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

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Yo-Yo Ma Celebrates 2nd Vaccine Dose with Impromptu Performance

By far the biggest cello story of the week was about the impromptu cello performance given by world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. After his second vaccination, he played Bach and Schubert while waiting the required 15 minutes. This small act of kindness echoed around the world via national and international news organizations.

According to The Guardian:

When Ma had first visited the clinic for his first shot, he did so quietly, taking in the surroundings, staff said. But brought his cello when he returned for the second shot.

Watch part of the concert:

Listen to the story on NPR:

Julian Lloyd Webber in the NewsCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 19 March

This past week The Telegraph ran a wonderful article about cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, in particular about his early life before he was famous. He recalled how his father William gave up composing because the type of music he wrote was not fashionable at the time. He heard his father crying at night, listening to old recordings of his music. This fed his determination to succeed.

“I was determined not to leave my talent, if I had one, unfulfilled.” – Julian Lloyd Webber

Interview: Sheku Kanneh-Mason Discusses Dvořák’s Cello Concerto

Former BBC Young Musician winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason was interviewed by Jamie MacDougall ahead of his performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concert at Glasgow City Halls. Watch the full performance on BBC iPlayer and listen on BBC Radio 3 & BBC Sounds from 7.30pm on Thursday 11 March 2021

Cellist Isang Enders: Pandemic is Wake-Up Call for MusiciansCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 19 March

Korean-German cellist Isang Enders reflects on the impact of the pandemic. He told The Korea Times:

“There was a tendency (among musicians) to neglect the audience. It’s all about the music. It’s all about the hours, and you have to live to honor the scores. But that is not true … We (musicians) are absolutely useless (during the pandemic). I could just as well work for Delivery Hero. I really wanted to come to Korea to play actually … I hope that the audience can feel my appreciation. I appreciate that the audience is coming.”

Click here to read the full article by Park Ji-won.

Forgotten Cellists – Harvey ShapiroCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 19 March

Janet Horvath wrote a great article about cellist Harvey Shapiro, the “cello doctor” on InterludeShapiro was a beloved teacher at Julliard for more than 30 years.

An old-school style teacher, he could be irascible, critical, demanding, and known to spew choice profanities. The characteristic Havana cigar hanging from his lips, and a glass of fine scotch nearby, his goal was always for the student to “fully realize their potential” whatever it took.

Yo-Yo Ma on Audible

Yo-Yo Ma will be on the Audible series Words + Music on 8 April, in an episode called “Yo-Yo Ma: Beginner’s Mind.” Here are the details:

Yo-Yo Ma: Beginner’s Mind premieres on April 8th as the GRAMMY Award-winning cellist reflects on some of his most formative life experiences through stories and music that inspire listeners to embrace culture’s role in imagining and building a better world. Ma touches on themes that are resonant and relevant to this moment, like the virtues of an open mind, empathy, and collaboration across borders. Audible is proud to offer Beginner’s Mind for free to all U.S. listeners at release.

Foundation North Gave $25,000 to the Tironui Music Trust for Instruments for South Auckland StudentsCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 19 March

In New Zealand, Foundation North approved $25,000 for the Tironui Music Trust to enable them to offer musical instruments to South Auckland students.

Since 2006 the Tironui Music Trust, a unique programme in New Zealand, has enabled up to 2500 primary school students from South Auckland schools to learn a musical instrument and play in a band or string orchestra.

Currently the Trust owns and maintains 475 stringed instruments and 172 band instruments: flute, trumpet, trombone/tromba, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, violin, viola, cello and double bass.

R.I.P. Polish Cellist Anna Wójtowicz-Pawluśkiewicz

Polish cellist Anna Wójtowicz-Pawluśkiewicz passed away at the age of 73. Famous as the “lovely cellist” (Prześliczna wiolonczelistka) in the song by the Skaldowie (also known as The Skalds), she played in the band Anawa.

Here she is in Anawa in the early days of the band.

Read more about her life here.

Congratulations, Cellists!

Two Cellists Among Recipients of 2021 Avery Fisher Career Grants

Oliver Herbert and Sterling Elliott

Oliver Herbert and Sterling Elliott

Congratulations to all of the winners of the Avery Fisher Career Grants this year, but especially to the cellists: Sterling Elliott and Oliver Herbert. Each receives $25,000 to use to advance his career.

