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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 23 April

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Yo-Yo Ma in the News This Week

In addition to publicity for his upcoming online performance (see our events listing) and the Ask Me Anything interview below (under podcasts/broadcasts), Yo-Yo Ma has appeared in the following news stories:

National Geographic – Why Yo-Yo Ma Thinks Culture and Music can Help Protect the Planet

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

In Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2019, Yo-Yo Ma plays a “Music in the Mangroves” concert, to help scientists and community members drive home the importance of saving threatened mangrove ecosystems. PHOTOGRAPH BY AUSTIN MANN.

National Geographic featured several artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, on an Earth Day Eve (21 April 2021) celebration. You can watch (or re-watch) the broadcast here (Yo-Yo Ma is at 29:14).

Author Claudia Kalb writes about Yo-Yo Ma’s environmental work as part of his Bach Project:

The cello virtuoso has been playing Bach concerts on six continents. At every stop, he joins activities to support social justice and environmental causes . . . Ma believes that culture—which he defines broadly as the place where the arts, sciences, and society converge—can help assuage discord, strengthen community bonds, promote social justice, and protect the planet.

Read the full National Geographic article by Claudia Kalb here.

Yo-Yo Ma Speaks at the “Music and Human Connection” Event at Harvard

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma at an event in 2014 — joined six Harvard students to discuss the importance of art in bridging various personal and global gaps in a virtual event hosted by Harvard’s Office of the Arts on Monday. By Y. Kit Wu

Yo-Yo Ma joined a panel of six Harvard students to discuss music and human connections both personal and global.

“The first thing that I had to get rid of in performing, which is about essentially being in an unstable environment that you can’t control, is to get rid of the idea of perfection,” he said.

Read the full story by Felicia He.

Breaking Racial and Age Barriers: Cellist Justin Y. Tseng Seeks Medford City Council Seat

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

Cellist Justin Y. Tseng, a junior at Harvard, wants to give back to his community. In the past, he gave back by assisting his middle school orchestra teacher in giving cello lessons to students. Late last month, he announced that he is running for Medford City Council.

Tseng, a first-generation Taiwanese American . . . said he hopes to address issues such as school funding and housing affordability, as well as serve as the first elected City Council member of color in decades.

Click here to read the full article by Alexandra N. Wilson.

Super Cello: Hero Practice at The Kennedy Center 

Cellist and composer David Teie has been working with creator, writer, and illustrator, Scottie Rowell, and animator Georgia Bergin to create Super Cello: Hero Practice at The Kennedy Center.

About this new digital educational program:

In Super Cello: Hero Practice, practice makes possible in music and in saving the day. Scottie Rowell of Atlanta’s Teller Productions and NSO cellist David Teie join forces to tell the story of an ordinary musician discovering the hidden powers of music to become…Super Cello! Recommended for ages 3+.

Super Cello is available to all educators (including home schoolers) with registration, and streaming access includes access to Closed Captioning and Audio Description accommodations as well as companion education materials. Super Cello is streaming through June 27th.

Find out more about this innovative program here.

My savings story: “It felt great to finally hold my cello”

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

Emmanuel Odusami was featured in The Guardian in a story about saving money. He saved up for his own cello.

“It had been my dream to learn and play the cello since I was a teenager. I’ve always been interested in classical music. I studied it and I loved listening to the cello. The instrument really speaks to me.”

After saving enough money, he was able to get his first cello and already

he’s found the cello has a way of bringing people together. “I’m currently working at a vaccination centre. This week I found out one of my colleagues is a cello teacher. She very kindly fixed my cello.”

We wish Mr. Odusami all the best on his cello journey!

The Violin Channel’s Illuminate Series Features Cellist Sterling Elliott

Learn more about this wonderful series on The Violin Channel.

Inspiration: 14-Year-Old Cellist Sincere Cuttino

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

Sincere Cuttino lets nothing get in the way of his cello studies.

He started playing cello when he joined his middle school orchestra in the sixth grade and he rapidly discovered that music was his passion.

This 14-year-old musician is blind but believes

that you don’t need sight to be successful.

Sincere Cuttino – we wish you all the best with your cello studies!

The Violin Channel Features Cellist Gabriel Martins

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

23-year-old American-Brazilian cellist, Gabriel Martins plays with sophistication beyond his years.

A graduate of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where he studied with Ralph Kirshbaum, and a current student of Laurence Lesser at the New England Conservatory, Gabriel is a former major prize winner of the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, Sphinx Competition, Schadt String Competition, Orford Music Award, and the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians.

The Violin Channel has done a wonderful piece on him with a number of videos.

