24th annual

New Directions Cello Festival

Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln // WDR Funkhaus Köln (Cologne), Germany July 13-15, 2018

Exploring the current state of non-classical cello music.


Reijseger Fraanje Sylla (NL/Senegal), Martin Meléndez Trio (ES/Cuba), Rushad Eggleston (US), Vincent Ségal & Ballaké Sissoko (FR/Mali), Susanne Paul & Etta Scollo (DE/IT), Hannah Miller & Moulettes-Detours (GB)

Fees & Registration | Workshops, Cello Big Band, Exhibition | Our Partners

Since 1995, New Directions festivals have been held in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, California. This will be our first festival outside of the United States. We have invited some of today’s finest non-classical cellists and their groups to be guest artists and we hope you will join us 3 days of great concerts, workshops, jam sessions, exhibits, Cello Big Band and more! We are grateful for the support of our partners and sponsors who help to make New Directions possible!

Our guest artists will play two concerts at 7:30 PM at the WDR Funkhaus:

Friday Evening Concert: Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Ségal, Martín Meléndez Trio and Reijseger Fraanje Sylla.

Saturday Evening Concert: Susanne Paul & Etta Scollo, Rushad Eggleston and Moulettes – Detours

The concerts are included in the festival fees. Concerts open to the public. Buy tickets: Concert 1 (Friday July 13) | Concert 2 (Saturday July 14).

Final Concert: Sunday July 15 (2.00 PM) at WDR Funkhaus (Wallrafplatz 5, 50667 Köln) with “Open Mic”, Festival Cello Big Band and RMS Cello Big Band & Cello Combo featuring Rupert Gillett (London). Admission free.


New Directions Cello Festival

Chris White, Founder | Jeremy Harman, Artistic Director | Phaedre Sassano, Assistant Director | info@newdirectionscello.org

Vincent Ségal

is one of the most eclectic cellists we at the NDCF have ever heard. He is highly accomplished in multiple genres: Metal cello with didgeridoo? Check. Classic rock covers with an African drummer and electric cello through a ring modulator, replete with full-out rock cello solos? Check. Alternative acoustic cello techniques of his own devising? Check. And the list goes on.

Vincent is known for the variety of collaborations and unusual projects he involves himself in. He has worked with Sting, Chilly Gonzales, Steve Nieve, Elvis Costello, Cesaria Evora, Blackalicious, Carlinhos Brown and Franck Monnet, to name but a few. One of the most enduring is his partnership with kora player Ballaké Sissoko, with whom he has played since 2009 and will bring to NDCF 2018. “Two souls, united by a sense of freedom and momentum, that melt into one another, finding echoes of Manding, Baroque, Brazilian, Gypsy and Undefinable Mystery in each other.” https://www.facebook.com/VincentSegal.officiel/

Martín Meléndez

was born in Moscow to Cuban parents in 1982. At the age of seven he began his cello studies in Havana at the Escuela Elemental Paulita Concepcion and at the Escuela Elemental de Música Manuel Saumell (music focused elementary schools), then later at Amadeo Roldan (considered to be the most prestigious music school in Cuba) and the Instituto Superior de Arte. From a young age, Melendez was interested in mixing and fusing rhythms such as jazz, Cuban traditional music and Afro-Cuban music. In 2006, he moved to Barcelona where he discovered flamenco, music from the Middle East and free jazz, all of which served to greatly expand his already robust musical vocabulary. This helped him to collaborate with musicians and artists of different disciplines: cinema, dance, theatre and poetry. The Martin Meléndez Trio plays original music which combines various jazz and Cuban styles. Joining Martín, pianist and singer Lucia Fumero graduated from the Amsterdam Conservatory and the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC). She is a very versatile improvisor and vocalist. Drummer Gabriel Gonzales graduated from the ESMUC conservatory specializing in contemporary and classic percussion. He plays a wide variety styles with subtle intuitiveness.

Meléndez has collaborated on more than 40 albums and shared the stage with artists such as Pablo Milanés, Chano Dominguez, Interactive, Darol Anger, Yusa, Descemer Bueno, Antonio Rey, Kinan Azmeh, Alasdair Fraser, Rony Barak, Pasion Vega, Dave Samuells, among others, taking him on tours around the world. Some of his most recent projects are The Dreams of Ravel (jazz), Elephant Tiny Obsession (african jazz) and Caguama Trio (jazz).

