By Jacob Stockinger
I like festivals.
I also like cellists.
Combine the two, and you have a good thing.
A very good thing.
But is the old story about cellists being the most friendly and sociable (or is it social?) of all instrument players in classical music true?
Singers might be even more social, especially given the collaborative nature of opera and choral singing.
But I have indeed found that it is very often the cellists who speak for string quartets. Locally, I have spoken with cellists Parry Karp (below), Karl Lavine, Janet Greive, Sarah Schaffer and Benjamin Whitcomb, among others. And the rule holds up.
All the cellists I have interviewed as individuals or orchestra players are also a pleasure to deal with. They often have hearty laughs and a whimsical sense of fun.
They also very often seem to preserve a sense of proportion and to act as the peacemakers in a group.
What is it about the cello and cellists that make them that way?
Could it be because the cello’s tone is so close to the human voice?
Could it be that you learn to offer help to and accept help from others when you lug around a big instrument and pay for a second plane seat on the airplane?
Could it be you feel especially close and human as a musician when you wrap your legs around your instrument?
Could it be the kind of music, very songful and lyrical music, that cellists so often play?
Could it be all of the above, or many of the above in some combination?
Well, it turns out that my own personal impressions are not just mine.
Take a look at the following stories.
More to the point, using the festival’s collaborative celebration of J.S. Bach’s 327th birthday last Wednesday, the second story takes a closer look at the reputation cellists have for being amiable.