Cellist Zuill Bailey

January 14, 2008 10:44:09 AM PST
If you think, classical music isn't for you, Zuill Bailey may just change your mind. A multi-faceted musician Bailey has established himself as one of the most sought-after and active cellists today. His frequent performances include orchestral concerts, recitals, and chamber music in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

The name Zuill is Scots-Irish, and was actually his family's surname a few hundred years ago. Distant relatives must have had girls and were afraid the name was not going to be passed down, Zuill says. To remedy this, they began placing Zuill as the middle name. Over the years, the male members of the family began using it as their first name. It has been passed to his Grandfather, father and now to him.

Zuill (zuillbailey.com) grew up in Northern Virginia and became interested in the cello the age of 4. Both of his parents are musicians: his mother is a pianist and his father has his Doctorate in both music and education. Also, his sister (2 ½ years older), is a violinist. "There was no question whether or not I was to learn a musical instrument. The question was which one could someone so young begin with," Zuill says.

Having an older sibling already playing the violin, his parents were warned not to have them both on the same instrument. This might cause unneeded competition in the house as they grew up. " One day while at a local symphony concert, being the energetic four-year-old that I was, I found myself running furiously down a back hallway after the concert. This is where I literally had my first "run in" with a cello, "Zuill says. "Needless to say, it wasn't a very expensive one or we would still be paying for it. After the incident I pointed to the broken instrument and proclaimed that this is what I wanted to play. The rest is history."

The cellist performs music by the masters on a cello that is older than most of the works he performs. The priceless cello is a work of art. It was designed by the man considered the greatest cello maker of his time, Matteo Gofriller, an Italian craftsman. For the past ten years, Zuill has been playing his Gofriller Cello that dates back to 1693. It previously belonged to Mischa Schneider of the Budapest String Quartet. Bailey's cello is a rare example of Goffriller's work; it has a carved Rosette on the top, under the fingerboard. It is one of only two cellos by this maker which has this feature. Bailey travels with his cello all over the world, buys it a separate seat on his flights, and on the ticket, the instrument goes by the name of Cello Bailey. (This way he can get two dinners on the flight!)

Bailey appeared over the weekend at the 2008 Winter Chamber Music Festival at Northwestern University. He returns to the Chicago area on May 16, 17 and 18 to perform with the Illinois Philharmonic. The Concert will be performed at the Center for the Performing Arts, Governor's State University in University Park. For more information, call (708) 481-7774 or visit ipomusic.org.

This year, Bailey will be travelling all over the world and is expected to release two new CD's, one with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. As a concerto soloist, he has performed with the Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Toronto, Edmonton, Louisville, Phoenix, Moscow Chamber, Utah, North Carolina, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, Knoxville, and New York Chamber Symphonies, working with such celebrated conductors as Itzhak Perlman, Andrew Litton, Grant Llewellyn, James De Priest and Stanislav Skrowaczewski. He has presented concerts at the most prestigious concert halls in the US including the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd St. Y, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Hall in addition to the Des Moines Civic Center, the Lied Centers, the Kravis Center, Chicago Symphony Center, the Clarisse Smith Center, and Wolf Trap.

Since 2001, he has been the Artistic Director of the El Paso Pro Musica. He is responsible for bringing artists to and helping develop the classical music scene in El Paso, TX. He is involved in community outreach programs which will bring music to those who it may not be readily accessible. An avid chamber musician, Bailey is a member of the celebrated Perlman-Schmidt-Bailey Trio with pianist Navah Perlman and violinist Giora Schmidt, while continuing a regular performing relationship of duo recitals with pianist Awadagin Pratt.

Bailey has appeared at major cultural venues and festivals throughout America, including recitals and chamber music at the United Nations, the Ravinia Festival (where he also performed the Haydn C Major Cello Concerto and Beethoven Triple Concerto), Interlochen Center for the Arts, Bard Music Festival, the Vail Valley BRAVO festival, the Santa Fe Festival, the Chautauqua Festival, and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. He has played concerts abroad in Israel, Mexico, Hong Kong, Jordan, Russia, the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, the Consonances Festival in St. Nazaire (France), the Manchester International Cello Festival (England), the Dominican Republic, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, and gave the Cuban premiere of Victor Herbert's Cello Concerto No. 2 in a televised appearance with the National Orchestra of Cuba. Bailey made his Carnegie Hall debut with the US premiere of the Miklos Theodorakis Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra.