Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger

About Guest Blogger

In addition to our regular contributors, CelloBello regularly features guest bloggers on the website; past guests have included Antonio Lysy, Inbal Segev, Colin Carr, and many more.

If you have a cello-related blog you would like to suggest for publication on CelloBello, please email jamie@cellobello.com.

Presence on Stage (Part 5 – The Breath) – by Ruth Phillips

The Breath "The bow must be a living thing at all times, and all living things need to breathe" - Steven Isserlis, cellist. For me, the breath is the thing that binds all of this together. No-wonder it is at the root of so many spiritual practices! It is inspiration and expression, tension and release, taking in and letting go, expansion and contraction. It is not ‘ours’ though it passes through us, and it connects us with ourselves, our bodies and the audience. With all living things. The ocean breathes, trees breathe….It is everything we are and everything music is. When we are aligned and in harmony, we feel as if we are being breathed, just as we can, in performance, feel like the music is playing us. Working with [...]

By |2018-09-16T15:11:40+00:00September 16th, 2018|Categories: In the Practice Room, Self Discovery, Teaching, Performance, Playing Healthy|Tags: , , , , |

Presence on Stage (Part 4 – Presence) – by Ruth Phillips

Presence "The mind in its natural state can be compared to the sky, covered by layers of cloud which hide its true nature." – Kalu Rinpoche   Once we learn to generate movement from our core and not interfere with it, once we start to follow rather than control the music, we experience an extraordinary new space. Presence. Like a city dweller suddenly finding herself under a huge desert sky, for some this space can be terrifying. What do I put in it? Who am I in it? In fact, it is there we find connection. With ourselves, the music and the audience.   Thought “In order to really be, you have to be free from the thinking… Non-thinking is an art and, like any art, it requires patience and practice.” [...]

Presence on Stage (Part 3 – Non-Doing) – by Ruth Phillips

Non-Doing The tennis player observes the ball as it leaves his racket and completes the trajectory he has sent it on. He is no longer ‘in control’ of the ball but rather relaxed, alert and watchful. Primed for the return. Once we have learned to initiate movement from our core, we must then practice not interfering in it. For those of us who have learned that playing is all about control, holding and doing, this is quite a challenge, and yet this is what allows us to replace fear of being out of control with freedom and ease.   Gravity “When the abandonment to gravity comes into action, resistance ceases, fear vanishes, order is regained, nature starts again to function in its natural rhythm and the body is able to [...]

Presence on Stage (Part 2 – Power vs. Strength) – by Ruth Phillips

Power versus Strength ‘When you have attained complete relaxation, you are able to be flexible and agile in your movements.’ - Zen master Yang Cheng Fu “To relax is not to collapse, but simply to undo tension….There is nothing to be done. It is not a state of passivity but, on the contrary, of alert watchfulness. It is perhaps the most ‘active’ of our attitudes, going ‘with’ and not ‘against’ our body and feelings.” - Vanda Scaravelli -  Awakening the Spine. Building strength through force only promotes the shortening of muscles as they contract, causing fatigue and strain. That strain goes against rather than with our body. Developing power is another matter entirely. Power is a natural state. It involves movement generated from our core, a great deal of relaxation and a [...]

Presence on Stage (Part 1 – Introduction) – by Ruth Phillips

Introduction Many people ask me on Breathing Bow retreats if stage presence is something we can practice, if it is possible to find a way to be exactly where we are - in a concert hall with an audience right here and right now, about to share what we love? I believe that the answer is yes. Musicians’ preparation on a concert day can range from taking beta blockers to eating bananas. However, as soon as we are on stage we feel fear. Fear of losing control or mental focus, and above all fear of judgement. Our muscles contract, our heart rate speeds up, we go blank, our bow shakes, we sweat….the list of symptoms for ‘stage fright’ is endless and for many of us, coping with them simply isn’t [...]

