PEOPLE

Lynn Harrell

Monday, 04 November 2013

The US cellist shares some insights from a life on the concert stage

Ours is a mellow-sounding instrument, and we must be able to project through thick textures sometimes

The cello’s range always matches the range of human expression in its ability to speak, sing, wail, cry, and so on. It is never an abstract expression of its player’s body.

A cello soloist must have a sound that has depth, resonance, brilliance, colour and power. Ours is a mellow-sounding instrument, and we must be able to project through thick textures sometimes.

The secret of a great performance lies in getting out of the way of the music’s values and ethos. They must be able to speak with total freedom.

When teaching, I always look to that time when the student will take over and go their own way. The seeds of lifelong study and of adaptability must have taken root by that point, otherwise the student will wither and their vitality and development will atrophy and die. A life in the arts is one of constant evolution, and this should be their guiding ethos.

The greatest lesson that music has taught me is that people from every culture, background, political alignment and socio-economic environment all turn, and should turn, to music as a line back to themselves as human beings.

Written in 2011 when Lynn Harrell performed Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain… at the BBC Proms. Click here to see a clip from the performance.

Photo: Christian Steiner

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