Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85

Weekly singing lesson today. I am realising that I’m an impatient person. I finally feel like I am making progress. We did warm ups again, as always, but I felt more confident about them. Perhaps it was my mood, or maybe I’m improving. Who knows, but I now feel like I am headed somewhere, on the road to the dream. Also we spent the other half talking about songwriting (yay), and now have a goal! Four cut ready songs by October. Challenge accepted.

To clear my head and to avoid ‘rip-offs’ (there are so many out there), I thought I’d do a palate cleanser for the ears. If I remember correctly Bobby McFerrin didn’t listen to music for a year in order to find his true voice again. I love music, and singing, too much to give it up completely so I went with something a little less radical. I turned to Classical music.


My first ever instrument was the violin. I’ve always loved string instruments, which is why I’m confused as to why I didn’t stick with it… In high school a small film called August Rush was released, it kind of changed my life. I think it was the first time I was consciously introduced to the cello, and I fell in love. It’s perfect, the strings aren’t too thin that they would cut me (like guitar and violin strings), the sound is rich like the human voice, I can play sitting down, it’s uses in music are endless……

In August Rush they would blend classical with rock. My favourite mash-up was Elgar/Something Inside. That song is what sold me, after the movie I headed straight to Long and McQuade to get myself a cello, and sign up for some lessons. Perfection!

What’s not so perfect about the cello is the price. Renting a good quality student instrument can run you about a $100 a month, and lessons are steep at an average of $80 per half hour, and you have to do weekly lessons that are usually an hour. Such a big dream, killed in an instant, it’s what ultimately led me to the oboe. Which funny enough was more expensive in the long run.

In hopes of keeping the cello dream alive I would YouTube cello pieces and imagine myself on stage performing them with the top orchestras of the world. My favourite is still the Elgar piece used in August Rush, Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85 mvt. 1. What I love about it is that it doesn’t follow the traditional concerto form, where the movements the first movement is fast followed by a slow reflective 2nd and finished with a virtuosic finale.

Elgar’s cello concerto starts off with a melancholic solo cello. A smooth chromatic melody creates both tension and a sense of urgency in what the cello is trying to tell the listener. Elgar resolves this melody as one would expel a sign in anguish. The orchestra supports the cello’s soliloquy compared to its contemporaries that are a mere piano accompaniment with finesse. Elgar’s theme for the cello is virtuosic in its simplicity. Using large interval jumps for emphasis, and a rocking chromatic motif echoing the sound of a human cry. God I love the cello.

Everyone has played this piece, but I think the best performance of it is Jacqueline Du Pre. And easy choice, but my favourite none the less. In university I had to write a little tiny piece for a short I was working on and the opening to the concerto was definitely used as inspiration.

To this day I have yet to formally and accurately learn the cello. I hope one day you’ll find me on a stage performing either this beautiful piece or maybe even the Haydn Cello Concerto in C, which is another of my favourites. But that will be for another time.


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