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Cellist Zuill Bailey will make his Oklahoma City Philharmonic debut

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic welcomes Zuill Bailey for a concert titled “Force of Destiny.”
BY RICK ROGERS Published: February 24, 2013

“There's a story about how Pablo Picasso painted a bowl in a minute and a half,” Bailey recalled. “When someone questioned him about it, he replied, ‘This, my dear, took me 80 years to do.' I'm 40 years old and I've been preparing for this concert for 36 years. That's what I take out on stage with me whenever I play. Every concert is a lifetime experience for me.”

Bailey performs on a 1693 Matteo Gofriller cello, a Venetian instrument owned for 30 years by Mischa Schneider of the Budapest String Quartet. It's slightly larger than a conventional cello, a design that gives its sound added warmth and depth.

“It's unique among cellos I've heard or performed on,” Bailey said. “Its proportions give it a special voice. I refer to it as the James Earl Jones of cellos. I'd always heard this voice, this color, this character in my head, so when I first heard this cello, I couldn't believe the voice in my head actually existed in reality.

“Every day I'm perplexed and amazed by this cello. When I first got it in the 1990s, I kept trying to change it, but I had to simply let the cello do what it could do. It's a partnership. You can't force your opinion on something that doesn't share that same opinion.

“I've had my own adventure with this cello for 16 years and it still feels like the first day I got it. I can't believe I get to play this cello. When artists feel they have no limits, they can then fly. You're only limited by your own imagination. Playing this cello allows me to dream without boundaries.”

In addition to Haydn's “Cello Concerto in C Major,” Oklahoma City Philharmonic music director Joel Levine has programmed Verdi's 1862 overture to “La Forza del Destino” and Brahms' “Symphony No. 1 in C Minor” of 1876.