KEARNEY — Even for a professional musician like Adriana Ransom, playing a solo concert of cello music presents challenges.
“In a concert with cello and piano, there are plenty of places where the piano takes the lead and the cello can take the role of accompaniment,” the performer said from her office at Illinois State University at Normal, Ill. “Performing solo is more pressure in that it does require a lot of concentration to be the only voice for the entire program.”
Composers often use double stops, a technique of playing two notes simultaneously on a stringed instrument.
“That’s actually more fatiguing than if I was playing a Brahms’ sonata where I would mostly be playing one note at a time,” Ransom said.
The cellist will perform in concert 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Fine Arts Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus. The concert opens the 2019-20 Concerts-on-the-Platte series presented by the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Department of Music. Admission to the performance is free.
Ransom also understands the advantages of playing alone on stage.
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“I’m in charge of the artistic interpretation,” she said. “In that sense, I make my own decisions. I can change things if I don’t like the way they went. There’s a lot of freedom, for sure. And since I’m playing several recitals in a row, it’s easier to coordinate the tour if it’s just me.”
The program includes one of J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites, along with music by George Crumb, William Bolcom and Osvaldo Golijov, an Argentine composer.
Performing solo allows the audience to fully hear the possibilities of the cello.
“You can really hear what is possible on the cello because it’s only the cello,” Ransom said. “You can really hear the range of possibilities, the tone colors, the articulations and various techniques because these pieces have everything including extended techniques.”
Extended techniques can include microtones, bowing on the body of the instrument, harmonics, slapping the strings, buzz pizzicato and percussive tapping on the body. The three contemporary pieces include these extended techniques.
“Bach wrote the wonderful six suites back in 1721,” she noted. “There’s really not much unaccompanied literature for cello until the mid-1900s. The direction of music went toward bigger and fuller sounds. The piano was such an important instrument in the Romantic era and we have all these wonderful sonatas with cello and piano.”
In addition to her performance schedule and teaching responsibilities at ISU, Ransom also directs the String Project, which matches student-teachers with beginning string players.
“There are about 40 String Projects nationally, all housed at universities, and Kearney has a String Project,” she said. “It really makes an impact on the community and the string students at the college. It’s really a great program.”
When it comes to discovering new music, Ransom networks with other performers and listens to music that might interest her.
“I discovered the Golijov piece when I was just searching for good cello music,” she said. “I totally loved it when I first heard it.”
Ransom’s current tour takes her to Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.