<![CDATA[DANE JOHANSEN - CELLIST - HOME/NEWS]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:01:51 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Recital available on YouTube - Dane Johansen and Victor Stanislavsky in Israel]]>Mon, 31 Aug 2015 23:53:13 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2015/08/recital-available-on-youtube-dane-johansen-and-victor-stanislavsky-in-israel.htmlI am very excited to share with you a video recording from a recent recital with my pianist friend and colleague, Victor Stanislavsky. This performance features works by Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Chopin and took place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. Victor and I met in 2006 at the Steans Institute and Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Since then we have performed together often and we are developing exciting plans for the future. Stay tuned for more info about our upcoming concerts and events! Here is a link to our recording of Brahms' Sonata no. 2 in F Major for Cello and Piano. Enjoy the music, and thank you for visiting here at www.danejohansen.com. Your interest and support is very much appreciated.
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<![CDATA[Summer teaching is winding down, and it was wonderful!]]>Tue, 18 Aug 2015 21:59:57 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2015/08/summer-teaching-is-winding-down-and-it-was-wonderful.htmlPictureThe Cello Mob, enjoying a doughnut in Fairbanks.
This summer included some very exciting concerts and some wonderful opportunities to work with young cellists. I visited my home town of Fairbanks Alaska to teach and perform at the Fairbanks Suzuki Institute. It seemed like the whole town showed up for my recital there and the kids were really excited to have lessons and to work with all of the other cellists in what they call the Cello Mob. I had a blast and really enjoyed the opportunity to return to Alaska and give back to the community that gave me so much. I'll be returning again in October and will look forward to catching up with all the young cellists in Fairbanks! The key to winning over cellists of any age - Doughnuts.

PictureDuring a master class in Ithaca.
Following my trip to Alaska, I traveled to Ithaca, New York to teach and perform at the Ithaca Suzuki Institute. The week there was wonderful. The recital went very well, and the kids were all inspired, super excited about playing their instruments and working hard to improve. I always love returning to Ithaca - I was a student there when I was a kid! My mother has taught the violin during the summer in Ithaca for a long time, so I used to travel there with her and work with Gilda Barston in what was called 'Cello Boot Camp!' Again, it was so nice to return and give something back to a place that was special to me as a young cellist.

PictureThe cellists at Lyra Summer Music Workshop.
I very much enjoyed a first experience at the Lyra Summer Music Workshop in Randolph, Vermont. As is usually the case with young musicians (and especially cellists), the kids at Lyra were great. They were so eager to learn, very talented and so appreciative of the master class. As usual, I had a blast performing a recital for the students. If you have young students, you should definitely consider sending them to Lyra. They are sure to grow immeasurably and have fun doing it!

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<![CDATA[Cape Cod recital in memory of Bernard Greenhouse and his legacy with the Outer Cape Health Services - A pleasure to return and give back.]]>Mon, 08 Jun 2015 22:20:16 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2015/06/cape-cod-recital-in-memory-of-bernard-greenhouse-and-his-legacy-with-the-outer-cape-health-services-a-pleasure-to-return-and-give-back.htmlPicture
It was an honor to return to Cape Cod and perform for the Wellfleet community at the annual fundraising concert for the Outer Cape Health Services, a local organization that helped my teacher, Bernard Greenhouse, and his wife during their lives on the Cape. Bernie started the concert series to benefit the OCHS and the series continues to this day in his memory.

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<![CDATA[The Beginning of a New Chapter...]]>Mon, 25 May 2015 19:15:00 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2015/05/the-beginning-of-a-new-chapter.htmlPicture
After five wonderful years with my colleagues in the Escher String Quartet, I have decided to leave the quartet and follow a new path, pursue my own projects, and to focus on my solo career and my teaching. I am really excited for this new chapter and know that it will be one full of new opportunities, learning, and perhaps a new city! I have lived in New York for almost ten years and I am looking forward to the possibility of returning to the West Coast of the United States, or possibly returning to Europe. It is an incredible thing to have such exciting options before me! I want to thank my colleagues, Adam Barnett-Hart, Aaron Boyd, Pierre Lapointe and our former second violinist, WuJie. They were the best colleagues anyone could hope for and making music with them throughout the past five seasons has been a joy and a privilege. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities I enjoyed as a member of the Escher Quartet and I wish those fine musicians all the best as they continue in their career together. They have elected to continue with a wonderful young cellist named Brook Speltz. He and they are in good company and I know they will rise to great musical heights together.

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<![CDATA[Dane Johansen performs Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major]]>Sun, 08 Mar 2015 01:48:38 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2015/03/dane-johansen-randy-fleischer-and-the-anchorage-symphony-orchestra.html
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<![CDATA[Remembering Bernard Greenhouse in anticipation of his 99th Birthday]]>Sat, 29 Nov 2014 16:48:35 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2014/11/remembering-bernie-in-anticipation-of-his-99th-birthday.htmlPicture
As we approach the new year, we also approach the 99th birthday of Bernard Greenhouse. He was an incredible presence in the lives of many cellists, including myself. I was looking through some old files, and I found this draft of some memories and observations I shared at Greenhouse's memorial at The Juilliard School in 2011. Thinking about him still, and remembering all the good times prompted me to find this and share it with you. I hope it brings you back in some way or paints a picture for those of you who never met him. He was an incredible teacher, a generous spirit and all around  a wonderful man. Click 'Read More' to read the script from 2011...

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It is an honor to be here today. After almost a century of making music Bernard Greenhouse affected the lives of thousands of musicians and tens of thousands of music lovers throughout the world. I met Bernie when he was ninety-one years old, a beautiful cellist and a brilliant pedagogue. He was always one of my heroes, and after writing many letters requesting his audience, he called one day and invited me to play for him. I will never forget my first lesson with Bernie at his apartment here in New York. We sat together in his little bedroom and after hearing me play, he chose to address a few simple phrases.

Bernie always liked lyrical music as it allowed him to address expressive details and what he called “the technique of making music.” He was challenging me to listen for nuances I had never considered and, try as I might, I was unable to satisfy his demands. He never said I had done something well, just encouraged me with “… it’s getting better.” At the end of the lesson he said, "I'd like to help you discover a way of working that will sustain you for the rest of your life." Throughout our time together, Bernie taught me to push my perceived boundaries of possibility, both technically and musically, revealing infinite ground for exploration and improvement. I left our first lesson feeling overwhelmed; knowing my life with music was changed forever. Over the following four years he was unconditionally generous, welcoming me into his home, sharing his friends, his stories, five o-clock martinis with oysters and of course, his deep understanding of music as a language.

Inspired by his relationship with Casals, Bernie believed in what he called the apprentice system and encouraged me to stay with him for days or weeks at a time. I would hop on a bus and make the long trip out to Cape Cod, happy for another opportunity to work with him and to escape the city for a calmer world. My favorite bed in his house was in the laundry room, so when I visited it became my bedroom. I would practice in that room for hours, knowing that Bernie probably had an ear turned to what I was doing, or NOT doing. He would peek in and offer some sage advice or demand that I take a break and join him for a drink.

His living room had a beautiful view of the harbor and big windows bathed the room in sunlight. Bernie would sit in the sun and listen to me play. I remember him stopping me to describe the shape of a phrase. He would light up with an expression of rapture, sit up straight, move his arms with ease and speak with strength and conviction. Teaching gave him so much positive energy that it undoubtedly prolonged his life. One day over dinner I asked him, "Bernie, what’s your secret, how have you managed to live such a long life?" He thought for a moment, raised his glass and said, "By living well, and surrounding myself with young people." Needless to say, Bernie knew a thing or two about living well. The idea of staying young at heart was one he had inherited from Casals.

