Anzél Gerber regularly performs with the renowned pianist Ben Schoeman. The pair were honored recently with Gold Medal honors from Global Music Awards. The duo also received the Baronessa Constanza Arezzo Giampiccolo di Donnafugata IBLA Award as overall winners of the IBLA Grand Prize International Music Competition in Italy in 2012. In addition, they received a special Debussy award for their rendering of the Debussy sonata for cello and piano. The duo performed in Carnegie Hall (Weill), New York, on 14 May 2014.
Gerber was kind to respond to Global Music Awards' request for an interview:
Why do love playing the cello?
The possibility to express and communicate the entire range of emotions through the sound of the cello, gives me infinite joy, but also constantly challenges me to search for truth and authenticity so that the listeners and myself may be touched by God.
You play on an instrument made by Antonio Gagliano (Napoli ca. 1820). Describe the experience.
It is a real privilege to play on this wonderful cello that I am renting from the Maggini Foundation in Switzerland. The powerful sound and lyrical qualities of the instrument gives me the opportunity to “sing” like an opera singer, a great asset when I perform as soloist.
You and Ben Schoeman recently performed the Bushman Prayers, by the internationally renowned South African composer, Stefans Grové. This concerto captures the magical spirit of Africa. Tell us about the importance of that work and what performing it means to you.
This interesting Double Concerto for Cello and Piano with symphony orchestra and narrator, was Stefans Grové’s last completed work and dedicated to myself and Ben Schoeman. Grové’s concern over the gradual extinction of the San (also named the Bushman) culture inspired him to compose this Concerto. The rare genre of a double concerto for cello and piano is further enhanced by a narrator, who presents a poem at the opening of each of the three movements of the concerto – Prayer to the Sun, Prayer to the Moon, and Prayer to the Brightest Star in the Sky. These poems by Dia!Kwain were compiled by WH Bleek during his interactions with Bushmen from the Northern Cape region. Grové extracted a distinct colour from each of the three poems, and captures a magical spirit. We have performed the world premières in South Africa with conductors Yashuo Shinozaki and Carlos Izcaray and hope to perform this special concerto to audiences around the globe.
What’s your next project?
I have recorded the Rachmaninoff and Rubinstein cello sonatas in Vienna, Austria, with pianist Ben Schoeman, to be released on CD, and we will soon be performing recitals with a French connection – sonatas by Franck, Debussy and Saint-Saëns.
If your music is a gift to your fans, what do you want them to say about that gift?
I would like them to say that it had touched them in a special way.
Anzél Gerber’s art as cellist has been shaped by Russia’s most prominent teachers and soloists – all of whom were associates or students of Simeon Kozolupov and Mstislav Rostropovich. After her initial training in South Africa, her country of birth, she studied for three years under Alexander Fedortchenko, in Spain, and continued her studies at the Moscow State Conservatory under Alexander Kniazev. Later, as part of her PhD in Music Performance at the University of London, she pursued her studies under Russia’s legendary cello teacher, Natalia Shakhovskaya.
In the course of her training as musician, Gerber received guidance from David Geringas, Karine Georgian, Ralph Kirshbaum and Maxim Vengerov. She also attended master classes by Mstislav Rostropovich, Natalia Gutman, Heinrich Schiff, Bernard Greenhouse, Gary Hoffman, Maria Kliegel, Young-Chang Cho, Philippe Muller and Julius Berger.
As soloist she has collaborated with numerous conductors, including Gérard Korsten, Guido Ajmone-Marsan, Yasuo Shinozaki, Leslie B Dunner, Gordon Hunt and Robert Maxym. Gerber performed in the USA, UK, Spain, France, Austria, Italy, South Africa and Namibia.
Apart from her performance career, Dr Gerber is a dedicated lecturer and researcher. She received her PhD in Music (Performance) from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2008. Her doctoral research entitled Critical success factors in cello training is a comparative study on cello training in Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Her keen interest in the field of gifted music education, served as inspiration for her postdoctoral research entitled Gifted music education: an international perspective, at Temple University, Philadelphia in the United States of America from 2009 to 2010.
She regularly presents master classes in various countries. In 2009 she presented master classes at the Beijing Central Music Conservatory. She serves on the faculty and jury for the International Music Academy and Competition in Cremona, Italy, since 2013. Dr Gerber is a lecturer in cello performance and methodology in her home country, South Africa, at the University of Stellenbosch, since 2014.
She plays on a cello made by Antonio Gagliano (Napoli ca. 1820), on loan to her from the Maggini Foundation in Switzerland.
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