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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 12 December

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Yo-Yo Ma Helped Save Louis Kahn’s Floating Concert Hall

Kahn's concert barge


  • 1960s, conductor Robert Austin Boudreau commissioned Louis Kahn to design a floating concert all to carry an orchestra along America’s waterways to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial
  • 1976 this floating concert hall, the 195-foot Point Counterpoint II, was launched
  • 1976-2017 the Point Counterpoint II traveled U.S. waterways and made journeys along the rivers of northern Europe and on the Caribbean, the Baltic, and Irish Seas
  • 2017 the Point Counterpoint II came under threat of destruction, and Yo-Yo Ma wrote a letter of support to help save it. Click here to read the original article by Yo-Yo Ma.
  • late 2019, the Point Counterpoint II was rescued from destruction by a group including the architect Lee Skolnick
  • 2022 the ship is due to re-open as part of a new arts hub at the Delaware Power Station in Philadelphia

Teachers Help One-Armed Pennsylvania Student Fulfill Her Dream of Playing the Cello

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 12 December

13-Year-Old Lucy Houk. Sally Maxson for Beaver County Times

Teachers at Highland Middle School in Beaver Falls, PA, helped Lucy Houk, an 8th-grader at the school, realize her dream of playing the cello.

The orchestra teacher Eric Baker and technology and engineering teacher Dale Moll collaborated to find a solution. By October, Moll had created a 3-D printed, adaptive bow holder that could be attached to Lucy’s elbow to help her hold the bow.

Read the full article by Marsha Keefer here.

Congratulations to Prize-winning Cellists

Cellist Brannon Cho Awarded 2020 János Starker Cello Prize

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 12 December

Congratulations to 25-year-old cellist Brannon Cho for winning the János Starker cello prize!

Cellist Elise Campbell Named 2021 Marshall Scholar

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 12 December

Congratulations to cellist Elise “Josie” Campbell for winning the prestigious Marshall Scholarship! She is a senior music major with a minor in Africana studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We wish her all the best in her future studies in the UK!

Cellist Maxime Quennesson Wins First Prize in 2nd Annual Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition for Strings

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 12 December

Congratulations to cellist Maxime Quennesson for winning First Prize in the second annual Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition for strings! He was one of five finalists from 130+ entrants from around the world. Watch the final below. Read the full story here.

Cellists Win 1st and 2nd Place in Gisborne International Music Competition

Congratulations to cellists Hyein Kim, 1st place winner, and Catherine Kwak, 2nd place winner, in the Gisborne International Music Competition!

Read the full article by Mark Peters.


Please see Ofra Harnoy’s video below, too, for another album.

Songs of Comfort and Hope by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott

We featured this album previously when it was available for pre-order, and it was released yesterday and has been one of the biggest stories in cello news this week. It is dedicated to people around the world who are going through tough times.

Another article about the friendship between Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott describes the awkward circumstances under which they met:

The two met in potentially awkward circumstances 40 years ago, when Stott returned from a trip to find her landlord had sublet her London apartment to a couple without telling her. ‘Who the hell are you ?’ she asked the man practising the cello in his underpants in her living room.

Read the full article here.

Emotions by Gautier Capuçon

An Exploration of Beloved Melodies, from Debussy to Édith Piaf

This beautiful album is another one that belongs on our list of holiday gift recommendations. Learn more about it in the video below.

Concertos and Sonatas for Violoncello Piccolo by Giuseppe Tartini

Mario Brunello and Riccardo Doni (harpsichord and Conductor) with the Accademia dell’Annunciata

Mario Brunello, Riccardo Doni, and the Accademia Dell’Annunciate have collaborated to create this album to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Tartini.

b a r by Green Isac Orchestra

From Oslo, Norway, this album has been described as “a brilliant expression of their electro-acoustic blend of kinetic rhythms, inventive melodies, and organic soundscapes.” (Read the full review here.)  The Green Isac Orchestra features five members, including Tov Ramstad on cello and electric cello.

Oakland Moments by Torben Ulrich and Cellist Lori Goldston

Poetry, Art, and Cello

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 12 December

This album is due to be released in February 2021. You can pre-order it here. You can get it on a limited edition cassette or other formats. Here is an excerpt of information from Bandcamp:

“Oakland Moments” is the first duo recording from Torben Ulrich and Lori Goldston . . . Torben’s texts/poems emerge from his rice-paper paintings, exploring elements of athleticism, philosophy and mysticism. Torben’s readings and Lori’s music are interplayed and improvised. The beauty of “Oakland Moments” comes from their own artistic specialization, the intimacy of the performance and a tangible energy exchange.

Podcasts and Audio

Mothership’s Interview with Tate Olsen about Skillet and CellofourteCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 12 December

Listen to this interview to

hear how he became an integral part of a Christian rock band like Skillet. We will talk about his Cellofourte instrumental albums, “A Stringed Tribute to Skillet” and “A Cellofourte Christmas” and other current projects in the works.

Two Poets: Rosemerry and Heloise, Narrated by M. Justice, Music by PTSD Cello

We discovered this recording of poetry and cello music that this week on SoundCloud. The page did not include details about the cellist. (Please let us know if you know them.)

Click here to listen.

National Arts Centre Podcast – Rachel Mercer: NAC Orchestra Principal Cellist

Listen to Sean Rice’s interview with Rachel Mercer from Canada’s National Arts Centre. She talks about her new album of pieces for violin and cello by Canadian women composers.

Click here to listen to the podcast.


Ofra Harnoy’s Take on Sonny’s Dream

CBC NL – Newfoundland and Labrador ran a wonderful piece on Ofra Harnoy’s new album, On the Rock, released in September 2020. See the video below.

Read the full article and listen to an interview with Ofra Harnoy here.

Boats and Music by Cellist Wilhelmina Smith

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 12 DecemberDue to Covid-19 cancellations of the 2020 Salt Bay Chamberfest performances, cellist Wilhelmina Smith played her cello on a float in the middle of Maine harbor, and cinematographer Joe Zizzo created a video. Click here to read the full article by Pim Van Hemmen and see the video.

Hayley Mary – The Chain

This so-called “nude version” has cello and piano accompaniment rather than her usual band. This is not exactly what we expected, based on experience with Charlotte Moorman’s work, but it has a very prominent cello part.

The Piano Guys: “What Child Is This”

The Piano Guys have been very busy with the recent release of their 10th anniversary CD and their new Christmas videos. Here is a new video they posted last week:

Your Turn

Have cello news you’d like included? Please get in touch.