There's always a story behind the music. This is our story.
Every once a while, things start to happen all at once that usually take years and years to transpire. Orchestras usually have one or two openings per section every few years. But in the span of just one year, four new cellists joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Michael, Charlie, and Bronwyn were transplants to Pittsburgh. Allie grew up here; the daughter of PSO clarinetist Tommy Thompson, she's living the dream, playing in her hometown orchestra.
So here we were, three of us in a new city, four of us experiencing the joy of becoming part of an incredible orchestra, learning how to contribute to our section, discovering the complexities of orchestral life, putting roots down into a community. There was a special delight in going through this growth process together.
It's hard to pinpoint the moment we first discussed playing quartets together; somehow it just felt like an obvious progression for us as friends and colleagues. We started meeting up at our various homes (an easy enough task since three of us live within a block of one another), splitting a bottle of wine and reading through as many cello quartets as we could get our hands on.
Our first public performance was a pre-concert show for the Pittsburgh Symphony in the summer of 2015. Things really took off from there! There were more pre-concert shows, school performances, private events, fundraising concerts. We played at the Carnegie Museum of Art and became staples on the PSO's Play N'at chamber music series.
We continued to rehearse and expand our repertoire. The possibilities for cello quartet are nearly endless! There are enough original works for cello quartet to fill entire seasons of full recitals. But why stop there? Part of the thrill of this ensemble is the opportunity to realize the full range of this incredibly expressive and versatile instrument. We delved into transcriptions: classical string quartets; Renaissance vocal madrigals; Joplin rags; works for trombone choir; barbershop quartets — this was only the beginning. The Beatles. U2. Billy Joel. Guns 'N Roses. Bruno Mars. Some of us were more obsessed than others with Let It Go from Frozen. We realized that virtually nothing was out of our reach.
Since we embarked on this adventure two years ago, the Pittsburgh Cello Quartet has given more than two dozen performances in a wide variety of venues in the Pittsburgh area and beyond. All of the energy we pour into this labor of love expands our artistry and reinforces our unity within the cello section of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. That's the best part about putting art out into the world: it all comes back to us in spades.
Thanks for joining us on this fun and exciting journey! Please keep in touch! We hope to see you at a concert soon.