Raw Cello: Fusing the Aural and Visual Arts

Corbin Keep

Submitted Article

Tuesday, January 2 2018

In the summer of 2014, over breakfast in a hotel in Wells, BC, an idea came to me: with a “raw,” unvarnished cello as a “canvas,” a visual artist would create art live on it, at the same time as it was being played. 

Lulu’s response to my proposal: “Sure! Great!” which underscores one of the many things I love about this island: Gabriola is not only a fecund home to amazing artists, it’s also teeming with artists who are risk takers, and audiences who happily support those risks. This truly makes Gabriola unique among the Gulf Islands. 

In late 2016, a gaggle of raw cellos made the journey from Beijing across the Pacific by container ship, finally arriving via ferry to Gabriola. Tawny Maclachlan Capon, her daughter, Rachel and son in-law, Eli Bender got on board. Tawny is a consummate, accomplished artist of the highest order. Eli and Rachel are both full-time professional cellists, with facility in several different musical genres, including classical, Celtic and bluegrass. 

In Raw Cello, an “artistic conversation” with the artists will ensue: cellists and artist will respond to each other, improvisationally. I look forward to a priceless moment onstage when Tawny and Rachel commune, each in their own artistic medium — a privilege to witness mother and daughter on stage, doing what they were each born to, together. 

New ideas for Raw Cello continue, unabated. Just last week, I saw a design of Tawny’s on one of the cellos and thought, “Notes! Those look like musical notes!” And now they are. Not only is visual art inspiring aural art, the visual art IS the aural art! 

Barring future iterations (which would mean three more painted cellos!) Raw Cello is a one time event. So, if being witness to this artistic adventure interests you, please make plans to be there! 

After the performance, there will be three cellos, plus a cello shaped canvas, lovingly rendered by Tawny, offered for sale by silent auction. The cellos are perfectly playable and are also wonderful art objects in their own right. Lately, I’ve noticed that if I’m in a house with a nice feature wall, I’ll sometimes gaze up and think: “There!” Saturday, January 13th, 2:00PM at the Haven. A Lulu production. 

Tickets $25 advance at North Road Sports, $30 at the door.