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Austin-based cellist brings edge to classical music

By by camille doty/cdoty@vicad.com
Sept. 12, 2012 at 4:12 a.m.


The VSO's Master Series

• Sept. 15 - New World Symphony

• Oct. 20 - Brahms' Symphony

• Jan. 19 - Music of ABBA

• Feb. 23 - Mahler's "Titan" Symphony

• April 27 - Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

DO THE SYMPHONY RIGHT

• Dress your best: Jeans are acceptable, but shorts, flip-flops and T-shirts are discouraged.

• Be on time: Try to arrive 20 to 30 minutes before the concert is scheduled to begin, to allow plenty of time to park and find your seat. You can learn more information about the music/musicians at the Symphony Savvy at 7 p.m. in the Victoria Fine Arts Center Annex.

• Be courteous: Do not try to find your seat during the music. If you need to leave your seat, wait until the music is finished.

• Turn off electronics: Personal photos or recording of any kind is prohibited during a symphony concert.

• When to applaud: The conductor always signals the end of a performance by lowering both hands and turning to face the audience.

If you go

• WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

• WHERE: Victoria Fine Arts Center, 1002 Sam Houston Drive, Victoria

• HOW MUCH: $18-$45

•  MORE INFO: Visit victoriasymphony.com or call 361-576-4500

Jen Mulhern was immediately drawn to the range of the cello. It was love at first note with the soulful and versatile sound.

The 35-year-old San Antonio native uses the string instrument to communicate with others.

"I don't speak any other languages fluently," she said. "It's a way for me to express myself the way words cannot."

The Austin-based musician has traveled to Europe and Canada. And on Saturday, the cellist will play with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra in the opening concert of the season -"Dvorak's New World."

Mulhern has a special connection with the acclaimed piece, because she played it during a friend's funeral.

The musician praised Antonin Leopold Dvorak for his invigorating, yet palatable music.

"It's like a clock that ticks at a continuous beat," said Mulhern.

Dvorak, a Czech composer, moved to the United States to become the director of the National Conservatory of Music. He began writing about his experience in the New World.

Dvorak's featured piece first premiered in New York City's Carnegie Hall on Dec. 16, 1893.

He was later deemed as one of the finest living composers of symphonic music with international recognition, according to History.com.

Mulhern's eclectic rocker's edge with the cello breathes life into century-old music.

The Texas State University-San Marcos graduate passes on the musical torch by teaching private lessons to school-aged children and conducts week-long workshop at her alma mater.

Her appearance with an asymmetrical haircut and lightning rod earring defies the conservative stereotype.

"The symphony is not by old people, for old people," said Mulhern, who has been a member of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra for four years. "These composers had real emotions and dealt with things that related to how crazy life is."

Mulhern feels the music just like the audience. To her, notes are just as vivid as colors in a rainbow.

The symphony's director Darryl One said Mulhern's dedication and versatility make her an ideal fit for the Victoria Symphony Orchestra.

"She's a good musician who comes prepared and knows her notes," One said.

One said young people should be exposed to classical music so they can decide if it suits their interests. The orchestra provides an ideal medium because of the blend of sounds.

"It's like looking at a painting with 25 colors instead of five," he said. "You get to have more colors added to your palette."

Mulhern compared being in an orchestra to being a little piece in a big puzzle.

She added that the listeners don't need to have expectations and are entitled to have their own experience.

"Don't be afraid to clap or fall asleep if you want to," she said. "It's like a painting, it's fascinating."

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