whose strings v: cecelia swanson
cecelia rose swanson is a cellist who was born in minneapolis, mn. she studied cello performance at the university of boulder, colorado, where she currently lives, works, & performs with a cello quartet and a piano quintet. her musicality extends to other modalities as well -- she has a knack for melodic improv and folk rock string arrangement.
I asked cecelia a few questions about her music & her instrument.
you've been playing cello a long time now -- since you were 3, right?
yes! I started on a little, foam cello and a plain wooden dowel for a bow. by the fall of 2018, I will have been playing for 22 years, which seems completely bonkers to me.
how has your relationship to the instrument changed over time?
it's changed a lot. I was not very motivated to practice at all growing up. my brother and I used to move our cellos around to make it look like we'd practiced before our parents got home. however, I loved the social aspect of playing music. every friday or saturday all the kids in my teacher's studio would get together for cello choir. the rehearsals and performances we had together are some of my fondest memories and also shaped me as a player. in college, I entered in to a world that was largely unknown to me. a lot was expected of me and at times I wasn't able to put out what I thought was my best work and that started to wear on me. I was relieved to be finished with my degree and I put away my cello for a good two years. recently I was invited to play in a piano quintet at the university of colorado boulder, and it has reinvigorated me. I needed the time off, but I also really needed to dive back in to learning and growing as a cellist. I'm so grateful to be where I'm at right now. I think my relationship with my cello is healthier now than it has ever been. thanks for asking.
tell me about your cello.
my cello was built in 2001 by the german luthier, helmut illner. I've had 4 different cellos since I started, but this instrument (from which the strings came) I've had since I decided to get serious about music in high school. this instrument was much better than the ones I had had before, it afforded me a lot more versatility in my playing. I don't know much about non-string instruments, but the sound in a string instrument opens up the more you play it. over time you reach a plateau, but it's kind of beautiful to think that we work together to create the best sounds. her name is helga.
do you have any rituals surrounding music, as far as practicing, performing, or otherwise?
I'm not sure that I do. other than making my bed every morning, I wouldn't consider myself a ritualistic person. now that I think about it, in a performance I try to be as "in the moment" as I can. whether that means trying to build a phrase in a new way or connect with another person in my group spontaneously. it's important to me that the audience feels the energy of those fresh ideas. if being "in the moment" is a ritual, then that's mine.
what are you looking forward to right now?
I'm working with a cello quartet right now and we recently auditioned for something...I can't wait to hear back about it!
what are you listening to these days?
I've been listening to a lot of different things. hip hop, R&B, and rap mainly. but also some surf rock, chill hop, lofi, and recently I even got in to some EDM. I like music that makes me want to dance.
are there any non-musical things that inspire your playing?
I think everything I do outside of music inspires my playing. it's vital that I find balance outside of music in order to make space for musical ideas, collaboration, and innovation in my life. maybe that's too general, but I can't do well with too much music or non-music.
do you have any performances coming up?
I do! my piano quintet is playing in a chamber showcase at CU boulder on april 13th, 2018. additionally, we'll have a recital as well sometime later in the spring. hopefully this thing works out with my cello quartet, meaning we'd have a performance opportunity, but we just don't know yet!
~ check out the new cecelia collection below & stay tuned for more soon additions to the collection soon ~
10% of your cecelia collection purchase goes to music education charities.