'I found a connection to the cello'

'I found a connection to the cello'

American musician

'I found a connection to the cello'

An active performer, conductor and international music education advocate, American cellist Avery Waite works to support socially-minded music projects in countries emerging from conflict by leading teacher-training and orchestral workshops.

The accomplished musician feels that music imparts meaning and a sense of purpose to one’s life.

Juilliard School of Music, USA, and Oberlin Conservatory graduate, Avery is on his maiden visit to the city to collaborate with the Bangalore School of Music, in hosting a week-long orchestral development workshop for students of violin, cello and other string instruments.
In a chat with Anushree Agarwal, Avery speaks about his journey and the mystical power of music.

What inspired you to play the cello?
I started learning music when I was really young. My parents encouraged me throughout to stick to music, given that many kids quit at a certain point. I went all the way with it through school. The teachers there gave a demonstration on the violin and the cello and they asked us to choose. I found a certain connection to the cello and here I am!

Your experience at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music...
It was a very intense environment and my fellow students were working extremely hard. It was quite competitive, but at the same time, it was very supportive because everyone realised that they were in the same boat. I had incredible teachers who pushed me to do much more than I thought I could. I also got to play with some amazing musicians.

How do you feel music can bring about social change?
I think it gives people of all ages a real sense of purpose in life, it adds meaning to it. Also making art is extremely important as a human being. It’s even more important in these conflict zones where you’re surrounded by chaos. People have something to focus on and something to work towards gives them direction.

How did you find your students here in Bengaluru?
The students I worked with here are extremely polite, well-behaved and disciplined and that’s very impressive! They work extremely hard and never complain. They can practise for hours and will be eager and willing 100 percent of the time.

One of your most memorable concerts till now...
We had a great concert last summer in Beirut, Lebanon. It brought together young musicians from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, all playing together in an orchestra, conducted by me. It was a beautiful experience.

What else are you passionate about?
I love travelling and discovering new places. I also enjoy reading about history, trying to understand the countries I visit and engaging with different people.

An advice to aspiring musicians...
Keep practising and don’t give up! Stay focussed and stay engaged with music; it makes a big difference if you stick with it long-term.