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Ithaca: 16th Annual New Directions Cello Festival

From June 11th to June 13th, up to 100 cellists from around the world will be gathering at Ithaca College for the 16th Annual New Directions Cello Festival. The festival will host guest artists who encompass a wide range of style. They will perform “unclassifiable” music, Celtic music, samba, avant and original jazz, and nuevo folk. The public is invited to attend the Festival’s evening concerts on Friday and Saturday June 11th and 12th at 7:30 p.m. in the Hockett Family Recital Hall in the Whalen Center for Music at Ithaca College. Tickets for the evening concerts are $20.00 for adults, $16.00 for students and seniors, and $6.00 for children (under 12) and may be purchased at the door the day of the show by cash, credit card, or check. A free concert will be held on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. featuring many of the festival’s cellists in the Cello Big Band. There are many registration options available on the Festival web site (www.newdirectionscello.com) for cello students, teachers, and professionals, including the “Young People’s Cello-Bration” on Saturday for cellists ages 8-16. Registrations will be accepted up until the day of the Festival. While many people may view the cello as a classical instrument, its popularity in other musical genres has begun to grow in recent years. Ithacans are likely familiar with Hank Roberts’ eclectic cello style, Yo-Yo Ma (who serves on the Panel of Artistic Advisors for NDCA) collaborated with Béla Fleck as well as his association with Mark O’Connor, and Edgar Meyer to create “cello” grass on the album Appalachian Waltz, and the four cellists of Apocalyptica bring cello to the heavy metal world with their renditions of Metallica songs. The New Directions Cello Association is dedicated to fostering and developing non-traditional cello playing and appreciation.The Festival offers participants a wide range of workshops throughout the course of each day. Areas that are covered will include: baroque improvisation, a blues jam workshop, Irish fiddling and ornamentation for the cello, improvising string quartets, and jazz improvisation. There will also be workshops focusing on body/mind/music awareness that incorporate the Feldenkrais and Alexander techniques. There is also the Cello Big Band, in which all participants are invited to rehearse and play together in a large, non-traditional, ensemble. Late at night the cellists gather in the lounge of an Ithaca College dorm and jam together into the wee hours of the morning.Guest Artist Marcelo Vieira is a Brazilian cellist and singer who plays a wide variety of styles from jazz to traditional Brazilian and some original material as will. He will perform with violinist Christian Howes. Claudio Peña and his Fin Del Mundo Trio are an unclassifiable improvisational trio from Argentina. The quintet No Olho da Rua with Luciano Correa will bring authentic Brazilian instrumental samba jazz to Ithaca. The Spaghetti Western String Company is a daring and playfully eclectic instrumental acoustic quartet from Minneapolis. Liz Davis Maxfield and New Time Ensemble are animating traditional Irish tunes in new ways and incorporating influences from France, Scotland, and the U.S. The Chris White Quartet will present original jazz compositions.About the New Directions Cello Festival: Chris White, an Ithaca local, founder and director of the New Directions Cello Association, has been exploring new directions for the cello since the late 1970’s. White’s development as a jazz cellist was strongly affected by his guitar studies of folk, rock and jazz during his formative years. These studies were largely self-taught, and focused on learning by ear, improvising, experimenting, and studying chords – things which cellists are usually not encouraged to do in traditional study. As he began applying these skills to the cello, he found it to be a wonderfully versatile instrument for playing jazz because he could play melodies, chords, and bass lines. Back in the early ‘90’s Chris felt the time was right for cellists to come together and begin sharing some of the new approaches and styles that cellists like himself were exploring, so he started the New Directions Cello Association which held it’s first festival in New York City in 1995.

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