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New Directions in Cello Performance

New Directions in cello performance

Cello Lessons with Rex WestenThe Lesson Studio, Boulder, CO

For the past fifteen years I have been attending the New Directions Cello Festival every June. This festival is for all the music for cellists that ISN’T classical. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing classical music on the cello, but this expansion of music for the instrument is wonderful. And cellists these days have an easier time getting in a rock band than a classical ensemble.

The festival is set up to introduce a half dozen performers every year.

I thought I would pass on links for some of my favorites.

Mike Block – singer, songwriter, teacher extraordinaire, member of Yoyo Ma’s Silk Road group. (Mike writes Ma’s improvisations, don’t tell anyone.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWknoHdn4M4 The other guys on the video are the absolutely unique Rushad Eggleston, and the brilliant violinist Jeremy Kittle.

That was a pretty mellow intro – let’s look at one of my favorite guys – Trevor Exter. He writes and sings in a way that makes me believe every word. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv_BCWFz-ws

Eugene Friesen has taught at Berklee College of Music for many years, and has a large responsibility for this flourishing of cellist/writers/composers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5Bvr3R73BY Here is his virtuosic plucked piece, “Shadowplay”.

Rufus Cappadocia has been composing for solo cello for many years. Yes, that cello has an extra string, and he has completely invented the pickups which amplify this cello. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYWvaxU5OXk

James Hoskins lives in Boulder. He plays a number of different genres. In this video he is with the band Sherefe, which plays middle eastern and Balkan music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiTXMVzOhTA

You know the joke about the drummer who couldn’t get work? Everything went wrong for him, his girlfriend kicked him out so he no longer had a place to live. He finally found a job in Cairo, so he sold his kit and bought a plane ticket. He meets the band leader, and asks when the first rehearsal is. The band leader says: “Well, actually the gig is in half an hour. Don’t worry, though, just give us a strong backbeat on eleven and seventeen.”

Get out and experience music

I recommend broadening your musical horizons by attending one of the many varieties of music festivals in the area. As a musician it is important to experience as much music as you hope to share with the world. The experience can help to take your appreciation and performance of music in exciting new directions.