Von Cello Early Musical History!

Von Cello, is a Yamaha Artist, a D'Addario Artist, published by Oxford University Press, and in Who's Who In America! But it wasn't always that way! The music on this page is placed in chronological order, starting with clips from 1975 of Von Cello creating a new style of cello playing, and following him through stages as a singer/songwriter, a music student, a classical cellist, a composer, and a rock cellist. The page ends with a long cut from a seminar in which he spreads his ideas to a new generation of cellists. We travel with Von Cello from his formative years until he becomes a respected, innovative, artist and teacher!

You can stream or download each song individually, or stream the whole page at once. Enjoy the adventure!



CELTAR & IT'S TIME TO START AGAIN, AGAIN
    Listen to this amazing cut from 1975: the year that Von Cello invented a new style of cello playing known as Celtar (or Guicello style)! Von Cello explains and demonstrates his new style years ahead of the New Directions Cello movement of today.
BE A FRIEND OF MINE & Celtar appeal
    This song from the same tape in 1975, is an appeal to the general public to accept this new innovation in cello playing!
WE GO ONWARD
    The summer between high school and college Von Cello studied with a famous cello teacher in Maine, but he still found time to write guitar based songs including this one about transitions in life. It is still one of his best. It has stood the test of time.
I'LL JUST STRUM MY GUITAR
    A song from the summer of 1974, when Aaron decided to write a song about life, using only open guitar strings. This is a performance from the late '90s. As it usually does, the song provokes uncomfortable laughter from the audience. He never could understand what was so funny!
SHE SAID I WAS BORING
    Aaron had a girlfreind in college who broke up with him. He didn't mind that she broke up with him, but she said she broke up with me because he was "boring". Could you imagine someone calling Von Cello boring!? He went back to his dorm room very depressed and wrote this song. Don't you think it would be a hit on the Dr. Demento show?!
SNAP BACK
    In the mid '80s Von was hired to put a set of raps to music for a movie about the inner city called, "Dream City". He went into the studio with a singer named John Brown, who did the rapping, while Von Cello laid down all of the musical tracks. The movie went on to win several awards (see the Compositions section of this site). This performance contains the first recorded explosion ever made by a cello!!
OH NO!
    Those crazy college days! It was not uncommon in those music school days for Aaron and his musical buddies to suddenly start improvising vocally during get togethers. Listen in as two people talking about playing a Jew's harp suddenly realize that they are caught inside another famous impromtu Minsky improvisation session!
FAR ENOUGH
    This vocal improvisation started out as the meditative chant in the previous clip, and then went on for another twenty minutes getting more and more "interesting" until reaching a total breakdown of sanity! (Don't you wish there could have been a tape recorder going during Mozart's or Schubert's parties?)
BACH FLUTE TRIO IN G - last mov't
    While all that craziness was going on in college, Von Cello and his friends were learning how to become classical musicians. Just after graduation he left New York to play a season with the Caracas Philharmonic (Venezuela). When he returned, he joined the Linden Trio. Here are some cuts from one of their radio broadcasts (with harpsichord) on WNCN, FM!
HAYDN LONDON TRIO IN C - last mov't
    Here the Linden Trio plays alone. Flutist Kathleen Nestor went on to play with many top freelance orchestras in New York. Violinist Jeffery Ellenberger plays in several New York Broadway shows and contracts for the Bar Harbor Music Festival, Maine.
LOCATELLI TRIO IN G - last mov't
    This is a delighful but little known work by a lesser known Baroque composer. Listen to the changing timbre of the harpsichord in the various sections. The harpsichordist, Hedi Salanki, was a famous musician in her native Hungary before immagrating to the United States!
TELEMANN TRIO IN E MINOR - last mov't
    This trio features some flashy cello parts, excellently executed by Aaron Minsky. The Linden Trio was featured on several radio broadcasts and played regularly, under management for several years. These recordings show that Von Cello was (is) a fine classical chamber musician.
MINSKY ETUDE #9 - moment of creation
    Here is a tape of the actual moment of inspiration that led to what was to become American Cello Etude #9: the "Crack or Dawn" (or unofficially: "Light, Sound and Distance")! One day Von Cello felt inspired and turned on a tape recorder and just started playing and talking. He later listened back and found the kernal of an idea that led to this etude, now published by Oxford University Press!
