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Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week – 9 April

Here’s your weekly dose of cello news.

Cello News

Black Lives in Music: Cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Xhosa Cole

This is the first episode of Black Lives in Music.  Zeze Millz Talks style, heritage, joy, and more with the multi-talented Ayanna Witter-Johnson (cellist, singer, songwriter, composer, and pianist) and Xhosa Cole (saxophonist, flutist, and composer).

If you are a black musician or music professional, complete our survey at:

Yo-Yo Ma Residency at the University of Michigan

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

Yo-Yo Ma is starting a new residency (April – September) in a joint project between the University of Michigan Arts Initiative and the University Musical Society. Ma will work with six students and the following three artists to develop new maps portraying the university experience under a pandemic:

There is a free event at 6 PM EDT on 15 April. Register here to attend.

In Juneau, Alaska, Vaccination Clinics Double as a Live Music Venue

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

Live music lovers, rejoice — and roll up your sleeves. Volunteer musicians are performing live at the City and Borough of Juneau’s vaccine clinics.

This is a time of hope, with vaccinations becoming widely available in the USA, and musicians are helping us celebrate.

Last weekend, Grammy Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey performed all six Bach suites as people filed in for a second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“This is an incredibly hopeful moment and chance to fuse the glorious sound of classical music,” Bailey said. “Music and the arts help people to celebrate life. This is the ultimate celebration.”

Other groups are performing as well. As Bailey was leaving, a student quartet arrived to perform.

Interview with Reggae Cellist Cat Coore

Cat Coore

Award-winning reggae cellist Cat Coore talks to DancehallMag about his career in this interview by Donovan Watkis.

Meet Cellist Aijee Evans, Street Performer in Philadelphia

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

Cellist Aijee Evans has been performing on the streets of Philadelphia since she was 14 years old. Follow her on Instagram to see where she’ll be playing next.

Texas Cellos – Inspiring Students During the Pandemic

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

Cellist Joseph Kuipers noticed a trend with his cello students back in October. They were losing heart with the lack of in-person music-making during the pandemic. This inspired him to create the Texas Cellos, a nonprofit cello choir to help young cellists through music education and performance.

Kuipers said

“For me, the great lesson of the pandemic is that there is no substitute for a live performance.”

Kuipers plans to continue with the Texas cellos after the pandemic, and

offering multiple annual concerts and building an increasingly cohesive group of cellists driven by a love of music.

A Lending Library of Musical Instruments – Patrons Can Check Out Cellos!

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

In Quinte West, Canada, the public library has partnered with the Stirling Musical Instrument Lending Library. This collection has over 300 instruments – including cellos! Locals can pay an annual membership fee of $30 to check out instruments for up to a whole year.

We hope this inspires other public library systems to obtain instrument lending libraries – especially if they include cellos.


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Cellist Ailbhe McDonagh and Pianist John O’Conor – Complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas

Release Date: 7 May. Preorder now.

The album was recorded at St. Peter’s Church in Drogheda, Ireland, in August 2020, and will be released on the Steinway & Sons label.

Clare O’Connell – The Isolated Cellist

A collection of new music for solo and looped cello gathered, arranged, curated, and performed during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.

Olenc – Particles

From the release notes:

Focusing on decomposition and the granulation of singular strings of cello, all tracks are conceptually constructed by zooming into the musical/sound matter. Particles gives a macro-microcosmic sonic journey, full of tensions, contrasts and fragility; it constantly crosses a thin line between songform and sound sculpture, experimenting with spatial imaging, spectral processing and time manipulation.

Terrible Hold Music Inspires New Cello and Synth Album

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

At the start of the pandemic, composer Justin Sherburn was placed on hold when he called the Texas Workforce Commission. The terrible music he had to endure inspired his collaboration with his wife, cellist Sara Nelson, to create the album Texas Workforce Hold Music. It features songs including

  • “Leave a Message”
  • “Not Busy Signal”
  • “The Office is Closed”

Podcasts / Broadcasts

Yo-Yo Ma – A Beginner’s Mind

In the latest in Audible’s series, Words + Music, Yo-Yo Ma asks

each of us “to strip away preconceptions and reclaim a beginner’s mind…one open to new questions, new connections, new explorations, and unexpected answers.” As Ma tracks his own profound journey through “four stories of beginnings,” listeners gain insight into his past and discover how the cultural visionary continues to find hope in the endless possibility of human curiosity, creativity, and collaboration.

