The End of an Era. After starting the New Directions Cello Association & Festival in 1995, Chris White continued to run the ship annually for a quarter century. He now feels that his “baby” is all grown up and it’s time to let it go out into the world. Also joining him in sailing off into the sunset are two of his long-time collaborators – Sera Smolen and Corbin Keep.
Can the grownup New Directions Cello Festival learn to survive without Chris at the helm? That is one of the questions of the day (year). Will Berklee decide to take it on as part of its annual summer program offerings? Will an enthusiastic group of new directions cellists choose to put in the time to keep NDCF going independently? Will our friend in Cologne, Germany, Gunther Tiedemann, decide to hold it again (and again) in his hometown?
For now, there are no definite plans for and NDCF 2020. But let’s reflect on this year’s festival with lots of great photos by our long-standing house photographer, Bill Staffeld, who, with his wife Andrea (who designed this year’s poster), came from Ithaca to be part of this historic 25th festival.
Photographs by Bill Staffeld
Eric Wright & Mairi Rankin
Eric Wright is a 2017 JUNO Award-winning cellist. Raised on pure Vermont air and inspired by his love for American Old Time and Irish music, he sets out to incorporate cello into new and traditional music in ways that haven’t been done before. Taking his innovative bowing techniques, chording styles, and ‘the chop’, to new levels, Eric has become a highly sought-after performer, accompanist, producer, session musician, and arranger for all types of folk styles.
Eric has performed and recorded with numerous bands including Ruth Moody, Trey Anastasio, Natalie MacMaster, The Fretless, John Reischman and many others.
Eric Wright joins Cape Breton fiddler Mairi Rankin in an inspired pairing. The duo has been collaborating on several music projects – the most recent being their critically acclaimed album “The Cabin Sessions,” recorded in Vermont and debuted at Celtic Colours in Cape Breton. Eric attended the Berklee College of Music where he studied folk styles, focusing on Old Time and Irish cello performance. Eric has since joined forces with the multi-award winning group, The Fretless, a contemporary traditional fusion group, and has been touring all over the world. https://ericwrightsound.com/
Mairi Rankin is one of the hugely influential Rankin Family – legends on the Canadian music scene . Born in Mabou, Nova Scotia, Mairi has been influenced by some of the best Cape Breton traditional musicians and instructors on the island. She has developed her own unique style by being immersed in such a rich musical culture. She has toured nationally and internationally as a solo artist, a sideman and is a member of the Cape Breton Celtic super group Beolach. She has performed with the Rankin Sisters, Unusual Suspects and Bruce Guthro to name but a few.
In his show “Cello Solo,” with his cello as his only means of expression, Matthieu Saglio creates a universe inhabited by an artistic vision that is rich and sensitive, as if dealing with musical northern lights. Cello Solo is the result of a long maturity; an accumulation of the multiple experiences of the musician. Matthieu Saglio combines classical tradition where Cello Solo’s roots are buried, with sounds and rhythms brought from his encounters across the world. In his compositions, you can hear resonating echoes from Western cathedrals and the souks of the Maghreb, to Latin-American tango and Iberian flamenco.
With an instantly recognizable sound and an original technique, Matthieu Saglio is one of the most exciting cellists of his generation. Classically trained (Conservatory of Rennes), Matthieu is one of the pioneers of the cello in flamenco with his trio Jerez-Texas, which has been touring around the world since 2002 (500 concerts in almost 30 countries). Saglio has many projects: solo, duo and numerous collaborations with other formations.
He has written scores for theater and television. Experimentation guides all of his projects, in a constant melding his instrument, his style and the musical traditions of other cultures. Matthieu is also an ambassador of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation. http://www.matsag.com/
Cellist and award-winning composer, Stephen Katz, has performed at Carnegie Hall and toured internationally as a soloist, and with the Paul Winter Consort and the Essex String Quartet. He has been featured on APM’s Performance Today broadcasts and is a NEA grant recipient. As co-founder of Seen & Heard with dancer/monologist BJ Goodwin, he literally danced with the cello while accompanying the dramas they played out on stage.
Katz has charted new territory for the rhythmic potential of the cello with the groundbreaking approach he calls Flying Pizzicato. The results are compositions that juggle two or three voices at a time, making music that lays grooves, weaves tunes, and lifts spirits. As a film composer, Katz has won a Jury Prize Gold Medal at the Park City Film Music Festival and scored films broadcast nationally on PBS/Independent Lens.
Stephen is also an improviser and composer in the Dance world. He plays regularly at New England dance jams, has collaborated and performed internationally with many Improvisational Dance luminaries, and has been a Visiting Artist at Amherst College Dept. of Theater & Dance. He has been a guest artist at the New Directions Cello Festival more times than anyone else. A native of San Francisco, Stephen received a Master of Music degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. www.stephenkatzmusic.com