COSMIC JAM (AND PEANUT BUTTER)
    This is Aaron's personal favorite Minsky cello duet! Very deep yet cool. It is as yet unpublished. He played both cello parts in this recording made without a click track. The synchronicity is amazing!
MINSKY DUET #1 - THE CELLO BLUES
    After completing his Ten American Cello Etudes, Aaron wrote a series of cello duets based on American popular styles. Oxford University Press published a set of three called, "Three American Cello Duets". Here we have "Cello Blues" played by the Aaron Minsky Trio, live at the New Directions Cello Festival in the late 90's.
INTO MY LIFE
    The first rock band that Von Cello auditioned for as a cellist was the Adams McDowell Band. They were so impressed that they rewrote this song to feature him. He created the cello solo. This band deserved a record deal, and had it gotten one, Von Cello might have become a household name in the early 80's.
LAND OF THE HEAT
    After spending several years playing electric cello in bands that never got signed, Von Cello hung up his cello and picked up his Stratocaster electric guitar. Feeling that the public was just not ready for a rock cellist, he created a concept for a band that would combine R&B grooves with Jazz harmonies, and with members from many ethnic groups, cross over racial barriers. The band was called Smooth Groove, and you can really groove to this song, from a live concert in the early 90's with their original singer, Michelle Monet. It has a Bossa Nova (Brazilian) beat, but the words are about a learning experience that Aaron had on a Carribean island while on vacation from the Caracas Philharmonic.
IT'S JUST LOVE
    Smooth Groove is really grooving on this cut with their later singer Tanya Tobais (of Debbie Gibson's band). This is Von Cello's idea of a #1 pop hit. It combines a dance beat with jazzy chords and clever lyrics.
THERE'S SOMEONE WAITING TO LISTEN
    This ballad was written for a show that was first perfomed by Smooth Groove at a Bronx high school. The kids went wild. They were waving their arms in the air, rocking from side to side, and singing along. The director came running over to Aaron and said, "I think we have a hit!" It's Von Cello's answer to "The Greatest Love of All". Couldn't you imagine it on the radio sung by one of the great rock divas?
HERBIE'S PIZZA PARTY
    This crazy song just appeared out of nowhere one night when Aaron was hanging out with some friends in high school. It became a classic song about their neighborhood. This clip is a version of the song made for "posterity" in the early 90's with "co writer" Perry Seigle. They didn't plan on doing the song; it just popped up during a jam. Said Von, "Perry and I were always getting the audience involved when we played. In this case we got Perry's brother-in-law involved, and even his kid got into the act. After not playing the song for 15 years, we didn't miss a beat! Amazing!!" It ends the same ridiculous way it begins.
THE OPEN SEA
    A perfect piece for a movie or documentary about the sea, here Von Cello enters the electronic world. This late '90s work was created and performed completely on synthesizer.
ONE IN A MILLION GIRL
    A classic acoustic rock tune! This almost made it onto Von's solo CD, "Breaking The Sound Barriers", but it didn't have enough of a relationship to classical music for that classical crossover CD. In retrospect, he felt it should have been included anyway, just because it's such a good song! I love the vibe on this recording with it's mellow cello, Martin guitar, hand claps, tom toms, and bit of rap. The lyrics speak of the search for that "one in a million girl", a search which lasted a few decades for poor Von Cello!
EVERY TIME I THINK OF YOU
    Said Von, "This is the greatest love song in the world! How do I know? I used it as a proposal...and it worked!" Don't you think it could become a standard? Here is the song as performed at his wedding with Aaron on guitar, a Broadway Singer on vocals, and the band joining in on the second chorus.
EVERYTIME I THINK OF YOU - Instrumental
    Here's an instrumental version of this lovely tune, perfect for all you vocalists and would-be singers to sing along with. Try it, you'll like it!
