Magazine article Strings

Usc Thornton School of Music Launches Piatigorsky Cello Festival

Magazine article Strings

Usc Thornton School of Music Launches Piatigorsky Cello Festival

Article excerpt

Cellist and educator Ralph Kirshbaum pays tribute to the legendary cello master

Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum remembers the first time he heard a recording of his boyhood idol, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. "I was literally rooted to my chair," he says. Td never heard a sound like it - so rich, vibrant, and concentrated."

These days, Kirshbaum is rooted to Piatigorsky through a slightly more metaphorical chair. Since 2008, he has held the Piatigorsky Endowed Chair in cello at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music and is the artistic director and founder of the first Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, to be held in Los Angeles from March 9-18.

"Piatigorsky was definitely one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century," Kirshbaum says, "and was very influential in establishing the cello as an important solo instrument."

The festival is a collaboration between the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Colburn School, and the LA Chamber Orchestra. It will feature 22 artists hailing from 12 countries.

"My idea was to bring together the musical community of LA," he says. The festival consists of master classes, recitals, and orchestral concerts, including Kirshbaum performing the Dvorak concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

This isn't Kirshbaum's first festival-founding experience. From 1988 to 2007, he organized the Manchester Cello Festival, held at the Royal Northern College of Music in England. The Piatigorsky festival differs because of its inclusion of the regional musical community and its duration - ten days instead of five. …

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