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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 30 January

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Yo-Yo Ma Plays Star Trek Theme for President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Celebration

Before playing “Amazing Grace,” Yo-Yo Ma played the opening notes to Alexander Courage’s original Star Trek theme.  This went with what Ma said before playing:

“We have been tested these last 10 months, as individuals, families, and communities, but in the midst of devastation and loss, there were moments when a flickering light pointed us toward a brighter future. You brought us comfort; you sustained us. And so that light grew and became a bright beam in the universe. This is for all of you who found new ways for us to smile together.” – Yo-Yo Ma

Read more about this in the full article by Jamie Lovett.

The Cello Ladies of Oklahoma

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 30 January

Professional cellist Erica Parker formed a cello quartet called “The Cello Ladies” with three of her college students. They perform online concerts for museums and senior living centers.

Click here to watch the very short news clip.

Fashion and Music

‘Who are you wearing?’ is a question usually reserved for Hollywood red-carpet premieres, but thanks to developing collaborations between musicians and fashion designers, it might soon move to the concert hall.

Did you know that cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason “is dressed by” designer Paul Smith?

Kanneh-Mason said:

“I love playing in Paul Smith suits; the fabric is light and breathable and allows me to move easily.”

Read the full article here.

Houston Symphony’s Brinton Averil Smith Enjoys Highlighting Obscure Cello Literature

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 30 January

Houston Symphony principal cellist Brinton Averil Smith enjoys finding lesser-played cello works.

In recent years, Smith has done concertos by Eugen d’Albert and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the latter of which had not been publicly performed since its 1935 premiere.

“There’s so much great music out there that doesn’t get played, and that audiences would love, [but] that just needs people to advocate for,” Smith says. “So hopefully we’ve broadened the repertoire a little bit, and I have to say it’s been really gratifying.”

Award-Winning Cellists

Sheku Kanneh-Mason Wins Top Classical Album of 2020 in UK’s Official Chart

Recorded when he was 20 years old, Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s album Elgar resulted in his becoming the first cellist ever to have a Top 10 album in the UK and the youngest classical musician to reach the Top 10.

Congratulations, Sheku Kanneh-Mason!

Read more here and see his video below.

Stephen “Cat” Coore Awarded for His Contribution to the Reggae Industry as an Instrumentalist

Cellist Stephen “Cat” Coore will receive an award for his contribution to the reggae industry as an instrumentalist. He also plays the guitar.

To cap off the month-long celebration of Reggae Month, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) will be hosting its annual Honor Awards and has already announced this year’s recipients.

Congratulations, Stephen “Cat” Coore!

Cellist Kian Soltani Wins 2021 International Classical Music Orchestra Award

Along with violinist Marc Bouchkov, Kian Soltani has won a 2021 International Classical Music Orchestra Award.

Kian Soltani has established himself as one of the most eagerly awaited young cellists of our time. Winner of the most prestigious competitions dedicated to his instrument, he already performs with the world’s leading orchestras and he recorded already with great musicians such as Daniel Barenboim and Renaud Capuçon.

Congratulations, Kian Soltani!

Read the full list of winners here.

Cellists R.I.P.

R.I.P. Cellist and Luthier Juan Ramón Orol

Juan Ramon Orol

Cellist, luthier, and founder and director of the Camagüey Chamber Orchestra, Juan Ramón Orol, passed away after an illness.

Read more about his life here.

R.I.P. Cellist Dr. Joan Mack

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 30 January

Dr. Joan Mack, cellist, and educator, passed away at age 93 on 21 January 2021. After studying at The Eastman School of Music (B.M., D.M.A.) and Indiana University (M.M.), she performed as a soloist and chamber musician and taught students from elementary school through post-graduate level.


High Plains Morning Interview with Cellist Diana Burgess about Her Debut Album You RunCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 30 January

Our American Stories: Interview with Cello Rock Star

Listen to “Duck Tape, Cello Rock Star, and Bryan Dawson’s Story” on Spreaker.

