2024 Festival

Dates, location

2024 festival

June 27th-30th

Workshops, lodging and daily activities: Williston Northampton School- Easthampton, MA
Concerts: Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity- Northampton, MA

Guest Artists



Cellist Ken James Kubota has shattered perceptions of the typical classical music career. While he is celebrated by The New York Times for “dynamic” and “polished” musicianship, most know Kubota as a YouTuber, social media personality, and for pioneering his unique style of playing the cello like a guitar. As an artist, many know him as one-third of the band Empire Wild, a group now represented by the Concert Artists Guild after receiving their 2020 Ambassador Prize.

Kubota continues to grow a following as the founder and producer of JHMJams, a weekly video series of pop covers by classical and jazz musicians. Described in the National Sawdust Log as an “online powerhouse” of classical music’s online ecosystem, Kubota has earned additional recognition from Glamour, Lionsgate, The Violin Channel, The Strad, and Classic FM. His social media presence has also garnered notable collaborations including Meta, Ray-Ban, TikTok, Halstead, Pirastro, and The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Kubota seeks opportunities to share his experiences with other entrepreneurially minded musicians. His formal speaking engagements include The Juilliard School, The Manhattan School of Music, and CelloBello involving topics around a career in music, social media, cello techniques, and more. Also fond of the relaxed conversations found on podcasts, he can be heard as a guest on Faking Notes, Skip The Repeat, Take Me to Coffee, Good Times with Isabel Hagen, The Conditioned Musician, B4 The Stage, The Artist’s Voice by Petra Sittig, and Forte by Aaron Lipsky.

Kubota holds degrees from The Juilliard School (B.M., M.M.), and has served on faculty at the Peabody Preparatory under Johns Hopkins University. He is currently on faculty at the Lucy Moses School at the Kaufman Music Center.

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Internationally renowned Canadian cellist and composer Raphael Weinroth-Browne has been celebrated for his emotive and virtuosic playing both on stage and in the studio.

Combining his classical training with a passion for progressive metal and Middle Eastern music, he has defied traditional notions of how the cello should sound and developed a unique artistic voice that has consistently resonated with listeners on a deep emotional level. Throughout the last decade he has explored new and unconventional approaches to cello playing in his groundbreaking groups The Visit, Kamancello, and Musk Ox, releasing many acclaimed albums and performing at esteemed festivals in Canada and Europe, including the Cello Biennale Amsterdam.

In 2016, Raphael was recruited by Norwegian progressive rock icons Leprous. His cello has since been featured prominently on their latest three albums and he has played over 200 shows with them in Europe, North America, and the Middle East. In 2022, he performed with the band at London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall and appeared on opening slots for rock heavyweights Evanescence, Devin Townsend, and Apocalyptica.

Raphael has captured the attention of prominent prog and metal artists such as Opeth and Steven Wilson with his innovative cello covers of their songs in his own unique style. His staggering arrangement of Meshuggah’s monumental track “Bleed” is a testament to the vast capabilities of the cello. Raphael’s debut solo album, Worlds Within, was released in 2020 to critical acclaim. A haunting 40-minute piece for amplified cello based around cyclical looped patterns and lush reverb-laden soundscapes, the album weaves together elements of ambient music, post rock, modern classical, and progressive metal, standing confidently alongside the work of similar artists such as Sarah Neufeld, Jessica Moss, Zoë Keating, and Jo Quail. Most recently, he performed the album in its entirety at the National Arts Centre of Canada to a sold out audience.

Jeremy Harman

(Western Massachusetts)

Cellist, composer, and songwriter Jeremy Harman is always exploring shifting musical terrain; equally at home on acoustic and electric instruments, his distinct sound and approach stems from a broad-based love of music and a desire to explore it through the lens of the cello. With influences including contemporary classical, modern jazz, progressive metal, downtempo, free improvisation, and folk music of all kinds, his musical path has taken him across the globe and to venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Kodak Center to the House of Blues to the Newport Jazz Festival.

Harman is the cellist for the Sirius Quartet, which has brought its original compositions and unique sound to audiences throughout the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and South Africa, and appears frequently with instrumental chamber music/indie rock alchemists CORDIS. In 2020, Harman was named artistic director of the New Directions Cello Festival, which has showcased alternative cellists from all over the world for almost 30 years.

Harman has shared the stage with a wide range of artists including Quincy Jones, John Williams, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bobby McFerrin, Lady Gaga, Sir Elton John, Tony Bennett, and Mary J. Blige, among others, and has done session and arranging work for countless indie artists in New England and beyond. A passionate educator, Harman is an associate professor of cello at Berklee College of Music and the creator of the online course Creative Expansion for Cellists.

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Iva Casián-Lakoš


New York-based cellist, singer, and improviser Iva Casián-Lakoš is a versatile performer with repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary works involving choreography, acting,  and improvisation, and she has performed across the U.S., Mexico, and Europe with genre-bending ensembles Bang on a Can All-Stars, eco|tonal, PinkNoise, and Unheard-of//Ensemble. In 2017 Iva co-founded Zagreb-based Ensemble Illyrica, who has been hailed for their creative ecstasy, freshness, tonal harmony and rhythmic clarity” (Novi List). Illyrica has performed in major venues and festivals across Ireland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, and released their first album on Hitchtone Music in 2022.

