Cello soloist to make history at Shoreditch Church

Cellist David Cohen

Cellist David Cohen - Credit: Archant

Award-winning cellist David Cohen debuts a personally-commissioned piece by Cheryl Frances-Hoad - who won the BBC Young Composer Competition at 15 – tomorrow at Shoreditch Church.

The Belgian-born cellist, described as “an absolutely commanding and masterful soloist”, will perform his third-ever commissioned work, accompanied by the Rambert Ochestra.

Katharsis for cello, a lyrical, six-movement suite by Ms Frances-Hoad, puts a modern twist on Britten and Bach-inspired ‘cello suites. The piece tells the story of a classical musician in the current financial climate.

“The piece is really a tour-de-force, a sad, melancholic and yet vigorous and victorious composition,” said Mr Cohen.

“How has the classical music evolved? I was interested in this. Most musicians don’t play instruments to get rich, we don’t go on holiday. Only 0.5 percent of musicians live well.

“We have to learn to compromise and sacrifice, and Cheryl has tried to convey this in her piece.”

The 31-year-old took the legacy of classical music into his own hands when he last year decided to commission one new work for cello every year.

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In the last 400 years, 50 percent of classical music has been commissioned, usually backed by rich patrons or private sponsors.

“Mozart’s famous requiem would not be known now had it not been commissioned. Of course not all music written today will survive but for new music to be created and continue we must all do our part to commission great work.

I have been helped so much in my young life, people believed in me and it’s now my responsibility to give back,” said Mr Cohen.

At 20, Mr Cohen was the youngest-ever Principal Cello to be appointed to London’s Philharmonic Orchestra. He has since performed as a soloist with leading orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra and St Petersburgh Philharmonic.

Unlike many acclaimed string players, the soloist was hand-picked by Yehudi Menuhin as a child to study at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey.

What is unique about the cello? Connoisseurs of classical music will say that its sound is the closest to the human voice.

“With an instrument such as cello you can have a burry tone or high pitch like a female and I think it’s fantastic to express many different feelings…the audience is always surprised by how versatile an instrument it is,” said Mr Cohen

The chief hallmark of his playing is a rebellious, communicative mannerism that connects with audiences.

“I am a servant to the music, only here to perform it. London is my home and it’s always very nice for someone like me to play back home, because 98 percent of the time I’m performing abroad.”

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