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On That Note: Performing for the Composer

Christine Lalla
Cellist Robert Cohen and composer Sally Beamish

For a contemporary composer, seeing and hearing your work live is a rewarding experience that offers a unique privilege to work with the musicians performing a piece.

Our “On That Note” contributor, Robert Cohen, was just on the other side of that equation.  Cohen is a cellist and recently had the opportunity to play work by a living composer – work that was composed for Cohen himself. 

Cohen and composer Sally Beamish have personally known each other for a majority of their lives, and Beamish wanted to write a cello concerto in honor of Cohen's experiences as an adult. The concerto was written as "a mid way point" for his life, looking backward and forward.

For Beamsih, the concerto needed to encompass soaring energy and great emotion. Cello Concerto No.2: The Song Gatherer, performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with Robert Cohen, was the end result.

"The fact that Sally is alive and well and this music was written for a very special's living music...(making) it really special to work on," says Cohen.

He spoke with Lake Effect's Bonnie North shortly before that performance while he was in London:


Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
For 35 years one of the worlds leading cello soloist, Robert Cohen is an award-winning recording artist, conductor, artistic director and pedagogue who has been broadcast on TV and radio throughout the world. His passionate views on the art of learning, performing and communicating music have been widely published.