Iva has recently collaborated with legendary vocalist and composer Joan La Barbara on an upcoming album featuring a new work for singing-cellist, commissioned by Bang on a Can and performed at their inaugural Long Play Festival and Noguchi Museum series. She has also worked closely with composers Christopher Stark, David Crowell, Ana Lopez-Reyes (nnux), Wang Lu, and Erika Dohi.

As a composer and improviser, Iva responds to visual or textual stimuli such as poetry, films, and paintings, and is currently working on a new album-length piece for voice and cello based on Aztec mythology. She enjoys collaborations with visual artists, videographers, and dancers in interdisciplinary projects, including her work with the Vienna based theater collective Synesthetic Project.

Iva holds degrees from Stony Brook University (DMA.), New England Conservatory (M.M.) and Oberlin Conservatory (B.M.) and has served as interim cello faculty at Vassar College. She is currently on faculty at Musart Music, in Syosset New York.

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Catherine Bent


Cellist and composer Catherine Bent, originally from London, UK, has lived in New York City, Rio de Janeiro, and Boston. Her range and musical versatility are reflected in her diverse resumé, which includes recordings, performances and tours with Cirque du Soleil, Joe Jackson, Lee Konitz, Anthony Braxton, Greg Osby, Merce Cunningham Dance, Enya, Vitamin String Quartet, Kanye West, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer, Patty Larkin, and poet laureate Robert Pinsky. She has performed in 46 US states and 14 European countries.

In 2008, Catherine started creating choro groups and sessions in Boston even before the first time she arrived in Brazil with her cello, in 2012.

Finding a joyful expression of harmony and groove in a synergetic container akin to chamber music, she made Brazilian instrumental music her primary focus. She performs and collaborates with established Boston musicians, as well as the churning population of students and visiting scholars. She founded the Berklee Clube de Choro, and is on the faculty of Choro Camp New England, in Northampton MA (June 17 – 22, 2024). Director of Rio’s Escola Portátil da Música, Pedro Aragão is among many Brazilians who have recognized Catherine’s mastery of the choro language and repertoire and her preëminence on the cello. 

Venues Catherine has headlined include the Instituto Villa Lobos and Casa do Choro in Rio de Janeiro, Clube de Choro in Brasília, Festival Vale do Café, and the legendary samba club Ó do Borogodó. She was a featured soloist
seven times with Conjunto Época de Ouro (originally Jacob do Bandolim’s band; still the torch-bearers of traditional choro), on Rádio Nacional.

As a pioneering cellist in choro, Catherine is in demand as a teacher in Brazil. She has given masterclasses at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE) Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), and for FIOCRUZ at the Orquestra de Câmera do Palácio Itaboraí.

Catherine holds a Masters in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory, where she studied with Jerry Bergonzi and Charlie Banacos. Her cello mentors have included Luis Garcia-Renart, Dorothy Lawson and Astrid Schween. She has done listening and presence work with Pauline Oliveiros and Kenny Werner, and she practices the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education.

Catherine has been a professor at Berklee College of Music since 2010, where she developed the first course offerings in choro for the String Department. She has presented on Brazilian music at three American String Teachers Association (ASTA) conferences, and is committed to supporting students and teachers in the world of multi-style string playing. Keen to share her findings on the cello’s role as accompanist (as well as soloist) she is writing the book Creatudes: Brazilian rhythmic and harmonic adventures for strings.

Rupert Gillett

(Cologne, Germany)

Rupert Gillett is a British cellist, singer, multi-instrumentalist & composer.  He specialises in jazz cello and is known for his Jazz Cello Tunes YouTube series, but is adept and experienced at many other styles, including rock, folk and Eastern European music. Like a musical mercenary, Rupert has a chequered career which has carried him from country to country and stage to stage – he has barely done an honest day’s work in his life.

Rupert is now based in Cologne, Germany, but spent much of his career in London, UK, where he caused general chaos and mayhem.  For many years he worked as a double bass player, performing on a relentless basis with groups such as the rootsy R&B quartet Dai & the Ramblers, 20s Jazz showsters The Boneshaker Band, music hall comedy band The Dead Victorians and countless other ensembles, many of which he has forgotten (and some which he would like to). More by accident than design, Rupert ended up floating to the top of the London Klezmer scene and was often caught in concert with bands such as the London Klezmer Quartet and Balkan/Klezmer adventurers She’koyokh.

Despite these shenanigans, Rupert started breaking into jazz and other styles on the cello, stealing many of the ideas he had pilcherred from different instruments and styles.  Guitar picking on the cello? Yeah, why not.  Serious bass usage? Yeah, ok.  Tenor Banjo chord voicings? Yep.  Hence, One Voice, One Cello was born.  No loops, no pedals, swiss army knife cello.  

