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Penn State Cello Festival

Friday, November 3, 2017

Registration postmarked by October 27, 2017penn state cello choir 2017

The Penn State School of Music and the Penn State Cello Club cordially invite high school cellists and their teachers to Penn State’s third Cello Festival!

Under the tutelage of Kim Cook, Penn State's Distinguished Professor of cello, this is an exciting opportunity for high school students to experience musical life in a collegiate environment and to work alongside current and former Penn State cello students. Included in the day are opportunities for private instruction, large group technique workshops, an overview of what cello study is like at Penn State, and a unique chance to perform in a huge cello choir! 

For more information, please read about the Penn State Cello Studio!

Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts will present cellist Yo-Yo Ma with pianist Kathryn Stott the evening of November 3 in Eisenhower Auditorium. All festival participants and their teachers/guardians are eligible for discounted tickets to what promises to be a life-changing concert experience!

Prices are as follows. The range is dependent on seating preference, with the lowest price denoting balcony seating.

  • Youth under 18: regular pricing $63-$73; discount $53.55-$62.05
  • Penn State students: regular pricing $62-$72; discount $52.70-$62.20
  • Adults: regular pricing $80-$90; discount $68-$76.50

It is the the responsibility of the participants and their teachers/guardians to order the discounted tickets. To order, please call Mr. Len Codispot (814-863-0389) at the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts, and tell him that you are part of the Cello Festival.

The 7:30 p.m. performance is scheduled to include Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata in C Major for Cello and Piano, Op. 119; and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 19. For more information, please see the concert description.

Tentative Festival Schedule

All festival activities will occur in Penn State's Music Building II.

11:00 a.m. - Welcome and registration - food provided

12:00 p.m. - Technique class with Professor Cook

1:00 p.m. - Masterclass with Professor Cook; pull-out lessons with graduate student cellists

2:00 p.m. - Break 

2:30 p.m. – Performance by the Penn State Cello Choir

3:00 p.m. – Individual performances by Penn State cello students

3:30 p.m. - Cello Choir reading session with Penn State cello students and festival participants

4:30 p.m. - Break

5:00 p.m. - "Careers in Cello." Panel Discussion and Q&A with professional cellists Dionne Smith, Eleanor Norton, and Brian Buterbaugh

Brian Buterbaugh is the orchestra director at Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, PA. Along with appearing regionally as a cellist, he is the assistant conductor of the York Youth Symphony Orchestra and is the music director of the Acts of Kindness Theatre Company. He received his bachelor’s degree in music education from Penn State in 2010, his master’s in orchestral conducting from Messiah College in 2013, and is working on his master’s degree in music education at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

As a recipient of a National Artist Teacher Fellowship Award through the SURDNA foundation, Dionne Wright created her own orchestra using the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra model. A performance of Stravinsky's “Dumbarton Oaks” was the focus of this collaboration, after consulting with members of Orpheus in New York. She currently teaches at the Governor's School for the Arts, Saint Patrick Catholic School, and Tidewater Community College, while maintaining a private studio and performing regularly with area orchestras. Smith received her master’s degree at Penn State.  

Eleanor Norton has performed on tour with the Jonas Brothers, as well as other Broadway productions. In 2010, she performed at the State Dinner honoring the President of Mexico, hosted by President Obama. She has played on the VH1 Music Video Awards, the Late Show with David Letterman with Father John Misty and MNDR, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with Zara Larrson and Ryan Bingham, and on Saturday Night Live with Justin Timberlake.  Eleanor is the cello coach and music consultant for Saffron Burrows on the Amazon Prime TV Show “Mozart in the Jungle.” She is also an active teacher with a private studio in Manhattan and is on the faculty at the Spence School. A former Penn State student, she received her bachelor’s degree from Peabody Conservatory.