Tucked away in the huge safe that housed Bernie's beloved Stradivarius was a folder containing all the correspondences he received from Casals. Holding paper touched by Casals and reading his handwriting was awe inspiring. I loved sitting with Bernie, reading aloud the letters and listening to him recall memories of their time together. As I learned more about their interaction, it became clear that Bernie was passing on not only his knowledge, but the experience he had sought with Casals. What an amazing offering, to mentor a younger generation. Bernie gave that gift to hundreds of cellists.

In addition to the letters, Bernie cherished a special photo of Casals. I have seen such photos, signed and dedicated to various musicians, but what he wrote to Bernie was uniquely personal, "A mon chere Bernard, Je suis fiere de toi. To my dear Bernard, I am proud of you." If only Casals had lived to see the all of the gifts Bernie gave to the world. I feel profoundly fortunate to have had the gift of time with Bernie during his final years. Every time I sit behind the cello, I remember his generosity and wisdom and I feel most humbly fortunate to participate in his legacy, and honor him as my teacher and my friend.

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<![CDATA[Recital with Victor Stanislavsky at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel]]>Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:57:59 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2014/11/recital-with-victor-stanislavsky-at-the-tel-aviv-museum-of-art-in-israel.htmlPicture
I could not be more excited to perform with my good friend Victor Stanislavsky this coming Monday at the Museum of Art in Tel Aviv. In October, Victor traveled to New York City and performed the program with me three times; in a house concert, at the American Irish Historical Society, and at the Rose Studio at Lincoln Center. All three concerts were very well attended and everyone we heard from loved the program which features works by Beethoven, Schumann, Bloch, Brahms and Chopin. Victor and I are old friends and first performed together in 2006 at the Steans Institute of the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Since then we have always wanted to work together but only managed this year to put together a collaboration. What I love most about playing with Victor is the opportunity to work closely with someone who sees each score in a very special way. Victor is always pointing out facets of the music I had not previously heard which makes working with him a very inspiring process. I always learn so much from Victor and our communication in rehearsal and on stage is some of the best I have experienced. Our concert is Monday, November 24th at 8:00 PM. For details click HERE.

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<![CDATA[October 19, 2014 - Recital at the American Irish Historical Society]]>Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:50:35 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2014/10/october-19-2014-recital-at-the-american-irish-historical-society.htmlPicture
We invite you to join us for a concert on October 19th at the beautiful American Irish Historical Society. Located on 5th Avenue at 80th street, the AIHS was founded in 1897 to inform the world of the achievements of the Irish in America. Dane is joined by the extraordinary pianist, Victor Stanislavsky in a program featuring works by Beethoven, Bloch, Schumann, Brahms and Chopin. For tickets and more information, visit the AIHS website.

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<![CDATA[The Walk to Fisterra - A Cellist's Journey - An Article by Dane Johansen]]>Fri, 10 Oct 2014 03:08:55 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2014/10/the-walk-to-fisterra-a-cellists-journey-an-article-by-dane-johansen.htmlPicture
After 40 days walking across Spain with my cello on my back, I arrived at the Cathedral de Santiago, a destination for pilgrims since the seventh century. I was almost at the end of my journey, one of profound personal and musical significance that had exceeded all of my expectations. Listening to the hushed tones of the pipe organ, I was finally able to reflect on the magic and wonder of my journey on the Camino de Santiago. My adventure began in 2008. Inspired by a friend’s experience on the Appalachian Trail, I began to imagine how I could combine my passion for music with my love for the outdoors and adventure. Searching for my own long journey, I found the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route across Spain. A Christian pilgrimage since the 6th and 7th centuries, many beautiful churches line the route which I imagined would be ideal s During my studies in the Artist Diploma Program at The Juilliard School, I was searching for a new way to approach recording the Six Suites for Solo Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach; a rite of passage for all cellists. In my own life, I had been fascinated by Bach’s masterpieces for cello ever since I learned the Suite in G Major as a young boy. I realized that recording the Bach Suites in churches along the Camino de Santiago would be a perfect continuation of my lifelong musical pilgrimage with Bach. My plan developed to include the production of a documentary film about the Camino de Santiago, featuring the stories of many pilgrims, Bach’s Cello Suites, and my own musical journey. To continue reading click "Read More."

