Joep Beving sits at an upright piano, his back slightly hunched. The instrument appears doll-like against the Dutch pianist’s 6ft 10in frame. The audience waits. The stage is dimly lit by a photograph of hands stretching towards each other, projected on to a screen above the piano. From the darkness comes a gentle keyboard motif that grows in gradual confidence.
Beving coaxes the melody, like a sculptor moulding clay. Cameras flash: this is the first official showcase of Beving’s latest album, Henosis, due for release in April. It’s the third instalment in a trilogy of albums, and concludes an unexpected chapter in Beving’s life that has seen his recordings streamed online over 85 million times – almost accidentally.
It all came as a something of a surprise to Beving, who had been quietly creating music at home in Amsterdam. Encouraged by his family and colleague Rahi Rezvani, with whom he had collaborated during his day job in advertising, Beving decided to share his music with a wider audience. He just didn’t realise how wide that audience would become. His first album, Solipsism, was a hit with streaming service Spotify, with listeners drawn to the contemplative nature of Beving’s simple, beautiful melodies.
Last year he wrote and performed Drone Ballet at Burning Man festival, where an autonomous flying swarm of 300 illuminated drones lit up the sky.
Deutsche Grammophon, whose roster includes electro-classical composer Max Richter and popular composer-pianist Ludovico Einaudi alongside its ‘core’ classical artists, signed Beving right away.
Beving’s sound encompasses solo piano, strings and voice, and straddles the space between pop, electronica and art music – sometimes referred to as ‘post-classical’ music. Last year he wrote and performed Drone Ballet at Burning Man festival, where an autonomous flying swarm of 300 illuminated drones lit up the sky. Like Einaudi, Beving makes his albums available to purchase in sheet music form, so that fans can also play the pieces as well as listen. (The music to Solipsism and Prehension is out now, with Henosis coming soon.)