Musicians designate day to celebrate the cello

To watch Cellobration students perform is like catching glimpses of their imaginations as they use bow-like wands on wooden vessels to convert notes into music. To hear them is like distinguishing between the varying effects created from light whispery harmonics to lower mulling sounds in the lower register of the cello to even chopping staccato notes made by the bow. To encounter the students is to realize they vary in ages and background, but the consensus that day was to celebrate the cello.

Cellobration 2015 took place April 10-11 2015 with a recital in Abbott Auditorium. Students of SIUE music professor Marta Simidtchieva along with those who study under SIUE Suzuki instructor Stephanie Hunt and local cello teachers Melissa O’Neal, Kelly Schmidt Honda and Carolyn Suda performed solos and as part of ensembles.

An ensemble of cello students perform in unison in Abbott Auditorium for Cellobration 2015. Photo by Theresa San Luis.

Simidtchieva said the purpose of the event, held since 2007, is about the fun of playing the cello. The event was sponsored by SIUE’s student government, Cello Club and music department.

It is also, according to Simidtchieva, intended to have cello students acknowledged.

“In terms of the abilities of the younger with their playing, [we wanted] to encourage them to be better and continue to being involved in music,” she said.

Simidtchieva added that we live in a kind of hostile time of budget cuts but during days like this, it is a time to pay more attention to the arts.

Students performed beginning pieces such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to more advanced classical pieces such as “Sarabande and Gigue from Suite No. 5” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

A total of 20 students ranging from very young beginners, to a parent who had a son that participated in Cellobration were present along with their family and friends.

Professional cellist, soloist and chamber musician, Anne Suda, traveled from San Francisco to perform as visiting artist.

According to Simidtchieva, Suda brought the best qualities of the instrument out of the cello.

“She played the instrument with ease and brilliance and brought the style and character out of each piece. She was very inspirational to the students…” Simidtchieva said. “And even the violin students were impressed by the ability of the instrument.”

Simidtchieva added that her performance was effortless, with ease in all registers, passionate and stylistically very attractive.

“There was a dead silence in the recital hall because they were in awe of the beautiful cello playing,” she said.

Suda said the cello has a very unique voice and very wide range.

“You can play very low and also very high…” Suda said. “You can express a lot of different emotions and feelings that way even in ways that you can’t with words. I think the cello speaks to a lot of people through that because of the wide range and the ability to get different colors.”

Suda, who conducted master classes, said she hoped to give the students ideas and feedback.

Sam Gillman, a sophomore from Alton High School, said he has enjoyed Cellobration since it began. He performs in a cello ensemble of eight students.

“It’s just really fun. I get to hear fun, cool music and hear and see cello friends. It’s the celebration of the cello so it is cool,” Gillman said.

He added that he liked the wide range of music he heard.

They ranged, according to Gillman, from happy pieces to melancholy, and then baroque to modern music such as “Break on Through” by The Doors.

On Saturday, cellist Amy Catron and pianist Silvan Negrutiu, both faculty from Millikin University, performed as well.

Next year, Siue’s Cello Club and Flute Club along with student government will sponsor the performance of New York-based group, Project Trio. The group consists of flute, cello and double bass, and Simidtchieva anticipates a larger audience and venue for performance scheduled for April 9, 2016.

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