Develop your unique voice, the branding will follow!

The Wired Cello in the Age of Electronic Encryption

Greg Sandow has been posting a number of blogposts about Branding, but a comment made on his facebook page1 by Frances-Marie Uitti really get’s it right!

Instead of studying how to brand oneself, why not take the time to find an original voice? Branding will happen all by itself.

As I replied:

thank you so much for saying that Frances-Marie Uitti –coming from one of the most unique voices in new music and the cello world, it means much more! <—so says the cellist dressed as a Klingon, and knows a bit about unique ways of branding… ;)

Worrying about your Brand before you have a unique voice is putting the cart before the horse.  And if a cellist ever had a unique voice, then Frances-Marie Uitti certainly fits the bill.  Ever since I discovered her work back in the mid 90s I frequently did presentations about her and other cellists that are doing interesting work2 at the Chello Shed3.

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Sunday Spotlight on the Non-Western Cello: Markos Sifnios, Marika Papagika and the Greek Cello

Marika Papagika

I wish I had more information about Markos Sifnios, but as there is only been a recent resurgence of interest in his collaborator Marika Papagika and I’m not in a position to be doing extensive research into her career in the US during the earlier part of the 20th century (yet).

I had first come across Sifnios’ work when I found this wonderful youtube video (see below) of a tune called Smyrneiko Minore (Smyrnaean Air) which, given the date (1919) here (if it is correct) would coincide with Papagika’s first recording in the states with Victor Records.

There is a brief snippet about Sifnios’ collaboration with Papagika at the Wikipedia entry which I can’t really verify or attest to the truth of though interesting in its own right:

Cellist Markos Sifneos [sic] collaborated with Marika Papagika on at least 24 separate occasions. Aside from Kostas, he is her most frequent collaborator, and was one of the few people to play cello on Greek recordings before World War II. There are no records of him recording with anyone except the Papagikas as Cello was not an acceptable instrument for Greek music at the time.

So I came across this video and though I had already known about Marika Papagika I knew nothing about the fact she had a cellist in her Greek band.  So that was something of a revelation.  I doubt cellos were typically a part of traditional or folk Greek ensembles as the above quote seems to indicate, and more than likely, as is the case with Klezmer and other folk music ensembles (and “pick-up” bands in general) Sifnios and his cello just happened to be at her disposal.   But what this also says is that Sifnios could be considered one of the first “Alternative Cellists” in the US (if not the world).

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