Author: Emily Wright

Wellbourne Cello Retreat!

  About an hour south of Washington, DC, nestled between acres of rolling farmland and a two-block colonial downtown area is the Wellbourne Inn. An old farmhouse that has, since the 1770s, been lived in, added onto, loved and adored by the thousands who visit it each year. And now it’s our turn! While the dates are still up in the air, I’d like to get some information to help me curate the retreat, mostly about what your priorities are, how much single or double occupancy rooms matter, food choices, all that good stuff. It’s going to be just...

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advance and retreat

A few people have contacted me either here or on social media to ask what’s up with my arm- I’ve been posting pictures from rehab and expressing frustration with the various setbacks. I’d intended to make the “long and winding road” posts an informative explanation, but kind of ran out of steam- they weren’t read much, and each one left me tired and a bit sad afterward. I’ll probably finish them, but for now, here’s what you should know. I am ABSOLUTELY still taking students. I am ABSOLUTELY not taking ongoing gigs. My arm was getting better in MN,...

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Non cellists you should listen to more

It’s easy to get lost in the struggle to be an excellent cellist. We take lessons, go to concerts and master classes, listen to recordings, flail away in the practice room. Remember that in the end, the cello is vehicle for music.┬áSo the real goal is to be a fine musician. Wind players and singers have to breathe and be intentional with their volume and phrasing: details string players can easily plow through because we can (and do) just saw back and forth until the music runs out. With this in mind, make sure you’re not limiting your lexicon to cellists alone. Here are some of my favorite examples of people taking great care of the music; listen to how they curate their notes. None of this is by accident- you have to decide, deliberately, to make music this strong. Holy smokes, Ruth Ziesak. Sarah Vaughan is known as a singer who phrases like an instrumentalist. The notes begin and end when she chooses, which takes so much care and attention. Yes, I’m using present tense. She lives on in these recordings. Milt Jackson, playing with time and feel. Eric Dolphy, paying tribute to his friend John Coltrane, two artists known for lack of affectation and unadorned directness of sound. This is key for advancing cellists to remember, as half the tricks up our sleeve (vibrato, tapered note shapes,...

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the long and (re)winding road, part 3

A slight rewind. On October 20, 1997, my parents and I were in a car accident. They had come into LA to celebrate my birthday, and as we crossed Nordhoff St. on Etiwanda Ave., an octogenarian having a diabetic seizure ran the red light and slammed into the side of our car. It was a spectacular scene, with two rumpled vehicles, glass, plastic, smoke, steam, and blood. We were all banged up, and I dizzily ran to check on the other driver. I was sickened to see blood smeared, horror-movie style, all over the inside of his still-running Cadillac....

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