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Musical World

Paul Mercer

  • Composer
  • Violinist
  • Violist


Paul Mercer: Whether performing solo or with other accomplices, Paul's entrancing art has brought him to stages all over North America, Canada, and Japan.
He has played events from obscure avant-garde cabarets and salons, to elaborately staged spectacles such as the annual Edwardian Ball in San Francisco, Conflux Dark Arts Festival, Earth Awakenings in Salt Lake City, to The Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan club and Endless Night Halloween events in New Orleans.  He also gives lectures and performances at universities, and appears at annual conventions such as Pantheacon and Dragon*Con.  Paul has played  infamous live spaces such as New Orleans' House of Blues, Hollywood's Bar Sinister, Tokyo's Midnight Mess at Shinjuku MARZ and the seminal Explosion club, to intimate personal parties, paranormal or spiritual gatherings, and of course, weddings, opening night ceremonies, and live theatrical events.

His first love is the violin, but Paul's music speaks through viola, viola d' amour, piano, and on occasion, more exotic instruments from India and the Middle East. His personal instrument collection features very unique voices, spirits with such strong personalities they have their own name. His current instruments include a mysterious late 19th century violin named Daphne, a luminous late 17th century violin named Abigail, and a stunning 1820 Viola named Henryetta. Paul has had the fortune to play some powerful instruments such as 1842 Nicolas Vuillaume, two Stradivari, including the magnificent Firebird Stradivari 1718 ex Saint Exupery. His years working in violin shops, with luthiers, and playing with countless other string players has introduced him to many other kindred spirits, both of flesh and wood.

Paul is known for his highly adaptable improvisation, performing often with little or no practice with acts as varied as the shoe gazer-metal of Brass Knuckle Surfer, the soaring gothic rock of Faith and the Muse and Abney Park,  the Japanese counter-tenor Selia, string sirens  Zoe Keating and UnWoman; Tokyo's laptop glitchster Control Freak; bagpipers; master sitarist Josh Brown; Japanese shoe gazer rockers 101a and lloy; North Indian classical musicians from Afghanistan and India; Tuvan throat singer Soriah; even an impromptu session with a Southern gospel band and a Chinese street musician.

Yet Paul also creates haunting compositions, as full-length recordings, collaborations, and custom scores for both the theatre and cinema. In the oldest soundtrack tradition, Paul has performed live music for plays (even as part of the act in "The Music of Eric Zahn"), but in a modern turn, he has created new soundtracks for old silent films being preserved on dvd, including several avant-garde films of the 1920s and 1930s by F. Leger and Man Ray. Contemporary film makers such as Tracy Martin, Brent Wood, and Tal-Kasia, among others, have commissioned Paul for their projects. His soundtracks have appeared at several film festivals and his best known may be for the feature film "Psychopathia Sexualis" (2005). Paul and his music was also the subject of a documentary, "Ghosts" by Micah Stansell, Phoebe Brown and Elizabeth Strickler which was one of 13 international finalists at the 2009 Hot Docs Festival in Toronto.