Prague Cello Corporation

In 1978 I was fortunate enough to attend the Sugarloaf International String Quartet Workshop through lessons with Harry Lantz, the father of Portland String Quartet violinist Ronnie Lantz. We all went to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine to learn the art of chamber music with the world renowned Portland String Quartet. At age 20 I moved to Portland to study cello and chamber music with Paul Ross and the P.S.Q. While there I visited a violinmaker named Jon Cooper, who invited me to play a cello he had on consignment from a collector. After a couple of hours of playing anything I had memorized, Jon wrote a letter of sale with picture plates of the old cello, and I began searching for people who would be interested in helping me acquire this instrument.

The search for buyers began in the Winter of 1985, and in March I was scheduled to perform Suite No. 1 for Solo Cello at Bach's 300th Birthday Celebration. A member of the church remarked favorably about the performance, and I approached him about the cello. It turned out Joel Martin was a corporate attorney and recent President of the Portland Symphony Board of Trustees. A musician himself (pianist and singer), Mr. Martin put together a purchase and sale contract to allow me a couple more months to play the cello and to prepare a short program at his home, where we performed for music patrons and friends. Afterward he suggested we incorporate the cello, and having been determined that it had been made by a Prague school of violin-making, we called it the "Prague Cello Corporation."

Part of Jon Cooper's terms of the sale of the cello was that it would be completely restored, and so it was over a six month period. My investment in the cello was to work all Summer in Texas, in a restaurant 55 hours a week, to raise the funds for the cello's restoration. The inception of the cello corporation took place on Mother's Day 1985, and in December, after the restoration was complete, I performed the First Annual Prague Cello Recital, part of my lease agreement of the instrument, at Joel's home.

Branching Out from Maine

After two years, Joel encouraged me to seek musical instruction outside of Maine. New York City was my answer, so I auditioned and was accepted to the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music. I chose the latter for the opportunity to study with Nathaniel Rosen, Gold Medal Winner of the Tschaikovsky Competition. A couple years later I followed him to the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, where I earned my B.M. degree. I won my second concerto competition at Illinois after performing with the University of Southern Maine Chamber Orchestra 5 years earlier. One performance with the U. of I. Chamber Symphony, and a Guest Artist appearance on the Portland String Quartet's 25th Anniversary of the Concert Series, preceded a professional solo debut with the Waco (TX) Symphony.

In the first 12 years of the Prague Cello Corporation I would return to Portland in the Summers to give my annual recital. In 1997 I won a job with the Austin Symphony. Two years later, having reflected on my past success with the Bach Suite No. 1 performance, I planned a performance cycle of all the "Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello" in observance of 250 years since Bach's death. These performances included other works by 20th century composers like Zolton Kodaly, so I called the concerts "J.S. Bach to the Future." In 2010 I released my first CD: J.S. Bach to the Future.

2010-2011

This is my 14th year with the Austin Symphony - the oldest orchestra in Texas - and the Austin Symphony is celebrating its 100th season. This also happens to be the 25th Anniversary of the Prague Cello Corporation. On March 21, 325 years since Bach's birth, I gave the first of three concerts of the Six Suites. In July I performed in Wimberly TX, and later this season I plan to return to Maine to present these Suites there.