvise. The result are a collection of minatures, improvised short pieces...Mooke's 5 string electric viola, extended by digital sound processing gear still had a traditional sound. Even though the instrument had a solid body, it still sounded like wood. Her playing was often a solid anchor to a section, bouncing the bow against the strings or spewing forth a series of harmonics that built up a wall of echos..."
Read more: harmonicsdb.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/martha-mookes-interior-motives-with-bj-cole/


Silent Strings Debut at Carnegie Hall (Yamaha Band and Orchestra Press Release)
"Yamaha String Artist Martha Mooke was recently featured in the opening concert of the American Composers Orchestra's Orchestra Underground series..."
Read more: Yamaha Artist News - Silent Strings Debut at Carnegie Hall (jpg)