[MAKE UP EVENT] The Beauty of Cello: Young Concert Artists Winner, Jonathan Swensen

The new star of the cello world, Johnathan Swensen performs in part with the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ Marquee Sunday Salon Series for Emerging Artistry in the Foellinger Great Hall on February 16, 2020. 

By Elena Grantcharski

Johnathan Swensen is a Danish-American classical cellist. He is an emerging performer in the classical world and this performance was a testament to that. The first thing that I would like to point out about this performance was that it was in a “salon style.”  When I saw it described as such on the website, I was honestly a little confused as to what that means. I’ve been inside Foellinger Great Hall, but I’ve never heard of a performance that was in this salon style. Unfortunately, I had a discounted balcony seat but salon style puts the audience on stage with the performer. The entire stage is filled with chairs, leaving a small section for the performance. There are also refreshments such as wine and coffee offered. I found this super interesting but it made sense to me knowing a bit about the classical music world. It felt like a very “high class” or elitist event but I don’t mean to say that in a bad way. I love classical music, and I loved this concert.

The salon set up at Foellinger Great Hall includes a table that offers refreshments such as wine or coffee.

I had a period in my life where I myself really wanted to be a professional classical musician. Seeing Johnathan as a really young performer in the classical music world made me very inspired but also a little bittersweet considering my past. It evoked very strong emotions in me. His mastery of dynamics and emotiveness gave a very sentimental nature to the event. You could tell how much he loved playing the cello, to the point where it almost seemed like he was one being with his instrument.

A picture showing the salon set up on the Foellinger Great hall stage.

Through his use of dynamics and his beautiful vibrato, I could tell that there was an undeniable attention to detail when it comes to his mastery. Everything he did was precise and with purpose. There were times where he was hitting the wood of his cello with the bow, which made me think about how the cello is versatile as an instrument. You do not just make sounds by pulling a bow across the strings, you can also use the wood, and also pluck the strings with your fingers. 

Johnathan Swensen performing on the salon stage.

Overall, I am very glad I went to this performance. It felt like a meditative moment for me. Listening to the music, feeling it, made me feel extremely touched. It felt refreshing to have a moment to think about the times when I really wanted to pursue music. This performance made me realize that even though I had to let go of that dream, my love for classical music will never die. I will always feel undoubtedly connected to this genre of music and I am thankful that Johnathan was able to reignite the musician in me.

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