Strings Features Cellist Brandon Leonard

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

15-year-old cellist Brandon Leonard won

second prize in the 2020 National Sphinx Competition and Center Stage Strings Young Artist Solo Competition. He has also won the Samuel Fordis Concerto Competition and will be soloing with the Georgia Philharmonic. In addition to his participation in such summer music programs as the Tanglewood Junior Strings Intensive, Leonard is a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and has been featured on NPR’s From the Top.

Read Brandon Leonard’s article, “Stage Presence: From Competitions to Orchestral Concerts, Every Performance has been Unforgettable” in the March-April issue of Strings. 


Podcasts / Broadcasts

NPR Ask Me Anything – Yo-Yo Ma on Beginner’s Mind

Yo-Yo Ma discusses his new series on Audible, Beginner’s Mind. On the show, Yo-Yo Ma plays a game about contemporary pop songs that quote classical music.

NPR – Classical WMUK – Interview with Cellist Jordan Hamilton

Cellist Jordan Hamilton talks about his new album, Vibrations, the DIY music scene, The Green Room Series, instrumental compositions, improvisation, and more. Click here to listen to this two-part interview.

WBEZ Chicago: Reset – Cellist Tomeka Reid On This Year’s Virtual Chicago Jazz String Summit

This year’s Chicago Jazz String Summit is online. See this week’s events listing for more information. Listen to this interview of jazz cellist Tomeka Reid on Reset.

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

Click the image to listen to this interview.

NCPR – Promoting Women Composers – Cellist Hannah Holman and Pianist Réne Lecuona

Monica Sandreczki interviews cellist Hannah Holman and pianist Réne Lecuona. Click here to listen to find out about “Cello Magic” and more of this wonderful duo.

Art and Seek – Texas Cellos

The Texas Cellos have been in the news again this week as their in-person concert approaches. Click on the image below to listen to an interview with the Texas Cellos Artistic Director Joseph Kuipers.

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 23 April

Click on the image to hear Art and Seek.


Excerpt of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

Here is an excerpt of composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s 2020 cello concerto.  Read more about it on The Violin Channel.

Commissioned by Sebrina Alfonso and the South Florida Symphony for cellist Zuill Bailey, Taaffe Zwilich’s concerto is dedicated to Alfonso and Bailey and also written in memory of cellists Leonard Rose and Mstislav Rostropovich.

Taaffe Zwilich said:

“One of the things I particularly love about the cello is that it has virtually the entire range of the human voice, from the lowest bass to the highest soprano — and the voice of the Cello can transverse the whole vocal realm with seeming ease.”

Eternal Breath – A New Video by a Rock Star, Jazz Pianist, and Cellist

Screenshot from new video with cellist Li-Wei Qin

Click on the image to watch the new video with cellist Li-Wei Qin.

Rock singer-songwriter and trumpet player Cui Jian, jazz pianist Luo Ning, and cellist Li-Wei Qin created this improvisational work, Eternal Breath. Each musician performed in a different location.

Cellist Li-Wei Qin, a touring classical cellist

says, it’s an interesting and challenging project for a classical musician to improvise. He is also intrigued by Luo’s ideas about dedicating the musical work to people who share similar emotions during the pandemic.

Paganini’s Variations on One String on a Theme by Moses (Excerpt)

Performed by Nathan Chan and Eric Han as a teaser for their upcoming concert with the Seattle Symphony when they will perform Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos.

Ed Sheeran – Shape of You (Cello Cover) by Håvard Bilsbak

Performed by cellist Håvard Bilsbak, assisted by his niece, Signe, and the dog, Speedy.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra – Associate Principal Cello Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron Plays Bach

Cellist Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron performed the Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major in honor of the patients, clinicians, and staff at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Gaspar Cassadó Suite for Solo Cello – Cellist Eugene Lin

Yann Tiersen La Valse d’ Amelie (Cello Cover) – Cellist Marco Pescosolido

Music performed with cello and Boss rc300 Loopstation.

Hindemith Sonata for Cello Solo, Op. 25, No. 3 – Cellist Yotam Baruch

  • Yotam Baruch – cello
  • Renata Bueno Tavares – video production and editing
  • Balazs Orban – sound editing and production assistance
  • Chen Rosen – production assistance

Star Wars Suite Suite for Cello Solo – 1. Main Theme – GnuS Cello

Link to purchase the sheet music in the video comments on YouTube.

Radiohead – Creep (Cello Cover) by Alfian Emir Adytia

Performed by Alfian Emir Adytia (cello) & Kanako Abe (piano).

Bob Dylan Blowing in the Wind (Cello Cover) – Cellist Patrick Dexter Plays in the Irish Countryside

Your Turn

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