Austin-based cellist brings edge to classical music

By by camille doty/
Sept. 12, 2012 at 4:12 a.m.

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

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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