By |2018-09-14T13:57:00+00:00September 12th, 2018|Categories: In the Practice Room, Self Discovery, Performance|Tags: , , , , , |

Castelnuovo-Tedesco Cello Concerto Revival — by Brinton Averil Smith

June 8, 2018 marked the Naxos release of a live recording of the first professional performance of Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's 'lost' cello concerto in over 80 years. Castelnuovo-Tedesco's career in his native Italy was cut short by Mussolini's rise, and he spent the latter half of his life in Hollywood, where he scored nearly 200 films, while continuing to compose classical works and teaching students including Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, André Previn, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams (André Previn tells the story of Mario forcing him to orchestrate Mozart's 40th symphony from memory, and then comparing his orchestration to the economy of Mozart's). Gregor Piatigorsky and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, August 1935 (source unknown) Mario relates that Piatigorsky asked “Castelnuovo, a great many cellists play your works as well [...]

Emanuel Feuermann and the Art of Phrasing — by Brinton Averil Smith

There has been a long-running debate in the string-playing world regarding the 'Golden Age' of string playing, generally considered to span the 1920s to the 1960s. While many today are happy to listen to and model their playing on more contemporary players, there has been a persistent argument made that the players of that era—Heifetz, Feuermann, Kreisler, Oistrach, Casals, and numerous others—played in a different way than more recent players. It is easy to dismiss this argument as the eternal 'nothing is as good as it used to be' meme and, when painted with too broad a brush, such generalizations quickly fall apart. The string players of that era were, after all, a group of vividly different players with different approaches—as are today's players. Yet when one begins to examine [...]

By |2018-07-10T05:39:50+00:00May 18th, 2018|Categories: Artistic Vision, Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

A Much Maligned Cellist: The True Story of Felix Salmond and the Elgar Cello Concerto (Part 4) — by Tully Potter

Blog photos courtesy of the Tully Potter Collection.   This blog is a continuation of a multi-part series. Revisit it from the beginning in Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3. The original article first appeared in the Elgar Society Journal.    THE EMIGRATION Early in 1922 the Salmonds left England for New York with their two children: Lillian had borrowed money to help pay for their passage and their living expenses while Felix established himself. On 29 March he made a successful recital début at the Aeolian Hall with Frank Bibb at the piano; but it soon became apparent that he would not earn much more as a soloist than he had in England, and that he would have to take a teaching post in order to make ends meet. He [...]

A Much Maligned Cellist: The True Story of Felix Salmond and the Elgar Cello Concerto (Part 3) — by Tully Potter

Original image provided by the Salmond Family.   This blog is a continuation of a multi-part series. Revisit Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. The original article first appeared in the Elgar Society Journal.    The next development in the saga was that Fred Gaisberg of HMV wanted to record the Concerto—he had obviously not been put off by the première. As had happened with the Violin Concerto, just four 12-inch 78rpm sides would be available, but the more compact Cello Concerto would not need to be cut quite so drastically—the Scherzo would require only a small excision and the Adagio would be accommodated complete on one side. Sadly Salmond was under contract to Vocalion, so could not be considered. Guilhermina Suggia was approached but wanted too high a fee. The [...]

A Much Maligned Cellist: The True Story of Felix Salmond and the Elgar Cello Concerto (Part 2) — by Tully Potter

Blog photo courtesy of the Tully Potter Collection.   This blog is a continuation of a multi-part series. Revisit Part 1 here. The original article first appeared in the Elgar Society Journal.    The fiasco that never was Just how much of a disaster was the premiere? Let us review some of the salient points, starting with the soloist. All those who knew him were agreed that Felix Salmond had a phenomenal memory, so there is every probability that he knew the cello part intimately by the time he arrived at Queen’s Hall. As the son of a singer, he had early imbibed the virtues of a singing line and good breath control. As a virtuoso he was no Feuermann or Piatigorsky but the few discs which document him in fast-moving music [...]

