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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 16 April

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Black Lives in Music: Sheku Kanneh-Mason

This week Black Lives in Music features another cellist! Zeze Millz talks with Sheku Kanneh-Mason MBE about the emotion of Classical music, access, and opportunity, and wanting to work with Dr. Dre. See last week’s show as well, featuring Ayanna Witter-Johnson (cellist, singer, songwriter, composer, and pianist).

This interview was also featured by ClassicFM. Here are some excerpts:

Sheku Kanneh-Mason: “Growing up, I didn’t know of many Black classical musicians.”

“It’s very, very difficult to see yourself doing something if no-one who looks like you is doing it.”

Brilliantly, in 2020 it was found that the ‘Sheku effect’ was moving more young people than ever before to take up the cello. So, among numerous awards and playing to an audience of two billion, Sheku can now add to his accolades: inspiring a new generation of cellists.

And are opportunities for young Black musicians getting better, Zeze asks? “No,” Sheku shakes his head, to Zeze’s surprise. “The cuts that have been [made] to music at my primary school have been devastating – and as a result, there are few children who are able to have this music education,” the cellist explains.

Watch the show here:

‘Why is anybody surprised?’ Yo-Yo Ma talks COVID, hope, and anti-Asian hate

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 16 April

This wonderful interview with Yo-Yo Ma by Jill Lawrence appeared in USA TODAY and on is well worth reading. He spoke

about the role of musicians in a pandemic and how he has shared his own music with patients, families and essential workers in need of comfort. He also shared his determination to stay positive, try to make a difference and approach life with the openness of a “beginner’s mind.”

Cellist Tanja Tetzlaff Receives €100,000 Glenn Gould Bach Fellowship

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 16 April

Tanja Tetzlaff. Photo: Giorgia Bertazzi

Congratulations to cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, recipient of the 2021 Glenn Gould Bach Fellowship!

This €100,000 award offers musicians

“the chance to realise ambitious and innovative musical media projects on the music of Bach or on music from the Baroque period.”

With the award, Tetzlaff will create a film project about the Bach cello suites over the next to years. We look forward to following her work.

She is only the second musician to receive this award. The first was Irish pianist Peter Tuite last year.

Cellist Gives End-of-Life Concerts

Cellist and art therapist in palliative care, Claire Oppert, a graduate of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, plays at the bedside of patients in Paris in La Maison Médicale Jeanne Garnier.

Read the full article by Sofia Anastasio.

Cellist and Composer Tasan Smith-Gandy Raises the Cello to New Heights

Williams College student Tasan Smith-Gandy decided to compose a cello piece during this college’s reading period. For the culmination of his project, he performed his new piece for unaccompanied cello called “Pine Cello,” on the top of Pine Cobble Mountain, located in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

What a great project!

Read more about Smith-Gandy and his project in this article by Lour Yasin.

A Cellist Featured in Sports Illustrated

Parker Washington

American football player Parker Washington at Penn State is also a cellist. He was recently featured in Sports Illustrated. He told SI that he played first- and second-chair through middle school but said

“I haven’t been able to stay on top of it,” Washington said, “but I feel like if I got on the cello now I could still play a little tune.”

Parker Washington, we wish you all the best in your football career and hope you can find some time for your cello, too!

R.I.P. Swiss Cellist Rocco Filippini (7 September 1943 – 13 April 2021)

Rocco Filippini - photo by Cosimo Filippini

Rocco Filippini. Photo: Cosimo Filippini, CC BY-SA 3.0.

We are sad to hear of the death of cellist, teacher, and music editor, Rocco Filippini. He played the Gore-Booth Stradivarius cello.

R.I.P. Rocco Filippini.

Read more about his life here.

R.I.P. Luthier William Monical

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 16 April

Luthier William Monical

We were very sad to hear of the death of William Monical, the New-York-based luthier and expert on bowed string instruments, particularly those of the Baroque period. I am grateful to him for the help he gave me at the beginning of my studies of cello history when I was a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Listen to this interview with him from 2019.

R.I.P. Bill Monical.

