Cellists bring music to schools, retirement center

The Cello Company of Parkersburg, front row from left, Drew Smith, Sammie Farinash, Claire Line, Lynn Petrik, Lucy Powers, Jonah Corcoran and Elsie Cejka. Back row: Cynthia Puls, Simone Geogerian, Connie Brady, Savannah Flanigan, Wade Powers, Michael Cochran, Ethan Powers, Tawn Jutton and Kay Marks. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The Cello Company, under the direction of Cynthia Puls, completed its 20th School Day Tour this spring.

The group of 16 cellists, ages 5 through retirement, visited Criss Elementary School, Neale Elementary School and ended at Elmcroft retirement center in Reno, Ohio.

The tour performed symphonic works of Joseph Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, Ludwig van Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, along with a concerto for cello quintet by Georg Philipp Telemann, Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, and more.

They ended their performances on May 16 with the entire student body singing along with The Cello Company on “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver (all arranged for cello choir by Puls).

The tour always includes a retirement center, Puls, of Parkersburg, said. At the retirement center, each cellist visits a minimum of two residents.

The students have a prompt sheet to ask questions about the resident: Do they play an instrument or sing? Does someone in their family play? What was their last performance that they attended? What was their favorite tune today?

“It is always magical to see the not so young and the not so old coming together,” Puls said. “We learned this year that one resident will be turning 100 this month. Another’s husband made violin and viola bows.”

Mindi Line said, “My favorite part are the performances at the retirement centers. It would be nice just to tour retirement centers.”

The tour offers these cellists the opportunity to feel like traveling musicians, Puls said. It also offers the schools an opportunity to see a group of cellists perform and to hear works that they might not normally hear.

The Cello Company is the largest performing cello group in a two-hour radius of Parkersburg, Puls said.

“The secret behind this successful group is the dedication of the parents,” Puls said. “The parents share the vision of what it takes for these students to succeed.”

For 10 years, members of this group held principal or assistant principal positions in the West Virginia Music Educators Association’s All-State Orchestra cello section. Several of Puls’ students have gone on to college. Many return to perform with the group as The Cello Company Alumni.

Currently, Ethan Powers is a cello major at West Virginia University entering his senior year, Simone Geogerian is a cello major at WVU entering her sophomore year, Wade Powers is a cello minor at WVU entering his sophomore year, and Ryan Phipps will be completing his master’s in cello performance at WVU next spring as a graduate assistant (he is in a resident string quartet teaching at the summer Interlochen Arts Camp). Michael Cochran will be a cello minor at WVU this fall. Dr. Erin Ellis is their cello instructor at WVU.

The Cello Company will be participating in the WVU Cello Day in September.