Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.
The Best US Election News Yet? Cellist Mike Block Rallies Musicians to Play at the Polls
“Practicing and playing music brings me joy, and I’m not able to share that through concerts right now. Wouldn’t it be cool if I went down to the polling station and just played music all day for everyone who was voting?”
The mission: to station musicians outside as many polling places as possible on Election Day. By the time the [Boston] Globe reached him — eight days after his initial idea — hundreds of musicians had signed up, representing 32 states and the District of Columbia.
For more information or to sign up, go to the Play for the Vote website.
Yo-Yo Ma was working at Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA, on 20 October. Many bystanders were trying to get photos and videos, but rangers
made a game effort playing whack-a-mole every time a phone or camera was pointed in Ma’s direction.
Ma was working on a collaborative project with artist Jim Denevan for the World Economic Forum in Davos next year.
Why Susan Sarandon Fakes So Badly on the Cello in The Witches of Eastwick
“I suddenly had to learn to play the cello, and I had never played an instrument in my life. They said they would sue me if I left so I didn’t have much choice!”
This scene is still memorable.
How a Seattle Symphony Cellist Brings Classical Music to Social Media
Nathan Chan is a 26-year-old musician recording his own videos, breaking his cello out of the classical world and onto YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. One second he’s “going rogue” backstage at the Seattle Symphony, re-creating the two opening notes of Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” Next he’s covering the theme song from this year’s videogame hit, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Cellist Anastasia Kobekina Signed to Liu Kotow Management
A student of Jerome Pernoo at the Conservatoire of Paris and Kristin von der Goltz at the Frankfurter Hochschule, Anastasia is a former prize winner at the Tchaikovsky International Cello Competition and was recently awarded the Swiss Winter Music Festival’s Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann.
Dreamstage, Created by Thomas Hesse, Cellist Jan Vogler, and Scott Chasin
“The pandemic has basically shut down the live music business,” said Thomas Hesse, the former president of Sony Music’s Global Digital Business. “It’s a $30 billion industry that’s just evaporated into nothing.” Hesse created a new company called DREAMSTAGE with classical cellist Jan Vogler and tech visionary Scott Chasin. [Dreamstage] “[a]llows artists to stream to their fans live and sell tickets for that,” said Hesse, who is CEO of the new venture.
Chamber Music Sedona Donates Four New Cellos to High School
As Sedona Red Rock High School launched the 2020-21 school year, its students received a generous gift that will enhance the school’s music program for years to come: four new, professionally built cellos and teaching accessories donated by Chamber Music Sedona.
The cellos were obtained with the help of a $5,000 donation from six Chamber Music Sedona patrons and a nearly $1,500 matching grant from the Classics for Kids Foundation, a Holliston, Mass.-based nonprofit organization that aims to empower young people through music by supporting children’s string programs.
To learn more about the organization’s music education programs, visit https://chambermusicsedona.org/education/.
Leyla McCalla Reissues her Langston Hughes tribute, Vari-Colored Songs on Smithsonian Folkways
McCalla celebrates the creative spirit of Langston Hughes, an influential African American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist, best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance cultural movement.
“The nuances of Hughes’ poetry drew me into his work and inspired me to set his poems to music. When I started writing these songs, I had no idea that I was even a singer. And perhaps therein lies the lesson: some of these poems were written in the 1920’s but the truths laid bare continue to reveal to us who we are.”
Matt Haimovitz and Mari Kodama to Release New Album: Mon Ami, Mon Amour
The vibrant, expressive musical palette of cellist Matt Haimovitz and the graceful insight of pianist Mari Kodama meld in MON AMI, Mon amour, the new album from the PENTATONE Oxingale Series, available internationally on November 6, 2020.
“Poulenc illuminates the human instinct to connect, to engage, to share life and love with each other,” Haimovitz notes. Recalling the recording sessions, he continues: “It feels like a dream … making music without a care in the world – certainly with no worry of viruses and social distancing. We played the music of French masters to our heart’s content … the memories of friendship, and once again being transported to this pictorial sound world, takes me out of the oppression of this moment.”
Alexis Mahler: Away
The beauty and power that Alexis Mahler creates with her voice and cello is simply mesmerizing. With patient and confident phrasing, a soothing resonance of vulnerability and strength, Mahler has delivered a poignant and intimate EP titled Away that draws us directly into her being. Songs of heartbreak, taking space, rebuilding a life, self care, or maybe — self survival. These are pertinent emotions in a world that is pleading to wake up tomorrow more empathetic than it did today.
Cello Meditations by Sevenism
barely changing cello drones
drift in and out of awareness.
Released 21 October 2020.
Mike Block: The Edge of the Atmosphere
Mike Block has been in the news a lot this week with his latest album, his drive to bring music to the US polls, and an upcoming Livestream performance. Block said:
“Everything was recorded pre-pandemic. I didn’t write these songs more than two weeks before they were recorded. The idea was to keep them super-fresh, essentially to avoid too much overthinking. I wanted to feed on the band’s instincts and my instincts, and just have fun with it all, and see where it ended.”
Cellist Sollee’s “Slackwater” Laments Climate Change in Forsythe Refuge
Premiering this week is “Slackwater,” the newest Songscape song and video to be released by Sustain Music and Nature, this time featuring original music by cellist and Kentucky native, Ben Sollee.
Sollee visited the Great Bay in May 2018 with marine biologists from the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Rutgers University Marine Field Station. Sollee said
“One of the things that struck me during our visit, is how dynamic this area is – the freshwater meeting the salt water, the ever changing coastline, and the waterways. It’s a place that invites change, that welcomes diversity. It’s a place sort of in between. Slackwater describes the moment in between the tides. There is something immediately captivating about the idea of this time of transition being a moment of stillness. At this point in my life, as an artist and a father, it calls me to reflect on my personal relationships – especially my relationship with my son, who, at the age of 10, is sort of in a transition himself, from the child he’s been to the young man he’s going to become.”
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