The Avery Fisher Artist Program, established by the late Avery Fisher in 1974, is intended to help young artists in the early stages of their careers. The Program, supporting instrumentalists and chamber ensembles who must be US citizens or permanent US residents, provides recognition in two categories: Career Grants, given annually, and the Prize, given less frequently as the highest form of recognition for excellence and contributions to classical music.

Congratulations, Sterling Elliott and Oliver Herbert!

Read more here in The Strad.

Caltech Chemistry Student and Cellist Andrew Zhou Selected as Churchill ScholarCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 19 March

Congratulations to Andrew Zhou, a senior at Caltech, for being named a 2021-22 Churchill Scholar to study at the University of Cambridge.

We wish him all the best in his studies in England!


Steven Isserlis – Music in Proust’s Salons

Available on CD, MP3, and streaming. Here is the description from Amazon:

With this programme of music for cello and piano, Steven Isserlis and Connie Shih transport us to the world immortalized in Marcel Prousts a la recherche du temps perdu the Parisian high society and its glittering salons. For the composers of the time these provided a perfect platform for the introduction of new works, performed by the finest musicians in France for a sympathetic, educated and rich (!) audience. And for the music-loving Proust they offered countless opportunities to meet the composers that he so admired (and others that he may have admired a bit less).

Il Violoncello Di Corelli

Release Date: 2 April, currently available for pre-order. Here is the promotional description:

Alessandro Palmeri presents a compilation of works from the early solo literature for cello by composers such as Domenico Gabrielli, Giuseppe Pietro Gaetano Boni, Giuseppe Colombi and Giovanni Battista Vitali. The works on this recording mark the transition from the epoch of the violone to the epoch of the violoncello. With them, the cello was ultimately freed from the continuo role to which it had previously been limited.


The Thistle & Shamrock: Classic Counterpoint

Show description from NPR:

Join host Fiona Ritchie at the place where folk meets baroque. Included is music from baroque cellist Carina Drury and pianist Antoni O’Breskey from his album When Bach was an Irishman. The flavors of renaissance music come through with Maddy Prior and John Renbourne.

Michael Lee – Tony Rogers and the Covid Cello Project – “Why don’t I just invite the world?”

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 19 March

Most of you are familiar with the Covid Cello Project. Hear how it started in Michael Lee’s interview with director Tony Rogers.


Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor: “Here Comes the Sun”

Camille Thomas Plays the Song of the Birds at the Musée Hotel Solvay

Fado – Stijn Kuppens

Stijn Kuppens released a new collaborative video this week, working with dancers. He explained:

“Pélé Van Eemeren was inspired by Fado and worked out a creative choreography for her dance company Com.plete. The collaboration with the dancers was inspiring and overwhelming. Liv and Pélé brought mystery to the clip and when the others dancers joined, they show elegance and passion. It was a pleasure to work together.” (Stijn Kuppens, January 2021)

    • Fado is composed and played by Stijn Kuppens
    • Choreography by Pélé Van Eemeren
    • Dance Company Com.plete: Pélé Vaneemeren, Liv Huygens, Britt Claes, Amber Michiels, Laetitia Janssens & Julia Bongaerts
    • Imaging by amai nie! producties & Stijn Kuppens

Cover of “On the Nature of Daylight” by Cremaine Booker (That Cello Guy)

with Caitlin Edwards

Music for Food (Boston Chapter): Celebration Concert for Cellist Lluís Claret’s 70th Birthday

This concert includes works by Beethoven, Purcell, Bach, Bruch, and more. Happy birthday, Professor Claret!

Here is some information about Music for Food:

Music for Food is a musician-led initiative for local hunger relief. Our concerts raise resources and awareness in the fight against hunger, empowering any musicians who wish to use their artistry to further social justice.

You can donate to support Music for Food here.

Giuseppe Carabellese Plays Bach at the Rivalta Abbey

(From last year but recently posted on Facebook.)

The Violin Channel Vanguard Series – Sophia Bacelar, Jamaii Melvin, and Noreen Polera

The program includes works by Rachmaninoff, Piazzolla, Chopin, J.S. Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mancini, and Saint-Saëns.

Tina Guo Joins the Music-Based Video Game Of Bird and Cage

Heavy metal + gaming + cello

According to R. J. Frometa in Vents Magazine:

The game is truly a new way to experience the power of heavy metal music like never before. The concept album is viewed through first-person gameplay and you — the player — shape the narrative. The dark and twisted game is specifically tailored to the music. Symphonic metal will lead you through a story of trauma, violence, and madness.

7th-Grader Griffin Frost Plays Saint-Saëns

Your Turn

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