Fresno is bringing high-class music back to its community with one instrument: the cello.
The International Cello Festival is happening Thursday through Sunday with world-renowned cellist Lynn Harrell and other professional cello artists from around the nation.
Two cello concerts are scheduled on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in Fresno State’s concert hall.
Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, head of strings, professor of cello and conductor of the Fresno State symphony orchestra and Indiana University associate professor of music Emilio Colón are the artistic directors of the cello festival.
“Lynn Harrell is, in the United States, the father, part of the great older cello generations that are no longer with us,” Colón said. “He really is now the principal exponent of the history of the cello in the United States.
“For him to join us, it’s a great honor, and it will be a great chance for the community to come and hear this great artist, along with all of the other parts of the concert.”
Faculty guest-cello artists who will teach and perform at the festival are Jesús Castro-Balbi, Cara Colón, Thomas Landschoot, Jonathan Ruck and Brian Schuldt.
“All of our guest artists are actually artists from other universities,” Loewenheim said. “It’s actually a big international cello festival, and we will have faculty here from all over the world.”
This year marks the first time the organization is holding a broader international cello festival, Loewenheim said. Activities included in the festival are cello ensembles, master classes and the two concerts.
At the Friday night concert, the faculty cello artists will be accompanied by the Fresno State symphony orchestra.
“In the concert, we will have several concertos, such as Lynn Harrell playing the cello with the orchestra,” Loewenheim said. “The other guest artists will also play concertos of the cello and orchestra.”
Saturday night will encompass recital works for two, three, four and more guest-faculty cellists.
“There will also be two large ensembles of young members from the cello festival on Saturday night,” Loewenheim said. “Then the faculty will all perform together.”
Loewenheim said there are about 40 to 50 Fresno State students participating in the classes and concerts. He said another 30 students are coming from different universities around the nation. A handful of the students are international students from China, Korea, Germany and Mexico.
Fresno State music performance major Patricia A. Fronda said that it is an honor as a student to be able to hear and be taught by the faculty artists attending the festival.
“This is a great opportunity to meet all these great artists, professors and to meet their students,” Fronda said. “It will be good for us to see that we’re not alone in this struggle of, ‘Oh, how do I play this correctly?’ or how there are other ways to play the same piece or same passage with different techniques.”
“I’m very excited that my students will be able to interact with other high-level students from around the nation and other places,” Loewenheim said.
“The students will have the opportunity to hear other people play, have the opportunity to get assessed themselves, interact with other students and make new connections and friends.
“Twenty years from now, they’re going to be the generation that continues the musical tradition and raises the level.”
All of the master classes are free and open to the public. Tickets for the concerts are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/cellofresno.