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Wellness Retreats for Musicians: Why are they on the rise?

I knew there was no way I could practice the amount I needed and not just completely destroy my body. I wondered how other people did it. It never occurred to me in college that it was something I could learn - University of Denver, USA, 1989   On line, or off, pandemic or no, wellness retreats for musicians are all the rage. With so much more now on offer in music colleges and schools in terms of a holistic approach, I set out to find out why so many young musicians are drawn to finding alternative support.   In a survey I recently conducted about wellness as experienced by students in music schools and colleges over the last fifty years, it became apparent that, from the beginning of this [...]

Conversation with Natalia Gutman (October, 1999)

  Interview by Tim Janof Natalia Gutman was born in Kazan, Russia, and started to play the cello at the age of 5. In 1964, having already won the International Tchaikovsky Competition, she entered the Moscow Conservatory to study with Mstislav Rostropovich. Her First Prize in the 1967 Munich ARD Competition marked the beginning of her international career. Since then she has performed with the leading orchestras of the world, and with conductors such as Sawallisch, Muti, Abbado, Haitink, Svetlanov, Temirkanov, Celibidache, and Masur. She regularly appears with the most important summer festivals in Europe.   Oleg Kagan and Sviatislov Richter were among Ms. Gutman's regular chamber music partners until their recent deaths. Richter once expressed his admiration for her by saying, "… she is an incarnation of truthfulness in [...]

What Is the Role of the Musician in the Face of Systemic Injustice? – by Paul Katz

I am writing to you from Boston, one of the U.S. hotspots for the coronavirus, and yet another city where large, peaceful protests are rightfully calling for justice following the killing of George Floyd and countless other innocent black people. Music is a calling that absorbs us, floods our hearts and minds and can remove us from the everyday world and its suffering. But as I look today at a world in chaos, I ask myself, what is the relevance of music, the cello, of culture and the arts in general? What is the role of CelloBello at a time such as this? What can/should we be doing as musicians? While I have been blessed by a long career, I have been continually questioning, as a classical musician, how to [...]

Cello Esprit de Corps

In 1994 I started up the Internet Cello Society. I was the director for 12 years, after which Tim Janof continued to lead ICS. During the recent process of gifting the Internet Cello Society (cello.org) to the wonderful CelloBello organization, Paul Katz asked that I write a few words about ICS and its humble beginnings.  During this pandemic, I first dismissed the idea as a personal nostalgic indulgence; however, as with all history, there are things past that inform our present state of affairs.  So, if you will allow, here is a brief recount… In 1994, when I first browsed the internet on a Mosaic browser app, the first word I typed into the search was “cello”.  I was ecstatic to get 4 hits!  Two entries mentioned the cello as [...]

By |2020-05-14T22:14:26+00:00May 13th, 2020|Categories: Internet Cello Society Archive, Featured, Artistic Vision|Tags: , , |

Remembering Lynn Harrell (January 30, 1944 – April 27, 2020)

The cello world has been shocked and saddened by the passing of legendary cellist Lynn Harrell. Mr. Harrell’s career as an internationally renowned soloist, chamber musician, and teacher spanned more than five decades. His singularly beautiful sound will be remembered by future generations through the many recordings he leaves behind. All of us at CelloBello mourn his loss and send our deepest condolences to Mr. Harrell’s family and loved ones. CelloBello founder, Paul Katz, reflects on his life-long friendship with Mr. Harrell: It’s hard to believe Lynn is gone. Even with COVID-19 deaths all around us, 60,000 in the US alone in just the last three months, it still doesn’t get easier when it's a friend. This unexpected loss hits hard. Lynn and I first met in the early '60s [...]

By |2020-06-03T01:00:28+00:00April 29th, 2020|Categories: Featured, Performance|Tags: , , , |

“Back to the Breath” —Mindfulness for Cellists

While we are all facing a new reality with the Covid-19 pandemic spreading all over the globe, our way of experiencing life has taken on a new reality in the present moment. Each day, we are presented with innumerable challenges, from following the sobering news on TV and social media, being bombarded with worries, anxiety and panic about what is next to come in your country, your city, within yourself and for your loved ones. It is important to create a positive outlet in the midst of this uncertain time. As a musician and cellist, you have a way to create a positive outlet by playing the cello. Another positive outlet is to quiet the mind through breathing exercises and meditation. I created “Back to the Breath” Mindfulness and Visualization [...]

Exiles in Paradise: on the “Hollywood Renaissance” and Finding New Repertoire for the Cello: Part 2

This article is the second installment in a two-part series   As we discussed in part 1,  war and persecution in Europe created an unprecedented gathering of émigré musical talent in Los Angeles in the mid-20th century,  including Jascha Heifetz, William Primrose, Artur Rubinstein, Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, and Lotte Lehmann. Of particular interest to cellists, Los Angeles in this era was also home to top cellists including Gregor Piatigorsky, Emanuel Feuermann (for the last several summers of his life), Kurt Reher, Eleanor Aller (Slatkin), Gabor Rejto, Edgar Lustgarten and Ray Kramer, to name just a few, and the hometown of future stars such as Paul Katz, Laurence Lesser and Nathaniel Rosen.   But perhaps most remarkably, Los Angeles was the home of arguably the greatest collection of composers to [...]

