Mike Block. Photo by Maria Camillo.
Acclaimed cellist, composer, and educator Mike Block will perform a solo concert of classical, world, folk, and contemporary music Friday, March 25, at 7 PM, at Woods Hole Community Hall. The concert is presented by Nikki Patton’s Chappaquoit Cello Studio in West Falmouth.
Block has been hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the “ideal musician of the 21st century.” “Not only is he an enormously talented cellist and a great musician,” said Ma, “but he writes music, he improvises, and he’s fearless. Mike is open to all kinds of influences, and he incorporates everything into his sound, making it uniquely his own.”
Block joined Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble while he was still studying for his master’s degree at the Juilliard School in New York; he was pronounced “a sensational addition to the group” by one reviewer. Shortly thereafter also joined Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz Trio, and Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings.
Block designed a cello strap that allows him to play the instrument while standing—and moving about on stage. The New York Times called his Carnegie Hall performance “half dance, half dare,” and praised his “vital, rich-hued solo playing.” Others have described him as “a true artist” who “dazzled the audience with his energetic and humorous style.”
An associate professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Block also directs the Mike Block String Camp in Vero Beach, Florida, which focuses on teaching string players a variety of styles. He is also the founding director of the Global Musician Workshop and leads the Multi-Style Cello School at ArtistsWorks.com.
“Professionally I try and do everything,” said Block. “I really enjoy playing music from different cultures, and I particularly like combining different styles of music in new ways.”
His Woods Hole concert program exemplifies his broad musical interests. Musical selections will include classical Bach Suites he learned while studying at the Juilliard School, Arabic melodies and improvisations he learned as a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, arrangements of American folk songs he encountered while touring with Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz Trio, and his own original songs reflecting a fresh contemporary pop influence.
Block has released four CDs of original music: “Brick by Brick,” a solo album of songs for cello and voice; “Naïve Melody,” an instrumental album of traditional and contemporary music from around the world, recorded with the Triborough Trio; “Words R Words,” songs recorded with the Mike Block Band; and “After the Factory Closes,” instrumental music with his band. He is currently working on a new album on American folk standards.
He has performed on numerous television shows, regularly subbed as the onstage cellist in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical, “Next to Normal,” and served as music director for the 2012 film, “A Late Quartet.”
Block has collaborated with a diverse array of musicians, serving as music director for Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Marcus Printup, Emalie Savoy, Lil’ Buck, Damian Woetzel, Bill Irwin, the Silk Road Ensemble, and the Knights. He has performed with will.i.am, Allison Krauss, Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall, Zakir Hussain, the National, Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, Tim O’Brien, Rachel Barton-Pine, Marcel Khaliffe, Goran Bregovic, Simone Dinnerstein, Dawn Upshaw, and Anthony McGill. He has recorded with Lenny Kravitz, Shakira, Joe Zawinul, Alasdair Fraser, and others.
Block is married to Celtic fiddler Hanneke Cassel.
Tickets to the concert are $15 (cash only) and advance ticket purchase is recommended. Tickets are available at Eight Cousins Book Store, 189 Main Street, Falmouth or from students of the Chappaquoit Cello Studio. For more information, call Nikki Patton at 508-457-4564.