News about upcoming projects, concerts, recordings, travels, and fun discoveries from Deborah...

'Bach in Church' in Burlington, VT

I spent ten wonderful days in Burlington, Vermont at the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival at the end of August.  It was my first time there and I was moved by the generosity of the festival, all the artists and staff, and the entire Vermont community surrounding it.  I had a particularly special experience performing the Third and Fifth Bach Suites for Solo Cello to a packed audience at St. Paul's Church in downtown Burlington. 

I had been wanting to perform these two Suites on one program not only for their parallel relationship (the Third Suite is in C-major and the Fifth, in C-minor) but because these two works have been a subject of exploration and re-exploration over the past three years.  I made several extended trips to Amsterdam to play these Suites for renowned Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma last year and the year before, and he certainly had a huge influence on how I listened to and approached them.  There are obvious challenges of physical endurance and mental concentration as the Fifth Suite is played scordatura (the technique of altering the normal tuning of a stringed instrument to give a particular effect. In this case, tuning the A string down to a G which creates a deeper resonance) and the normal fingering positions naturally shift as well.  But it was the musical continuity throughout each movement of one suite and keeping it alive throughout the next, which took the most energy.  It made me think how pianists are so much more acclimated to playing solo works because they are, so much of the time, playing by themselves.  But it also made me aware of how stirring that vulnerability can be when you have an audience equally focused and eager to go through that experience with you.  I could feel how meditative the atmosphere was during the Sarabande of the Fifth Suite and could hear them exhale after the last running flourish of the Courante of the Third Suite.  I also remember hearing sirens from nearby firetrucks driving by just as I was beginning the fugue of the Fifth Suite's Prelude and they happened to be a half or semi-tone below the pitches I was playing...a very interesting cacophony of sounds which I'm thankful did not throw me off that afternoon!

Below is a beautiful essay of photos captured by Dana Govett.  If you're curious, you can see even larger collection of photographs on the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival's website.  Just click here.  


#TBT : US Mission to the European Union

Today's #ThrowbackThursday is from June 17, 2015 when I had the honor of being a cultural ambassador to the United States and performed at the Belgian residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Anthony L. Gardner.  There are not many occasions when musicians and artists come in contact with the world's most influential leaders, but that evening, my entire audience was made of up members of the EU Commission, European Parliament, and EU Council.  I was very humbled to be in their presence and as an American artist, thrilled to have performed and offered music as my contribution to their Mission to the European Union! 

From left to right:  Mrs. Alessandra Mac Crohon Gardner, cellist Deborah Pae, Ambassador Anthony L. Gardner, and pianist Dana Protopopescu

This will make you smile...

This article and video have been roaming around Facebook and other social media platforms.  

And for good reason.  

I was so touched by the effort made by the New York City Ballet to fulfill a mother's request for her daughter with special needs.  If you want to smile and be reminded of how meaningful art can be, watch the video below (brought to you by Upworthy) and share it with everyone around you.  This is why I love New York and I couldn't be prouder to have grown up within the same walls!

When she reached out to the New York City Ballet about a dance program for children with special needs, she didn't expect a response. But what resulted is nothing short of sheer joy. For everyone. What they created became one of the few places these children were able to move freely without their usual braces and connect to their bodies outside of doctor's offices.

To read the full article by the San Francisco Globe, click here

Amati Magazine: A new cello concerto with its soloists's name in it

It has been a long time since I've written here so I'm happy to break the silence with this announcement!  There have been a lot of huge events in my life during the last several weeks and this is one of them :-)

Amati Magazine of London has just released news about the new Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra titled "of radiances blossoming in expanding air" being written for me by award-winning American composer Jeffrey Mumford.  I'll be giving the World Premiere with the English Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor Kenneth Woods in London during the 2017-18 season followed by the U.S. Premiere with Phoenix, the Boston-based ensemble directed by Matthew Szymanski.  I'm so excited to be working with Jeffrey, Kenneth, Matt, and their respective ensembles.  They are real 'movers and shakers' in the music world and I'm thrilled we will be creating a real synergy.

I want to extend a HUGE thank you to Jessica Duchen of Amati Magazine for being so supportive of this project and highlighting it on her front page next to some incredible artists!

Click HERE to see the article.

You can also learn more about the project on my Collaborations page, read up on who is involved, the inspiration of the piece, and check back to see how the project is evolving.  I will, of course, try and update you when we welcome new partners in our consortium (which, by the way, if you or someone you know is interested in getting involved in this project or you just want to share the excitement, please don't hesitate to write!  Just send a message on the Contacts page). 