Click here to listen to some excerpts or click the image below to hear the Audible preview and get the complete audio program.

Soundcheck – Cellist Alisa Weilerstein Shares the Optimistic Wisdom of J.S. Bach

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

Alisa Weilerstein discusses what she finds to be the therapeutic and hopeful nature of Bach and her approach to the cello suites while making music at home.

Weilerstein talks about her pandemic project, “36 days of Bach,” in which she recorded one movement of the suites every day on her iPad.

Click here to listen.

Click here to see her Live with Carnegie Hall program.

Juneau Afternoon with – Interview with Zuill Bailey

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

Listen to this interview with Zuill Bailey and hear his discussion of re-recording the Bach Suites.

Sound Bites From the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra – Cellist Benjamin Hughes

Finding the new in the old: BBC Concert Orchestra’s Principal Cellist, Benjamin Hughes, stops by to speak about how he fell in love with the cello, Bach’s second cello suite, and the many ways building a relationship with history and his practice deepens his love of music every day.

The Art of HumAnnity with Jessica Ann – Ep 05: Concert cellist Gjilberta Lucaj on Music and Inspiration

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

The Art of Humanity is a weekly 30-minute podcast that explores creativity and consciousness with artists, leaders, authors, and entrepreneurs. Welcome to Episode 5 of the Art of Humanity.

Episode 5: Concert cellist Gjilberta Lucaj In this interview, Gjilberta and I discuss: The private “aha!” moments that happen during practice The best advice she can give to other artists who are pursuing a professional career in music How being an only child motivates success Her path with “making it” in NYC, the melting pot of art The “secret language” of music and live performances If you’re enjoying this podcast, please subscribe on iTunes and leave a review!

Underscore with Doyle Dean – Ottawa Cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne Digs Deeper During Isolation

Cellos in the News: Top Stories of the Week - 9 April

The North Country is rich in musical talent but with venues closed and concerts virtual until the pandemic is over, it’s even harder for musicians to get their work to an audience. So last year NCPR began featuring music by regional artists during our news programs. One cellist in Ottawa embraced the chance to dig a little deeper during the pandemic, redefining himself during isolation. Doyle Dean spoke with Raphael Weinroth-Browne in April of 2020 as part of our Underscore project.


Stijn Kuppens – Tak (Live Performance)

Learn more about cellist-composer Stijn Kuppens here.

Gabe Baker – Upside Down


Miles Milou – A Night Out (featuring Charlie Chaplin)

Electric cellist Miles Milou performs his own soundtrack to Charlie Chaplin’s A Night Out (1915).

MET Orchestra Cellos – Lohengrin


The Happy Fits – Sailing

Cellist Barbara Hedlund Reads The Voice of the Wood by Claude and Frédéric Clément

New Compositions for Cello, Piano, and Percussion, by Student Composers

The pieces you will hear in the video below are by the 2020 and 2021 winners of the Jack Stone Award for New Music. This is a national music competition open only to community college students. The pieces are performed by Tetractys New Music (Peir Shiuan Tang, piano, Matthew Armbruster, cello, Christopher Demetriou, percussion).

Read more about the competition, the winners, and their pieces in the original article by Nathan Cone.


  • 2020 JACK STONE AWARD for NEW MUSIC: Tim Naples, North Idaho College: “XP (in Four Mvts)”
  • First Runner Up: Samina Yaghouti, Los Angeles Community College District: “Just a Collision”
  • Second Runner Up: Kurtis Roush, Peninsula College: “Train Ride Memories”
  • 2021 JACK STONE AWARD for NEW MUSIC: Kailey Martinelli, North Idaho College: “Return”
  • First Runner Up: Tristan Scott, Dallas College Richland Campus: “Rhythm Song”
  • Second Runner Up: Zander Furrow, Lane Community College: “Cave of Hollows: A Soul’s Journey”

Your Turn

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