8 questions for a cello player

By Julie Randle | Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | St. Louis Suburban Journal

Ranya Iqbal is a cellist and member of the Laclede Quartet, a group of St. Louis string players who have performed throughout the Midwest since its formation in 1978. The group will host a concert at 10 a.m. Sept. 29 at the Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd.

“Our repertoire for this concert will be tangos and jazz. We will be using non-standard percussive techniques on our instruments in order to play with more groove,” she said. “This won’t be your ordinary string quartet concert.”

Iqbal has performed with the Illinois Symphony and done freelance musical work through her contracting business, Serenade. The 27-year-old Tower Grove East resident started playing the violin in third grade and switched to the cello at 9.

Q: Why did you start playing the cello?

A: I switched over to cello from playing violin. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that my older brother was playing the cello at the time. I also think the sound of the cello is much more pleasing than that of the violin.

Q: What is your full-time job?

A: I make my living as a freelance musician. I am the contractor and director of Serenade, for which I book ensembles to play for private events. My Web site is www.serenadestrings.com http://www.serenadestrings.com>. I also teach cello lessons privately and through the Webster University Community Music School. My lessons offer instruction in multiple styles of playing.

Q: Tell me about your family. Are you married? Do you have children?

A: I’m not married. I have a boyfriend. I have one older brother who lives in Arizona with his wife and my parents live in North County.

Q: If you could perform a concert on any stage where would it be and why?

A: Stages have no meaning for me. All I want is to make a modest living while doing what I love, do it well and hopefully make a positive impact on other people. If I can do that best by playing in a coffee shop or concert hall – so be it.

Q: Who is your musical idol and why?

A: There are so many musicians I listen to and admire it’s impossible for me to choose just one as my idol. Each musician is unique and I can find something in each of them I would like to see in myself.

Q: What is one fact most people don’t know about the cello, but would find interesting?

A: Most people associate the cello primarily with classical music; however, the cello is amazingly versatile and can be used in many genres. I think the cello has been and could be used in virtually any type of music. I am currently the webmaster for the New Directions Cello Association (newdirectionscello.org). This Web site contains numerous links to non-classical cellists.

Q: What is the biggest challenge with playing the cello?

A: The cello is a large, fretless string instrument, which makes it difficult to play in tune. It’s also kind of a pain lugging it around.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about playing the cello?

A: I love playing chamber music and the amazing repertoire that has been written for the cello. Also, like any art, there are infinite possibilities, which one can devote a lifetime to and never get bored. With time, my sensitivity and perception changes and the act of playing the cello changes. For me, tuning my senses is what is utterly satisfying – learning to focus, perceive every little detail and execute each act with total intent. I also enjoy performing for people and making a positive impact on them in some way. Music allows me to communicate in ways I would not with words.
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