As a cellist, Rupert performs in the the duo Cellicious with singer/cellist Kate Shortt, the crossover trio Arcopia with cellist Gunther Tiedemann and Violinist Chris Haigh (The Fiddle Channel), chamber-jazz quartet Butterfly’s Wing with the legendary Jacqui Dankworth, the folk/renaissance/jazz trio Whistlebow and his duo One Voice, One Cello & A Mad Belgian, with which he has released 2 live albums. He was (apparently) a member of Modern Nature, where he was featured on 2 albums and an EP for the Bella Union label. He has released a few albums under his own name, including De-constructed Cello Part I (2020), Jazz Cello (2022) and Rupert Gillett (2023).

As a hired gun, Rupert has been ignored at private functions by Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, the late HRH Prince Phillip, Jude Law, Jeremy Clarkson, Ray Davies, Charles Dance, Salmon Rushdie and many more. Some of the strangest venues he has performed include Buckingham Palace (as a Scottish folk musician… eek, how did THAT happen?), under a giant Diplodocus skeleton and on the Orient Express.  He has performed on TV and BBC radio under various guises and has played some of the nastiest festivals in Europe.  He did a stint playing banjo on stilts (not a joke) and performed at the 2021 paralympic games.  He has toured UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain, Norway, Poland but hasn’t been caught yet.

As a composer, Rupert has had various works published by Boosey & Hawkes and Con Moto Publications.  He was commissioned to write the song cycle Memories of the Mayflower (2020) to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims.  As a producer and engineer, Rupert has worked on albums by award winning artists such as Katy Carr, Frank Denyer and others.

Rupert co-directs the 100 piece Cello Orchestra at the Celloakademie Rutesheim, Germany.  Over the years, he has given numerous workshops in cello improvisation or Klezmer/Balkan Music at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Dept., the New Directions Cello Festival, various folk festivals and even the Royal Marines Band (no idea how that happened).  He has written his own children’s environmental music project: „Singen Kann Was Bringen“ together with his partner, Valerie Rathmann with whom he also performs in the duo “Heart Strings Duet” as a singer/guitarist.

Schedule (Subject to Change)

More detailed info re: workshops coming soon!

All events will take place on the WIlliston Northampton School Campus unless specified otherwise


Pre-festival concert/welcome for early arrivals
*please email us before registering if you are interested coming Wednesday so we can make arrangements


Arrival and Registration for Early Arrivals:  Williston Northampton School


Welcome Concert: Luca Cialrla, violin

Williston Theatre



Early arrivals can join any of the Strings Without Boundaries sessions throughout the day)


Arrival and Registration for Participants– Williston Northampton School




Official Welcome and Open Mic Night for all New Directions and Strings Without Boundaries participants hosted by youth program faculty Allissa Jackman- Williston Campus Center (please get in touch with us if you’d like to play, the more the better! We will have amps, mics, etc)



Participants can join any of the Strings Without Boundaries sessions (optional)

10:00-11:15 Workshop Block 1

A: Catherine Bent- Choro on Cello pt 1 
B: Jeremy Harman- Time Feel and Groove pt 1

11:30-12:45 Workshop Block 2

A: Raphael Weinroth-Browne- Moda Improvisation 
B: Rupert Gillett- Jazz Improvisation for Cello



2:00-3:15pm- Workshop Block 3

A: Iva Casian Lakos: Songwriting
B: Ken James Kubota: Chord Voicings for Cello 


Cello Big Band Rehearsal #1 
Made up of both guest artist and participant cellists, the cello big band will rehearse 3 times, culminating with a concert on Sunday afternoon in conjunction with Strings Without Boundaries.  We’d love to have as many cellists take part as possible!  We will reach out about this to all registrants as the time gets closer with more info.




NDCF 2024 CONCERT #1- Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity (Northampton)
FEAT. Ken James Kubota, Catherine Bent and Rupert Gillett and guests



Participants can join any of the Strings Without Boundaries sessions (optional)

10:00-11:15 Workshop Block 1

A: Catherine Bent- Choro on Cello (pt. 2) 
B: Raphael Weinroth-Browne- Composing for Solo Cello 

11:30-12:45 Workshop Block 2

A: Iva Casian Lakos: Colors and Extended Techniques for Cello
B: Jeremy Harman: Time Feel and Groove (pt. 2)



2:00-3:15pm- Workshop Block 3

A: Rupert Gillett- Songwriting 
B: Ken James Kubota: Right Hand Pizzicato Techniques  


Cello Big Band Rehearsal #2




NDCF 2024 CONCERT #2- Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity (Northampton)
FEAT. Raphael Weinroth-Browne, Iva Casian-Lakos and Jeremy Harman and guests



Participants can join any of the Strings Without Boundaries sessions (optional)


Cello Big Band Rehearsal #3- Williston Theatre




Strings Without Boundaries/NDCF Cello Big Band Concert
Williston Theatre (Free and open to public)


Post-festival hang/jam at Ana Bandeira Chocolates in Northampton