By |2020-03-25T20:51:52+00:00March 24th, 2020|Categories: Featured, Artistic Vision, In the Practice Room, Repertoire|Tags: , , |

The “Instead” List

While the list of pieces that appear in cello-piano recitals is incredibly short - same 10 pieces keep circulating in different order - we cellists actually have very large repertoire. Orchestras don't program much more than 10 Concertos and apart the Bach Suites there are maybe 5 pieces that make their way to concert programs. There are always multiple reasons for great music falling out of general attention. It may have to do with style, gender, origin, problems of notation, lack of publisher, wrong publisher, fashion, lack of social skill, too keen self promotion or any combination of these. Often the reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the music. And the quality itself is totally dependent on who is the messenger, in the wrong hands most music [...]

Exiles in Paradise: on the “Hollywood Renaissance” and Finding New Repertoire for the Cello: Part 1

This article is the first installment in a two-part series As cellists, we tend to think of much of the repertoire that we play as European cultural traditions that we have assimilated. We generally associate American musical tradition with Copland, Ives, Gershwin and perhaps a few brief years in the life of Antonin Dvorak. Many musicians are unaware, however, that in the first half of the 20th century, an influx of European refugees, fleeing war and persecution, rapidly formed, within a few square miles near Hollywood, one of the most talented and prolific communities in music history. As they attempted to rebuild their lives in this exotic paradise, they indelibly altered the course of American culture.   Performers living in Los Angeles during this era included Jascha Heifetz, William Primrose, [...]

Conversation with Eleonore Schoenfeld (August, 1999)

Interview by Tim Janof Eleonore Schoenfeld earned her Artist Diploma at the famed Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin, Germany. An internationally known cellist, she has concertized in four continents as soloist with leading Philharmonic and Radio Orchestras, in recitals, and in a violin-cello duo with her sister, Alice Schoenfeld, known as the "Schoenfeld Duo." She has made numerous recordings of the solo and chamber literature for major TV and radio stations in Europe and the USA. Among them are works specifically written for the Schoenfeld Duo, which has recorded for Everest and Orion Master Recordings. She has been the Director of the international Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists in Los Angeles since 1979. A renowned pedagogue, she is Professor at the University of Southern California (USC), where she has been [...]

Sing. Paint. Dance. (Part 1)

Sing. Paint. Dance. (Part 1) Sing. Paint. Dance. I am often reminded of a statement made by Tabea Zimmerman that alluded to the idea that all instrumental problems have non instrumental solutions. With that in mind I often advocate a number of non instrumental solutions to any issues that may arise in the course of music making. Each can be connected to one of three wings : Singing. Painting. Dancing. On the occasions that I played with the LA opera, I was around Placido Domingo as both conductor and singer. The latter is clearly his identity in spades. But to hear him sing every vocal line in a rehearsal always echoed quartet life for me. Listening with a sense of integration -each voice existing within the context of the whole. [...]

The Music of Movement — by Selma Gokcen

It is a great pleasure to tickle your screens from across The Pond, as they call the Atlantic Ocean here in Great Britain.  I am honoured to be invited to add a few views to what is already a splendid site for cellists and a fruitful educational resource.  The London Cello Society is an important part of my work, and as a nurturer of the cello world in the United Kingdom, I always celebrate a new addition to the Cello Cloud from which we can benefit. Our members are just getting to know CelloBello and they will no doubt enjoy and learn from it. It is said that the best things to write about are those you love. Therefore it makes sense in this first blog to introduce my passion [...]

Doing More with Less — by Brant Taylor

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Havana, Cuba, accompanying a jazz band that was invited to perform at the Havana International Jazz Festival.  Considered a “cultural exchange,” the trip was approved by the U. S. Department of the Treasury and we made the short flight to Havana from Miami. (Because our embargo is a financial one, the U.S. Treasury oversees all travel between the U.S. and Cuba.  A full report on my impressions of Havana or on the 50 years of economic strangulation the Cuban people have experienced is far outside the scope and purpose of this space!) Among many other activities, we visited Havana’s Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, which teaches music to high school students.  While I am aware that Cuba has a vibrant, colorful musical tradition and [...]

Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Auditions — by Yeesun Kim

Let's face it. A musicians life is full of auditions.  Even when you might not be taking a formal audition, each concert may turn out to be an audition for your next project. For many students, February in particular is a busy, stressful month filled with college auditions, summer festival auditions, recital juries and so forth. When you are a beginner, auditions generally represent a relatively encouraging nudge of  "Do your best." Later, they have greater consequences, and dealing with the pressure can become quite torturous.  Some are more at ease than others, but I believe it is safe to say that auditions are not activities anyone particularly enjoys doing. Of course listening to auditions is not so easy either.  One is asked to sit through 7-8 hours per day [...]

Practice Time: Inspiring and Productive? — by Natasha Brofsky

As musicians, a life spent practicing our instruments means that we need to be able to teach and inspire ourselves. The art of practicing well is essential in order to develop our own musical voice. The musical idea is everything. Awaken your musical imagination!! Is the phrase you are practicing lyrical or dancelike? Is it passionate? Melancholy? Stormy? Tender? Does a particular passage inspire a scene in your mind? What kind of a story does it tell? How do you want the audience to experience the music at that particular moment? Experiment! Try different bowings and fingerings for the same passage. What makes the music come alive?Remember that the phrasing and emotional impact of the music affect what techniques we use to play it successfully, so don’t decide on bowings or [...]

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