Portland Cello Project Plays Eclectic Variety of Music

Portland Cello Project Plays Eclectic Variety of Music

Friday, January 12, 2018

SOCORRO, N.M. – Among the family of bowed-string instruments, the second largest and second lowest, tonally, is the cello, no shrinking violet by any measure, but less often showcased as the featured instrument in the contemporary concert spotlight.


The Portland Cello Project will perform at Macey Center on Friday, Jan. 26. 


So, prepare for the unexpected when the Portland Cello Project presents its nontraditional rendering of one of the principal instruments of chamber music and symphony orchestras, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center, in a Performing Arts Series (PAS) event.

Plan to come early for Tech Club Macey’s pre-show social hour featuring light appetizers and a cash bar, $5 for non-members.

Portland Cello Project is a high-class cast of rotating cellists described as able to “take on everything from Britney’s ‘Toxic’ to the Dandy Warhols and postmodern Estonian composer Arvo Pärt in their one-off performances.”

“Imagine this stringed instrument, the bass member of the violin family, in the hands of musicians fueled by creativity and a true love for the cello, and you’ve got the Portland Cello Project,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. “You will be amazed and come away with a greater appreciation, not just for the cello, but for the magic of instrumentation itself.”

It all began in the fall of 2006 when a group of 10 cellists hit the stage at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge to perform classical western music in an informal setting. Many of the performers thought the gig would be for just the one evening.

But over time, what was a one-off event turned into a second and a third, with the cellists playing in several popular Portland clubs; and, by 2009, the group had evolved into a nationally recognized performance and educational group with its revolving carousel cast of cellists.


The Portland Cello Project truly crosses generes in their performances. 



Portland Cello Project has since released full-length albums, performing everywhere from punk rock clubs to loading-dock street parties, to exclusive private events, and symphony halls all over North America, spending more than a quarter of the year touring, and featuring a diverse repertoire of well over 1,000 pieces of music.

While the group has changed and evolved exponentially over the past decade, one consistent focus has been building bridges across different musical communities through collaboration with myriad artists, and educational and community outreach at schools and universities around the country.

The group absorbed an all-star team of Portland cellists (including Skip vonKuske, Diane Chaplin, Nancy Ives and Kevin Jackson). Musical collaborators have included everyone from The Dandy Warhols to Trampled By Turtles to Corin Tucker to Laura Veirs to Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, and cellists Maya Beiser, Ben Sollee and Zoe Keating.

Well. Talk about a diverse repertoire!

Or, in the words of a reviewer for MTV.com: “It doesn’t get much more genre-crossing than this.”

“This is a concert that will appeal to anyone who loves music,” Kalish said. “These talented cellists showcase the incredible range of the instrument as applied to diverse musical genres – and they do it so beautifully.”

It was the French writer Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885) who said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”

Or, as a critic for the Time magazine online wrote, “Before this recent Portland Cello Project concert, I’m not sure that I’d truly realized how important live performances can be in helping you appreciate music.”

It might be mentioned here that Portland is a city known for its progressive vibe and cultural offerings from music to theater, visual arts, museums and galleries. Or, as quoted in The Strad:  “PCP has come to epitomize Portland’s offbeat music scene, one where boundaries are blurred and cellos are in abundance.”

Added Kalish, “I can’t tell you how excited PAS is about exploring and sharing the diversity of the entertainment arts, and introducing younger audiences to the wonderful world of music.” As part of the PAS youth outreach program, the cellists will perform earlier in the day for area school children.

Sponsors for the Portland Cello Project are IRIS-PASSCAL, Penny and Jim Lommen, Desert Herbals, Bodega Burger Co. and Lounge, Best Western, Art Works (National Endowment for the Arts), WESTAF (the Western  States Arts Federation), and KUNM-FM.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for youths. New Mexico Tech students will be admitted free with their student ID at the door, or can pick up one ticket each at the New Mexico Tech Bookstore.

Tickets also can be purchased online at nmtpas.org, or at the PAS office, New Mexico Tech Cashier (Fidel Center), Socorro County Chamber of Commerce, and Sofia’s Kitchen.