I USED TO BE AN ORCHESTRA PLAYER
    The next nine songs are from the first solo Von Cello CD and below each song we will print his notes. Here goes: Breaking The Sound Barriers is a CD which crashes through the imaginary walls that many people create between musical styles. In particular, it blurs the line between classical and rock. A cellist playing rock is already a crossing of a boundary, but that's just the beginning. This, my first solo CD, is somewhat autobiographical, and in many ways a concept album. It is a classical crossover CD about a cellist crossing over from classical to rock. It begins with, I Used To Be An Orchestra Player, and then goes into two songs about becoming a rock cellist. Next come songs that combine a classical influence with various popular styles showing how the cello can work in each. It ends with, Jump On That Train, which invites the listener to come along for the ride into the new world of rock cello! (The ride will continue in the next CD, moving into hard rock territory with Von Cello, the band.) I Used To Be An Orchestra Player - Been there, but it wasn't my dream. It's difficult but liberating to strive to reach your true potential.
I USED TO BE AN ORCHESTRA PLAYER (remix)
    Von Cello was a rock guitarist, who became an orchestra musician, broke the mold and became a famous rock cellist! This song tells the story. Bill Lawrence, an innovator of the bass, took this song, added a bass part and sent it to Von Cello. The rest is history! Compare it to the original (above).
CELLO MAN
    Cello Man - A song about the mythical cellist who taught me how to play. (You don't think I came up with all of this on my own do you?)
ANTHEM/CELLO PLAYERS RAP
    Rappers express anger about the deal society gives them. When I was a struggling musician I felt a lot of anger too, Yet by turning my anger into humor, I was able to survive. So, to all the struggling musicians of every type: keep the faith! (Editor's note: The song begins with one of Von Cello's famous renditions of the Star Spangled Banner.)
LOST IN CYBERSPACE
    Lost In Cyberspace - My feelings of frustration and alienation when first having to deal with the internet. The chorus at the end is from Bach's Cantata, "Sleepers Awake". It makes a provocative contrast to the "industrial folk" groove of the rest of the song.
LEADING ME ON
    Leading Me On - An artist struggles with inspiration, running to the shelter of an ordinary life, but is led back to his destined path as if by an angel (the story of my life). If Bach were alive and writing pop songs perhaps they would sound like this.
BROTHER JOHN
    Brother John - This true story of a homeless accordionist is based on Schubert's "The Organ Grinder" from Die Winterreise, which has a repeating melodic figure, symbolizing an organ grinder playing in the winter. "Brother John" presents a modern parallel of tragedy.
BACH TO THE FUTURE
    Bach To The Future - I hope the old master smiles from the world beyond as he hears his great "Air" enter the space age.
HOLES IN THE SKY
    Holes In The Sky - Space rock is one of my favorite genres so I am particularly proud of this wonderful space tune! I believe it should have a seat on the dais with the venerable space tunes of Hendrix, Pink Floyd and King Crimson. Originally written at summer camp when I was around 16 years old, it has a cosmic feel in its sound and lyrics. The lyrics speak of a unique concept of the universe that came to me while deathly ill in the infirmary: that the sky is actually full of holes, like a veil and what we perceive as stars are really shafts of light coming down from a gigantic star that surrounds the universe. That star would then be just one star in a whole other universe. Alternatively, the song could be about light (energy) escaping from black holes, creating our universe, "and here we are".
JUMP ON THAT TRAIN
    Jump On That Train - What better way to come back from deep space, than in a train?! Written during a trip through the south, it's your invitation to jump aboard the Von Cello express. Come on, enjoy the ride!
LARCHMONT JAM
    This incredible jam "just happened" when Von Cello went to visit a musician in his studio in beautiful Larchmont, NY, in the fall. The original bass player for the Von Cello Band, Andy Lowe, played bass, Jim Weingast (the engineer) sat in on drums, and Von bowed and picked his cello. Shortly after he and Andy arrived, Jim turned on a tape recorder and said, "Let's jam". What came out was a jam that has such a perfect ebb and flow, they were all blown away. So am I!
IMPROV.CLINIC USING MINSKY ETUDE#7
    After inventing a new style of cello playing, creating musicial studies and pieces to promote the new style, and recording and performing his original music in this new style, Aaron Von Cello comes full circle; spreading his ideas to a new generation of cellists! Listen in on this fascinating clinic, not only for the words that he speaks, but to hear the amazing sounds of multiple celli performing improvisations under the guidance of this now world renowned modern innovator of the cello, Von Cello!



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