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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 7 November

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Cellists from Biden American the Beautiful Video

Cellists from Biden’s “American the Beautiful” video. Screenshot.

Young Cellist from Biden American the Beautiful Video

Young Cellist from Biden’s “American the Beautiful” video. Screenshot.

Politics aside, we are very glad to see that President-elect, Joe Biden, included cellos and cellists in his “America the Beautiful” video that he tweeted upon the announcement that he had won the election.

Watch the full video here.

Cellists Serving as Head of Strings

Aitchison & Mnatzaganian Cello Specialists interviewed five distinguished cellists who also serve as Head of Strings at their institutions. Here’s a brief excerpt:

In March I had the pleasure of speaking to five distinguished cellists who are also Heads of Strings: Jo Cole (Royal Academy of Music) Nicholas Jones (Chetham’s School of Music) Louise Hopkins (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) Chris Hoyle (Royal Northern College of Music) and David Watkin (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland).

‘It’s a big job which faces in many directions,’ says Chris Hoyle.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for a Head of Strings is to produce students ready for the realities of the working world.

Campaign to Save Margate Synagogue Spearheaded by Klezmer Cellist Francesca Ter-Berg

Margate Synagogue

To avoid the site being demolished or converted into flats, the campaign needs to raise around £400,000. The idea is to maintain the building as a communal venue, with hopes it can be used for both religious pursuits and cultural activities, servicing the town’s “blossoming arts scene”.
The campaign is being spearheaded by klezmer cellist Francesca Ter-Berg, who told the JC the synagogue was a “beautiful building” with the potential to be something that “celebrates the Jewish heritage and cultural contribution to the area.

Cellist Michael G. Ronstadt Composes Piece To Save the Vaquita

Cellist Michael G. Ronstadt has joined a group to create awareness of the plight of the Vaquita, the smallest porpoise and the world’s smallest cetacean (the mammal combination of porpoises, dolphins and whales).

The Vaquita was deemed a critically endangered species and is banned from fishing. Despite that, the ban is generally ignored and the population has continued to decline to the point of extinction.

Michael G. Ronstadt, the nephew of legend Linda Ronstadt, has recorded ‘Para Las Vaquitas’ for his recent album ‘Wildly Ethereal (Shaken Earth, Vol 4).

Read the full article by Paul Cashmere here.

Cellist Mike Block Has Nationwide Impact with His Play for the Vote Initiate


Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

Cellist Mike Block Touched Lives Across the USA with His Play for the Vote Initiative

Mike Block, founder and director of the nonpartisan group “Play For The Vote,” was responsible for bringing together about 600 performers to play at polling places, bringing calming, live music to voters in 48 states. Block himself and several other cellists were involved, including Grammy-nominated cellist, Matt Haimovitz. Thank you, Mike Block!

Read more here.

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

Cellist Psyche Dunkhase and unidentified cellist taking part in Play for the Vote in Colorado.

Read more about Play for the Vote in Colorado here.

5 Quick Questions with Cellist Joshua RomanCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

The California Symphony asked Joshua Roman five questions, here is a brief excerpt of Roman’s answers:

I’m currently in Seattle, Washington where I’m making music and restructuring my chamber music series Town Music at Town Hall Seattle in real time as the season unfolds. We’re calling it Fermata – it’s a kind of residency that’s giving me a chance to start to put into action a lot of ideas that have needed time and focus to manifest. Time that you don’t have when you are flying around playing concerts all year long, but we certainly do have now. We’re looking at more local artists, engaging the audience in what goes on behind the scenes, and exploring ways to better reflect and inspire our diverse community.

When I was a kid I always saw the cello as my mission – but if I broke my arm (knock on wood) and could never play again, only then would I join Ski Patrol, be a fighter jet pilot, or something involving missions, teams, and speed. For the longest time, though, I was very into physics and sometimes thought I might be able to do both at the same time — until I got to conservatory and set homework to the side (apologies to my professors) in favor of practicing.

