Eau Claire native Mark Kosower began playing cello at age 1½, and ever since it seems like he has been collecting awards and other accolades.
The son of Paul Kosower, professor emeritus of music at UW-Eau Claire, Mark Kosower currently is principal cello of the Cleveland Orchestra as well as a teacher and a performer in the U.S. and internationally.
Among the stages he is scheduled to appear on is Pablo Center at the Confluence’s RCU Theatre in Eau Claire on Saturday evening. He will be guest soloist with the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nobuyoshi Yasuda.
Kosower recently answered questions via email about returning to Eau Claire, the piece he will be performing here and his varied musical activities.
As an Eau Claire native, what are your thoughts about performing again in the place you grew up and where you became known at a young age for your virtuosic musical talent? Also, when was the last time you performed in the Chippewa Valley?
It is always special to come back to Eau Claire to connect both with the people in the community I grew up with and with new people who are newer to the area. It definitely is a homecoming for me. The last time I performed in Eau Claire was in 2006 when I played the Saint-Saens No. 2 and Korngold cello concertos with Nobuyoshi Yasuda and the Chippewa Valley Symphony.
As one of the most famous and accomplished musicians from Eau Claire, what are your thoughts about performing in Pablo Center at the Confluence, a brand new venue in which the community takes tremendous, justifiable pride?
I think it is a dream come true for Eau Claire. Although the city always had a good connection with the arts, such a facility was simply not feasible 25 years ago. I have enjoyed watching Eau Claire continue to expand and grow in so many wonderful ways, and the Pablo Center at the Confluence is an amazing achievement.
Which piece you will be performing on Saturday, and please explain why you chose it?
I chose to perform the Victor Herbert Concerto No. 2 as there were many parallels between this work and my life. Victor Herbert was a cellist composer as am I. He grew up in Germany before immigrating to the United States. I spent four years living in Germany which had a significant impact on me both musically and personally. Herbert’s music also captures the freshness of America in the late nineteenth century — of course along with Irish tunes (he was born in Dublin) and the musical structures being of European design. The music has a certain zest for life which is what I strive to achieve in my life.
You are principal cellist with the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, a scholar and teacher of cello at the Cleveland Institute of Music and an international performer as a soloist with orchestras and chamber musician. Briefly describe the special rewards of each.
The Cleveland Orchestra is at the very top of the orchestral world with a very few other ensembles as the best orchestras in the world. It is both a pleasure and a privilege making music with such an ensemble with its uncanny abilities and especially when the most brilliant conductors are on the podium. Teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Music is a different sort of pleasure sharing my accumulated knowledge and experiences with talented young people as well as learning from them. Chamber music is the most intimate type of music making which I enjoy immensely, and concerto appearances are always a thrill to project one’s imagination and the musical message of a great composer to a large audience.
I’m sure all of those activities require a tremendously busy schedule? Why do you feel it’s important to make them all part of your life?
I have always prided myself on being a complete musician. A complete musician has all the aspects in their playing to perform at the highest levels in all of the major classical music mediums including opera, orchestra, chamber music, and solo playing. And to be able to teach effectively you just have to know everything that much better.