Ever wondered what 25 cellos sound like, playing together at the same time? You can find out Friday evening in Bangor at the third annual Winter Solstice Cello Fest, organized by Noreen Silver, principal cellist for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and set for the Bangor Arts Exchange ballroom.
The sound is as rich, deep and resonant, as you might expect. One or two cellos make quite a sonorous sound as it is, but 20 or 30 can make your body vibrate with music.
Silver had long wanted to organize a large ensemble of cellos, but until a few years ago, there wasn’t a critical mass of cellists in eastern Maine from which to draw. After starting a cello group at the Ellsworth Community Music Institute, she found a number of enthusiastic beginners, many of whom were older women eager to try their hand at a new instrument.
Charlotte Stetson of Hancock began playing the cello just three years ago, upon retiring after more than 40 years working in education.
“The majority of us in this group came to it later in life, as a new challenge,” Stetson said. “For me, it was my retirement project to learn to play the cello. As you get older, you’re supposed to learn new things. And here it is.”
Between those players and the younger students she taught in the Bangor area, Silver suddenly found herself with a lot of cellists to work with. She now has two groups — one of younger students in their teens and 20s, and one of older players, ranging in age from mid-50s to 82.
“I just love large groups of cellists. It’s a really interesting sound. It’s mellow, it’s rich, and personally I have a number of adult students who don’t necessarily have an outlet for music or for creativity,” Silver said. “And of course, now, we have this lovely ballroom to play in, and the sound here is just huge. It’s really worked out beautifully.”
Both groups will perform at the Cello Fest this Friday, as well as the Ceolta Cello Duo, Silver’s duo with with fellow BSO cellist Marisa Solomon, playing a selection of classical, folk and holiday pieces appropriate for the winter solstice.
After all three groups have performed, the cellists involved will play as one big group, making a mighty sound to welcome winter.
Winter Solstice Cello Fest is set for 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22, at the Bangor Arts Exchange on Exchange Street in downtown Bangor. Admission is $5.