Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.
Concerts for Cows: Moo-ving Performances by Danish Cello Ensemble
The most popular cello news this week comes from Lund, Denmark. The Hereford cows of farmers Mogens and Louise Haugaard enjoy regular recitals organized by British cellist Jacob Shaw, who runs the Scandinavian Cello School.
While touring Japan, Shaw learned that some Japanese farmers play music for their wagyu cows, raising them to produce exceptionally tender beef. After discussing this with the Haugaards, they started playing classical music for their cows on a boombox in November of 2020.
In addition, Shaw and any resident cello students go to the barn in full concert dress and play cello ensemble music for the cows. The animals are drawn to the music but have discerning tastes. (Apparently, they are not moo-ved by Dvořák!)
Here is a short clip from NPR:
Read more here:
Classical Music Should Not Fear Change
Read this thought-provoking article by Nicholas Kenyon that appeared last week in The Telegraph. He writes about the evolution of culture and embracing the “sparky, vibrant mixture” of traditions that exist today. Here is a short excerpt:
How do we judge what is important to us? We look around the concert and opera programmes of the world and we see increasing diversity, certainly – but also far too great a uniformity, based on the music that has become accepted as being at the heart of the Western tradition.
As a culture, we have overlooked women composers of talent just because their music was not prominently performed; so too music by black and minority ethnic composers.
Now these are emerging into the mainstream, leading to a long-overdue recognition of their importance as well as their influence in creating the sounds of the 21st century.
Tracing the Truth: Stradivari’s Early Cellos
Are you fascinated by Stradivari’s cellos? Read this new article by Philip Ihle in The Strad. Here is an excerpt:
What cello moulds were used in the Stradivari workshop? The question has long gone unanswered, despite the number of artefacts – and even intact moulds – that survive. Philip Ihle examines 17 of the cellos made before 1700 to find out how many moulds may have been used before the mighty ‘B form’ came into play.
Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi: Cellist, Teacher, Suntory Hall President
“I lived for almost 50 years in the United States and Canada, teaching and playing concerts and so on. My professor at Indiana University was the great, great cellist and mentor Janos Starker: when I left the United States to come back to Japan, he said to me ‘Tsuyoshi, don’t forget you’re a cellist’. I think that really tells me everything. Yes, I do lots of things, but whatever I do is from the point of view of the cellist. I’m not very young any more – not young at all, in fact – but I am still able to perform and I enjoy performing and I want to perform.”
Tsutsumi taught at Indiana University for 18 years before becoming president of the Toho Gakuen School of Music. He noted that:
The main difference between his experiences in the US and Japan comes down to the Japanese tendency towards deference. “In Japan, we have this tradition of professors or teachers as somebody you look up to, somebody really great, somebody you really have to follow. If the students in the US or Canada don’t like something that I say, they just say ‘Oh, Mr. Tsutsumi, I don’t think so, I don’t like it’. And then I have to tell them why I feel it should be this way, and there is a going back and forth. But when I am back in Japan, they will just say ‘Yes, sir’. So when I teach in Japan, I try to ask as many questions as possible of the students so that I can understand their personality or their opinion, what they really want.”
Ophélie Gaillard Cellist: Queen of Versatility and Invention
Cellist Ophélie Gaillard is a marvel. Her many recordings, indicate a versatility that is rare and includes everything from solo Bach on Baroque cello, to Brahms Sonatas, concertos, collaborations with dancers, accordion, bandoneon, and singers, and playing in a tree! Born in Paris, she graduated from the Paris Conservatoire with three first prizes: in cello, Baroque cello, and chamber music. Ophélie releases an album every year for Aparté [PIAS] which top the French charts. I had a chance to catch up with her recently and our conversation was fascinating.
Philadelphia Orchestra Cellist Priscilla Lee Getting Used to the Digital Stage
We’ve all made adjustments and adaptations during the pandemic. This article is a wonderful glimpse into the life of Priscilla Lee as a professional orchestral cellist. Here is a short excerpt:
“One of the big challenges for string players is that we have to perform with seriously reduced string players,” said Lee. “Normally, it’s ten cellos for most pieces, but now it’s just three cellos. It’s because of the need for spacing, so that we all feel safe.”
By now, Lee’s accustomed to performing with a mask. Then, too, there’s the plexiglass separating the musicians.
“It was difficult to hear each other at first, especially because we were so distant,” said Lee. “But now, there’s not as much plexiglass as at the start.”