During my studies in the Artist Diploma Program at The Juilliard School, I was searching for a new way to approach recording the Six Suites for Solo Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach; a rite of passage for all cellists. In my own life, I had been fascinated by Bach’s masterpieces for cello ever since I learned the Suite in G Major as a young boy. I realized that recording the Bach Suites in churches along the Camino de Santiago would be a perfect continuation of my lifelong musical pilgrimage with Bach. My plan developed to include the production of a documentary film about the Camino de Santiago, featuring the stories of many pilgrims, Bach’s Cello Suites, and my own musical journey.

One of the most challenging aspects of the production was obtaining permission to record and film in each of the 36 churches, selected for their beauty, architectural interest and historical significance. Initially most of the priests we contacted in Spain were unwilling to allow us to record and film, and perhaps rightfully so. We offered nothing to benefit their communities. We brainstormed how we could achieve our goal to record this music while giving back to our host communities, and we decided to offer that the recording sessions double as free concerts. The Spanish priests were more agreeable to this revised proposal. These negotiations marked the beginning of what would become one of the profound lessons I learned from the Camino: Be open to life’s changes as they will bring great beauty and dimension to any experience. Performing concerts would bring far more beauty and dimension to my experience than I could ever imagine. Rather than simply recording the suites, I would have an opportunity to share Bach’s music with thousands of people.

After six years of planning, I was happy to begin my journey in the Pyrenees and a town called, Roncesvalles. Seated in the church called Real Colegiata before an expectant audience, I was finally living my dream. I began with the first Bach Suite I ever learned, the G Major. As the sound filled the church, I listened in awe of the beauty of the space and the intimacy and purity of the acoustic. The ancient stone glowed with warmth and resonated perfectly with Bach’s music and the sound of my cello. The stained glass shone with vivid colors, and the perfect architectural proportions made the space divine. The following morning, I took my first steps and passed a road sign that read, “Santiago: 790.” Nearly 800 kilometers lay between me and Santiago de Compostela, not to mention a further 80 kilometers beyond Santiago to the Atlantic Ocean. From that day on I endured many blisters, almost constant pain, and indescribable exhaustion. The only remedy was to put one foot in front of the other. As I walked the Camino shaped me into a new person. It was not only the Camino that changed me, but the people I met along the way and their wonderful communities. Each time I played a concert, I felt so grateful that I could share my favorite music and give something back to the people who were hosting this momentous journey.

“Simplicity in all things’ was a one of the lessons of my Camino. On a purely material level I learned about my real needs. I carried a change of clothes, a sleeping bag, some basic personal items, rain gear, and my cello. These basic items satisfied my needs for 45 days. My simple existence revealed another truth: the essentials in life are clean air, clean water, sufficient food, warmth and beauty. Now that I have returned to my life in New York City, I find myself thinking more about my basic needs. This philosophy has also shaped my approach to music and the cello. Simplicity in all things is a mantra that will change any cellist’s technique and any musician’s approach to phrasing! It must have been a focus for Bach while composing his Cello Suites, where the harmony is composed melodically and most of the counterpoint must be imagined by the listener. Perhaps his simplest masterpiece is the Sarabande of the Fifth Suite, in which Bach manages to communicate the most profound expression with the least material.

Throughout the journey I played 35 concerts featuring the Cello Suites. My relationship with Bach’s music, my interpretations, my pacing, and my approach to phrasing changed entirely. It was amazing what a profound impact each church had on my performance. Some of the churches were huge and required a very specific kind of projection, and a more generous approach to time with more space and breath in the tempo. Other churches were so small and resonant that I had to temper the energy I was putting into the cello so as not to saturate the space with sound. Some of the churches were absolutely perfect for music and enabled me to play without changing my sound or interpretation. My favorite church was in Vilar de Donas, the oldest and most beautifully preserved of the churches along the Camino. The stones inside the church were blotched with green moss and the wooden doors were cracked, allowing ribbons of light to cut through the dusty air. Original Celtic paintings covered the walls and ceilings. The crude brush strokes of an artist from the 7th century expressed so much humanity, humility and simplicity. The ancient church made me feel a deep connection to the past, and I imagined all of the people before me who had inhabited its walls. The Camino and Bach’s music are incredible connections to our past and to the lives of millions of people. Playing Bach’s music in Vilar de Donas, I felt extremely fortunate to be a cellist, to be a pilgrim, and to experience that connection.

