The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is the second oldest orchestra in the United States. Founded in 1855 by a student of Felix Mendelssohn, the orchestra has played an active role in the development of our city as a cultural epicenter of our region for the past 160 years.
This weekend, the CSO will present its second concert of the 2018-19 season. Beethoven & Baroque will take place on October 13 at 7:30 p.m. and is a part of the CSO's TSYS Legacy Hall Series. The concert program focuses on repertoire by Handel, Marcello, Vivaldi, and Beethoven.
The first half of the concert will showcase some of the CSO's musicians as soloists playing the Baroque selections on the program. One of these featured soloists is cellist Daniel Holloway who is in his 14th season with the CSO.
Holloway is an alumni of CSU's Schwob School of Music and now resides in Canton, Georgia where he teaches cello and performs professionally in the Atlanta metro area. In addition to performing with the CSO, Holloway is in the cello sections of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, and LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.
We corresponded with Holloway to get a behind-the-scenes look into the life of one of the top musicians in our area. Read on to discover what it's like to perform in the CSO, why he's looking forward to this weekend's concert, and how being a musician in Columbus has impacted his life.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CSO cellist Daniel Holloway.| Image courtesy of Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
Q: What has playing with the CSO added to your life?
A: It has added tremendous value to my life and musical development. It’s one thing to be able to play with a symphony orchestra and learn and perform the vast repertoire which I hold very dear, but to be in an orchestra as good as the CSO and to rehearse and perform in world class venues such as Bill Heard Theater and Legacy Hall, is truly special. The music really comes alive because of the musicians here, George Del Gobbo’s leadership, and the wonderful acoustics of these two concert halls. Aside from all of my incredible musical experiences here, I’ve made some great friends throughout the years and it’s always been fun to share the experience with them and make music together.
Q: How did you settle on the cello as your instrument?
A: Ha! Well, I don’t like to think I settled on the cello, it was more like I upgraded to the cello! I was playing the double bass in middle school which is a fun instrument, but after hearing Yo-Yo Ma perform the Bach cello suites on PBS and hearing how amazing the cello could sound, I knew it was the instrument I really wanted to play.
Q: What is your favorite part of the double concerto you'll play Saturday night?
A: Everything about this piece is great, especially if you are a fan of haunting sounding music! Vivaldi wrote numerous concerti (over 500) for all kinds of instruments, but this one I believe stands out as one of his best compositions. First, I think its written in a great key for string instruments. G minor sounds fantastic on the cello and is a very resonant key on the instrument. The personality of G minor can be quite fiery, passionate and mournful so it matches the emotions Vivaldi must have felt when composing it. Second, it’s written for two cellos! The cello is already a beautiful sounding instrument, so two cellos playing together in harmony is even more powerful and exciting. Vivaldi showcases this throughout the whole piece as well as using call and response passages to create a sort of dialogue between the two instrumentalists. Lastly, is the character and emotional impact of the piece. The first movement has so much driving energy. He uses rhythmic and melodic sequences to build many of the phrases which gives it that driving character. It definitely has that “serioso” vibe. The second movement is much more intimate and lyrical. It has a very mournful and yearning quality. The beautiful melodic lines soar and gently land in this movement. The last movement is another fiery allegro, but in 3/4 time. There’s plenty of drama that happens in this movement, but it all seems to disappear as quickly as it came. Every time I listen to this piece, it’s as if the whole concerto goes up in a wisp of smoke at the end. There’s so much mystery and intrigue to the whole piece, you have to come hear it live to truly appreciate it!
Holloway plays the cello in concert. | Image courtesy of the CSO.
Q: Do you have any pre-performance traditions? How do you prepare to take the stage?
A: I really don’t have any pre-performance traditions, but I definitely have a process I go through to get ready to play. Getting plenty of rest is important for me physically and mentally so I always try to do that. Staying loose and relaxed is key, so I try to take time to stretch before hand. I make sure I’m good and warmed up. I like to feel like I’m one with the instrument before I perform. Lastly I’d say is keeping a positive state of mind.
Q: What is it like to work with Maestro Del Gobbo?
A: I’ve learned so much from George over the years, he’s a great guy and a very knowledgable musician. It’s a lot of fun to work with him. His passion for the music is evident and he holds us to a very high standard. I appreciate everything he has to say, and feel it always adds a lot of detail to our performances. He’s a true professional with how he treats the musicians and how he runs the rehearsals. You can tell he has carefully studied the music well before we begin rehearsing because he always has a plan for what to work on and good strategies for making things sound better. Whether it’s balance and dynamics, phrasing, articulation, or achieving a certain sound, he communicates his ideas clearly to the group. I also appreciate his sense of humor. He always seems to have something funny to say to lighten the mood. The overall morale of working here is positive and I think that also contributes to the orchestra sounding their best.
RiverCenter's Legacy Hall will be the venue for Saturday's CSO concert.
Q: What else would you like to share with our readers?
A: Aside from classical music, I really enjoy playing bluegrass and old-time fiddle music. There are subtle intricacies and nuances to the bowing style of fiddle tunes that are in a way similar to playing baroque music. This and the fun modal melodies of the tunes is what drew me to study this style of music. I acquired a five string cello about 5 years ago when I started fiddling on the cello. It has a high E string like the violin, so it allowed me to play a lot of fiddle tunes on the cello in their traditional keys without having to shift all over the instrument.
I’ve also been playing the fiddle for a little over two years. It has been incredibly fun to learn a new instrument later in life. I’ve always liked the violin, but it seemed so difficult to hold and play that I never thought I’d be able to actually do it. It was fun to prove myself wrong. It just goes to show if you spend enough time working on something, you’ll make progress and might even surprise yourself with the results.
The last thing I’d like to share with our readers is how much I appreciate Columbus. I did my undergraduate degree at CSU’s Schwob School of Music and it was one of the best decisions of my life. It’s a great city with so much going on in the arts. That says a lot about the people that live here and those who have helped shape this city into what it is today. I’m happy to still be involved in the music scene here and look forward to sharing another great program with the audience on Saturday night in Legacy Hall.
If You Go:
What: Beethoven & Baroque
When: October 13, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Legacy Hall, RiverCenter
Make the Most Out of Your Evening:
Attend CSO's Autumn Soirée and Pre-Concert Dinner at 6 p.m. for an additional $45.
Then, head to Know The Score for a pre-concert lecture by the Maestro himself!
Want to Introduce Your Children to the Orchestra?
On concert days, the CSO hosts Open Rehearsals during their final dress rehearsal before each concert. This is a perfect way to introduce little ones to the magic of an orchestra without having to expect them to sit quietly for over two hours. Pay what you can (even just a $5 donation?) to attend these rehearsals and enjoy the freedom to let your children stand, sit, color, or just listen to orchestral music in a setting appropriate for them.
Want to join us at this week's Open Rehearsal?
Let us know by registering here! We'll meet you there!