A Christmas Collaboration

A Christmas Collaboration

Young cellist performs concerto with SoNA



Courtesy Photo
Seventeen-year-old Michael Tynes is an award-winning cellist with the Ozark Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and will be the featured guest soloist during “A Very SoNA Christmas Concert” on Dec. 16.

Cellist Michael Tynes has been perfecting Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor for more than a year and a half. He’s spent months pouring over each section at a time of the progressive piece, examining every note.

“Studying exactly how loud should it be, where should you be in the bow, is this in tune, is this the right fingering, how do you feel physically, are you balanced with your instrument? So many things will go into how you play every single note of a piece of music,” he says. “I know this piece better than any other I’ve done, really.”

Maintaining his five to eight hour-a-day rehearsal schedule gave Tynes confidence in his ability to perform the concerto (a piece of music written for a solo instrumentalist accompanied by orchestra) when Maestro Paul Haas, music director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, asked him to be the featured soloist during the “A Very SoNA Christmas Concert” on Dec. 16. This is Tynes’ first collaboration with the symphony and as a only a junior in high school, the award-winning 17-year-old musician is excited by the prospect of working with a professional ensemble on such an important concerto.

“When Saint-Saëns set out to write this concerto, he really did not have a whole lot to work with necessarily, but he wrote it in a way that was so brilliant that numerous composers including Tchaikovsky and Shostakovitch have called it the greatest cello concerto ever written,” Tynes reveals of the piece’s origin. Written during an era when composers were focused on large stage settings over soloists, the cello literature of the time to pull from was very limited. But the Saint-Saëns’ composition has since gained, and maintained, prestige in the music world. “It’s one of those core pieces that every cellist should know; it’s an all-time favorite of the concert hall. So it’s pretty daunting, but at the same time, it’s exciting to know that I’m adopting a piece I’ll play for the rest of my life.”

Tynes joins SoNA on stage at the Walton Arts Center for the return of the annual concert, along with the SoNA Singers, Bentonville High School Chamber Choir, Har-Ber High School Camerata Singers and University of Arkansas Schola Cantorum. The presented works comprise sacred and secular music that celebrates the magic and warmth of the season — a feeling Tynes himself recalls of one of his first ensemble performances with his youth orchestra.

“I really don’t think that anything compares to hearing a live orchestra concert,” he enthuses. Tynes recalls the spellbinding effect of watching an older ensemble perform Christmas music. “I remember as a young child [seeing] this girl playing the violin — the sparks were flying off of her instrument and it was incredible. And the audience just exploded once the concert was over because everybody was so in love with the music, and it had that unique quality of uniting everyone in the room.

“What I really hope people take away from this concert is that same sense of wonder and bliss,” he goes on, turning to his own performance. “That when you look on the stage, you may not see much — a guy in a suit sitting there playing an instrument — but what you hear just creates this whole world for you. And it’s such an interesting and compelling experience, that I really hope to create that same magic that I felt once for the audience.”


‘A Very SoNA Christmas Concert’

with Michael Tynes on cello

WHEN — 2 & 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $10-$52

INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org, sonamusic.org

Categories: Music