Many pilgrims, including dear friends of mine, ended their journey in Santiago, so arriving at the Cathedral de Santiago really felt like reaching the finish line. I had the incredible opportunity to perform there that evening, and I was amazed by the number of pilgrims who came to enjoy the music one last time. There was very little space left in the chapel as pilgrims squeezed in around me, crowding the aisles and spilling out the entryway. Looking out into the audience, I saw many familiar smiles and felt such a glorious sense of community. Following the concert in Santiago, my friend Peter, a regular attendee at the concerts, approached me and thanked me for the music and all of the performances. He also thanked me for providing the thread that held the pilgrim community together. I am still so touched that Peter, and apparently many others, felt such gratitude for Bach’s music and that it became a vital part of their experience on the Camino.  

After enjoying an extra day in Santiago I set off to walk the final 80 kilometers to the Atlantic Ocean and a place called Fisterra. The ultimate destination for pre-Christian pilgrims, Fisterra was believed by ancient cartographers to be the furthest western point in Europe and the end of the earth. The route beyond Santiago was rugged and more challenging than the previous 800 kilometers. There were far fewer pilgrims on the trail so following the jubilant arrival in Santiago the walk to Fisterra seemed to be a quiet and beautiful epilogue. After three grueling and painful days on the trail, I arrived at the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs at Fisterra were immense and towered above the crashing waves below. That night I played my last concert on the cliffs, surrounded by many happy pilgrims perched on the rocks. We all experienced the same sense of being forever changed by the Camino. It is so rare in the race-pace of modern society that we have the opportunity to walk, think, breath, and live simply. The experience changed my life, both as a man and as a musician. The fullness of those changes will reveal itself in time. My task now is to integrate all that I learned into my daily life and to live according to the truths I gathered along the Camino.

Following my journey I had the opportunity to join Carolina Landriscini and all of the wonderful young cellists of Soncello for their Third Summer Cello Meeting in Culleredo, A Coruña, Spain. It was a wonderful experience to work with all of the talented students, both in private instruction and as the conductor of a cello orchestra. It was my first time conducting and I must say, I was nervous! The experience was made extremely comfortable by Carolina and her colleagues at Soncello and by the eager students and their positive energy. The rehearsals were limited but effective and we enjoyed a successful performance of three small arrangements for cello orchestra, including Michelle My Belle by Paul McCartney. All of the cellists played beautifully and it was a pleasure to see so many young people and families gathered together to enjoy a mutual love of music and the cello. I have encountered many such organizations all over the world, but the joy and enthusiasm I witnessed in Culleredo was very special. What Carolina and her colleagues are doing for the young cellists of their city is commendable and is deserving of the utmost support and recognition, not only in their community but throughout Spain and the world. It was a pleasure to spend a couple of days with such lovely people and to be part of something impactful for so many young cellists. The Encontro was the perfect finish to the greatest six weeks of my life, one I will never forget. My sincere thanks to Carolina and her team for bringing me to A Coruña and the Soncello family!

For more information regarding the forthcoming film and recording, please visit www.walktofisterra.com.