Read more about this giant in the field in his obituary in The Strad.


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Julian Lloyd Webber – The Singing Strad

To celebrate his 70th birthday on 14 April, Julian Lloyd Webber has released a 3-disc collection of cello favorites.

Happy birthday, Julian Lloyd Webber!

Release date: 9 April 2021.

Sandeep Das and Mike Block – Where the Soul Never Dies

Release date: 11 June 2021. Available for pre-order here.

From Sandeep Das and Mike Block, on the album page:

“Where the Soul Never Dies” is our duo’s debut album, exploring the uncharted musical space of tabla and cello. The music comes from the joy that we experience from respecting and surrendering to each other’s musical heritages. The result crosses genres with a dialogue that’s raw, organic, eclectic, and soulful.

Here is a track from the upcoming album:

Mabe Fratti – Será que ahora podremos entendernos

Experimental Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti is releasing Será que ahora podremos entendernos (which translates to Will we be able to understand each other now?) in collaboration with Claire Rousay on 25 June. You can pre-order it here.

“This song is about the quest to understand something that has been said and how slow the process of explaining can be,” Fratti said in a statement. “How words serve as a kind of bridge, but that finally there is a point where we can only trust that we understood. Claire Rousay intervened in this song with field recordings and cymbals.”

Read an interview with Fratti here.

Listen to one track from the upcoming album on this new video created by Mexican filmographer KIX:

Cellist John-Henry Crawford – Dialogo

The album will be available on Friday, 4 June.

Dialogo - John Henry Crawford

From the press release:

American cellist John-Henry Crawford was named Young Artist of the Year by the Classical Recording Foundation in 2019, and his debut album demonstrates exceptional insight and nuance in a varied and fascinating programme, performed with pianist Victor Asuncion.

Playing a rare 200-year-old cello smuggled out of Austria by his grandfather, Robert Popper, John-Henry Crawford performs sonatas by Brahms and Shostakovich alongside Ligeti’s Solo Sonata.

From Crawford’s notes:

This program explores several different modes of a concept that is vital to the fabric of our lives, our relationships, and even the progress of our society as a whole – dialogue. The opening movement of the Ligeti Sonata, titled Dialogo, is an ideal musical encapsulation of this theme and the inspiration behind the title of the album. A story of unrequited love, young Ligeti fell for a fellow student, Annuss Virány, who was a cellist. He wrote the first movement as a metaphorical love duet for her. As one voice begins in inquiry, another responds, until eventually they merge together, singing in tandem. Throughout the whole sonata, these characters question, reply, plead, and even shout at one another.

Read more here.

Here is a track from the album:

Podcast / Broadcast

Clare McKenna: Alive and Kicking – The Inspirational Power of Music with Gerald Peregrine

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 16 April

Irish cellist Gerald Peregrine

The portion of the show with Gerald Peregrine starts at 4:25.

This week on Alive and Kicking Clare McKenna – When the pandemic struck, Irish cellist Gerald Peregrine, found himself without concerts or touring and so decided to gather together some friends and colleagues to bring music to the gardens of hospitals and nursing homes around the country. He shares some of his incredible stories about the impact his music had on patients, residents and staff alike.


Hear Yo-Yo Ma Play for Anderson Cooper

Yo-Yo May plays for Anderson Cooper

Click on the photo to watch the video on CNN.

Visit Mesa & Mesa Arts Center – Zuill Bailey Plays the Prelude to Bach Suite No. 1

Amit Peled and Students – Happy to Play Together Again!

Apocalyptica and Jacoby Shaddix – White Room (Official Video)

Auri Forda Cover of Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield

Clare Hall, Cambridge – Cellist Adrian Bradbury

Watch the live performance at Clare Hall, from 10th April 2021.


  • Bach, Suite no 6: Prelude, Allemande,
    • Glass, Song VI
  • Bach, Suite no 6: Courante, Sarabande
    • Glass, Song III
  • Bach, Suite no 6: Gavotte, Gigue
  • Vasks, Pianissimo
  • Bach, Suite no. 1: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Minuets I & II, Gigue

Your Turn

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