confidence

Reminder: Memorial for Janos Starker at Indiana University this Sunday, September 22

  All invited to the Janos Starker Memorial at Indiana University, Sunday, Sept. 22. A message from Janos Starker’s daughter, Gwen Preucil; I am writing to let you all know that there will be a memorial for my father at Indiana University on Sunday, September 22nd at 4 pm at the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington, Indiana. […]

Remembering Hungarian Cello Master János Starker — by Benjamin Ivry

Having survived a Nazi internment camp during World War II, Hungarian Jewish cellist János Starker (1924-2013) led a life focused on civic contributions and behaving with utter freedom. Starker, who died in Indiana on April 28 at age 88, witnessed some of the worst horrors of modern history, and was determined to devote himself to constructing the future. He and his parents, of Polish-Ukrainian Jewish origin, survived their imprisonment, but his two older brothers Tibor and Ede, both accomplished violinists, were murdered in Nazi labor camps. Starker’s notion of free behavior included a lifelong habit of consuming quantities of whiskey and cigarettes, neither of which impeded his ferociously concentrated playing. It also embraced free speech, even when the expression of his musical taste might wound students or established colleagues. In [...]

Exploring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony — by Jonathan Pegis

Here in just a few measures is an excerpt that has confused, befuddled, and downright scared more cellists than just about any other excerpt (please click image to enlarge): The theme from the second movement of Beethoven's fifth, along with the first two variations, shows up on the vast majority of cello audition lists.  I thought it would be educational to spend some time exploring this theme, and future blogs will explore the first and second variations.  To begin with, this excerpt is one of a handful that I have coached for many years where I am actually LESS confident than I used to be.  Why?  Because every teacher, every coach, and every conductor has had radically different ideas about all the different aspects of this theme.  Temp, color, dynamic, [...]

New and Old — by Yeesun Kim

This summer I had two very different experiences performing contemporary pieces. The first piece, as it turned out, had several performances spread over two months. Two concerts included working with the composer prior to the concert. The second piece was set up to be only performed once, without the composer's presence and with only two days of rehearsing. Both pieces were quite difficult in their own ways. The first piece called for virtuosity, stamina and the ability to clearly outline the structure and narrative in order to hold the piece together. The second piece was almost the exact opposite. Short and obsessively detailed in its use of sound effects, it abounded in the use of extended techniques.  It employed extremely soft dynamics and seemed to purposefully obscure perceptible structure in [...]

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 [...]

Seeing a Bigger Picture — by Yeesun Kim

As a young cellist, I gratefully accepted my teachers' generous offers of bowings, fingerings and phrasing suggestions to many  pieces I studied. These suggestions were well tested in numerous performances, were given thoughtful evaluation that took into account the personal convictions of many great musicians. At that time, I was not particularly in the habit of questioning and reasoning for myself. In a sense,  other than what I HAD to contribute, I trusted that all this work would and should settle into a successful interpretation. Since becoming the cellist of a professional string quartet (the Borromeo String Quartet), my attitude HAD to change completely. Now, it was not possible to participate in making music without evaluating ALL that was in the score. The pieces in the repertoire of the string [...]

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