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<![CDATA[The Walk to Fisterra - A Cellist's Journey... An Article in Spanish]]>Thu, 09 Oct 2014 02:55:03 GMThttp://danejohansen.com/1/post/2014/10/the-walk-to-fisterra-a-cellists-journey-an-article-in-spanish.htmlPicture
Marcha a Fisterra – Viaje de un cellista
Por Dane Johansen 
Traducido al español por Carolina Landriscini

Llegué a la Catedral de Santiago, destino de peregrinos desde el siglo XVII, tras 40 días caminando a través de España con el cello a la espalda. Estaba casi al final de mi viaje, un trayecto lleno de significado personal y musical que había rebasado todas mis expectativas, y al escuchar el sonido quedo de un órgano, finalmente me sentía capaz de reflejar la magia y la maravilla de mi viaje por el Camino de Santiago. Mi aventura había comenzado en 2008, inspirándome en la experiencia de un amigo en el Sendero de los Montes Apalaches, empecé a preguntarme de qué manera podría combinar mi pasión por la música con mi amor por la naturaleza y la aventura. A la búsqueda de mi propio camino encontré el Camino de Santiago, una antigua ruta de peregrinaje que cruza España. Un peregrinaje católico que existe desde los siglos VI-VII, y cuyo trayecto está salpicado de hermosas iglesias que yo imaginaba como espacios ideales para llenar de música... Para continuar leyendo haga clic en "Read More."


Durante mis estudios en el Programa de Artist Diploma de la Escuela Juilliard de Nueva York, siempre estuve a la búsqueda de un nuevo enfoque a la hora de realizar una grabación de las seis Suites para cello solo de Bach, un rito iniciático para todo cellista. Esta obra maestra para violonchelo de Bach me ha fascinado siempre, desde que siendo muy joven, estudié por primera vez la primera suite en sol mayor. En este proceso de búsqueda, pensé que grabar las suites de Bach en las distintas iglesias situadas en el Camino de Santiago sería una continuación perfecta de mi propio peregrinaje vital con Bach. Mi plan fue evolucionando hasta incluir la producción de una película documental sobre el Camino de Santiago en el que se presentaran las historias de numerosos peregrinos, las Suites de Bach y mi propio viaje musical.

Uno de los retos más importantes del proceso de producción fue obtener los permisos para grabar y filmar en el interior de nada menos que 36 iglesias, escogidas por su belleza, interés arquitectónico o importancia histórica. En un principio, la mayoría de los sacerdotes con los que contactamos no estaban predispuestos a otorgarnos los permisos. Y quizás con razón, porque nosotros no ofrecíamos nada a cambio que beneficiara a los habitantes del lugar. Nos devanamos los sesos para ver de qué manera podríamos conseguir nuestro objetivo de grabar esta música y que al mismo tiempo esto revirtiera positivamente de algún modo en las localidades anfitrionas, y decidimos que podíamos repetir cada sesión de grabación en forma de concierto público y gratuito. Así, los sacerdotes fueron más favorable a nuestra segunda propuesta. Estas negociaciones definieron lo que iba a ser una de las lecciones más importantes que aprendí durante el Camino: abrirse a los cambios en la vida, ya que traen consigo belleza y una dimensión nueva y especial en cada experiencia. El hecho de interpretar estos conciertos, me aportó una nueva óptica en mi propia experiencia vital más importante de lo que nunca habría imaginado. Más allá de grabar las Suites, tuve la oportunidad de compartir la música de Bach con miles de personas.

Tras seis años de planificación, me sentía feliz de poder comenzar mi viaje en los Pirineos, en una localidad llamada Roncesvalles. Sentado en la Iglesia de la Real Colegiata ante una audiencia expectante, finalmente estaba viviendo mi sueño. Empecé con la primera suite de Bach que estudié en mi vida, la Suite número uno en sol mayor. A medida que el sonido llenaba la iglesia, escuché sobrecogido maravillado por la belleza del lugar y la pureza e intimismo de la acústica. Las piedras antiguas brillaban con calidez y resonaban a la perfección con la música de Bach y el sonido de mi cello. Las vidrieras relucían con colores vivos y las perfectas proporciones del espacio arquitectónico hacían del espacio algo divino. A la mañana siguiente, di mis primeros pasos y vi una señal que decía “Santiago 790”. Casi 800 kilómetros me separaban de Compostela, sin mencionar los siguientes 80 kilómetros entre Santiago y el Océano Atlántico. A partir de ese mismo día me decidí a soportar las ampollas, mis doloridos pies y una indescriptible sensación de fatiga. La única solución era seguir poniendo un pie delante del otro. A medida que iba recorriendo el Camino me fui convirtiendo en una nueva persona. Pero el Camino no fue lo único que me hizo cambiar, también toda  la gente que fui conociendo. Cada vez que tocaba un concierto me sentía enormemente agradecido por poder compartir en ese viaje trascendental mi música favorita y ofrecerle algo a la gente que me acogía.

