One of the most surprising things I am constantly asked is, “So . . . what exactly is that??” This particular question comes from all sorts of people of all different shapes, sizes and ages. All of them are haplessly referring (and sometimes pointing) to my cello. Oh the world is long lost and long gone. . . Has culture evaded the classical music world completely? Seriously, you would be surprised to know how many times I have been asked this question in the past few days. I am not exaggerating when I say this instance has totaled over 10 in just 2 weeks . . . I have been asked the question numerous amounts of times before and I am still still very much appalled every time I hear it (well, maybe not literally “appalled”–but close enough). I think I want to go cry sometimes . . . It doesn’t necessarily help when the very next thing I am asked is, “So why on earth did you choose something so large?? You should have chosen the flute.” I do cry (internally) on being asked this. First of all, the flute is everything the cello is not (one of my other cello friends pointed this enlightenment out to me in a discussion over instruments). The flute, well . . is just not quite so mellow, deep, emotional or nearly as luscious as chocolate in comparison (however, it may be occasionally pretty when played with a cello . . .). However in response, I usually just laugh and say something nice like, “Well, what instrument do you play?” (hoping it is not the flute). So, you might think the conversation would get better from here . . . it doesn’t. My cello is no longer called, “cello” but rather, “big fiddle” (cringe cringe CRINGE). I get all questions as to what type of “fiddle” music I play . . . none actually–unless it’s some previously scored orchestrated version of Orange Blossom Special. You would be surprised how many “hick” people think I must be “hick” just like them because my “fiddle” is oversized . . . (actually, being “hick” might be fun once in a while).
So, my friends, the cello is a wonderful instrument for which Bach wrote a wonderful series of unaccompanied suites; a fabulous instrument for which Dvorak, Sir Elgar, Saint Saens, and Barber wrote wonderful concerti. Please, it many not be the wisest thing to refer to it as a “big fiddle,” but rather by “cello” (“celli” is plural), or if you really want to sound cultured, you can say, “violoncello,” or if you see me and want to be friendly–you can just call my cello, “Oliver.” That’s his name.