Last week we left off with me promising to NEVER AGAIN commission a cello for myself, waiting instead for the chance to buy a cello that already existed.
Well, I didn’t do that. About a year after I sold my 1998 Widenhouse cello I started getting itchy to have a cello of my own. I was always open to falling in love with one of the cellos that came through the shop. We were getting cellos from fantastic makers and workshops, but every time I came close to pulling the trigger, I got cold feet.
About this same time, I became aware of a German maker through social media. His name was Michael Koeberling and all the photos of his work I saw impressed me. He was working with stunning material and his workmanship was incredibly clean and precise. He also seemed to be primarily making straight-varnished instruments, and all of my past commissioned cellos had been straight-varnish (non-antiqued). I didn’t have a chance to play one of his cellos, but his client list was impressive. I contacted him and was impressed by our conversations. Honestly, he was also priced below many top-ranked contemporary American makers and I was in a season of life (two young daughters) where a bit of a “deal” wasn’t going to be a bad thing at all. We agreed on the commission and he started working. I started to wonder about getting the cello from Germany to Indiana and grew concerned about shipping it or flying with it. Again, I would love to go back and tell myself to…well…take a chill pill! However, this led me to the crazy idea of flying over to Germany and then cruising back. Yes…that was a totally rational plan. Then the idea formed of asking my dad if he wanted to come with me. THAT was the best idea I’d had in a long time. So, in the summer of 2016 my dad and I embarked on a great European vacation that found us in Munich, Murnau (where Michael lives and works), and Hamburg before boarding the Queen Mary II and sailing to New York. The day we spent with Michael was magical and the cello sounded and looked lovely.
What I realized upon our return was that this beautiful cello from Michael was cut from the same cloth as my 1998 Widenhouse – a lovely, silky, resonant sound. However, it still didn’t quite have that ability to sound BIG, or else I was incapable of drawing that quality out of it. Because of the magical trip with my dad and the circumstances under which I received the cello, I felt that there was no way for me to move beyond this cello without having regrets. So I played the cello over the next three years, having great days with it and days when I felt I needed something different. I also couldn’t shake the fact that I had set a very good rule for myself after selling my 1998 Widenhouse and that I had broken that rule with this commission. That ended up being something that gnawed at me mentally, and was truly a cage of my own making.
Stay tuned for next week’s EXCITING INSTALLMENT!