Cellist Sean Taubner (Colin Mehmel)
The Skywalk Series is a concert and lecture series organized by the University of Winnipeg and the Millennium Library. Wednesday lectures and Thursday concerts are free and take place at noon in the Carol Shields Auditorium.
On Thursday October 13, cellist Sean Taubner and pianist Christopher Kayler present 300 Years of Cello in 40 Minutes.
SCENE asked Sean Taubner to present 300 Years of Cello for us in 300 words:
It all began with a question: where does this instrument I play actually come from? It's such a basic thing, yet I never thought to ask until I was part way through university. Embarrassing, really.
The cello is almost Canadian in how diverse the original parts are. It is a compromise between the deep bass sonority of the violone (a now-extinct bass instrument similar to a cello but larger and tuned lower), the sweet sonority of the viola da gamba (also extinct, but extremely popular in its time), and the nimble virtuosity of the violin family.
These days the cello combines these qualities to create an instrument that is small enough to be nimble, large enough to be a soulful baritone, and flexible enough to be sweet and strident in turn.
So my program at the Millennium Library begins early in the life of the cello and ends early in the 20th century. I start with Bach's G major suite, written when the cello we know was less than 100 years old. Bach's solo suites use the cello's entire range of expressive and technical abilities in a way that is still wondrous to behold.
Following Bach are three short fantasies by Schumann. These pieces were originally written for the clarinet, and in playing them I am continuing a long and time-honoured tradition in music: stealing repertoire from other instruments!
Schumann will be followed by Dvorak with his Silent Woods, a beautiful piece that evokes images of shimmering moonlight, Bohemian forests, and melancholy reflection.
I close with a work by Cassado, where we reach full circle. Cassado was the prodigal student of Casals, who popularized the Bach Cello Suites after they had been largely forgotten and ignored for 150 years. His Requiebros is flamboyantly and powerfully Spanish in flavour, with masculine poise one moment and feminine tenderness the next. It is a tour de force that will take you to a smoky cantina in 1930s Catalonia.
Sean Taubner (Colin Mehmel)
Sean Taubner is a Winnipeg-based 'cellist. Obtaining his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Manitoba and master's degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, he has performed around Canada, the United States, and Japan. He is currently teaching and performing in Winnipeg, and is serving as an artistic advisor for the Skywalk Series.
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