ICS Member Spotlight: November/December TUTTI CELLI Newsletter

It was on television, at age 15, that I first heard the prelude to Bach's first suite. It sent a shiver down my spine, and it still does. My relationship with music started out rather slowly. My mother listened to a lot of music, and I was very much into Baroque style. Hearing that prelude tempted me to start playing, but silly reasons like: "It's too late to start" kept me away. My interest as a listener became a passion. Having never had any lessons, except for a bit of trumpet in high school, I pretty much had to fend for myself and learn what I could. My best source of information were the pamphlets that came with the CDs. I started with the basics, and from there saw names such as Corelli, Couperin and Purcell. I also managed to find some of the greats' less popular pieces. Every album was a learning thrill. Cello, bass viol and harpsichord quickly became my favorites.

The decisive events started when I moved to Quebec City two years ago. During my first summer here, I saw Jordy Savall in concert. I remember being completly spellbound by the performance. I felt that Savall had merged with both the composer and the music; it seemed like sheer joy. I seriously considered starting lessons, but those silly reasons still haunted me. During that year I was getting the feeling that I wasn't learning as much about music. It dawned on me that I would have to get closer to the music in order to learn more about it.

And on my second summer, it happened. Peter Wispelwey played the complete Bach suites in concert. The interpretation was quite different from Casals', which was to one I listened to at home, but nonetheless it kept me on the edge of my seat for three hours. His playing seemed so sincere. I could see the devotion he put in his music, and how it stemmed from within. I was hooked! I decided that night that I would throw all those silly reasons to the wind and start lessons.

I'll never forget the feeling of "rightness" I felt when I first held the cello. The grandest moment in that lesson was when I first put bow to string, I don't know how, but I managed to get a nice open C right away, It was love at first listen!

I realised right away that had a highly qualified teacher. Anne-Marie Cassidy was finishing her masters in interpretation (solo cello) at Laval University's music school when I started lessons with her. In November 94 she won the school's concerto contest and gave a ravishing performance of Saint-Saens Concerto. Not only is she a gifted instrumentalist, she is a devoted teacher. She is always very sensitive to her student's difficulties and interests, and she always tries to keep the emphasis on the progress that has been made, which was very good for the morale of this beginner. I could not have hoped for a better mentor, and I thank her for her patience and efforts.

I took to my cello right away, squeezing two hours of daily practice into my study schedule (engineering). I realised that all that listening had paid off: I had developed a good, although not perfect, ear. I've even realised that my ear is more accurate in the lower register, perhaps explaining my attraction towards the cello. The learning thrill had started anew. Not only from the cello perspective, I was, and still am, becoming more and more sensitive to music. The basics of solfege helped me to better understand and rediscover pieces that I knew well. I have expanded my interest into different styles of music. I've discovered Brahms, Beethoven, Dvorak, Barber, etc. . .

In the last few months things have moved quickly. I've purchased a cello, a wonderfull little instrument; and in May I played at an amateur concert. I played two little duos with my teacher and a solo. The experience was fantastic, the duos went extremely well. The solo was a bit more difficult, not technically, but being alone on stage put quite some pressure on me, and mistakes followed. Still, I am eager to repeat such an experience and am very proud of myself, after all, I had been playing only for eight months!

The only thing I regret is not having started sooner. I feel closer to music now than I ever have. Cello has become an important part of my life. Of course, it's awfully difficult, but the rewards completely outweight the efforts.

I hope ICS members who are not playing because of silly reasons will reconsider. You don't have to satisfy yourselves with listening alone! Nor do you have to be a professional musician to experience the joys of music. I know I'm not the only "Cellist by night" in this society. So come on, put bow to string! Music shouldn't be strictly contemplative, it stems from the human spirit. Therefore we should all try to let the music inside us come out!

Patrice Carbonneau
pcarbon@phy. ulaval. ca

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