With his 300-year-old cello alongside, John discussed how the sounds of nature, for example birds, were largely inspirational to the development of sounds on the cello in the early days. He demonstrated how the style of playing the cello evolved over time, much due to the developments of Johann Sebastian Bach and his son. As cello bows changed, so did the capability of sound on the instrument. He demonstrated how emotion can be played with in compositions, as with one Bach piece that switches from deep, darker sounds to light, airy ones very quickly. John also told some stories of his audition for the Boston Symphony, for which he played nine years, and of his thirty-seven year career with the St. Louis Symphony.
John mixes humor with a seriousness for his love of the cello and classical music to enhance the presentation, and now dedicates his time to traveling city to city spreading his love of classical music, making it accessible in educational presentations and full concert form. He believes that it should be a genre of music that is available to everyone without the high ticket price.
He wrote a book titled “The Day I Almost Destroyed the Boston Symphony and Other Stories“, and brought three copies to hand out to students who guessed answers to his questions. Matthew, Alexa, and Josh from middle school all won a copy. Students were thrilled with his talk and playing, and gave him outstanding applause at the end.
Our Music Director, Ian Putnam, arranged for John to speak with our students. John is an example of someone who has made their entire career as a professional musician, and it is very important for kids to see and hear that this is possible as a career path. His devotion to education, helps our students learn about the value of giving back to the community. On another note, many of the kids in the audience have never seen a classical musician live, much less in such an intimate environment, so for them to have this up-close experience with a seasoned professional is a unique opportunity.