At the Lawrence Arts Center Thursday evening, guests will come together to recognize an international day of peace. And cellos.
Without the background behind it, this pairing may seem unrelated, but there is a distinct connection.
Fifty-four years ago, Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, was awarded the U.N. Peace Medal by president John F. Kennedy. So on Sept. 21, the international day of peace, the LAC will commemorate Casals and his commitment to peace, justice and freedom.
“The Bach Cello Suites were performed pieces a long time ago, and then were later resurrected by Pablo Casals,” said Ellen Lind, one of the organizers of the event.
This concert will feature six cellists, each performing one of the six Bach Cello Suites, and will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Large Gallery at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. A $10 donation is suggested, but the event is free to the public.
Lind began organizing about nine months ago, after getting involved in a similar event in Chicago. Lind is an accomplished cellist herself, with a bachelor of music degree from DePaul University. She had performed internationally until moving to Kansas in 2010. Currently, Lind works at the University of Kansas in its University Career Center, and she also founded The Oread Strings performance group, which partnered with LAC for this project.
Through various connections, Lind recruited six cellists to perform at the inaugural event. Edward Laut, of Lawrence; Eman Chalshotori, of Kansas City, Mo.; Maria Crosby, of Kansas City, Mo.; Lawrence Figg, of Kansas City, Mo.; Hannah Collins, of Lawrence; and Jesse Henkensiefken, of Salina.
“Some are Kansas City Symphony musicians, others I know from music school. Ed Laut was a cello professor at KU, Hannah Collins is there now, so I made those connections through the university,” Lind said.
These six have been or currently are members of some of the most renowned orchestras in the country. They have performed all over the world, recorded their work, trained under the most esteemed cellists in the world and have all earned various achievement awards.
Laut was named Outstanding Educator by the Mortar Board Society during his time at KU and has held principal positions in the Manila Symphony, the USAF Band in Washington, D.C., and the Atlantic Symphony in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Chalshotori has performed internationally in Asia and Europe as a soloist and chamber musician and made his national debut in 2002 with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. He is the principal cellist of the Topeka Symphony and associate principal cellist for the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas.
Crosby joined the Kansas City Symphony in 2012. As a chamber musician she has performed on stages across the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Lithuania, Armenia, Greece, Russia, Japan and Brazil.
Figg began his professional career in Paris, where he was a member of various chamber music ensembles. He is a founding member of the Kansas City Cello Quartet as well as the Summit Duo.
Collins received graduate degrees in cello performance from the Yale School of Music and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and co-directed the Avaloch Farm Music Institute’s New Music Initiative, a summer residency program in Boscawen, N.H., designed to provide resources and work space for performers and composers collaborating on new works.
Henkensiefken serves as the Kansas Wesleyan University director of orchestras as well as the assistant conductor and principal cellist of the Salina Symphony. He concertizes throughout the United States and has also performed throughout the Caribbean. In 2015, he traveled to the Tchaikovsky State Moscow Conservatory in Russia, where he had further training under the direction of Anatoly Levin.
Contact reporter Savanna Maue at (785) 295-5621 or @CJFoodFun or @SavannaMaue on Twitter.