6:00 p.m - Pizza Dinner

7:00 p.m. - Those attending the Yo-Yo-Ma concert will leave Music Building II to walk to Eisenhower Auditorium (about 10 minutes)

7:30 p.m. - Yo-Yo Ma concert

Registration and Fees 

The student tuition to participate in the festival is $25. Along with participation in the festival, this price also includes a lunch and pizza dinner. (This price does not include Yo-Yo Ma concert tickets.) Registration forms must be postmarked by October 27, 2017.

Click here for the registration form!

All festival participants must complete the University's Youth Program Health Services Medical Treatment Authorization form and the School of Music's Parent Waiver Form. Please print and complete these forms, sign them, and bring them with you the day of the festival. They will be collected at registration.

Festival registration is free for all attending teachers and guardians. Those who wish to eat at the festival (sandwiches and pizza) are encouraged to send $5 along with the participants’ fees, or to donate $5 upon arrival. Teachers and guardians will need to purchase tickets if they wish to attend the Yo-Yo Ma concert.

Teachers and guardians are encouraged to attend, but are not required to do so. Professor Cook, as well as her graduate and undergraduate students, have all required Penn State-mandated clearances to work with minors.

Note to those with food allergies: Please be aware that there are sandwiches and pizza being served. Please add any food intolerances to the submitted registration form so that we can make accommodations for you. Be specific with what you require.

Masterclass Participation

Cellists wishing to participate in the masterclass with Kim Cook are encouraged to submit a recording of their playing. The recording may be anything that represents your playing, such as a movement of a sonata, etude, or movement or part of a concerto.  There is no time restriction.

Recordings may be submitted in one of three ways. You may choose to go to and upload your video following the instructions provided. Under the video settings, choose "unlisted", and email your link to Professor Cook at You may choose instead to provide a link to a website by which your video may be accessed directly. Email the URL to the same email address. If this is not possible, you may mail a CD along with your registration form. Three students will be selected to play in this masterclass.

We are pleased to offer individual mini-lessons with graduate student cellists for participants who do not wish to attend the masterlcass.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Professor Kim Cook at OR Mike Klucker (Senior B.M.E) at

Hailed as "the superb American cellist" (Die Rheinpfalz, Frankfurt), Kim Cook has been acclaimed for her "truly glorious tone" (Musical Opinion, London), "ravishing colors and textures" (New York Concert Review, Carnegie Kim CookHall), and "keen awareness of line and style" (The Strad). Ms. Cook has performed as a soloist in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, China, Israel, Jordan, Latin America, and throughout the United States. She has toured extensively as an International Artistic Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, presenting concerts and master classes throughout the world. Television and radio broadcasts of Ms. Cook's performances have been heard in Brazil, China, and the United States. She has recorded concertos by Dvorak, Schumann, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Strauss (Don Quixote), and Haydn as well as the solo sonatas of Kodaly, Crumb, and Hindemith. In 2016, she recorded a CD of premieres of works for solo cello by Paul Reale for NAXOS.

A graduate of Yale and the University of Illinois, Ms. Cook studied with Gabriel Magyar, Aldo Parisot, Alan Harris, and Janos Starker. Prior to her current position as Distinguished Professor at Penn State, she was principal cellist of the São Paulo Symphony under the direction of Eleazar de Carvalho, and taught at New Mexico State.

At Penn State, Ms. Cook has developed one of the important cello studios in the Northeast, attracting talented cellists from Europe and throughout the United States. The 26 member Penn State Cello Choir has been recognized for its performances and for the Penn State Cello Festivals. Cook's students have won many prestigious awards and have received assistantships and scholarships to attend excellent graduate programs. Former students currently occupy positions in orchestras and music schools in the United States, Germany, Brazil, and Taiwan.

Professor Cook was Penn State's inaugural laureate for the 2008-09 academic year, which allowed her to appear as a highly visible representative of Penn State, appearing regularly at events University-wide, and throughout the Commonwealth at community and state events. For more information, please see Kim Cook's website.