Cello Connection

Tomorrow I am playing for a wedding of a young friend of mine.  The bride wanted a string trio sound, but struggled to find string players.  Finally a violin player was found, who in turn found a cellist who had recently moved to a neighboring town 45 miles away.  I fell in love with Virginia, the 85 year old cellist.  She knows most of the repertoire by heart, has a beautiful touch on the cello with none of the prickly pride musicians are known for. 

Making small talk upon introduction, I mentioned that I had played the cello when I was young. 

“And when I got discouraged and wanted to quit the cello, my father would take me out of school, drive me down to Orchestra Hall and I would watch Frank Miller play the cello with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  He was so large – just dwarfed the cello – but his playing thrilled and inspired me to keep on.” 

A smile rippled across Virginia’s face.  “I played with Frank Miller.” 

“Get out!  You lived in Chicago?”

“Near North Side.  We had the same grandmother, musically speaking.”

From the Chicago Tribune on the death of Frank Miller in 1986:

“He was called the greatest living orchestral cellist, and no one who followed Frank Miller’s long and distinguished career in American symphonic music would question the legitimacy of that claim.”

I might become inspired to take up that instrument again.  With a teacher like Virginia…


6 thoughts on “Cello Connection

  1. Yes! Do it! The cello is a wonderful instrument. I just cry when I hear Yo Yo Ma play, especially The Swan. If you like to travel, I can put you to work in a local and small Symphony that meets for rehearsal in Wallowa on Tuesday evenings, we are all learning and none of us seem to be the pride-filled prickly musician, none of us are ‘good’ enough for that! heeheeheeMaybe your friend would like to come as well? The m ore the merrier and I do mean Merry! We have a great time and our conductor is a dear man, nothing like the stereotypical Orchestral Leader with an iron fist and a foul vocabulary!

  2. Oh, my goodness, Carol, what are the chances?!? How did your dad know to take you there and how did he know who Frank Miller was? That is just amazing! And, yes, I agree you should take the cello up again. My sister played cello growing up, and I always loved the mellow sound of it. YOU GO GIRL!!!

  3. my daughter has her first Cello lesson next week.  She will be using her mother’s cello which has quietly sat in a corner of my room waiting patiently for someone to come along and take it up again.  I put it aside (after a small handful of years) when my oldest was about 6 months old.What a wonderful moment that must have been with Virginia when you mentioned Frank Miller.  Small world indeed!

  4. So, what songs were played at the wedding?  DD#2 had hoped for a stringed-trio as well, but the organ won out.  My favorite from her wedding?  Handel’s La Rejouissance – as the recessional.

  5. @DebD – Deb, I didn’t know that you played the cello!  I’m so glad that your daughter is playing it now.  The cello I played had been my sisters cello.  After I set it aside (and many years later) our nephew took it up.  He still plays occasionally in the small orchestra at his church.@hiddenart – We played several Bach Minuets, Strauss’ The Beautiful Blue Danube, Boccherini’s Minuet, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Handel’s Bourrée, and several hymns.  We managed to make it through the entire gig without playing Pachelbel’s Kanon. Wedding musicians develop an antipathy to that piece.  Oh, good choice with La Rejouissance!  Curt and I recessed to Handel’s Hornpipe from Water Music – — on the organ.@secros60 – I just play the piano.  I don’t believe I could pick up a cello and play a simple scale on it.  So the trio was piano, violin and cello.  Thanks for asking.

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