Monday, December 15, 2008

Dodger: Cello Love

I have cello love. I bought a cello in June. Lessons followed. I can proudly say I’m
almost done with Suzuki Book 2 with many more Suzuki Books to go. This week my cello and I will take the stage of the Reif Center with the Beginning Orchestra of the Itasca Orchestra’s Strings Program to perform “Old MacDonald,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” “Jingle Bells,” and several more works of a minute or more in length. It will not be Bach or Ma, but me and this lovely, shiny wooden instrument only a foot shorter than I. We will join Jade, Eddie, Hannah, Kaitlyn, and David, the 6 to 13 year olds in my very own cello section. The seven or so songs will take 15 minutes, if that, and we will leave the stage a bit better or not after our first concert.

Day one last June with my cello, I enthusiastically broke two strings in my desire to learn how to tune. Then I quickly learned that I was not going to sound good for at least a year, if that. Next was the physical challenge of playing. You can actually injure yourself playing violins, violas, cellos, and basses. My chiropractor, after a few adjustments, showed me how to stretch and prepare for practice. Now I am focused. My yoga and weight lifting will make me the cello musician I hope to be some day. It’s not about just exercising anymore. It’s about strengthening my right arm, neck and back. Getting into the zone. Zen cello.

I now hear cellos everywhere, the “minimalist” cello strains in the film There Will Be Blood, and the music of Cloud Cult, the Sparrow Quartet, and Ben Sollee. Last month, I took a field trip to the Cities to see Brit cellist Steven Isserlis perform “The Protecting Veil” with the Minnesota Orchestra. In this piece the cello takes the role of the Virgin Mary lamenting. The cello lamented for a good 42 minutes as Isserlis’s fingers dripped off the end of the finger board. The high pitched wailing was mesmerizing, but the man sitting in front of me used Mary’s lament as background music for reading his concert program. How could he have been so clueless? It was a cello up there crying its heart out. I wanted to rip the program from his indifferent hands and tear it to shreds. A bit irrational I would say.

Love is not rational. Cello love. Watch out.

Kathy Dodge co-hosts KAXE Morning Show on Mondays and is the Executive Director of the Itasca Symphony Orchestra. Feel free to comment on "Cello Love", but be sure your syntax and spelling are correct!


Anonymous said...

Oh Dodger! How brave! How passionate! Thanks for sharing...

Aaron J. Brown said...

I heard this guy Ben Sollee on World Cafe who does vocals and cello. He did this jazzy, ha-cha-cha song called "Learning to Bend" with a wicked, face melting cello solo in the middle. I went on iTunes and downloaded what I learned was a slightly different version. It had a xylophone solo instead.

Very. Disappointing. That song (the good version) made me rethink cellos.

Aaron J. Brown said...

Oops. Learning to Bend was the album: the song was "HOw to See the Sun"