Una de las lecciones que aprendí del Camino fue la de la “sencillez en todas las cosas”. Desde una perspectiva puramente materialista, aprendí enormemente sobre mis necesidades reales. Llevaba una muda, un saco de dormir, objetos personales de aseo elementales, un chubasquero y mi cello. Estos artículos básicos cubrieron mis necesidades durante 45 días. Y mi vida sencilla me reveló otra verdad: las cosas esenciales en la vida son el aire puro, el agua limpia, algo para comer, un refugio cálido y belleza. Ya de vuelta a mi vida habitual en Nueva York, soy más consciente de estas necesidades básicas. Y esta filosofía también ha moldeado mi visión de la música y del cello. “Sencillez en todas las cosas” es un mantra que puede cambiar la técnica y el fraseo de cualquier cellista y de todo músico. Pienso que esta sencillez tiene que haber sido uno de los objetivos de Bach al componer esta música, en la que la armonía está escrita melódicamente y la mayor parte del contrapunto debe ser imaginado por el oyente. Quizás la expresión última de esta sencillez es la Sarabande de la quinta Suite, en la que Bach consigue comunicar una expresión grave y profunda utilizando el mínimo de notas.

A lo largo del viaje ofrecí 35 conciertos interpretando las Suites de Bach. Y progresivamente mi relación con esta música, mis interpretaciones, mi concepto del ritmo y mi idea del fraseo cambiaron por completo. Fue impresionante el profundo impacto que cada una las iglesias tuvo en cada interpretación. Algunas iglesias eran enormes y requerían una proyección específica del sonido y una idea de la respiración y el tempo adecuada a su gran espacio. Otras iglesias eran pequeñas y tenían mucha resonancia, de modo que tenía que medir bien el temperamento y la energía para no saturar su espacio sonoro. Algunas de ellas eran absolutamente perfectas para hacer música y esto me permitió tocar sin tener que hacer adaptaciones en mi forma de tocar. Mi iglesia favorita fue la de Vilar de Donas, en Palas de Rey, en la provincia de Lugo. Bajo mi punto de vista, es la iglesia mejor conservada a lo largo de todo el Camino. Las piedras antiguas están manchadas de musgo verde y las grandes puertas de madera crujen y tienen grietas que permiten el paso de algunos rayos de luz que atraviesan el aire cargado de polvo. Los muros y bóvedas están cubiertos de pinturas célticas originales. Las pinceladas rústicas del artista del siglo VII expresan una gran humanidad, humildad y sencillez. Esta iglesia me hizo sentir una conexión especial con el pasado y me hacía imaginar a la gente que antiguamente vivió entre estos muros. La combinación del Camino y la música de Bach invitan a pensar en todas estas cuestiones de un tiempo pasado y de la vida de miles de personas a través de la historia. Tocando la música de Bach en Vilar de Donas me sentí muy afortunado de ser a la vez peregrino y cellista y tener así la oportunidad de vivir una experiencia como esta.