The French Alps: Musique à Flaine

The Alps are a powerful place.  Crisp air, miles (or kilometres...whichever you prefer) of majestic mountain peaks covered in crystal white snow, hundreds of ski lifts and slopes, and as one would expect just near the Mont Blanc, a beautiful concert hall.

During the last four weeks, I've had two incredible opportunities to play in the Alps.  The first was in Crans-Montana, Switzerland at the selt-titled Crans-Montana Classics and two weeks ago, an 8-day residency in Flaine on the other side of the mountains in France.  There in Flaine lies a beautiful festival called 'Musique à Flaine' and each August, a wonderful summer académie takes place for strings and piano.   I joined French pianist Nathanael Gouin, and French violinist/violist and brother/sister extraordinaries Guillaume and Marie Chilemme.  The idea of skiing and playing concerts simultaneously makes people nervous especially since most musicians I know avoid doing high-risk physical activities or sports around the time of performance (or, ever).  But as we are artistic risk-takers, it only seemed fitting that our residency consisted of skiing near the Mont Blanc and performing four concert programs including a children's program about Schubert! 

All programs during this week were Carte Blanche (def: unrestricted power to act at one's discretion) and as I've had a constant love affair with the music of Schubert, naturally, there was an all-Schubert program including his Notturno Op. 148 in E-flat, Impromptu Op. 142 No. 3 in B-flat, Arpeggione Sonata, and his Fantaisie for Violin and Piano, Op. 159 in C major.  We also did a program of Debussy, Ysaye, Ravel, and Fauré; and another of Brahms and Schumann.  Musique à Flaine is a beautiful place and the spirit of the residency was generous, honest, and focused on the music which surprisingly, can be a difficult thing to hold onto when you are constantly traveling and playing.

Also, I won't ever forget former ski racing champion and my instructor for the week, Denis, who completely took me by surprise when he professed his love for Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky while we were skiing downhill!  He even sang his favorite themes of the Shostakovich String Quartets and Piano Trios while on the ski lift and described in detail what he likes most about the Violin Concerto.  Who knew...!  It's exciting to know even in the mountains, music is being appreciated so passionately.  I shall call him ‪#‎hotshostyskier‬ from now on.

Palais des Beaux-Arts, the Gym, the Swiss Alps, and an Abbey

Bizarre title, eh?  It's Sunday so technically it is the beginning of a 'new' week or for normal folk, the end to a restful weekend.  But, I'm at the final stretch of a 10-day marathon, jam-packed with fantastic music, people, lots of travel and some interesting destinations!

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'Sweet Music for Winter Afternoons'

Shelter Island.jpg

Who says you can't go to the beach in the dead of winter?  Because I am!  And I wouldn't have it any other way...even if it's a deadly 6-10 degrees (F).  I'm on the last leg of my trip in the States before heading back to Brussels and I'm excited to return to my old stomping grounds at the Perlman Music Program (PMP) on Shelter Island this Saturday, February 7 for a romantic program of Miaskovsky, Barber, and Brahms.  It is a magical place and since the Shelter Island Reporter says it will be 'Sweet Music for Winter Afternoons' in their preview, I hope to swoon you all with some sweet slides and melodies.  If you are nearby, please do come!

NOTE:  This concert starts at 5:00PM!

Here is an enlarged version of the article:

Southern Warmth and Hospitality

As much as I have enjoyed spending the last three days stuck indoors, eating nonstop and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate (and other beverages...thank you, JUNO); I am looking forward to warmer weather and some good ole' Southern hospitality this weekend!  

This Sunday, February 1 at 3PM in Tyler-Tallman Hall (Sloan Music Center at Davidson College),  pianist Dana Protopopescu and I will be playing a program of Bach, Barber, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and to liven things up, Piazzolla with artistic director and cellist Alan Black.

Yes, it has come to my attention that Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday.  But, I promise, we'll be finished in time for you American football loving fans to get home, enjoy the plethora of pre-game commercials, and inhale bowls of chilli and nachos!

'Music for Food' Concert Rescheduled: January 31 at 8:00PM

Get out your boots, hats, and gloves!  Music for Food's Concert is rescheduled for this SATURDAY, JANUARY 31 at 8PM!  It will take place at New England Conservatory (hall TBD) but you can keep track of the confirmed location on their website (click here).  Unfortunately, I cannot make the rescheduled date as I will be playing a recital in North Carolina (more on that soon), but for those of you in the Boston area, I encourage you to attend!  The program is unique and full of wonderful surprises.  And your presence and contribution will be making a difference in many lives!

