Five Questions with Nicholas Canellakis

Bangor, ME — Cellist Nicholas Canellakis makes his Bangor Symphony Orchestra debut on Sunday, February 24th with Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor. Hailed as a “superb young soloist” by The New Yorker, Mr. Canellakis has become one of the most sought-after and innovative cellists of his generation, captivating audiences throughout the United States and abroad. Before his performance with the BSO, we asked him five questions to give audiences an idea of what to expect.

BSO: We’re looking forward to having you in Bangor! Have you performed in Maine before?

NC: I’ve performed in Maine a few times, but never in Bangor! I’m looking forward to visiting the city, and I always love getting the chance to come to this beautiful state.

BSO: What is most exciting to you about performing the Schumann Cello Concerto?

NC: The Schumann Cello Concerto is, to me, in the pantheon of “top 3” 19th century cello concertos, alongside Dvorak and Elgar. It is a piece that has everything; hauntingly beautiful melodies, moments of dramatic passion, and thrilling virtuosity.

BSO: What in this piece would you encourage the audience to listen for?

NC: The work is unusual in the repertoire as it is three connected movements without stop. Themes from the first 10 seconds of the piece appear throughout, giving it a sense of unity unlike most concertos. Schumann is endlessly inventive and creative with the work’s structure; you never quite know what’s going to come next. It’s full of surprises.

BSO: Can you describe how you view the relationship on stage between soloist and conductor?

NC: It should be like chamber music, both leading and following and breathing the work together. The cello part in the Schumann Concerto is as much part of the fabric of the orchestra as it is a solo feature, and both the conductor, soloist, and members of the orchestra are in many ways equals in this piece.

BSO: What upcoming projects are you most excited about?

NC: I have been working on an unusual concerto by Miklós Rósza, who was well known as a Golden Age Hollywood Composer, and it’s been fascinating to learn a new piece I didn’t even know existed. I also am a filmmaker in my spare time (my very spare time!) and I just finished production on a short film that I wrote, directed, and starred in. I look forward to seeing its final results!