The Amazing Race TV Show Turns to Cello-Making

The Amazing Race team has to make a cello from scraps from a landfill.

THE AMAZING RACE is a multi-Emmy Award-winning reality series hosted by Emmy Award-nominated host Phil Keoghan, which pits 11 teams, each comprised of two members, against each other on a trek around the world for approximately 25 days.

At every destination, each team must compete in a series of challenges, some mental and some physical, and only when the tasks are completed will they learn of their next location. Teams who are the farthest behind will gradually be eliminated as the contest progresses, with the first team to arrive at the final destination winning $1 million.

Digital Nomad and Cellist: Conrad Hamill

In June, Conrad Hamill did something he’d dreamt of doing but never thought possible: he sold most of his belongings, packed what was left into his old sedan and hit the road to begin a new life as a “digital nomad”.Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

Hamill’s turning point came in March when he went into lockdown while visiting his rural Victorian hometown. The two months gave him time to reflect and he decided he wanted to continue working remotely while traveling the east coast, having also developed an interest in minimalist and mindful living.

Hamill has kept only his most valued possessions from his old life in Bondi, including his cello-playing chair, his pressure cooker, and some recording equipment. “But when it came to clothes and books, I realised I needed very little,” he says.

Read the entire article by Sophie Aubrey here.

Cellist Blake-Anthony Johnson Takes Lessons Learned at Vanderbilt University, Blair School of Music, to the Boardroom in Chicago

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

Blake-Anthony Johnson. Photo: GARY BARRAGAN

Overcoming daunting challenges is routine for Blake-Anthony Johnson, BMus’12, who in May became CEO of the Chicago Sinfonietta, a pioneering organization in the orchestral world committed to diversity and parity for all. Indeed, he honed this mindset while majoring in cello performance at Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music.

She Needed A 300-Year-Old 5-String Cello. Luckily the MFA Has OneCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

Back in 2017, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston hired Shirley Hunt to play a special centennial event to commemorate a large donation of historical instruments by a museum trustee. Hunt, a Boston-based musician who specializes in Baroque cello performance, was brought on to play a rare 18th-century five-string cello created by the Belgian luthier Marcus Snoeck.

This month, Hunt released the third and final volume in her Bach project, “J.S. Bach Suites & Sonatas, Vol. 3.” The album opens with Bach’s “Suite for Solo Cello No. 6 in D Major”: the first ever studio recording of the 300-year-old Snoeck cello.

Purchase the album here.

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason on How He Spends His Saturday Playing Football and Having Rap Battles

Here’s an excerpt from the article about a day in the life of Sheku Kanneh-Mason.


I’m in my fourth year at the Royal Academy of Music and practise every day for about four hours. Since September I’ve been doing a few concerts with distanced audiences, and some online, but it’s a worrying time for musicians and orchestras.


During lockdown, I had my cello lessons over Zoom and moved back to my parents’ house in Nottingham. I’ve got five sisters and one brother and it’s chaos when we’re all at home, but it gave us more time to rehearse our first album as a family. When we were children, we loved Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and we wanted to create an album that would have that effect, so we recorded Carnival of the Animals, with the poems read by Olivia Colman and Michael Morpurgo.

The item I couldn’t live without is…

My 410-year-old Amati cello. I have it on permanent loan. It’s a very special and valuable instrument and I try not to think about what would happen if I lost it.

Wait, Dermot Mulroney Plays Cello on a Bunch of Michael Giacchino Scores?Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

The world knows actor Dermot Mulroney from a variety of impressive performances he’s given over his diverse resume of films. Films like My Best Friend’s Wedding to About Schmidt, and most recently Amazon’s TV adaptations of the hit podcast Homecoming and the Joe Wright film Hanna, all boast Mulroney in their casts, and the man’s made an amazing career out of such an eclectic collection of roles. But there’s another part he’s played that audiences have definitely experienced, whether they knew it or not, as not only is Mulroney an accomplished cello player, he’s also a frequent collaborator with prolific film composer Michael Giacchino.

