BWW Reviews: National Symphony Orchestra Cellist Shows Flair for Storytelling, Music with IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT G-STRING
First off, while the show's provocative title may have no doubt sold a few tickets in this year's Capital Fringe Festival, it's not what you think. Longtime National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) cellist Yvonne Caruthers shares her love for music - and the cello in particular - in the autobiographical In Search of the Perfect G-String. The G-String, in this context, is of course the one on the cello. Close to it is the bane of the cellist's existence, 'the wolf' an area of imperfection in all cellos that does not allow sound to fully produce.
We meet Yvonne as an adult, now a 'soldier for music.' She first regales us with tales about playing with the greats in the United States to Asia to Russia, the birthplace of the man that brought her to the NSO in the late 1970s ( Leopold Rostropovich or 'Slava' as those closest to him called him) who first described musicians as 'soldiers for music.' At this point, it becomes clear that although Caruthers is clearly not a trained actress - initially every line is delivered with the exact same cadence, inflection, and peppy enthusiasm - she's so charming and her enthusiasm for music is so infectious that this shortcoming can mostly be overlooked.
As we transition to young Yvonne, we learn how she first discovered the cello is a small town in Washington State and her determination at even the youngest age to make a career happen no matter the improbability that it would lead to fame and fortune. From her first summer at Tanglewood to failed and successful orchestra auditions, Caruthers shares her career-defining brushes with great musicians with stories and songs. The sound of her cello is beautiful and echoes through the small gallery at Caos on F; watching her play is akin to watching a master artist.
Her story really takes off when she recalls how she met the aforementioned 'Slava' while in college at the Eastman School of Music and describes how he influenced her decision to pursue this career path and mentored her as an artist. This segway into her career at the NSO sets up the chance for her to do what she's clearly most comfortable doing - play the cello for us, discuss the instrument, and describe in intimate detail her longstanding relationship with it which is analogous to a romantic partner.
Her stories (particularly in the latter half of the show) are largely interesting and unique and her music is even more powerful. While classic music aficionados may get more out of her piece than others - particularly as she delves into her 'friends' (the great composers over the last few centuries) and mentions some heavyweights in classic music - it's ultimately a story of pursuing a dream, doing what you love, and sharing the power of music. We can all relate to that in one way or another.
Running Time: 60 Minutes.
Graphic: Courtesy of Capital Fringe/Artist.
In Search of a Perfect G-String has two more performances in this year's Capital Fringe Festival. For tickets and show information, visit the Capital Fringe website.