A Much Maligned Cellist: The True Story of Felix Salmond and the Elgar Cello Concerto (Part 1) — by Tully Potter

Blog photos courtesy of the Tully Potter Collection.   This article first appeared in the Elgar Society Journal.   Tully Potter tries to lay a myth to rest. Sometimes a myth becomes so firmly entrenched in the public consciousness that the true facts are completely obscured. So it has been with that archetypal English cellist Felix Salmond, whose career is always woefully misrepresented. In his adopted country, the United States, he is remembered for teaching at Juilliard and Curtis and nurturing most of the prominent 1930s and post-war American cellists. In Britain he is indelibly linked with the premiere of Elgar’s E minor Concerto, an event now encrusted with fables. Felix Adrian Norman Salmond was born in London on 19 November 1888, to musical parents: his father Norman was a [...]

By |2018-06-21T20:44:31+00:00February 5th, 2018|Categories: Performance, Repertoire, Interpersonal Relationships|Tags: , , , , |

Vowels and Sound Production on the Cello — by Gregory Beaver

Originally published on gregorybeaver.com.   For many of my student years as a cellist, I struggled to achieve a fully resonant sound on the cello. The ever-elusive goal would seem within grasp, and then I would start trying and tension would squelch the sound. Or I would finally achieve relaxation, and look down to see my bow gently dusting the edge of the fingerboard with rosin. Rarely was I able to fully engage the core of the string while releasing energy through my body. As a teacher, I found producing a great sound to be a particularly interesting mission. I learned early on that telling students to play close to the bridge simply doesn’t work. If a student doesn’t naturally play close to the bridge, the bow will hover near [...]

By |2018-08-05T06:29:22+00:00January 29th, 2018|Categories: In the Practice Room, Self Discovery, Teaching|Tags: , , , |

The Amit Peled Peabody Cello Gang: Closing the Circle — by Amit Peled

Originally posted on Violinist.com. As a student, I was fortunate enough to experience the magic of performing music on stage with my great mentors Bernard Greenhouse, Boris Pergamenschikow, and Laurence Lesser, as well as see how each of them balanced their performing and teaching careers. The difference between listening to them explain how to create a phrase and actually forming that phrase with them on stage was huge and significant. Performing with my teachers was a vastly more effective lesson than a one-on-one in a studio, teaching me “on-the-spot” artistic decision-making, amending each performance to fit the energy of the hall. Ever since those transformative and magical moments, I knew that I would become a teacher and pass on the tradition of sharing music with my own students on stage. [...]

LA Story: A Recital of New & Unusual Works for Cello & Piano from Hollywood’s Golden Age — by Brinton Averil Smith

Like many string players I grew up loving the Heifetz recording of the Korngold Violin Concerto, and a general obsession with Heifetz led to an interest in the composers he championed, in particular composers like Korngold, Rózsa, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and others who lived in Los Angeles during the mid-20th century. This inspired a project last April to revive the Castelnuovo-Tedesco cello concerto for its first performance since its 1930s debut performances with Piatigorsky and Toscanini. The recording of our 'reboot' will be released this June on Naxos, but reading and studying about Castelnuovo-Tedesco's relationships with the film studios, Heifetz, Piatigorsky, and the other musicians and composers living in LA gave me a new appreciation for the incredible depth of musical talent that existed in Los Angeles in the middle of the [...]

An Amateur Cellist’s Case for CelloBello — by Jenn Dungan

Hey, CelloBello fans. My name is Jenn Dungan. I’m a pretty seriously geeky adult amateur cellist, and a supporter of CelloBello. I want to talk to you a little bit about why I find this site so valuable, and offer a few reasons I hope you’ll join me in supporting CelloBello’s mission. I took up the cello several years ago and will, of course, be learning it for the rest of my life. I’m fortunate to take weekly lessons from an excellent teacher; I’ve also had opportunities to learn from other gifted instructors through master classes and camps. Given how complex this skill is, and how different every teacher’s approach is, I believe all cellists can benefit from receiving instruction from a variety of master players. We live in an [...]

By |2018-02-15T05:55:53+00:00December 25th, 2017|Categories: Artistic Vision, Teaching, Technology|Tags: , , , |