La mayoría de los peregrinos, entre los que se incluyen algunos de mis amigos, concluyen su viaje en Santiago, de modo que al llegar a la Catedral de Santiago, sentí que había alcanzado la línea de meta. Esa tarde tuve la fenomenal oportunidad de tocar allí, y disfruté de la compañía de muchos peregrinos que vinieron a escuchar esta música por una última vez. En la capilla casi no quedaba espacio libre y todo el mundo estaba arremolinado en torno a mí, en los pasillos y amontonados en la puerta de entrada. Al mirar hacia la audiencia, vi caras familiares y sonrientes y creo que todos experimentamos un agradable sentimiento de formar parte de una comunidad. Tras el concierto de Santiago, mi amigo Peter, un habitual de mis conciertos, se acercó a mí y me agradeció por toda la música. Y también me dio las gracias por haber sido el hilo conductor que mantuvo unido a ese grupo de peregrinos. Todavía me emociona el pensar que Peter, y probablemente muchos otros, sintieran gratitud hacia la música de Bach y de que ésta se convirtiera en parte de su experiencia en el Camino de Santiago.

Después de disfrutar de un día de descanso en Santiago, comencé a caminar los 80 kilómetros finales hasta el Océano Atlántico, hacia un lugar llamado Fisterra. Destino último de los primitivos peregrinos cristianos, los antiguos cartógrafos creían que Fisterra era el final de la tierra, por su situación como punto más al oeste de Europa. La ruta desde Santiago es accidentada y más exigente para el caminante que los 800 kilómetros anteriores. En el sendero había muchos menos peregrinos, así que en comparación con la ajetreada llegada a Santiago, el camino a Fisterra se presentaba como un epílogo de serenidad y belleza. Y tras tres días agotadores caminando, llegué finalmente al Océano. Los acantilados de Fisterra son inmensos, como grandes torreones sobre el rompiente de las olas. Esa noche toqué mi último concierto en los acantilados, rodeado de peregrinos felices encaramados en las rocas. Creo que todos compartimos sensación de que el Camino nos había cambiado para siempre. En esta sociedad en la que vivimos a un ritmo vertiginoso es raro que tengamos la ocasión de caminar, pensar, respirar y vivir con sencillez. Esta vivencia me ha cambiado como hombre y como músico y la plenitud de esos cambios  se revelarán por sí mismos a su debido tiempo. Mi tarea ahora es incorporar todo lo que he aprendido en mi vida cotidiana y vivir de acuerdo con las verdades que he comprendido a lo largo del Camino.

Como una última etapa de mi trayecto tuve la oportunidad de unirme a Carolina Landriscini y a todos los estupendos jóvenes cellistas de Soncello con ocasión de la celebración del III Encontro de Violoncelistas de Verán en Culleredo, en la provincia de A Coruña. Fue una fenomenal experiencia el poder trabajar con todos ellos, como profesor de las masterclasses junto con Carolina y como director invitado de la orquesta de cellos. Debo confesar que era la primera vez que dirigía y que estaba un poco nervioso. Pero gracias a Carolina y todo el equipo de organización de Soncello, todo se desarrolló de modo fluido y agradable, con mucha energía positiva por parte de cada uno de los participantes. Los ensayos fueron pocos pero efectivos y pudimos ofrecer una exitosa interpretación de tres arreglos para orquesta de cellos, entre ellos Michelle Ma Belle, de Paul McCartney. Todos los cellistas tocaron muy bien y fue un placer ver cómo tantos jóvenes músicos y sus familias se reunían para disfrutar de su afición y amor por la música y el cello en particular. He tenido encuentros con varias organizaciones como Soncello en distintos lugares del mundo, pero la alegría y el entusiasmo que presencié en el Encontro de Culleredo fueron muy especiales. Es encomiable lo que el equipo organizador de Soncello está haciendo en favor de los jóvenes cellistas, y merece el máximo apoyo y reconocimiento de la sociedad a nivel local, nacional e internacional. Fue un verdadero placer pasar un par de días con gente tan encantadora y formar parte de un evento con impacto para tantos jóvenes cellistas. El Encontro fue un remate perfecto para esas increibles seis semanas de mi vida, que no olvidaré nunca. Mi más sincero agradecimiento a Carolina y su equipo por haberme invitado al Encontro y darme la oportunidad de conocer a la “familia Soncello”.

En www.walktofisterra.com encontraréis más información sobre el proyecto de película y grabación. 

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