When We Speak: Cellist Katherine Philp Showcases Australian Female Composers
Cellist Katherine Philp is a champion for Australian female composers. She was featured this week in an article promoting the concert she gave today. Here is an excerpt:
Ms Philp says the gender divide in music programs for the major Performing Arts companies across the world is stark. A recent study found that 97 per cent of works performed by the worlds of leading orchestras were composed by men.
Some of the disparity can be explained, she says, because works are performed by composers who were writing three and four hundred years ago.
“But it also means that even within contemporary music programs, women are underrepresented.”
Beginnings and Endings
Baldwin Wallace University Appoints Dr. Khari Joyner as New Assistant Professor of Cello
Congratulations to Dr. Khari Joyner on his new position as Assistant Professor of Cello at Baldwin Wallace University!
A graduate of the Juilliard School, Khari previously had teaching affiliations with Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, and the Mannes Preparatory Division.
He was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund in 2017-18 and has performed for Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
“Extremely elated to officially announce my joining the faculty as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Cello this fall at Baldwin Wallace University!” said Joyner in a Facebook post. “I am incredibly humbled and privileged to be continuing the legacy of the immeasurable Regina Mushabac, who has been at the helm of the cello studio at BW in her 46-year tenure.
Cellist Charles Snavely of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to Retire
Cellist Charles Snavely is retiring from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra after 51 years. We wish him all the best in his retirement!
R.I.P Cellist Sidney Denbin, Age 100
Sidney Denbin played in the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1948 and also played with the Philharmonia and English National Opera, retiring at the age of 82. Here is an excerpt of his obituary by his grandson, Oli de Botton:
My grandfather Sidney Denbin, who has died aged 100, had a life that took him from “humble beginnings” (as he would say) to playing his cello in the world’s greatest concert halls with revered orchestras and renowned conductors. He knew London when travel was largely by horse and cart, and yet by the time he was 60 he had crossed the world on 747 jets.
We send our condolences to his surviving family and friends. R.I.P. Sidney Denbin.
R.I.P. Gillian Lawrence (née Rushton), Age 87
Gillian Lawrence trained originally as a microbiologist but was better known as a cellist, double-bass player, teacher, and keen gardener. We send our condolences to her surviving family and friends. R.I.P. Gillian Lawrence.
Podcasts / Broadcasts
Boynton, Ma Join Forces for Jungle Night, A Book with Soundtrack, Video
NPR Weekend Edition Author Interviews – with Scott Simon
ABC Classic: Tamara-Anna Cislowska’s Duet – Cellist Gautier Capuçon
France’s “true 21st-century ambassador for the cello.”
Click here to listen. This was reposted on 29 April 2021. It first aired on 18 October 2018.
How An Austin Cellist’s ‘Little’ Facebook Announcement Exploded Into The 500-Player International Covid Cello Project
Tony Rogers is a cellist and the director of the Austin Cello Choir in Austin. During the pandemic, he created the Covid Cello Project. He posted an invitation on Facebook for musicians to participate in a video project and ended up playing with more than 500 cellists from around the world.
Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb – Cello Cast
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Cello Questions? Yo-Yo Ma Has Answers: Cello Support
Yo-Yo Ma answers cello questions from Twitter
Amit Peled and Noreen Polera Play Bach
Aria from Pastorale in f minor, BWV 590. Played on the Casals Goffriller.
Conservatorium of Music and the Australian Music Centre – MOMENTUM III Winners
The winning piece with cello is by composer Anne Cawrse: “Grounded” for cello and guitar, premiered by Sharon and Slava Grigoryan (performance begins at 21’10” in the video).
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra World Premiere of Judith Markovich’s “Dabbling Duck”
- Beth Wheeler, ASO principal English horn
- Jacob Wunsch, ASO cellist
Ballaké Sissoko (kora), Vincent Ségal (cello), Patrick Messina (clarinet)
From the new album Djourou.
From the Top – Cellist Christy Choi and Pianist Peter Dugan Play Rachmaninov’s Elégie, Op. 3, No. 1
GnuS Cello – Reflections of Light
This is an original composition by GnuS Cello.
Flock of Dimes – 2 Heads
Although this has less cello than we usually choose, it is an interesting mix of vocals, Moog Matriarch synthesizer, and cello played with an underhand bowing technique. Cellist: Andy Stack.
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