How Music and Cello Changed My Life

Hey CelloBello readers! My name is Nathan Chan and I’ve been playing the cello for over 17 years. Throughout this time period, my relationship with the cello has been an ongoing evolution in the way I see music as an incredibly powerful tool of expression and creativity. What started as a hobby in the beginning of my musical learning initially evolved into a battle for technical mastery and now has begun to blossom as a freeing medium for spontaneity and exploration.

As a child born and raised in the 90s, my parents were very supportive of me. My father, a Hong-Kong born cardiologist who emigrated to the states for college, represented the discipline and detail-oriented leader in my early life. My mother, a Chinese-Canadian who is a Juilliard-educated pianist, was my creative and spiritual guide growing up. They would often put on LaserDiscs (the older ancestor to the DVD) featuring conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa on this TV we had at home. Using a chopstick as a baton, I did my best in emulating these legends who became my musical heroes. A chance event became an alignment of the stars when as an audience member, then assistant conductor of the San Francisco Opera Sara Jobin (now assistant conductor of the Toledo Symphony) noticed something peculiar in the toddler a few rows ahead of her at an orchestral performance. I must have been conducting from my seat! After a brief introduction to my parents, Sara gave me informal conducting lessons which led me to my debut with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra conducting Beethoven’s 5th Symphony at age 3. So my musical life started then, through the art of conducting. Continue reading

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Announcing CelloStream Master Classes 2016 – 2017


Streamed live from Pierce Hall at New England Conservatory in Boston

COMING 2016 – 2017:

Monday, October 24th 2016
2:00 – 4:30 pm ET

Sunday, November 13th 2016
7:00 – 9:30 pm ET

Tuesday, December 6th 2016
7:00 – 9:30 pm ET

Sunday, February 19th 2017
7:00 – 9:30 pm ET

Friday, March 31st 2017
1:30 – 3:30 pm ET

To tune in for a live-viewing of a CelloStream Artist Master Class, please navigate to the CelloStream page at the appropriate time.

To read bios of previous CelloStream master class artists, please see below.
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Posted in Artistic Vision, Auditions, CelloStream, Chamber Music, In the Practice Room, Interpersonal Relationships, Interviews, Orchestra, Performance, Playing Healthy, Repertoire, Self Discovery, Teaching, Videos | Leave a comment

International Federation of Musicians Publishes Ranking of Airlines’ Musical Instrument Policies


The International Federation of Musicians has published a ranking of airlines’ musical instrument policies. The rating system ranks policies as red, amber or green according to how accommodating each airline is of musicians’ instruments in the cabin.

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Conversation with Bernard Greenhouse

 Reprinted from Internet Cello Society 11/28/98

By Tim Janof:

greenhouseTJ: You studied with Felix Salmond who also taught Leonard Rose.
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The Spine: Our Very Own Superhighway

I only learned about the importance of the spinal column to cello playing as I was introduced more deeply into the Alexander Technique. Of course I knew the superficial facts about the spine and especially how vital it is to the health of the nervous system. But its particular relevance to cellists was not brought home until I began training in the work of teaching the Technique. Continue reading

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The Rep…More than Quartet


More or Less…
String Trios, Quintets and Beyond 

It is generally agreed that the string quartet is the ultimate chamber music idiom. While there are surely those that differ with that assessment, I confess that I agree from my perspectives as both a listener and a performing artist. Many of the greatest composers from Haydn to the present day have tried their hand at quartet writing. Many have succeeded in giving us their best creations, some of which are regarded to be some of the greatest creative work of human kind. Continue reading

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Yo-Yo Ma on Intonation, Practice, and the Role of Music in Our Lives

Reprinted from Strings Magazine, September 17 2015

By Martin Steinberg:

A cellist walks on a beach and picks up a bottle. A genie pops out and says, “I give you two wishes.” 

The cellist says: “Wow, I’d like to have world peace.” 

The genie thinks for a second and says, 

“That’s too hard! What’s your second wish?”

The cellist says, “Well, I’m turning 60 and I want to play in tune.” 

The genie thinks for a second and says, “What was your first wish again?” 

Musicians, take heart. That joke was told by the cellist Yo-Yo Ma during an interview ahead of his 60th birthday on Oct. 7. After 55 years of playing, yes, even Yo-Yo Ma needs to practice. Continue reading

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Opening the Beethoven A Major Cello Sonata: Obsessing Over the First Five Bars

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By Brian Hodges:

The five Beethoven Cello Sonatas are iconic for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they’re some of the first pieces to include the cello in a true duo partnership, something the violin had been enjoying for a long time.

While the first two sonatas (Op. 5, 1 and 2) are actually listed as Sonata for Piano and Violoncello, things have changed by the third sonata, Op. 69 in A Major, with the cello now getting top billing. The sonata was written during Beethoven’s middle period and immediately one can sense his expansive creativity at work in full force.

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Petition to Change British Airway’s Instrument Baggage Policy


Reprinted from The Violin Channel on 6-11-2016

A petition has been launched today calling for British Airways to change their instrument baggage policy – following a June 4th incident at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport where Dunedin Consort Concertmaster, Cecilia Bernardini was refused entry inflight with her 18th Century violin and case. Continue reading

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Some Hassles of International Cello Travel


By Zachary Mowitz:

Curtis Institute cello student Zachary Mowitz tells the story of his recent travel to Europe, and the stress and aggravation caused by inconsistent cello policies between airlines, and untrained and uninformed airline personnel.

As a student cellist I’ve had several occasions to travel by plane with my cello, both domestically and internationally. This is the first journey where I’ve had any difficulty at all– every time I’ve traveled before, I’ve always been let on (I even traveled to Europe with Lufthansa a couple years ago, and they were one of the most helpful back then), with at most a look of incredulity at my bringing a big guitar on board. Continue reading

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