New Pedagogical Works for Advancing Young Cellists
by Daniel Ketter
Dr. Daniel Ketter is an Assistant Professor of Cello at Missouri State University in Springfield, and co-teaches the Virtual Summer Cello Workshop at the Eastman School of Music. He is also Co-Director and co-founder of the American Wild Ensemble, which seeks to celebrate the people and places that define American communities with new music. Ketter received a DMA in Cello Performance and a PhD in Music Theory from the Eastman School of Music.
What do we want the future of our Classical music performance tradition to look like? In fifty years, will every cello student still play the seemingly indefatigable “Swan” by Camille Saint-Saëns? Are we encouraging and providing support to cellist composers who could be composing a new set of etudes that could improve on or supplement Duport, Lee, or Popper? Is what we have “good enough” or is it possible to keep creating more and growing as a cello community?
This year at Eastman’s Virtual Summer Cello Workshop, participants will have the exclusive opportunity to participate in a workshop premiere of two newly composed early advanced works (Suzuki level 7-8) for cello by Curtis Stewart and Andrea Casarrubios, including working personally with composer and violinist Curtis Stewart on his new piece. These two new works will be taught and performed during the three-week program along other exciting lesser-known and standard cello works. One of our goals this year is to provide students with access and resources to discover, learn, and create new repertoire for cello, and this is an inspiring opportunity to see it happen!
This workshop is a part of a new initiative led by the Virtual Summer Cello Workshop faculty Drs. Lisa Caravan and Daniel Ketter: Cello Teaching Repertoire Consortium. CTRC aims to support creating intermediate- to early advanced-level teaching pieces that help students to build core techniques of perpetual motion, lyrical playing, thumb position, shifting, vibrato, double stops, and advanced bowing patterns. Rather than introducing new, unidiomatic challenges, or primarily challenges of interpretation, these works will challenge students to master their instruments with core instrumental techniques in diverse musical styles. The commissioned pieces will be written by composers with advanced knowledge of cello technique and appropriate pedagogical sequencing in order to create works that can supplement or replace historical pedagogical stand-by pieces, and give students and teachers fresh compositions they can share in recitals and at contests.
The composers for this first round, Curtis Stewart (PUBLIQuartet) and Andrea Casarrubios, were selected for their distinguished reputations as string players, accomplishments as composers, diverse backgrounds, and interests in pedagogy. The pedagogical focus of these works will be enhanced by collaboration with project leaders, and by their inclusion in an editing “preview” period as highlighted works during Eastman’s Virtual Summer Cello Workshop. We are very fortunate to be able to include new works by these exciting composers as an exclusive part of the workshop, and participants will be able to have opportunities to meet the composers and hear the premieres of these new works for cello.
If you or your student are interested in this effort, we encourage you to sign up as a participant or auditor for Eastman’s Virtual Summer Cello Workshop in order to get first access to these two new works for cello, or join our mailing list by clicking this link to express your interest.The consortium will launch in May, and the mailing list will allow you to stay informed about progress of the consortium as well as receive other information about the pieces as they are written.
To imagine a different future for classical music, one that reflects our values as musicians and members of a diverse community, creating resources for teachers and students in pedagogical repertoire is critical. We need more people investing in broadening access to wider, more diverse pedagogical works in order to create an environment where the performers and concert-goers of tomorrow value new music and diverse music.