Acclaimed for being “entirely dazzling” (San Francisco Chronicle), “in a class of his own” (Philadelphia Inquirer), and having “effortless mastery” (San Diego Union Tribune), Clancy Newman has traveled the world as an award-winning cellist, composer, producer, writer, teacher, and guest lecturer. He has captivated audiences with his musical style and in return, Newman has been equally enthralled with the people who listen to him.
“Passion is universally understood”
“What I have found so remarkable – and so uplifting – is how human beings are essentially the same everywhere,” he says. “Sure, people from different backgrounds may show their appreciation in different ways, and they may have varying degrees of familiarity with the music. But passion, when reeled out so that it creates dramatic tension, is universally understood and enjoyed. That common bond makes it impossible not to feel a love of humanity.” His experiences playing chamber music live are sometimes profound, and sometimes surprising – like the concert he recently played where two dogs ran on stage in the middle of a slow movement. “Maybe that’s a little unusual,” he notes, “but something unexpected always happens. Performing music is always fresh, always interesting, and always challenging in predictable and unpredictable ways.”
Expanding his mastery
During our KCMF concert on July 26th, Newman is doing something novel to him at this stage of his career: performing repertoire that is new to him – pieces by French composer Jean Francaix and Czech composer Josef Suk. “I love Francaix’s music,” Newman says, “It’s elegant and witty. And Josef Suk was the son-in-law of my favorite composer, Antonín Dvořák. I’ve always been so impressed by [KCMF Artistic Director] Natalie Zhu’s ability to dig up obscure repertoire that’s actually worth listening to!” Newman will play these pieces with a quartet for English horn and string trio and a piano quartet respectively.
The art of enrichment
Newman believes that the power of music can enrich us not just as individuals but also collectively as a society. “There is art that feeds our souls, and there is art that feeds our addictions,” he explains. “There was once a time, not too long ago, when the art that feeds our souls flourished. But that other kind of art has been proliferating like algae, and it is in human nature to bend to its will. We all must fight a battle on two fronts: first, on the personal level, not giving in to the easy temptation of art that does not challenge us; and second, on the societal level, doing all we can in our community to promote the art that nourishes us, makes us stronger, happier, healthier, kinder, and more fulfilled.”
Photo credit: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco