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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 11 September

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason Featured in Harper’s Bazaar

Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason

Photo © James Hole

In anticipation of their new album together, Harper’s Bazaar featured brother and sister duo, Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason this past week. The two have amazing freedom in playing together that comes from playing together for so many years.

This energy is something they have sought to bottle up in their new album Muse, their first together, in which they play sonatas by Russia’s Sergei Rachmaninov and the American composer Samuel Barber. “We had a few months of performing and enjoying the pieces before covid,” says Isata, “and we still felt like there was so much more we wanted to express with them.” Sheku explains that the choice of repertoire was prompted by how successfully the well-loved Rachmaninov sonata worked with the lesser-known Barber in concert. “Both pieces have a vivid and intense connection with emotions,” he says. “Rachmaninov does it in an incredibly detailed and patient way; for Barber it’s immediate. They’re different in that sense, but their arcs complement each other really well.”

Read more about the Kanneh-Masons in Sheku and Isata’s mother’s book, House of Music.

Their new album, Muse, will be released on 5 November.

Click here to read the full article by Brooke Theis.

Afghan Cellist Starts New Life at the University of Memphis

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 11 September

21-year-old Afghan cello student Nazira Wali is studying music at the University of Memphis. Like many new university students, there are many new elements in her life. Unlike most of her classmates, she also has the added worries about her family and friends back home in Afghanistan.

She is originally from Nuristan but

Wali has played Carnegie Hall. And the Kennedy Center. Her cello has taken her to performance spaces in eight countries, including backing up contemporary great Yo-Yo Ma at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Having come from a country that has banned the playing of music and education for females, Nazira has beaten the odds to be where she is today.  She said:

“Under the Taliban regime, they burned all musical instruments. If you were caught playing one they would cut your fingers, or they would kill you . . . The first instrument I saw was a piano, but the cello I just heard. An American teacher was playing and I heard it from outside the window, and I liked it.”

We wish Nazira all the best in her cello studies.

Click here to read the full article by Chris Herrington.

The Cello Legacy of Father Mathieson

“there is no difficulty in getting a supply of cellists in Calcutta [Kolkata], because the Oxford Mission produces plenty!” – a letter from an English priest in 1991

Father Mathieson with his students.

Father Mathieson with his students.

Father Theodore Mathieson (1913-1994) was a cellist as well as a missionary and went to India in 1946 to serve under the Oxford Mission –

“an organisation formed in 1880 as the Oxford Mission to Calcutta in response to an appeal made by Bishop Johnson of Calcutta to the University of Oxford requesting young men to go out to India and engage in missionary work.”

In addition to his missionary work,

“part of his life’s work that has continued to create ripples long after his death is his contribution to the spread of western classical music in the city.”

Read the full article by Dibyokamal Mitra here.

Cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca on How Classical Musicians Can Raise Awareness of Environmental and Humanitarian Issues

Christian-Pierre La Marca and musicians from Orchestre de Paris © Stéphane Remael

Christian-Pierre La Marca and musicians from Orchestre de Paris © Stéphane Remael

In the September 2021 issue of The Strad, Tom Stewart spoke with cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca about environmental and humanitarian activism through music.

La Marca began to organize concerts for GoodPlanet, an organization that promotes environmental causes and sustainable development. With the pandemic, he

set to work on a double CD inspired by the success of 2019’s live show. ‘I had to build a programme around me and my cello which would give people a new way to think about the environment,’ he says. ‘It took me a long time to decide on the precise architecture, but including 15 photos by Yann that show the beauty and fragility of the earth helped to suggest a structure. There are texts, too, by writers including Al Gore, David Attenborough and Pope Francis that reflect the disc’s title, Wonderful World.’ For La Marca, the most important thing was to help people reflect on the beauty of the Earth without ‘lecturing’ them about what they should or shouldn’t be doing themselves.

R.I.P. Cellists

R.I.P. Cellist Sebastian Hess

German cellist Sebastian Hess (5 May 1971- 1 September 2021) died of a brain aneurysm.  A student of Julius Berger, Helmar Stiehler, William Pleeth, and Mstislav Rostropovich, he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein when he was 18. He was a versatile cellist, recording a wide range of repertoire, from Baroque to modern.

We offer our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and students. R.I.P. Sebastian Hess.

Read more here.

R.I.P. Shelagh Thomlinson, Concert Hostess, Cellist, and Cat Lover

Shelagh Thomlinson

Shelagh Thomlinson ( 1930 – 6 July 2021) loved music, played the cello and piano, and hosted a series known as “the Barn Concerts” at her barn in Batchworth, Hertfordshire. Notable performers included cellist Amaryllis Fleming.

Shelagh took inspiration from the BBC Radio 3 programme Private Passions, in which guests reveal the musical pieces that bring them joy, to organise a similar series of discussions among friends in her drawing room. Usually included in the audience were one or two of her cats, who were named, in alphabetical order, after her favourite composers. Among the most recent were Liszt, Milhaud and Puccini.

We offer her family and friends our condolences. R.I.P. Shelagh Thomlinson.

Read the full tribute to her in The Times.

R.I.P. WWII Air Force Pilot Lieutenant Ernest Roth

After about 80 years, the remains of Lieutenant Ernest Roth have been returned home to Los Angeles. He has been laid to rest in the Los Angeles National Cemetery, having perished at age 20, during a bombing raid over Berlin in May 1944. He played the cello before the war, playing in Billy Barty’s children’s orchestra in Los Angeles.

R.I.P. Lieutenant Ernest Roth.

Read the full story by Eric Resendiz in The Strad.


Daniel Müller-Schott – Four Visions of France

  • Release date: 3 September
  • Orfeo

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Alexandre Bloch

Listen to one of the tracks here, the cello and orchestra version of the Saint-Saëns Romance in F Major, Op. 36, R. 195:

Jonah Kim – Approaching Autumn

  • Release date: 10 September 2021
  • Delos Records

Gaspar Claus – Tancade

  • Release date: 10 September 2021
  • InFiné

Gaspar Claus introduces his album here:

Fabian Boreck – Diego Ortiz 4 Ricercari

Release date: 12 September


BBC Sounds – BBC Proms 2021 – Guy Johnston: Saint‐Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1 in a minor, Op. 33

This is the entire concert. The cello concerto segment starts at 22:34.

Released: 5 September 2021
Available for a limited time.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason 2021 Proms

Click here to listen.

The Art of Sunday with Brenda Sisane – Interview with Abel Selaocoe

The Art of Sunday with Brenda Sisane - Interview with Abel Selaocoe

Click here to listen to Abel Selaocoe’s BBC Prom concert. This is the official description:

South African, UK-based cellist, Abel Selaocoe is redefining the parameters of the cello. He moves seamlessly across a plethora of genres and styles, from collaborations with world musicians to concerto performances and solo classical recitals. We speak to him on the TAOS about collaboration, musical storytelling, carrying traditional music styles through to the cello, and more.

Duet with Tamara-Anna Cislowska – Cellist Sharon Grigoryan

Australian cellist Sharon Grigoryan

Cellist Sharon Grigoryan. Photo: Australian World Orchestra.

Renowned Australian cellist Sharon Grigoryan joins Tamara-Anna Cislowska and discusses her excitement of moving into the next stage of her career.

Join Sharon Grigoryan and Tamara-Anna Cislowska as they discuss Sharon’s favourite pieces of music, why she loves playing them, and also a live performance of a work by Piazzolla.

Spokane Public Radio – Zuill Bailey and Sara Sant’ Ambrosio

Sara Sant'Ambrogio. Photo by Martyn Thompson

Sara Sant’Ambrogio. Photo by Martyn Thompson

Click here to listen to a pre-concert conversation with Zuill Bailey and Sara Sant’Ambrosio.


Ayanna Witter-Johnson – “Flow My Tears” by John Aram

“John Dowland updated for the 21st century.”

Moby – From the Basement: “Porcelain”

We Are NY Phil: Principal Cello Carter Brey

The City of Toronto and the CN Tower – Light of Hope

Featuring composer and cellist Cris Derksen

The Texas Cellos – “La vie en rose”

  • Lyricist: Edith Piaf
  • Composer: Jean-Louis Guglielmi
  • Arranger: Wilhelm Kaiser-Lindemann/ Joseph Kuipers

Yotam Baruch -Ligeti Cello Sonata “Dialogo”

  • Joseph Gray – Choreography, Dancing, and video editing
  • Marco Boschetti and Anina Stancu – photography and production assistance

Winona Zelenka – “Constable’s Clouds” by David Jaeger

Davis You – Schubert 5. Am Feierabend – Die Schöne Müllerin

Jodok Vuille – Cello Cover of “Paradise” by Coldplay

Chanyoung Park – Cello Cover of “Stay” by Justin Bieber

YoYo Cello – Cello Cover of  “I Expect” by Zhang Yusheng

Your Turn

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