Transylvania Times, October 2, 2014

Left to right with Bailey are are Grace Meile,14; Alydia Monahan, 14; Callie Plemmons, 14; Sophia Purcell, 5; Keeley Brown, 8; and Kaya Brown, 8.

How amazing it was to hear cellist Zuill Bailey rehearse with the Brevard Philharmonic! Thanks to the Brevard Philharmonic’s Music in the Schools Program, not only did I get to experience his depth of talent as he prepared for his performance at the Porter Center, but other students and I were invited to sit in on a question and answer time with him. It is one thing to attend a concert and experience music firsthand, but to have the opportunity to speak to the artist and learn how he developed his talent was over the top.

Mr. Bailey started playing at the age of 4 and began performing around the age of 12. He told us that he first learned the Russian piece he played (Prokofiev’s Concertante in E minor, opus 25) almost 20 years ago. He explained that back then he learned the notes but not necessarily the emotion of the piece. In preparation for this performance he really researched the composer’s original intent so that he could convey it to the audience.

We also learned that Mr. Bailey’s cello was made back in the 1600s when Bach was just 8 years old. He said it was through the generous donation of a “sweet angel” that he came to play such a magnificent instrument.

As a cellist myself, I was extremely impressed with the ease in which he played a very technical piece. At one point he was hitting notes so high it sounded like a violin. I found this particularly interesting because during the Q&A he showed us a rose engraved on his cello. You’d never notice it because it’s hidden behind the fingerboard, the black board located behind the strings. He went on to explain that when the cello was originally made, the rose would have been visible because the fingerboard was shorter. The reason it was shorter then was because in those days the cello was only intended to play bass notes. As the cello evolved and was required to play more difficult pieces, the fingerboard was elongated, covering the rose. So not only did Mr. Bailey wow me with his performance but he also taught me an interesting fact about the cello. It is amazing to live in such a community where we can have experiences like this one. I will always remember meeting him and all the things he told us. I am truly grateful for the opportunity.

(The author, Grace Meille is in 9th grade and is home schooled. She played cello for 4 years but had to stop when she moved to Brevard because didn’t have her own instrument. She recently started back due to a generous donation of three cellos by the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation to Transylvania Youth Strings, where she studies. Thanks to that support she has an instrument to play and lessons. Meille has also played the piano since she was 5 and currently takes those lessons via skype with her teacher in Milan, Italy.

The Zuill Bailey Russian Treasures was the first concert of Brevard Philharmonic’s 2014/15 season. The student’s Question and Answer period with the cellist was made possible by the Philharmonic’s Music in the Schools outreach.)