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Meet the Musicians

A Great Cellist Throws Routine Out the Window

A black and white image of a man--Johannes Moser--with his cello in a case slung over his shoulder. A body of water is behind him.

In concerts March 16-17, the Orchestra will be joined onstage by Johannes Moser for a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1. Gramophone named the German-Canadian cellist “one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists.” One of the secrets to his success as he travels concert halls around the world? His humble neck pillow. We asked Moser a few questions as his plane touched down in the United States for a slate of performances with American symphonies.


What is your pre-concert ritual?

Nothing spectacular really: some carbs for lunch, followed by a walk and a nap, then a quick yoga session to wake me up, and I am ready to go! I used to have a really elaborate pre-concert ritual, timed to the minute, followed religiously before each performance, until one day I had a delayed flight and I arrived two minutes before the concert. Needless to say, the rituals went out the window that day, and despite my panic it was still a really good concert, so I decided to chill out with the rituals and just try to feel good and fit.

What are three essential items you bring with you when travelling for performances?

My pillow (saves my neck), my tuner (saves my intonation) and my yoga mat (saves my soul).

What is one thing you’d like audiences to know about Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1?

In the last movement, Shostakovich is mocking Stalin’s favorite song [Varinka Tseretel’s Suliko]. In 1959, six years after Stalin’s death, he felt safe enough to do so. However, it is so interwoven into the fabric of music that even [cellist Mstislav] Rostropovich during the first rehearsals didn’t recognize it.

Don’t miss Moser’s performance. Neck pillows are welcome, but please leave your yoga mats at home.

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