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Tribute to Vince Sipprell

On January 30th, Vince Sipprell passed away at the age of 35.

Published: 22 April 2015 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:28 PM
Vince Sipprell stood behind microphone performing on stage
Vince Sipprell

8th May 1979 – 30th January 2015

On January 30th, Vince Sipprell passed away at the age of 35. Born in Dulwich, Vince spent his childhood learning piano, violin, cello and guitar. He eventually settled on the viola as his main instrument, although he could turn his hand to almost anything.

He was a member of CYM and LSSO throughout his teenage years, touring Argentina and Japan. He attended Elliott School in Putney, where he met a number of his closest friends, many of whom he later went on to work with. It was around this timethat he formed the ever-evolving band Screamer on the Hill with his brother Dan and friends, and spent many happy times gigging around London.

He went on to study viola at Trinity College of Music, where alongside former school friend Emma Smith he co-founded the Elysian Quartet in 1999. Specializing in contemporary music, the quartet (comprising Vince, Emma, Jennymay Logan and Laura Moody from 2001 onwards) was highly acclaimed for its open-minded, experimental approach, particularly in the field of improvised music.

In around 2007 Vince and Emma also began working together as 'Geese', initially remixing other peoples music, and then finding their own sound as a band. Their music was entirely made from their violin, viola and cello sounds, chopped up beyond recognition. When Vince died they were working on finishing the first Geese album. Both Geese and Elysian Quartet toured internationally and collaborated with a huge range of artists.

Vince could make sounds with his viola that nobody else would dream up, noises that didn’t even seem to come from a viola – sounds that could be beautiful, surprising, playful, shocking, and sometimes just downright funny. His approach to music was an inspiration to so many– never judgmental or willing to pigeon-hole anything, he was completely open-hearted in his expressiveness. He was calm, intuitive, and most of all incredibly generous,in his work as in his life. When playing he would disappear into the music with a total lack of pretension.

Vince also worked with many great bands, songwriters and producers, including Adem, Imogen Heap, Robert Wyatt, Jon Hopkins, David Holmes, New Order, Bonobo, Damo Suzuki, Elbow and his close friends Hot Chip to name but a few.Amongst all of this, Vince was incredibly modest and self-effacing. His creative self was much more focused on those around him, encouraging & elevating the music of others.

He had a rare and special gift for understanding and interpreting other people’s music, a talent which imbued his own writing and arrangements with a uniqueness all his own.His compositions were extraordinary – full of movement and character, never predictable and always captivating to listen to. Vince’s warmth, creativity, generosity of spirit and brilliant sense of humour enriched the lives of everyone who knew him, whether in his work as a musician, a teacher, or as a precious friend and loved one. He is deeply missed.

Helen Cale

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