Questions & Answers

Questions? We will do our best to answer them…!
To submit a question, send us an email at Items of interest to other readers will be posted here with permission only.

Q: How do you travel all over the place to perform?
— Nickolas

A: Hi Nickolas. Good question. Most of the time, I take airplanes. But, the
way we get around really depends on how far away the concert is. If it is close, we drive. For example, when we came to play for you on Tuesday, Randy and I drove, because it is only 20 minutes away from his house. However, first I had to fly to Boston from Ohio. If a trip lasts a long time (more than three weeks) we might drive instead of flying.
— Sharan

Q: What is the stick called that you play with? I liked the music you played. I know a lot about Mozart.
— Alex

A: Hi Alex. The stick I use with my violin is called a bow. Violas, cellos
and basses use one too. It is made of a very hard wood from South America. The white part that is drawn across the strings to make them vibrate is horse hair! (The hair wears out and needs to be replaced every few months. Fortunaltely, it doesn’t hurt the horse to give up some hair now and then for music… just like getting a hair cut for you or me.) I am also particularly fond of Mozart’s music. I’m so glad you liked it!
— Sharan

Q: Are you married? Do you and your husband work together? I am drawing you a picture for your website. Thanks for coming to our class.
— Ashley

A: Hi Ashley. Yes, I am married, and I have two daughters. My husband and I almost never work together, because we play very different kinds of music (he mainly plays African drums). But, every once in a while we do something. It is always great fun. I also dance in a drumming and dancing group he runs, so that kind of counts… I can’t wait to get your picture! Randy and I had a wonderful time playing for you and your friends.
— Sharan

Q: How did you three meet?
— Logan

A: Hello there Logan. I met Jonathan years ago at Tanglewood. I was a student in the BMC program, and Jonathan was (and still is) in the Boston Symphony. To be more specific, I was walking down the dirt road that leads to the camp beach (would swim across the lake whenever possible), when a green Saab pulled up and some guy asked me if I wanted a ride… (I said no). Five and a half years later, when I moved back to Boston after graduate school, Jonathan asked me to play chamber music in the Boston Artists Ensemble. Randy played in the group too, although I think he and I first met while doing a new piece for one of the composer’s consortium’s around town… As you can see, we have known each other for a very long time (over 20 years), but only started the trio a few years ago.
— Sharan

Q: Hello Sharan! This is Albin. I have a question that probably would be best addressed by Jonathan: On the page “About the Cello” you mention that some of the older celli had hooks or straps attached for walking (or marching) while playing. I’ve had kids in my middle school orchestra ask about this–“Mr. Rose, why isn’t there marching orchestra?” and so forth–and I’d be interested in your source on the marching cello issue. (And yes, I’ve seen Woody Allen’s attempt in “Take the Money and Run!”)

A: Hi Albin . Here is part of an answer… The way in which cellos are held has changed over time. Originally the player might have rested them on the floor (celli used to be larger than the modern standard size), or supported them by a strap if they had to play standing up (or walking). However, as the instrument’s musical role changed, so did the playing technique. By adding the end pin and raising the level of the instrument, while leaning it back against the body, the left hand gained a huge amount of freedom. There are treatises out there on the change in cello technique, and some lovely old illustrations. Here is what Jonathan found out.
— Sharan

A: Dear Albin, Thanks for the interesting question. The answer seems to be cultural as well as musical. Holes were indeed cut in the back of many great 18th Century cellos. I have first-hand experience of seeing these holes (already filled) in many cellos, so that they might be supported around the neck. I asked Rene Morel, a great luthier who owns a shop in New York City, about this issue, and he had the following response: “Most great cellos from the 18th Century were commissioned by either the Church or the nobility. In the case of the “Church” instruments, a hole was made in the back in which a hook was placed, to enable the cello to be played in processions inside and around the basilica.”
— Jonathan

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