FROM THE brilliance of Bach's Cello Suites to the haunting backing the cello provided to Nirvana's legendary Unplugged in NY concert for MTV, the cello has been one of the most versatile and admired instruments in music.
To celebrate the cello, often called the instrument closest in sound to the human voice, Music For Galway and Galway 2020 present a new festival, Cellissimo, from Saturday April 25 to Sunday May 3.
The festival will feature orchestral concerts, world premieres, chamber recitals, solo performances, a traditional music strand, an international student programme, a cello trail on Inishbofin, a children's show, a film screening, and an exhibition.
The line up features Oscar winning composer Tan Dun conducting the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in the Irish premiere of his Crouching Tiger Concerto, with star Italian cellist Giovanni Sollima as soloist; and the unveiling of the Galway Cello - commissioned for the festival, crafted by luthier Kuros Torkzadeh from locally grown trees, and modelled on the Gore-Booth Stradivarius from 1710 - for the world premiere of Bill Whelan's new commission for cello and voice, performed by Galway cellist Naomi Berrill.
David Brophy will conduct the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in two new cello concertos by Gerald Barry and Julia Wolfe - both works commissioned by Music for Galway and the Cello Biennale Amsterdam - followed by Elgar's Cello Concerto. The concert features soloists Tatjana Vassiljeva, Jakob Koranyi and Nicolas Altstaedt.
Mischa Maisky, with his daughter Lily on piano, will perform works by Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Britten, and Piazzolla at the Town Hall Theatre. There will also be a marathon performance of Beethoven's five sonatas by Christopher Ellis, Laura van der Heijden, Christopher Marwood, Tatjana Vassiljeva, and Adrian Brendel, with Finghin Collins on piano.
The festival finale will see 12 international cello students, cello students from across County Galway, amateur cellists, and Cello Ireland, and soprano Claudia Boyle, to sing Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras No 5, as well as works by Sollima, Tchaikovsky, Bruch, and specially-commissioned new arrangements of Fauré and Bach.
'The festival is a celebration of the cello, the rich repertoire written for it, and the remarkable cellists who master'
There will also be the Dutch children’s show (ages 6+ ) The Decibel Family at the Town Hall; The Bach Plus concerts will be taking place in the city and in six different locations around the county; while trad fans can look forward to cellist Natalie Haas with concertina player and dancer Caitlín Nic Gabhann and fiddler Ciarán Ó Maonaigh.
"The festival is a celebration of the cello, the rich repertoire written for it, and the remarkable cellists who master it," said Music for Galway's artistic director Finghin Collins. "We have programmed fantastic Irish and international cellists to perform a diverse and varied programme which showcases the exceptional versatility and beauty of this instrument. We would like people of all ages to enjoy Cellissimo."