Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Portland Cello Project

I don’t think playing in the orchestra has ever been the cool thing to do. I know this because I played the violin in the fifth grade, and no one thought me cool for it. Neither has the string thing been a terribly stand-out pursuit; I’d go so far as to say that it’s the always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride of dance and musical theatre—always supporting but never the star. So it makes sense that the minority cellos would have a want for their own gig. Enter the Portland Cello Project. This self-described independent orchestra, a group of eight to twelve rockstar cellists, performs everything from Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and Salt N Pepa’s “Push It” to their own, lyrical collaborations with Portland locals Laura Gibson and The Builders and The Butchers. This time singer-songwriters Thao Nguyen and Justin Power teamed with the cello crew for PCP’s June release of The Thao & Justin Power Sessions. Album notables include “Beat (Health, Life and Fire)” and “Tallymarks”—both made lovely by Nguyen’s sweetly splintered vocals. My only regret is that the Nintendo theme song, certainly on the Portland Cello rep, isn’t on the album. Fifth grade or not, playing the Nintendo theme song on the cello is a very cool thing to do.

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