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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 19 June

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

British Home Office Blunder over Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Passport

This week’s biggest cello news story was Sheku Kanneh-Mason having his passport, valid through 2029, canceled after he applied for a second one.

With Brexit, touring artists can have second passports to assist with visa applications and international work permits. (Sometimes such applications take weeks, and artists can’t be without a passport while on tour.)

Sheku applied at the same time as his sister, Isata Kanneh-Mason, and her application went through without incident. Unfortunately, the problem with Sheku’s passport put his U.S. tour at risk.

Sheku reached out to the world via social media, as you can see in his Facebook post above. The media picked up the story from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Fortunately, the situation has been resolved with the British Home Office apologizing for the “human error” that caused it. This was quite a big blunder – canceling the valid passport of a British citizen who, to name a few of his accomplishments:

  • was the first black winner of the BBC Young Musician award (2016)
  • played at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (2018)
  • is the first cellist in history to reach the top 10 of the UK album chart (2020)
  • was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) (2020 New Year Honours)
  • has already influenced so many young people to play the cello that the phenomenon is now being called “the Sheku effect.”
  • is a Decca recording artist

And he’s only 22!

We are pleased that the situation has been remedied. Sheku – thank you for all you do, particularly in the cello world. We’re glad you will be able to tour and hope to see you soon.

Here is just a small sample of the news coverage of this story:

Julian Lloyd Webber Appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for His Services to Music

Another big story this week was the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Cellist, conductor, broadcaster, former principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and founder of the In Harmony music education program, Julian Lloyd Webber, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to music.

After being made an OBE, he expressed his concerns for musicians under the new post-Brexit touring rules. British artists are no longer guaranteed visa-free travel. He said:

“I was just so lucky to be able to go to the great cities like Vienna and Salzburg and Amsterdam and Paris and not have to fill in a single thing, just show my passport . . . We are going to become more and more parochial and go back to how it was many, many years ago.”

Read the full article by Tom Horton.

Cellist Amit Peled Collaborates with The Station Foundation

Cellist Amit Peled has been in Bozeman, Montana, with his students in a Mount Vernon Virtuosi CelloGang Residency at Base Camp Jimmy at The Station Foundation. He told us he is:

“being inspired by the philosophy of the place (a healing camp for special operations US forces and their families, that have come back to society from missions with mental traumas) we are sharing music, transforming and blossoming by the day . . .
We have worked during the residency on the similarities between the two worlds – anxiety, adrenaline, high level of performances in stressful situations, dealing with daily life routines on top of the intensity of our hours and hours of practice, and the deep value of service to people via our craft – performances/missions.
MOREOVER, finding comfort in the healing of live music making, meditation, yoga, and connecting to nature around us as important tools to reestablish a direct line to one’s soul and emotions that might have been lost for those brave soldiers during their service.”
Amit Peled and his Mount Vernon Virtuosi CelloGang at Camp Jimmy in Boizeman, Montana.

Amit Peled and his Mount Vernon Virtuosi CelloGang at Camp Jimmy in Bozeman, Montana. Photo courtesy Amit Peled.

This extraordinary experience is being recorded, and Peled told us that a documentary film would be produced in the coming months. For Peled, this is
“a dream . . . that has come true and was a long time in the planning. “
Due to the pandemic, the program has been limited to working with the staff at Base Camp Jimmy, who are all veterans. Next summer, he plans to collaborate with veterans returning home from their missions and with their families, too.
We look forward to seeing more videos and the entire documentary, Professor Peled!

Artwork of Multi-Talented Cellists Featured in Festival

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 18 June

Nathaniel Boyd’s Golden Fields (Oil on canvas, 20 x 25cm)

Cellists Nathaniel Boyd, Nunziatina del Vecchio, Clare O’Connell, and Moray Welsh have their artwork featured in the Fermata Festival, 25 – 27 June. Along with artwork by other musicians, an entire visual art exhibition is being held along with a three-day London chamber music festival.

This combination of music and visual art was the idea of violinist Yuri Kalnits and cellist Julia Morneweg who run ChamberMusicBox,

a collective of British and European artists promoting concerts across the UK. The festival will form part of the 2021 Kensington and Chelsea Art Week and the exhibition of 100 artworks created by classical musicians during lockdown has been curated by gallery owner and arts consultant Alan Kluckow.

Cellist Moray Welsh said:

“Painting acts as a foil to playing the cello and a refuge from the turbulent exterior world around us. As an activity in which one can totally immerse oneself without parameters of time, or the demands of an audience, I find it richly rewarding.”

Cellist Nathaniel Boyd stated:

“I always had the idea somewhere in the back of my mind that art would be a big part of my life, practically speaking, but training as a classical musician is all-consuming and so it wasn’t until later in my twenties that I began to dedicate more time to my art.”

