June 12, 2016.
Members from all over the state arrived at the Durham North Carolina Central University Recital Hall, Edwards Music building to hear presenters talk about their teachers and mentors, and to play in a cello choir. Dr. Tim Holley, cello professor at NCCU was our host and made us welcome and comfortable in the perfect size recital hall. Eight presenters told stories about their teachers and mentors, showed us various bowings, left hand positioning and degrees of vibrato, and taught us how to play improvised accompaniments (and how to do the bow "chop"!)
Attendees! Please feel free to share your photos and quotes from teachers or mentors, and give us more detailed information on the presentations, so we can have a well-documented blog page of this very special event. You can send everything through the comment box on the website Contact page.
Dr. TIm Holley
Jill Soha and Hope Wilder
Unfortunately, Brooks Whitehouse from the NCSA was not able to be attend as a presenter, but here is a hilarious song concocted by him and bassist Paul Sharpe.
Quotes from Teachers and Mentors
1. When you work with a good pianist, treat them well!!
2. The Left Hand must ALWAYS move ahead of the Right Hand.
3. The bow is to the cellist--what the "tongue, teeth, lips, lungs and throat" are to the voice
4. All types of repertoire have a distinct message. Our challenge and responsibility is to study the details of each respective message, and bravely communicate it to a receptive and engaged audience.
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything".
Jonathan Kramer (Olga Labastova)
"We cellists are always right! Never show expression if you made a mistake"
Paul Tortelier (Jane Salemson)
"If music be the food of love, then scales are the food of music"
Jill Soha - the quote is more from experience attending many non-classical workshops over the years, than from any one teacher.
"Good technique is required in playing non-classical music for the same reasons that it is required in playing classical music, both to produce good sound and to avoid injury".
Comments from Presenters
Dr. Tim Holley
My comments were given amid a busy time of family gathering for my youngest daughter's high school graduation, which followed three consecutive weekends of travel, performing, and conference hosting!! It is a miracle that I'm able to make subject and verb AGREE!!
Whenever musicians gather together, the first spoken (or unspoken) truth is the fact that THE WORLD IS SMALL!! My freely transcribed and paraphrased comments bear out this fact: I first met my Durham colleague, Julius Prescott when I was a few weeks away from graduation from Baldwin-Wallace College (University). He was auditioning, and would begin his undergraduate studies there the following fall, studying with our shared mentor Regina Mushabac--a student and former teaching assistant for Janos Starker at Indiana University. From B-W I went to The University of Michigan, where I studied with Jerome Jelinek. Jelinek studied with Luigi Silva shortly after having finished his undergraduate degree. While still in Cleveland, I sought out and introduced myself to the cellist Donald White, who in 1957 joined the Cleveland Orchestra as its first African-American member. White also studied with Silva sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. When White passed away in 2005, I discovered that he made a small sensation when the Orchestra went on a Southern concert tour, which included Birmingham, Alabama. The city had a local ordinance forbidding the "mixing of the races in public onstage performances", which became an issue when it was discovered that White was a contracted member of the Orchestra. In response to the ordinance, General Manager and Music Director George Szell circulated a petition among the Orchestra membership and presented it to the Mayor of Birmingham (threatening to cancel the performance if White was not permitted to perform). The concert went on as scheduled, and the event faded into obscured history in the wake of a mounting conflict over civil rights for "Negroes" and unrest over the American military presence in Vietnam. Another African-American cellist, Ralph Curry would join the Cleveland Orchestra in 1977; his brother William Henry is well-known in the Triangle Area as the music director of the Durham Symphony Orchestra and (departing) resident conductor of the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra came to Ann Arbor on concert tour, and I managed to catch Donald White at the concert and arranged to take him to meet Jerome Jelinek--a first meeting of two former Silva proteges who had been teacher and mentor-figures to me.
Both men have since passed on, but the value of their knowledge of Silva's technical approach (and David Popper High School For Cello Playing Etude #17!!) serves me each day as both practitioner and pedagogue. I recall that my remaining "wisdom" comments were as follows: 1. When you work with a good pianist, treat them well!! My mother is a pianist, accompanist and choral director; so I didn't know how GOOD I've had it all along back then!! NOW I DO!! 2. The Left Hand must ALWAYS move ahead of the Right Hand. If the bow doesn't allow the left hand to do its work first, the notes of music sound as the equivalent to a 32mm film out of balance--no stable image is visible, just a blurred version of that image...times 32!! 3. The bow is to the cellist--what the "tongue, teeth, lips, lungs and throat" are to the voice; and "when you need more bow TAKE more bow!! Image keeling over in suffocation amid passionate conversation...simply because you've run out of breath!! 4. All types of repertoire have a distinct message. Our challenge and responsibility is to study the details of each respective message, and bravely communicate it to a receptive and engaged audience. I referred (over-extensively) to the comedian Bernie Mac as my piece of "wisdom" that I now impart to my students amid this aesthetically "worrisome period of performance, entertainment, education, criticism (or the lack thereof).
Jill Soha and Hope Wilder
Jill shared a broad lesson learned from her cello teacher: the fun of
playing music of various genres and making your own arrangements of
songs. (Her teacher, Rick Mooney, has written and arranged many songs
for students and cello ensembles, and in fact we played two of his
arrangements earlier in the morning).
Hope then described and demonstrated several ways for cellists to
create rhythmic bass lines given only chord progressions: repetition
of the root note, the use of bow chops, bow chops combined with
fifths, arpeggios using pizzicato, and two-part bowed chords. We
tried each method in turn as Hope sang and Jill played the melodic
line. Hope was introduced to the cello by professional bassist Paul
Ford, and her early exposure was focused on bass line possibilites for
cello in non-classical music. Classically trained cellists have asked
her how she comes up with bass lines in such settings, and this
inspired her to share these ideas with us.