Performance

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: , , , , , |

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: , , , , |

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 [...]

The Forgotten Live Video Recording: Du Pré & the Dvořák Cello Concerto, 1968 — by Tony Woodcock

The most wonderful video performance of the Dvořák Cello Concerto by Jacqueline Du Pré and Daniel Barenboim was added to YouTube just a few weeks ago. In this CelloBello exclusive blog is a moving, personal description by a young London musician, Tony Woodcock, who was 17 years old at the time. Below he recounts the unexpected political backdrop for this historic concert, which was hastily arranged in response to the 1968 Russian invasion of Dvořák’s home country of Czechoslovakia. Tony Woodcock, by the way, grew up to eventually become the President of the New England Conservatory of Music, and was a primary supporter of the founding of CelloBello.com. My heartfelt thanks to him for his role in making our website possible, and for illuminating us on an extraordinary history that [...]

An Interview with Paul Katz on “Talent Has Hunger”

Talent Has Hunger is an inspiring film about the power of music to consume, enhance, and propel lives. Filmed over 7 years, the documentary offers a window into the mysterious world of the artist, and focuses on the challenges of guiding gifted young people through the struggles of mastering the cello. The film features the mentorship of master teacher Paul Katz, the founder of CelloBello. He joined our website blogmaster, Francesca McNeeley, for an interview to discuss the film and its impact: For people who may not realize the connection between this film and CelloBello, would you mind briefly talking about their shared history? About 10 years ago there was a cellist who went to Harvard and did her doctoral dissertation in legacy and mentoring; she made myself and my class the subject [...]

By |2018-09-06T05:24:46+00:00May 12th, 2017|Categories: News, Performance, Featured|Tags: |

The Most Erogenous Region of the Cello — by Stefanie Buller

Search for resistance—enjoy the friction! I have been considering the topic “sounding point” (contact point, in German) for a long time now. Where bow hair and string meet is where everything we have to offer—regarding material, technique, power and ease—is channeled. This is the origin of the sound! This is where the action is! Isn't the sounding point therefore the most erogenous region of the cello? But at first a little anecdote: After the Christmas mass the priest stood at the exit, shaking the hands of the parishioners and wishing them a Merry Christmas. What a nice gesture! So I took his hand in return. But it felt like a rubber glove filled with jelly. By intuition I tried to get a grip. (“There must be bones somewhere in this hand…”) [...]

Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Forgotten Masterpiece — by Brinton Averil Smith

With over 200 film scores to his name, it's more likely that you've heard Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's music than his name. Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born in Florence in 1895 into a family that had been in Italy for generations, since the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. His career as a composer began with conservatory study in Italy, and by the 1920s he was beginning to garner attention in greater Europe. In 1932 Mario began a lifelong friendship with the guitarist Andres Segovia, who inspired perhaps his most famous work, the Guitar Concerto No.1, and became an important champion of his music. It is largely due to Segovia's influence that Mario wrote over 100 works for the guitar, which today form an important and frequently heard part of that instrument's repertoire. [...]

The Bach Suites as You Have Never Seen Them Before — by Antonio Lysy

Hundreds of scholars have studied and written about the Bach Suites, yet we can only speculate about how or when they were first performed. The original manuscript is lost, leaving us with various facsimiles to decipher, and there are no written accounts by Bach’s contemporaries. The one advantage of this predicament is the wide spectrum of artistic decisions on which a cellist is compelled to ruminate, in order to make them “their own.” Apparently the suites were not intended to be performed as a cycle, although this approach has become increasingly common in the last couple of decades. My current perspective, developed over many years of performing and teaching the suites, is that each of the six tells a distinctive story. And, like a series of books or films, each [...]