Monday, December 19, 2016

Birmingham Cello Project - Christmas Concert

warming up...
So, we did it! We had our first Birmingham Cello Project performance. And it was just lovely and so much fun!

No, we didn't play perfectly. It was a rainy and cold day... which is not particularly good for string instruments. (Or hair, but that's another story!)

At the beginning our rehearsal, we kind of fell apart. But when showtime rolled around, we pulled it together. We enjoyed playing with the violinists, and we're so grateful to Morningside for having us, and to St. Mark Church for allowing us practice space each month!

Here's a picture of a few of our colorful cases:
rainbow cello cases!

And here's the whole group of cellists... thank you, Paul Latham, for taking pictures! And to John Nelson for arranging the event.
(l-r) John, Becky, Meredith, Irene, Maria, Paul, Phil, Rebecca

From all of us to all of you: Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Birmingham Cello Project Christmas Concert - Next Sunday!

Our Christmas concert is almost here! We hope you will join us for this free event.

Sunday, December 18
3:30 pm

Morningside of Vestavia Hills
(formerly Chateau Vestavia)
2401 Columbiana Road
Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

Players: we will meet at Saint Mark United Methodist Church at 2:30 to run through the songs and collect chairs. We will then head to the venue.

Here is the set list:

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Angels We Have Heard

Away in the Manger

Good King Wencelas

Silent Night

Hark the Herald Angels

Monday, December 5, 2016

Winter Cello Care

Our teacher sent a note recently reminding us that hot, dry air from running the heat indoors can cause cellos to crack.

One way to prevent this is to keep a humidifier running in the room where your cello lives.

Or you can purchase The Original Dampit.

Cellos don't like to be cold, either, apparently. Ever heard of a cello coat?

Here's an article from Cello Journal with more winter tips.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Case for Strength & Gentleness on the Cello

I recently read THE SOLOIST by Mark Salzman, which features a cellist who was once a child prodigy and is now struggling to return to the stage after kind of collapsing as a performer.
In many ways I feel lucky to have come to the cello so late in life. Any pressure I feel is self-inflicted and doesn't come from well-meaning parents or teachers. There isn't a lot of thought about the future and what I will "do" with it. I'm just going to play because I want to play, for as long as I feel that way, and that's it!

Here are some quotes from the book:

If a thirty-year-old man were to play exactly the way I did at fifteen, no none would have insisted that he become better. No one would have said, “I can't wait to hear you when you're forty.” Now I think I know what happened to me. Since musically I couldn't see how to improve, any more than one can willfully improve one's capacity for hunger or joy, I turned my attention to the only aspect I could control, which was intonation.

When you play music well, you are transported. However my experience has been that you cannot make great music happen; you can only prepare yourself for it to happen. To a degree, your preparation determines what will happen, but once it starts happening yo have to surrender ourself to it. Once you do so you are free, except that you are free only within the boundaries you created through your preparation.

I pulled my French edition of Pablo Casals's autobiography down from the shelf and read aloud one of his better-known quotes: “Dans la vie il faut montrer du caractere et de la gentillesse.” I translated it as “In life, one must show both strength and gentleness,” and I explained that as cellists, we try to apply this theory to our playing.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Art & Tech Tools for Cellists

There has never been a better time to be a cellist. All sorts of practice aids are now available on our devices:

Metronome - I use ProMetronome.

Tuner - I use ClearTune.

Music - I like I Heart Radio's (classical station out of Los Angeles)

Videos - I subscribe to Rachel Xu's station. She has videos of all the Suzuki tunes I've played so far -- and a lot of other songs, too.

Oh, and just for fun: check out these artsy cellos. Love!

If you have some favorite apps/sites, please share in comments.

Monday, November 14, 2016

On Achieving Perfect Intonation & Practicing Out of Love

There's a great article over at Strings Magazine in which Yo-Yo Ma muses about his 55 (!) years of playing the cello.

And here's Yo-Yo's American debut at the age of 7:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cellist Calavera

My friend Sarah at Shine Memoirs is visiting San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she found this cellist calavera at the Mueseo del Juguete Popular Mexicano (a toy museum). I love it -- though s/he does need to work a bit on proper posture. :)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Cellos on the Subway

If the Birmingham Cello Project was located in New York City, this is the kind of thing we'd be doing! Of course we are "young" players, so this piece is a little ways down the road for most of of us. Someday....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Hello! Welcome to the new home of Birmingham Cello Project, a group of amateur cellists who gather monthly in Birmingham, Alabama, to play together and enjoy fellowship... and snacks! We always play better with snacks!

Coming Soon:

Birmingham Cello Project Christmas Concert

Sunday, December 18
3 pm

Chateau Vestavia
2435 Columbiana Rd
 Birmingham, AL 35216


Are you a cellist who would like to join our group? Please contact Irene Latham: irene (at) irenelatham (dot) com. Must have cello! All levels of experience welcome. Happy playing!