Calhoun High School Cellist Gives Back through the Power of MusicCellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

Calhoun High School freshman Joseph Darcourt recently hauled his cello to the New York Public Library in Manhattan to raise money for Long Island Cares and The Harry Chapin Food Bank.

“I wanted to give back to the community and raise people’s spirits during these times,” said Joseph, 14. The letter “inspired me to go back to play cello in front of the New York Public Library.”

Messing with the Monkey King

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 7 November

Messing with the Monkey King. CNA photo 30 October 2020.

Cellist Chang Chen-chieh (張正傑, left), one of this year’s winners of the Taipei Culture Awards, interacts with Peking opera player Chu Lu-hao (朱陸豪), who plays his signature role, the Monkey King, during the award ceremony on Friday.

Click here to go to the source.


BBC Sounds: Front Row with John Wilson

Steven Isserlis tells John Wilson about his new album of late works by Sir John Tavener. It is a very personal project: Tavener and Isserlis were friends, the composer wrote pieces for the cellist and Isserlis gave the first performances of some of Tavener’s works. His music was greatly influenced by the liturgy and traditions of the Orthodox Church, but this album reveals his openness to other religions. One piece echoes the call and response form of the Anglican church, in another the cello duets with a Sufi singer. There isn’t a piece for solo cello so Isserlis plays part of Tavener’s famous piece, The Protecting Veil, which was written for him.

Click here to listen.

BBC Sounds: In Tune Highlights with Katie Derham

Belly dancing Cellists, Handel and a Force of Nature

Katie Derham with pianist Rokas Valuntonis, cellist Nadege Rochat, and Eliza Carthy

Click here to listen.

Stories from the Pit: Julia Bruskin, Cello

MET Orchestra cellist Julia Bruskin talks to MET violinist Julia Choi about falling vacuum cleaners, her favorite operas to play, what she misses most about being away from the orchestra, and advice for young musicians during these challenging times.


Gareth Farr and Edward Elgar Cello Concertos – Cellist Sébastien Hurtaud

Sébastien Hurtaud commemorates First World War dead with world premiere recording of Gareth Farr’s Chemin des Dames and revelatory interpretation of Elgar’s Cello Concerto

Rubicon Classics album presents potent creative alliance between a French cellist, a composer and orchestra from New Zealand, an Australian conductor and a British record label.

David Gompper Cello Concerto – Cellist Timothy Gill

The album is available for pre-order now. US release date: 27 November 2020.


The Kanneh-Masons – Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals – Finale

Sisters Isata, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu all feature alongside their brothers Braimah and Sheku on a new recording of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals. The hugely gifted septet, originally from Nottingham, were joined on the project by Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman and former Children’s Laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo.

Cellist Sheku, 21, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician competition, who went on to perform at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, cites how Saint-Saens is “really creative in how he paints vivid images of the animals” through music. Combining the suite with Morpurgo’s poems makes for an “often very humorous” mix, he says.

The Kanneh-Mason family’s new album Carnival of the Animals is out now.

Industrial Groove – Stijn Kuppens

Composed and played by the innovative Stijn Kuppens.

Star Trek Discovery Cellist

Season 3 Episode 4

Scarborough Fair (Official Music Video) Tina Guo & Leo Z

Hauser Performs Deborah’s Theme from Once Upon A Time In America by Ennio Morricone

The Punk Cellist: The Wonder Years on cello – Came Out Swinging

John-Henry Crawford: 1000 Days of Cello (2018-2020)

As a new year’s resolution on January 1st 2018 I began a multi-year project called #the1000dayjourney on Instagram where I filmed a video of myself practicing or performing every day for 1000 straight days.

Your Turn

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