Backstage at the Norton Center with…Douglas Jenkins, Artistic Director for the Portland Cello Project
1. VERY FEW PEOPLE…(including us!) knew that this group would take off the way it did. In fact, we thought we’d only play one show… PCP quickly evolved, moving away from the gimmick, becoming a group that focuses on building bridges between different parts of the music community, bringing the cello places you wouldn’t normally see it, and playing music on the cello you wouldn’t ordinarily hear performed on the cello.
2. WHEN WE’RE NOT ON TOUR WE… have a plethora of jobs, some musical, some not. Many of us work in community-oriented jobs from social work to public education. Some of us are just professional musicians playing all genres of music…
3. WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY ART IS… traveling around the country meeting wonderful people, while playing wonderful music that feels new every night because the people we work with have such inspiring energy.
4. A LIFE LESSON I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH CENTRE COLLEGE STUDENTS IS: Ha! Unless your mom says to spend your life as an artist (starving or not)… don’t listen to your mom! (Man, I hope my mom never reads this!)
5. I DEFINE ART AS: That stuff that reminds you you’re alive.
6. MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT IN SHOW BUSINESS THUS FAR WAS: Maybe Fargo, ND on tour last year in a punk rock club. We were playing at midnight, and we played De Falla’s Firedance, which has a part that’s played col legno — which means, you hit the strings with the wooden part of the bow. Standing right up front was a very inebriated woman who, the second we went to the col legno part, screamed, “woo hoo!! Col legno!!”
7. THE PERSON WHO MOST INFLUENCED ME IS: Yo-Yo Ma. He’s done so much for not only the cello and classical music, but the world of music as a whole. I think all musicians owe him a debt of humble gratitude.
8. IF I COULD BE ON STAGE WITH ANYONE, PAST OR PRESENT, ALIVE OR DECEASED, FICTIONAL OR REAL, IT WOULD BE: My uncle was a successful percussionist/arranger/composer who worked for Hal Leonard. He passed away unexpectedly in his twenties when I was just in middle school and I think a lot about how it would be to connect with him today if he were around.
10. IF I COULD ENSURE THAT THE AUDIENCE TAKES HOME ONE THING AFTER MY PERFORMANCE, IT WOULD BE: That fulfilling, happy, burst of adrenaline that makes it hard to go to sleep at night, so you stay up late on Facebook and nostalgically send an email to someone you haven’t seen in a while just because you’ve got that feeling like you want to share how much you appreciate their friendship. If we can impart that emotion on people… mission successful!
More about the artist:
Created in 2007, the Portland Cello Project (or, PCP, as their fans affectionately call them), has wowed audiences all over the country with extravagant performances, mixing genres and blurring musical lines and perceptions wherever they go.
No two shows are alike, with a repertoire now numbering over 800 pieces of music, most not even originally designed for an ensemble of cellos. CMJ Magazine says: “[PCP] concerts are purposely suitable for all demographics: boogie-ing grannies, head nodding hipsters, budding middle-school musicians and everyone in between because bringing everyone together in a spirit of collaboration only adds to the philosophy of diversity that PCP proudly upholds.”
As a special Central Kentucky bonus, the Portland Cello Project will welcome cellist and Richmond, Kentucky native Ben Sollee as a guest artist for the Danville performance. Sollee, who has been playing the cello since grammar school, is also well known for his genre-bending mix of music styles which include folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B. PCP, along with Sollee, will perform works from both repertoires.
As an additional layer of fun, “Tweet Seats” will be available for this concert by calling the box office in advance. Those in these specially designated seats will be invited to tweet their comments live during the concert, participating in conversation with the performers, local journalists, and Norton Center staff. Comments will be projected on screen during breaks, giving everyone a chance to follow along. Join the Twitter conversation at #NortonLIVE.