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The Origins of my Cello

11 May, 2020

Written by Fenella Gill, Sydney Symphony Cellist

Our 2020 Season may not have proceeded as planned but I have adjusted to being at home for now, enjoying my time gardening, cooking, long walks and particularly spending more time with my family – time together that we may not have otherwise had!

I’ve been revisiting and enjoying practising some of the repertoire I studied as a student, some orchestral excerpts, and of course some nitty-gritty technical work.

I first played with the Sydney Symphony in 1992 and joined on a full-time basis in 1997. There has been a lot of orchestral repertoire played since! And who would have known when I began playing the cello, where it would lead me?

The cello I play is a wonderful instrument, acquired from London in 2012. It is Italian, made by Gaetano Antoniazzi (1825-1897) circa 1890 while working for Leandro Bisiach. Interestingly, the scroll is made by GB Ceruti (c1810) and it is thought that Antoniazzi made the cello in the style of Ceruti to match the scroll. He studied and worked with the Ceruti family, so it is reasonable to believe he had the scroll from this period in his life. Antoniazzi is considered a late Cremonese maker.

Watch: Paque's Souvenir de Curis

Chamber Sounds Digital Series

Featuring: Umberto Clerici, Fenella Gill, Kristy Conrau, Christopher Pidcock

I do love this instrument and feel very fortunate to be its current temporary custodian. Not only is it beautiful to play, it is beautiful to look at, to touch, to feel and to smell. It has a lovely personality, and a definite warmth and depth to its sound. Now as a mature player, it feels right to have an instrument I treasure, one I really love to play.

One of the best features of any cello is the lustrous sound it can produce. There are of course so many wonderful melodies written for it in orchestral, chamber and solo repertoire.

I look forward to returning to the stage with my wonderful musical colleagues as soon as we can. It can be a lonely time for musicians at home right now, as at heart we all love to perform, but I continue to play my beautiful cello, and above all always to enjoy my music.

What would the world be without music?