The Free Cello Of Abel Selaocoe

Musical instruments have no bounds. While we associate them with certain contexts or genres, they lend their sound to any voice we decide to give them when creating music. This is something that the internationally acclaimed cello player Abel Selaocoe demonstrates very well.

Born in South Africa on a family of musicians, Abel got introduced to classical music by his brother, who plays the bassoon. He picked up the cello for a weekend’s course with the African Cultural Organization of South Africa. There, he ended up getting an internship with St. John’s College in Johannesburg. Moving to the UK, he continued his studies in Manchester and graduated in 2018.

Taking knowledge and sensitivities from both the Western classical school and different African music traditions, Abel embarked on a journey to explore the versatility of cello. The result is a corpus of innovative pieces that use diverse rhythms, instruments and techniques. He has collaborated with multiple groups and orchestras in the UK, captivating audiences with his free way to compose, play the cello and sing.

Abel describes his influences and style as contemporary. He finds new ways to play the cello by getting inspiration from things that don’t sound like one. Likewise, he greatly enjoys collaborating with other musicians who bring their talent and background to the table in an innovative way. Through the music they make together, he can learn about sounds and traditions from places he’s never visited before.

Abel seeks to make a change with his music. So far, he’s achieving it: his voice is resonating across the UK, and he’s already teaching a new generation of string players. It would be great that more people of Black, Asian and ethnically traditionally underrepresented groups had similar opportunities. For this, Black Lives in Music (BLiM) is currently “Recruiting Classical“. If you’re part of that demographic, and you’re a woodwind or string player, consider applying before tomorrow Monday 9th October at 5pm here.

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