Dutch cello phenom, Ernst Reijseger,

started playing at the age of seven. His teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory, Anner Biljsma, encouraged him to follow his own path, and this he has done with aplomb. A pioneering, highly influential force in modern cello, he has invented techniques and taken genres such as jazz to heights on the instrument previously unimagined. As an improviser, he challenges audiences’ expectations, pushing and redefining boundaries, both technical and musical.

Reijseger is prolific and his work is incredibly varied. He has composed for the baroque orchestra Forma Antiqua, The Dutch Wind Ensemble, and Ensemble Modern. He has scored films for Werner Herzog (The White Diamond; Cave of Forgotten Dreams) and Alex & Andrew Smith (Walking Out) and released three solo albums (Colla Parte, 1997; Tell Me Everything, 2008 and Crystal Palace, 2014) to great critical acclaim. He has also contributed to and played on countless other albums.
Reijseger’s solo performances are a wonder to behold. He is in the rare company of performers whose live playing inspires outright awe in audiences – not to mention deep emotion and a sense of connectedness which only great music can inspire.

At the crossroads, nay – the roundabout – where a multiplicity of musical styles and a rich palette of deeply felt emotions intersect, that is where you will find the trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla. Like a collective whirling dervish, the trio effortlessly fuses jazz, free improvisation, original contemporary music, blues, African and more into a cohesive whole which ultimately, transcends classification. With piano, cello, m’bira, xalam and haunting, mystical songs sung in Woloff (singer Mola Sylla’s mother tongue), Trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla regularly moves audiences to tears. http://ernstreijseger.com/

Jazz and world cellist Susanne Paul

was raised in a German-Mexican family in southern California and Germany. She took up the cello at a young age, then dropped it as a teen, choosing instead electric guitar, punk and flamenco. Later, she studied classical cello, and in that time, developed a serious addiction to jazz cello. Susanne has developed a vibrant, colourful playing style which combines groove, improvisation and innovative cello techniques. Her musical focusses are jazz, Brazilian music, flamenco, tango, funk, baroque, Italian folklore and punk.

Susanne is the bandleader of the MOVE String Quartet and regularly shares the stage with Uwe Kropinski, Etta Scollo and the Julia Hülsmann Octet. She has also collaborated with Michel Godard, Arkady Shilkloper, String Thing, and Georg Breinschmid, and has recorded a number of CDs. She also teaches jazz, improvisation, and tango for string players (e.g. at the Bruckner-University Linz, since 2012) and has authored and published music and teaching material (e.g. “Groovy Strings”).

At New Directions 2018, Susanne will be performing with Sicilian singer-songwriter Etta Scollo, who beautifully blends Sicilian folklore, Arabic poetry, jazz and canzone. Paul often tours   with Scollo’s quartet. Their duo is called “Scollo con Cello”. http://www.groovecello.de/

Rushad Eggleston

is a self-described jazz kazooist, twangy yowler, knower of harmoogian zarf weasels and (among many other things) a cello-shaped spaceship captain. He sees the world as infinite stacked pandora’s boxes of metaphors and believes that any part of any box can be converted into melodies, and therefore that energy is everywhere, infinite and free.

Says Rushad, “Binsnithio blynnegax thuberon…manskiolotas fwyoblanginate trummux, insnarthio vuulu-évitch m’skolkiagandros dwezzomine,” which, if I am correct in my interpretation of the language of Sneth, basically means “gransurisiness volointinusuras brindzle.” At least on Saturdays.

