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Q&A: Classic cello meets 80s metal rock
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Q&A: Classic cello meets 80s metal rock

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Hair banging, energetic and bold cellists will hit the Sioux City Conservatory stage this weekend.

You read it right. Cellists.

This Pittsburgh-based band Cello Fury puts cellos at the forefront and supports three cellists and a drummer. The band will take the conservatory’s stage for the second time -- the band performed in Sioux City in July 2012 -- at 6 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 27).

Three cellists -- Nicole Myers, Simon Cummings and Ben Muñoz -- and one drummer -- David Thockmorton-- merge classical training with a passion for performance worthy of any rock club.

The Weekender spoke with Myers and Cummings, about their original music.

The Weekender: Many ensembles who perform rock on strings perform covers of popular music, but you compose all your own music. Is it a struggle to compose music for three cellos and a percussionist?

Simon Cummings: For me, writing for the cello, it’s kind of like second nature. I compose for a lot of different instruments, and cello is by far the easiest. Grouping it for three is almost more fun than one, because you know all the different registers of the cello. You know how to combine them into one solid trio of sounds.

The Weekender: Tell me about your music. As I understand it’s a mix of rock and classical music.

Simon Cummings: A lot of classical elements come into play when we write, but we use a lot of rock formats and rock chord progressions. We layer on top of that classical harmonies… as well as some more flashy rock stuff on top. We break a lot of bow hairs every time we play, because we play really heavy. We stand up and it gets pretty rowdy.

The Weekender: Cellists typically sit when they play. How do you create movement with an instrument that is typically stationary?

Nicole Myers: It’s really fun for us, because when you are classically trained, you’re expected to sit in the cello section and blend in. With this group, it combines my love of playing in a chamber music ensemble, but you get to be a soloist and break out of the norm and be more demonstrative on stage.

Simon Cummings: What people take away from our music is the live show, so if we are just sitting there, people might not be as excited by the music. It looks kind of like a rock show when you see it live.

The Weekender: You also take a lesson from 80s hair mental bands and twirl your long hair a lot. Did you just happen to have long hair, or did you grow it own to create that harder rock feeling?

Simon Cummings: The second thing. We both (Cummings and Muñoz) had short hair when we started playing the band. We wanted to grow it out for a more dramatic stage look. It’s just like 100 percent for fun, just for show.

The Weekender: Obviously the three of you love the cello. Can you talk a bit about why that is the superior instrument?

Simon Cummings: The range of the cello really makes it possible for us to do this.

Nicole Myers: We can play really low and have that bass support, but we can also play really high. We were are able to break down the music enough between the three of us so there is some clarity. If you think about having a trio of piccolos or something, it wouldn’t work very well.

The cello is very soulful. It’s an instrument that is very similar to the human voice. It has that beautiful resonating tone that really draws people in.

The Weekender: You also work a lot with young musicians. Why have you made that a mission?

Nicole Myers: It’s important for us to give back and try to pass the message that playing music is really cool and really fun, but it also brings a lot of other things to your life. We’d be happy just knowing that because of our performance they decided to pick up any instrument.

The Weekender: Who do you expect to see at your shows? Classical music or rock listeners?

Nicole Myers: We do want to attract classical listeners who enjoy the cello but also people who expect something more like a rock show and are looking for more than just hearing the music.

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