See the gallery of artwork for sale here.

Cellist Sol Gabetta Will Be the Soloist at This Year’s Nobel Prize Concert

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 18 June

Cellist Sol Gabetta will be the soloist at this year’s Nobel Prize Concert in December. She will be performing with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Nobel Prize Concert is an annual concert that is part of the Nobel Week official program celebrating that year’s Nobel Laureates. It is presented by Nobel Prize Outreach in cooperation with Konserthuset Stockholm.

Click here to read the full story on the Nobel Prize website.

Cellist Zara Nelsova Featured

Zara Nelsova

Read about the great Zara Nelsova (24 December 1917 – 10 October 2002) in an article featured last week on

Nelsova was born Sara Katznelson.

Her Jewish parents and two older sisters emigrated from Russia to Winnipeg, lured by the offer of free land in Canada. Her classically-trained flautist father, Gregor Katznelson was classified as a farmer. She was born on December 24, 1917 and her Father recognized Sara’s music potential at age four. He converted a viola into a miniature cello, and as her teacher, helped her become an accomplished soloist. He later changed the family name to Nelsov.

In 1955, Nelsova became a U.S. citizen.

She said:

“For me, playing music is about sharing, sharing my love for music and sharing my love for what we are as human beings. The minute I start to play, I’m in a different world, and I’m so caught up in the music and in my desire to share it with the audience that all else fades away. The overwhelming feeling I get is a sense of connection with each person in the audience; I want the audience members to know how much I love what I am doing and how much I love them. And how do I do it? I do it by trying to communicate my love through beautiful music.”

Cellist Laura Armstrong Perseveres with Cello Studies and Calls for Changes to the Highway Code After Terrible Accident

Laura Armstrong

Photo: Irwin Mitchell

Cellist Laura Armstrong nearly lost her right arm in a horrific accident in London in October 2019. After knocking her off of her bicycle, the driver ran over her bow arm. Even after multiple surgeries, she is still recovering. At the time of the accident, she had just started her master’s degree at the Royal College of Music studying with Raphael Wallfisch.

On 10 June 2021, she called for changes to be made in the UK rules of the road to give greater protection to cyclists.

She is continuing to pursue her cello studies and is a 2021 Royal Philharmonic Society Julius Isserlis Scholar. She said:

“I plan to use the RPS Isserlis Scholarship to study in Berlin with Ludwig Quandt, first principle cellist of the Berliner Philharmoniker. For me, studying with Ludwig Quandt is of particular benefit, as I was badly injured in a road accident. This has resulted in me having no feeling in my right hand and bowing arm, therefore his guidance on inventive ways to discover new methods of playing for me will be invaluable. The extra support with my injury will be so helpful and, I hope, will help me find new techniques to work around my difficulties.”

We hope her case leads to changes in traffic laws to protect people in the future. We wish Laura all the best in her continued cello education and admire her perseverance. She is an inspiration!

Read the full article by Ross Lydall.

Congratulations to Cellist Jeremy Crosmer, Winner of a Ford Musician Community Award

Cellist Jeremy Crosmer

Congratulations to cellist and composer Jeremy Crosmer, winner of a Ford Musician Community Award, for his contribution to Kadima Mental Health Services’ Creative Expressions Program. He has been a cellist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 2017.

Congratulations to all of the winners. Read the full list and learn more in the full article on The Violin Channel.

Congratulations to Cellist William Tan, Third Prize Winner of the 2021 Klein International String Competition

Congratulations to all of the winners of the 36th edition of the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, especially to 16-year-old cellist William Tan, who won third prize.


Matt Haimovitz Plays Lisa Bielawa’s Missa Primavera

Christopher Gilley – The Wait for Justice

Congratulations to cellist-composer Christopher Gilley on his new piece and video! Be sure to see the listening guide in the description. Here is what the cellist-composer says:

This started off as a school recording project where I was to read Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and then translate its themes into music. But after hearing the song, my teacher [Lilli Benko] encouraged me and my classmate to film a video for this song and make it publicly viewable.

– Christopher Gilley, cellist, composer, and producer
– Haden VonCanon, camera/editing
– Members of the Veritas School (Richmond) High School Orchestra

Cello Day Scotland 2021 – Scottish Folk Set

Congratulations to the organizers and participants in this online cello event! We wish you all success in the future. Click here for more information about this wonderful program for young Cellists of Edinburgh, North Ayrshire & Renfrewshire.

Here is one of the performance videos from Cello Day Scotland 2021:

Mrs. Jamieson’s Favourite & Drowsy Maggie

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