Grammy-winning cellist in residence February 21-22, 2019

Grammy-winning cellist Arlen Hlusko will be in residence at the Mason Gross school February 21 and 22, 2019, conducting workshops, performing original compositions by Mason Gross student composers, and giving a free public recital.

The Canadian cellist, who won a 2019 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance and is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, has performed all over the globe, as a soloist and chamber musician, in venues such as Carnegie Hall and Guangzhou Opera House.

While at Rutgers, Hlusko will perform and record student compositions during a closed workshop, and will present a workshop on social media, digital engagement, and freelance career. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 22, Hlusko will present a public recital at Mortensen Hall's Shindell Choral Hall, as part of the Mason Gross Presents series. The performance is free; no tickets are required. Guests must register their vehicles here. Hlusko will perform Bach's Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, Britten's Cello Suite No. 1, Op. 72, and faculty Scott Ordway's Nineteen Movements for Unaccompanied Cello.

Hlusko says she's eager to work with Mason Gross student musicians.


"It is such an honor and a joy to work with emerging artists of any age, but especially in college years, because those artists have fully chosen their path and made their own personal commitment to it, perhaps for the first time unbridled by parents’ wishes or teachers’ pressures," she says. "They’re in an exciting phase of their lives where they get to explore the world of art and make it their own as they choose and discover also who they want to be."

Here, Hlusko talks about how she fell in love with the cello, the outdoors, and Ordway's work:

Q: Why the cello?

A: The cello was actually not my choice! Music didn’t really exist in our home when I was born. My first experience with music was at the hands of a woman who babysat me when my older brother went to preschool. She is a pianist, and as the story goes, the only time she could get my curious self to sit still was when she played the piano. When she began, I’d race from wherever I was in the house, sit under the piano, and put my hand on it. The cello has such a beautiful vocal quality to its sound; its range is similar to that of a human voice, and something about it makes its sound deeply human and personal to me. Ultimately, I have spent so much of my life searching for my own voice through this beautiful wooden box, that my love for the cello is so intertwined with my own identity and personality; I not only love it, but I can’t really imagine living without it.

Q: What's meaningful about performing new work?

A: It’s often like sharing a whole new language. Sure, many of the notes and techniques may have been used before, but probably not in the same order, with the same sentiment and expression. Scott [Ordway] takes into consideration not only the music itself, but who will be experiencing it and what kind of impact he wants his music to have, making it not only beautiful, but extremely powerful.

Q: You talk a lot about being outside. How does nature feed you?

A: The wild is where I feel most at home, where I can most fully be myself and be free. I see it and hear it in everything that I do, and in music, one of the ways it helps me is that it helps me let go. I spend so much time in the practice room striving for perfection--necessary, but at a certain point, destructive. Taking a break and going outside helps me put things into perspective, and when I come back and try to channel the freedom and ease I feel in nature into the music, it helps the music sing and breathe and flow, and become something greater than notes on a page.

Posted February 2019