First Concert of 2015: Food for the Body and Soul

My first concert this 2015 will be in Boston!  I'm excited to join the incredible artists of Music for Food, a benefit series seeking to raise awareness and resources for hunger relief in local communities.  They are partnered with Food For Free, a brilliant non-profit organization whose goal is to minimize food waste and provide meals to the hungry, and guess what?  100% of the proceeds are donated to them!  This concert series is very dear to my heart so if you are in or nearby Boston, I encourage you to come Monday evening!

Action Shots

First and foremost, Happy New Year to each and every one of you!  I hope 2015 is celebrated with great health, happiness, positivity, and discovery (even in an age when everything is right at our fingertips!).

I wanted to share some action shots of a fun concert at the Korean Cultural Center in Brussels last month.  I had a fantastic time playing with and leading Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie in Haydn's first cello concerto in C major.  Thanks to the wonderful Michel Cooreman for capturing some of the behind-the-scenes and on-stage excitement through his camera lens.  And thanks again to the friends, colleagues, and general public who came to enjoy the music with us!

New Video: Schumann Fantasiestücke Op. 73

I am often asked 'who is your favorite composer or performer?' and the truth is:  I don't have a 'favorite'.  I go through phases where I am completely immersed or borderline obsessed by a particular artist; a single genre, musical period, region or country; a composer or host of composers from a similar tradition; or simply by one piece. 

Schumann's Fantasiestücke Op. 73 has been one of those pieces (I know, it's not Elliot Carter, but trust me, I went through a Carter-phase when I was playing his cello sonata a few years back!).  I've played the Schumann dozens of times but it was a great rediscovery for me when it made its way back into my repertoire last year.  I had the chance to record it last month with Romanian pianist Dana Protopopescu.  Here's the video, cheers!

Haydn Concerto (12 Dec 2014)

After a week-long festival of Beethoven, I'll be going a bit further back in musical time and performing Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major with Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie.  Join me on 12 December 2014 at the new and beautiful space at the Korean Cultural Centre in the Sablon, Brussels.  Admission is free but reservation is required because spaces are limited!

Festival Beethoven @ FLAGEY RADIO HALL

Générale Rehearsal at Flagey Radio Hall

Sometimes, all you need is Beethoven!  Really.

It's been an exciting few weeks preparing for Festival Beethoven at Flagey Radio Hall, a week-long festival in Brussels hosted by the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth.  Our concert on Friday night in the intimate space of Studio 1 was a great occasion to hear his earlier chamber music works.  I had the pleasure of performing with three incredible female artists from Latvia, France, and Armenia-Germany (Elina Buksha, violin; Helene Desaint, viola; and Lilit Grygorian, piano) in a program of Beethoven's Piano Quartet in E-flat, Op. 16 (originally for Winds and Piano, and later arranged by the composer himself for Strings and Piano), Violin Sonata No. 8 in G minor, and the dynamic String Trio Op. 9 No. 3 in C minor.  

I first heard the Piano Quartet in its original form at Marlboro Festival last summer and didn't realize there was a version for strings until I was asked to collaborate on this project.  It's alleged to have been inspired by Mozart's Quintet K. 452 which is in the same key and has the same instrumentation.  And there are qualities of a Mozart opera in the slow movement where each instrument gets it's own an aria-like moment.  The register and color of each voice reflects a different kind of emotion.  I can assure you: we had a verklempt (German for choked with emotion) when we read through the piece for the first time!

The string trio, in particular, is the most intense of all three pieces on the program.  The absence of a fourth voice (or a second violin) to help fill out the sound challenged us to create the sonority of a full string quartet.  On top of that, each instrument is forced to simultaneously rally between being a virtuoso and supporting voice.  It was the first time I performed this trio despite reading it with friends years ago and I can only imagine what it would be like to learn and perform all three string trios as a cycle...perhaps it's a new project in the making?  Just because the third trio is from an earlier period of Beethoven, it is by no means 'simple' or one dimensional in character.  It is intensely dark and the moments of urgency are paralleled by moments of deep expression and rhetorical beauty.  From our morning générale rehearsal until the concert, I think all of us were in deep concentration and hoping to maintain that focus throughout the performance.  Here are a few photos from our concert in Flagey's Studio 1 by the wonderful photographer Michel Cooreman.