Suffice to say that experiencing Rushad’s cello playing and his workshops tend to leave NDCF participants changed, and for the better! https://rushad.bandcamp.com/  https://www.facebook.com/rushad.eggleston

Hannah Miller:

Cello / Vocals / Synths. Hannah grew up in a musical family, singing before she could talk: her mother was a classical music teacher; her father, a folk musician and luthier. Her sisters and brother all played instruments and brought a diverse and eclectic record collection to the table. At age four, Hannah took up the cello, and thanks in part to three brilliant and intuitive teachers, was inspired with a life-long love of the instrument. Hannah started writing songs and music early on, influenced by Björk, P.J. Harvey, Frank Zappa and Ella Fitzgerald, and classical composers such as Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Holst and Bartók. She founded Moulettes in 2002, as the main songwriter and creative driving force, and they went on to co-produce, record and arrange four studio albums, alongside her string arrangement work for The Levellers Abbey Road album, Hull City of Culture 2017, and forthcoming records for Arthur Brown, T. S. Idiot, Alabaster DePlume and Kristin McClement.

For the New Directions Cello Festival 2018, Miller and regular Moulettes member, electric guitarist Raevennan Husbandes, are pleased to welcome Mike Simmonds (viola, violin & nyckleharpa) and Jules Arthur (viola; synths). Both are satellite members of Moulettes, and have also worked with Alice Russell, Nick Cave, Disraeli and the Small Gods, and Timothy Didymus. For this special show, the group is going by Moulettes-Detours. http://www.moulettes.co.uk/

Festival Pass: all workshops, concerts, Cello Big Band & exhibition (3 days)

  • Full registration fee for adults: 270,- €
  • Reduced registration fee*: 170,- €

Saturday Pass: workshops on Saturday, but all festival concerts, Cello Big Band & exhibition on 3 days

  • Saturday registration fee for adults: 180,- €
  • Reduced registration fee*: 110,- €

Early bird discount on fees above: 15,- € off for registrations until May 14, full fees from May 15

Young People’s Cello-Bration (ages 11-18): 3 special workshops, all festival concerts & exhibition

  • Registration fee: 60,- € (Early bird discount for YPCB: 5,- € off for registrations until May 14, full fees from May 15)

10 % discount on all fees above with NDCA membership

The concerts at WDR Funkhaus starting at 7:30 PM on Friday and Saturday are included in the festival fees. Concerts open to the public. Buy tickets: Concert 1 (Friday July 13) | Concert 2 (Saturday July 14).

*Reduced registration fees for young people (up to age 18), students with valid student ID, disabled people (50 % disability and more)

If you are interested in renting a cello please let us know. We will try to provide a small number of instruments for participants traveling by aircraft without their cello.

Register for the Festival

NDCF 2018

The Workshops

The workshop schedule with short descriptions is available here.  Any possible changes will be updated as soon as possible.

About the Exhibition

The exhibition is a place where makers of acoustic and electric cellos, electronics and other music related merchandise such as sheet music, strings, bows, etc. will be on display during the festival.

Young People’s Cello-Bration

The Young People’s Cello-Bration is a festival within the festival where young cellists, ages 11-18, can learn about ways to play the cello outside of classical music. There will be specialized workshops by international cello stars on improvisation, groove and non-classical techniques and styles for young cellists. All festival concerts are included. And you can visit interesting product presentations by companies taking part in the exhibition (el. cellos etc.).

The three workshops (probably with Ernst Reijseger, Susanne Paul, … ) will be on Saturday (July 14, starting at about 10.00 AM) and will be complemented by a short refreshing unit with cellist and Feldenkrais clinican Corinna Eikmeier.

Cello Big Band

The Cello Big Band (CBB) has been a feature of the New Directions Cello Festival for many years. It is a cello choir which plays compositions and arrangements which are non-classical in nature and usually have some sections for soloists to improvise with the group. The CBB will be directed by Gunther Tiedemann and is made up of festival participants, staff and guest artists. The Festival CBB (max. 50 cellos), rehearsing on each day of the festival, will perform together with the RMS Cello Big Band (Rheinische Musikschule Köln) at the final festival concert on Sunday noon at WDR Funkhaus. There will be more than 100 cellos on stage. Before the festival you will find information about the tunes, sheet music and playalongs on: www.gunther-tiedemann.de/NDCF-CBB.htm 

Final Concert: Sunday July 15 (2.00 PM) at WDR Funkhaus (Wallrafplatz 5, 50667 Köln) with “Open Mic”, Festival Cello Big Band and RMS Cello Big Band & Cello Combo featuring Rupert Gillett (London). Admission free.

PR Partners

We are thankful for support from the following companies: