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HAPPENED TODAY - On June 22, 1763, the composer Etienne Nicolas Méhul was born in Givet

Ida Riegels (2)

Did you attend advanced courses after the Conservatory? With whom? What was their influence on your way of experiencing music?
After Conservatory I had some unforgettable lessons with the Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma. I especially remember one thing he said: “A teacher is someone you come to once a week, but often some of the most important lessons come to you from somewhere else. It could be a novel that you read or a comment from a friend who is not a musician.” This has influenced me a lot, because what he said, is a reminder that music is both the innumerable hours of practicing technique and theory, but equally important hereafter is the link between music and life. To me that is the key to the magic of music.


What were the first experiences with the audience? Who was playing with you?
It was in the spring when i was 8. We had a school concert tour with the music school orchestra, and it was the first time I played for a big audience. I played a fast solo piece on the recorder with my beloved teacher, Kæthe Kristiansen, at the piano. She really knows how to prepare and motivate her students with challenges. We didn’t attend normal school that week, but travelled around in a bus and played several concerts a day. I loved it and thought, that was just how life should be.


In a few words, how the cello is seen in your country?
A very common comment when you say you play the cello in Denmark is – “How wonderful. That is my favorite instrument.”
I think the cello is very popular in Denmark. Maybe it resonates with the danish winter mood. It can be quite cold and dark here in the winter, and then the melancholic tone of a cello fits well.


What are your plans for the future? At least the nearests.
For the next two years I have five plans:
– The first is a biking tour through Denmark in May 2019. Denmark is not very big, but still it will be 500 km and more than 33 concerts in one month…!
– Second project is recording a CD with a Danish record label. It will be my own Bach-inspired compositions and one of Bach’s cello suite.
– Third is a concert tour on a tandem bike. I have an invitation to play in Berlin and I will find a pianist who is willing to share a bike for 500 km and play concerts in churches and castles along the road to Berlin.
– Fourth project, I will build one more cello. – Did I tell, that the cello I’m playing is brand new. It is a Montagnana inspired model that I build myself last year. I still haven’t varnished it, but it sounds so wonderful, that I can’t stop playing it! The next cello will be inspired by Guadagnini’s Simpson 1777. I have played some instruments of this model, and I love how the tone is warm and deep, but still very projecting. Building a cello is a big project, I have to say, it takes around 800 hours.
– Fifth project is a ‘Trading Cello’ project in 2020. I will travel around Europe on an interrail ticket and see what you can get in exchange for a cello suite by Bach in different countries. Maybe a cup of tea in London and a local speciality in Rome? – Suggestions are welcome.


And now, perhaps, the main question: what is the origin of your interest in cycling? Why would you popularize your instrument to people cycling in different countries and not by other means of transportation, even less tiring?
I really love classical music, and I think a lot of people will love it too, if they just get to hear it. Think about Bach’s music in a old church. Just one cello alone in a big room. The air is somewhat cold and there is a beautiful smell from the dusty, humid stone walls. The tones fly up high under the ceiling untouched by gravity and your thoughts fly with them. Who would not like that? I love to bike and I love to perform. In Denmark it is very common to bike everywhere. You can even see the Danish prime minister biking to work. I think for my biking concert tours there has also been a lot of people in the audience who doesn’t usually go to classical concerts, but who might be enthusiastic bicyclists. By taking the cello out on the roads, I think I meet more people who then get to know about cello and classical music. Also there is an unexpected benefit from the combination of biking and playing concerts: I think most cellists know the challenges of playing Bach. You always play by heart, and there are often tricky parts to memorise. I have counted the number of notes I you play if you play two cello suites and the Partita for flute in a concert, and it is more than 10.000 notes to remember. What I have found out is, that your concentration ability improves a lot from biking in fresh air and being in good shape. Memorising Bach become so easy, and traveling in nature and meeting people is very inspiring for the interpretation in the concerts.


Briefly: what was the itinerary of your trip? How many Km have you cycled and in which states?
I started in the Swiss alps 2.500 m above the sea. There I played an open air concert in the snow. From Switzerland I passed through Liechtenstein and Austria. Then I came to Germany, from there a part in France and finally all the way through Holland to the North Sea. It added up to more than 1.200 km and 36 concerts in two month. I only brought my cello, my bike and 10 kg of luggage. [to be continued ⇒]