Carlsen Newsletter Fall 2005
Carlsen Cello FoundationNews
Putting cellos in the hands of deserving students
UNIQUE CONCERT SETTING
AT SEATTLE’S RAINIER CLUB
On August 9, the Rainier Club of Seattle presented
cellist Haeyoon Shin (featured in our Spring newsletter)
in a short concert at one of their monthly members’
Ray Carlsen spoke briefly and answered questions
about the Foundation’s mission and activities. Miss Shin
and her sister then performed the first movement of
Schubert’s Sonata in A minor for Cello and Piano, the
“Arpeggione”, to a “standing-room-only” audience.
Medal twice each at the Seattle Young Artists Music
Festival. And after an “incredible” experience this past
summer as a participant at [email protected]’s Young
Performers Program in California, Camden, a high
school sophomore, has decided to make the transition to
home schooling, to give himself time – about 8 hours a
day – to work at the cello. He studies with Toby Saks.
Camden started playing
at age 6. His parents
wanted a family string
quartet, and Camden
was happy to help: his
mother is a violist; his
father and sister are
violinists. His interest
in the cello really
sparked at about age 10
while studying Bach. One of his present goals is to
perform all of the Bach Suites in recital within the next
two years. Other repertoire of the moment or soon to
come includes a Shostakovich Concerto, Boccherini
Sonata and Bloch’s Schelomo.
Camden plays an 1810 Henry Lockey Hill cello from
the Foundation which he “absolutely loves”. The fact
that it is a small full-size cello benefits the upper register
and helps make it “very much a solo instrument”.
One reason for this, besides the beautiful playing,
was the unusual performance setting. The Rainier Club’s
piano regularly sits on a grand marble landing, and it was
decided that the concert should take place right there.
Listeners stood on the stairs, got the best views, and
enjoyed the live, wonderful acoustics.
As noted by Christopher Chan, Director of Club
Programs & Events, "It was our treat to have [the
Carlsen Cello Foundation] .....great music echoed
through our Clubhouse." Adds Membership Director
Brenda Sol, “What a fabulous treat for our members to
be indulged in beautiful cello music while learning about
a wonderful cause.”
Such events provide important exposure and support
for the Foundation, and the Rainier Club was a
welcoming and elegant venue. We very gratefully thank
the Rainier Club and Haeyoon.
PROFILE: CAMDEN SHAW
Camden Shaw is an extremely articulate and mature
16-year-old. And he is extremely serious about the cello.
Camden has won the Concerto Competition and Festival
Other interests – when there is time - include sailing,
a family hobby. He loves the ocean, and finds sailing
inspiring on many levels. But mostly, it gives him time
with his family.
Asked about his dreams and expectations, Camden
replies that he will be happy “anywhere the cello takes
him”. He is thrilled by the “huge, grandiose amount of
sound” he can be part of in an orchestra, but also loves
chamber music. He is now starting his first student on
the cello and can also see himself on a university faculty.
But for now, he plans to just practice “as much as he
LOOKING FOR IN A CELLO:
SOME WORDS OF WISDOM
Recently we spoke with Rafael Carraba, owner of
Rafael Carrabba Violins in Seattle, along with Thomas
Immel, Duncan MacDonald, and Greg Oxrieder, all
craftsmen who work at the shop. Carrabba Violins has
an international reputation for restorations and sales of
beautiful intruments in almost all price ranges. They
love to get instruments with “unrealized potential”.
Many Carlsen Foundation cellos have passed through the
elegant Queen Anne shop. We asked about some
common concerns in purchasing a cello for a serious
What should one expect to pay? What’s better…
new or old instruments? What cosmetic flaws or past
repairs should send out “red flags”? What makes a cello
sound great? What can the layperson tell about an
instrument just by looking?
Two points became abundantly clear: it depends on
the instrument, and one must consult an expert. But here
are some general guidelines. One can expect to pay
around $5,000 for a good beginner’s cello, and at least
$15, 000 for a more advanced student. Older cellos often
have a richer, more played-in sound, but there are
modern instruments and makers well worth considering.
It is always worth checking out German cellos from
Merkneukirchen and Erlangen (before 1970), and from
the workshop of John Juzek in Prague. Some “red flags”
are large base bar cracks and sound post cracks,
especially on the back of the instruments. If any repair
looks badly done, you can probably trust your own eye.
And perhaps most subjective: the sound. Some
factors to consider: evenness of tone, power, ease of
playing, openness of sound. Listen to really good
players for elements of their sound that you particularly
like. Also, play as many instrumetns as you can,
listening to how they sound both under your own ear,
and played by someone else. Regarding judging specific
measurements and structural details on your own - “a
little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Ask the experts.
Rafael Carrabba Violins 405 W. Galer Seattle, WA (206)
PROFILE: LAVENA JOHANSON
It is a small world. Lavena
Johansson was speaking with
Camden Shaw about cellos.
Camden mentioned the
Carlsen Cello Foundation, and
the rest is history.
A cello from the
Foundation served as an
invaluable and important
bridge for Lavena over the last
several years. And this past
summer, she met a violinmaker while studying at the Yellow Barn and Bowdoin
Music Festivals on the East Coast. He showed her a
Viseltear and Young cello with which she fell in love.
By this time, Lavena and her family were able to buy the
Lavena is 16 and has been playing since the age of 6,
when her mother, whose favorite instrument is the cello,
chose it for her. Lavena started lessons with her father, a
bass player. She also worked with the late cellist David
Tonkonogui, and is currently studying with Ray Davis,
principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony.
Lavena won the 2004 Marrowstone Festival’s
Concerto Competition and performed the Saint-Saëns
Cello Concerto at Western Washington University. But
her greatest love, she says, is chamber music. Her dream
is one day to play in a professional string quartet like the
Emerson. She keeps very busy as cellist of two trios and
the Roosevelt String Quartet from Roosevelt High
School. Since receiving the Emerson’s complete
Shostakovich String Quartets, exploring these works has
become a passion for Lavena. Her Quartet, – her
“favorite ensemble” – has won awards in state-wide
competitions and is now working on the Shostakovich
Quartet No. 3.
Other passions include reading and writing. Lavena
says she is getting more into expository writing through
a class at school this year. Along with her hopes to have
her own professional quartet, teaching at a University is
a big possibility. About teaching, Lavena says she has
taught some students herself, and found the experience
rewarding and also humbling, as any good teacher and
The mission of the Carlsen
Cello Foundation is to make
fine cellos available to
deserving students who could
otherwise not afford them.
The Foundation provides
high-quality instruments at
no cost to students in the
intermediate stages of study
Haeyoon Shin with Director
who have exhibited
Ray Carlsen at the Rainier Club
and diligence in their work, but who are playing on lowquality rental or student cellos. The Foundation will
loan out instruments for a minimum of a year to young
cellists selected on the basis of ability, effort, teacher
recommedations and financial need.
Carlsen Cello Foundation
1515 116th Ave. NE Suite 202
Bellevue, WA 98004