Enjoy this interview with cellist Maya Beiser.


See Me: A Global Concert

This video performance is the product of an international collaboration of hundreds of musicians, artists, and film teams from around the world.

Participants include:

  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Marin Alsop, Music Director
  • Nico Daswani, Executive Producer
  • The Chamber Orchestra of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music
  • The Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • The Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
  • The Choir of the State Orchestra of São Paulo
  • The Orchestra della Toscana
  • The Drakensberg Boys Choir
  • The Beijing NCPA OrchestraSand artist Jim Denevan. An original production by the World Economic Forum.
  • Bernadette Wegenstein, Film Director
  • Es Devlin, Creative Director
  • John Benam, Director of Photography
  • Annette Porter, Film Producer
  • Generous support provided by Intesa Sanpaolo.

Included in the video is the world premiere of composer Reena Esmail’s piece, “See Me.” Learn about an unaccompanied cello work by her in this past week’s Postcards from Erica.

There was some difficulty clearing the beach for Yo-Yo Ma to make this recording as we reported last October.

Yo-Yo Ma and Kayhan Kalhor: “Morgh e Sahar” (Bird of the Dawn) by Ostad Morteza Naydavoud

Yo-Yo Ma continues to share his #SongsOfComfort on YouTube. He originally shared this last summer on 14 July 2020. Enjoy!

Klengel’s Hymnus for 12 Cellos Played by Cellist Gautier Capuçon and Friends

This is an extract from a concert performed for no audience and recorded at the Théâtre des Bouffes-du-Nord. Twenty cellists took part in the concert.

Cellists: Jean-Baptiste Cabannes, Gautier Capuçon, Marie Chatellier, Olivier Chéreau, Jérémy Garbarg, Rémi Guérin, Caroline Guillaumin, Jennifer Hardy-Brégnac, Charles Hervet, Raphaël Jouan, Dan Levy, Nicolas Menut, Marion Oudin, Aurélien Pascal, Lucile Perrin, Eric Pilavian, Marta Pulecka, Armance Quero , Caroline Sypniewski and Léo Warynski.


Clair de Lune (MC^2 Cello Quartet)

Here is a beautiful performance of Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune arranged for cello quartet by Blaise Déjardin.


  • Brannon Cho
  • John-Henry Crawford
  • Alexander Hersh
  • Allan Steele

What if music could find someone you’ve lost? – Cellist Steven Sharp Nelson at TEDxSaltLakeCity

UC Davis Music – Members of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble: Shinkoskey Noon Concert


  • Anna Presler, violin
  • Matilda Hofman, viola and UC Davis lecturer in music
  • Leighton Fong, cello
  • Allegra Chapman, piano


  • Craig Walsh: “Pipeline Burst Cache” for Solo Cello and Tape
  • Ross Bauer: “Pas de Deux” for Viola and Cello
  • Peter Tornyai: “fiori sfiorati” for solo cello
  • Melinda Wagner: “Romanze with Faux Variations” (Piano Trio No. 2)

Toronto Symphony Orchestra Cellist Igor Gefter Performs the Prelude from Cello Suite No. 2 in d minor

Cellist Igor Gefter is featured in a “Musical Moment” in the Toronto Star. Read the full article here.

Four Women Blends Music, Film, and Art to Reveal Impact of Four Black Women Throughout History

UCelli, The Columbus Cello Quartet perform the 4-movement work by Dr. Mark Lomax, II, Four Women, in honor of four women who made significant contributions to the world.

Read more about Dr. Lomax, composer, drummer, activist, and educator, and this project in this article.

The Punk Cellist Covers Blank Landscapes by Small Brown Bike

Read more about this video in this article by Jeff Sorley. He says:

The Punk Cellist covered this song in part to bring attention to a fundraiser for Travis Dopp of Small Brown Bike, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The fundraiser aims to help offset the high costs of treatment for Travis.

Want to contribute to the fundraiser? Here is the Go Fund Me page.

Your Turn

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