Mike Block, photo by Kelly Lorenz
Acclaimed multi-style cellist, singer, and composer Mike Block, a Grammy Award-winning member of the Silk Road Ensemble, will be in Woods Hole on October 18 to perform a solo concert at 7 PM at the Community Hall. The concert is presented by Nikki Patton’s Chappaquoit Cello Studio in West Falmouth.
Block’s solo show features a mixture of original compositions and songs, arrangements of traditional folk music, and classical selections that draw inspiration from his diverse collaborations with artists such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, fiddler Mark O’Connor, and Indian tabla player Sandeep Das, and pop stars such as will.i.am, Stevie Wonder, and Bon Iver.
“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.”
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.” The New York Times was impressed by his “vital rich-hued solo playing.”
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. He has toured extensively throughout the world with the ensemble, which won a 2017 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.
Block is also an active recording artist of original material, folk music, cross-cultural collaborations, and has an ongoing project to record all the Bach cello suites in “acoustically glorious” bathrooms of famous concert halls via BachInTheBathroom.com.
As one of the first wave of cellists to adopt a strap in order to stand and move while playing, Block was the first standing cellist to perform at Carnegie Hall, using the Block Strap, a cello strap of his own design. The New York Times called his performance “half dance, half dare.”
As a music educator Block is passionate about emphasizing creativity and collaboration. He founded the Mike Block String Camp in 2010, providing players of all background the opportunity to learn a variety of styles from a world-class faculty. He is also the founding director of the Silkroad Global Musician Workshop, bringing together musicians from around the world, and he created the online Multi-Style Cello School at ArtistWorks.com, which has an extensive library of instructional videos.
Block has collaborated with a variety of diverse musicians and groups, including Mark O’Connor, Bobby McFerrin, the New York Philharmonic, Will.i.am, Edgar Meyer, Stevie Wonder, Darol Anger, Allison Krauss, Mike Marshall, Zakir Hussain, The National, Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, the Illinois Symphony, Rachel Barton Pine, Marcel Khaliffe, Goran Bregovic, Simone Dinnerstein, Dawn Upshaw, Julian Lage, Aoife O’Donovan, Lake Street Drive, Sarah Jarosz, Anthony McGill, Tony Trishcka, Lenny Kravitz, Shakira, Joe Zawinul, Alasdair Fraser, Shujaat Khan, and many others.
He has performed on numerous television and radio 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.” He was the subject of a 2011 feature article in the Wall Street Journal for his artistic directorship of the GALA BROOKLYN Music Festival, featuring cross-cultural collaborations among locally-based musicians.
Block was appointed associate professor at the Berklee College of Music in 2012. He lives in Boston with his wife, 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.