About the Cellists of Otago
Cellists of Otago is a Dunedin, New Zealand-based cello choir comprised of a combination of Dunedin Symphony Orchestra (DSO) cellists, University of Otago students, other community cellists and high school pupils. The Cellists of Otago has built a reputation of delighting audiences with variety in their programmes, captivating audiences with dark mellow, to stormy and passionate sounds of the cello ensemble.
Established by Greg Hamilton in 2006, and from 2008 to 2012 under direction of Judith Davis and since 2013 under the direction of Dr Heleen du Plessis, Senior Lecturer in Cello at the School of Performing Arts (SPA), University of Otago,
The Cellists of Otago is a non-profit organisation that performs three to four concerts per year on the South Island of New Zealand.
The aim of the group is to share the profound beauty of the unique sound of many cellos playing together, the sense of community in an informal atmosphere, and the joy they experience when they make music together. The sound of the cello has human qualities that have the ability to allow people to express their deepest feelings, construct meaning and evoke a sense of space and society, connecting people, time and places.
Cellists of Otago strives to introduce music to a wide audience as part of an enriching component of social life, culture, tradition and social cohesion. Our mission is to contribute to the growth, education and development of musicians, especially in Dunedin and the deep-South of New Zealand. We therefore, present a varied programme ranging from baroque to contemporary works, including guest artists playing different instruments, to provide a showcase for rising talent.
Our concerts held in Dunedin and Wanaka in 2016 elicited positive responses from audiences and critics alike, describing it as delightful, captivating, enthralling and a treat. One of the highlights of the year was joining in a multi -media concert production, Cellists Aotearoa at Arts Festival Dunedin 2016. The production was funded by research grants and formed part of a project about identity, place and a sense of belonging by producer Heleen du Plessis. By bringing together some of New Zealand’s most prominent cellists in a concert combined with landscape photography, resulted in a performance that was described as “superlative playing of a superlative programme”.
Our fundraising initiatives including a generous donation from the Wanaka Concert Society in 2016 made it possible for more than one student to enroll in a performance paper at the University of Otago. The Cellists of Otago is planning to extend the ensemble into creating a Junior Cellists of Otago ensemble to enhance musician skills amongst players of all levels and create awareness of cello in the wider South Island region, through offering workshops, master classes and performance opportunities.