Music fills McIntyre during Central Cello Celebration


Mira Cummings

Professor John Michel and Nikolas Caoile performing Pampeana No. 2 by Alberto Ginastera at the Central Cello Celebration Finale Concert Saturday night.

Kejuan Coleman, Staff Reporter

Over 100 cellists all over the state of Washington played together in the McIntyre Music Building during the Central Cello Celebration on Oct. 19 and 20.

“They can expect to hear a sound like no other. The sound of a choir of cellos surrounds and compels you. The cello can hold down the bass line and also sing a high register melody which makes it an ideal instrument for a like-instrument choir,” said John Michel, professor of music.

He started the first biennial Central Cello Celebration concert in the fall of 2004.

“I was inspired to start the celebration after I was invited to lead a section at the First Kobe International Cello Festival in Kobe, Japan where there were 1,000 cellists playing together in memory of the victims and heroes of the devastating Kobe earthquake,”  Michel said.

The Central Cello Celebration is an event where cellists from all over the Northwest have an opportunity to collaborate with fellow cellists  in one massive choir performance over the weekend. The celebration was open to cellists of all ages giving it a diversified sound.

“I am always excited to bring cellists together that are inspired by the repertoire and enjoy playing together. Because we only do this every other year, it feels more special,” Michel said.

On Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., the recital featured high school and college cellists that ended with a small cello choir playing “Carmen’s Habanera.”

Saturday  was packed with excitement from all of the participating cellists. At 2 p.m. there was a recital featuring cellists that included the YouTube sensation and third chair cellist of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Nathan Chan. The finale concert started at 7:30 p.m..

The finale concert featured the debut choir, the festival choir and a combined performance world premiere of Tom Walworth’s composition, “Jobim’s Standard Time,” a medley of famous bossa nova tunes.

A concert of this magnitude takes time and practice to prepare. According to Michel, “there has been a lot of preparation leading up to this concert, so the excitement is mounting. Besides organizational matters, my studio of cellists has been working on the repertoire twice a week since school started.”  

Grant Chase, CWU alumni and returning Cello Celebration artist said “There is plenty of background classes and recitals that go on throughout the two-day event rehearsing and putting together one massive cello choir finale concert it’s truly a great experience.”

“The blend of the tones and the warmth of the cello tone is reassuring and comforting. The sound of so many cellists playing in such a unified manner is overwhelming. I am always amazed that the sound of the cello choir still stirs in me fresh emotions and inspires my soul,” Michel said.

The next Central Cello Celebration will be in the Fall of 2020 for those interested in witnessing or participating in the event.