A New Spin on the Cello

The Portland Cello Project is spending 2 weeks in the Quad Cities performing at schools thanks to the Visiting Art Series program. This ensemble of 5 cellists aims to bring their music to places that otherwise may not experience it, play music that a cello does not traditionally play, and make an impact in communities with music, especially with children. Although the group usually consists of 5 cellists, when in Portland, where they are based, they often feature vocals, drums, bass, guitar, winds, or more cellos in addition to the standard ensemble because travelling isn’t required.
The group, formed 9 years ago, plays all genres on music, from classical music that was written 300 years ago to today’s pop hits, and everything imaginable in between. Full shows, such as the upcoming show in Davenport, are amplified, and other equipment is used such as a condenser mic to contrast the normal acoustic sound. Skip vonKuske and Kevin Jackson, the only two members that were apart of the founding of the group, originally intended to get a few players together to play both traditional and non-traditional music, later deciding to play some shows. Since then, Diane Chaplin, Sage Coy and Julian Kosanovic have been added to the ensemble.
Building their repertoire was no easy process. The group arranges their own music, each member having preferred genres to arrange. Every summer, the group has a performance called “Extreme Dance Party,” that they arrange 20-25 new songs for. They are currently adding Halloween themed music that will be featured at the Davenport performance. The ensemble also put their set together with the audience in mind, once playing the entire heavy metal album, “Vicious Display of Power” by Pantera for a ballroom packed with 500 people. This experience in itself is something not many cello players experience. Although there are many ensembles similar to Portland Cello Project, the bands wide array of genres and sheer volume of their music collection set them apart in addition to the ensemble members’ backgrounds in jazz and rock, including a Juilliard  alum.
Their music can be found on most music mediums, including a Pandora station and portlandcelloproject.com.