Two cellos created in 10 days!

Celebrated international luthiers Kai-Thomas Roth, William Castle, Marc Soubeyran and Tibor Szemmelveisz have been busy creating two new baroque cellos at the RNCM, thanks to a generous bequest by Thomas Jellis.

Beginning on Sunday 25 March, the luthiers worked in a public space for almost two weeks, and the finished products were played for the first time this morning (Friday 5 April).

During the process, string students were particularly encouraged to observe the luthiers while they worked to better understand the technical aspects and workings of their instruments. After varnishing, the cellos will be added to the RNCM collection of baroque instruments for loan to cellists studying early music.

‘Two cellos is the biggest project we’ve ever done to date,’ admitted Kai-Thomas Roth. ‘It was two violins last year, but we were a bit apprehensive this time around wondering if we were going to finish on time. It actually worked really well and we got them done a day earlier than expected! We worked hard but also we’re a very routine team by now, having worked together for many years.’

An old friend of Thomas Jellis and Executor of his will, Mary Todd, visited the RNCM this morning to see the finished products and hear them being played for the first time by students.

She said: ‘I think they are beautiful instruments and the [luthiers] and their patience is absolutely amazing. That students can play these stunning cellos whilst they’re studying here is just fantastic… it’s what Tom would’ve wanted.’

In past years, Kai-Thomas Roth, William Castle, Marc Soubeyran and Tibor Szemmelveisz have made modern cellos, modern violins and a viola at the RNCM. Next year they plan on making a baroque double bass. Kai-Thomas concluded: ‘The College is pushing period performance so they’re stocking up on baroque instruments… We’re delighted to be involved.’

Hear one of the cellos being played in this excerpt from Bach’s Prelude in G Major:

5 April 2019