Cellists of the world, unite! Conference: Maryland plays key role in organizing world meeting of musicians in Russia.


YOU HAVE TO be a cellist to appreciate the jokes. Like, "How do you make a cello sound beautiful?" Answer: "Sell it and buy a violin."

A periodic congress is becoming the professional meeting place of choice for world cellists. The first one was held at the University of Maryland's College Park campus in 1988. The second World Cello Congress will occur July 1 through July 8 in St. Petersburg, Russia, to honor renowned musician Mstislav Rostropovich. The third one is scheduled for the summer of 2000 in the Baltimore area. Towson State University and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be the local hosts.

Maryland's heavy involvement in the cello congresses has two explanations. The first one is that in 1988 Maestro Rostropovich, the congress president, was still conductor of Washington's National Symphony Orchestra. The second reason is Helene Breazeale, executive director of international projects at Towson State, who became fascinated with the idea even though her own cello playing had ended after a week in elementary school.

Towson State has been a pioneering American university in developing cooperative programs with institutions of higher learning in the former Soviet Union. An exchange program for dance students has existed since 1988 between TSU and the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1993, Towson State established an advertising and public relations program at a university in that city.

Despite these links, organizing the St. Petersburg congress from Towson has been a challenge for Dr. Breazeale, who is still trying to raise the remaining $130,000 for the event's $571,000 budget. Luckily, cellists can be found in many unexpected places. James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, is one. So is Paula Zahn, the CBS News anchor.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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