SPOTLIGHT: Galesburg teen to debut with symphony

By Ashley Wolfgang

The Register-Mail

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 5:20 a.m. MST

In this photo taken Feb. 14, 2012, seventeen-year-old Maury Cohn, a senior at Galesburg High School, plays his cello in the hallway of Knox College's Ford Center for the Fine Arts in Galesburg, Ill. Cohn will soon to make his solo debut with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony at the Orpheum Theatre on Feb 25.

The Register-Mail, Nick Adams, Associated Press

GALESBURG, Ill. — Having started the cello at age 4, Maury Cohn has been practically immersed in the music community his entire life.

"I was actually exposed to it through a babysitter who knew another kid who played the cello," Cohn said. "I then expressed interest and met with the teacher, Carolyn Suda, who was and still is an amazing teacher."

Cohn, 17, a senior at Galesburg High School, will make his solo debut with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony at the Orpheum Theatre on Feb. 25.

Suda said Cohn "is invested always in what he does. He goes where things are most fascinating and interesting and he immerses himself 100 percent in it. There's a point at which it has to be an intellectually intelligent lesson as well as musical," Suda said in describing Cohn's dedication to his music. "There's a bit of intellectual sparring that has to go on in order for him to be engaged."

For example, "we make up stories about the music so we can emotionally engage with the pieces. We always have to laugh," she said.

This practice, Suda explained, is something all musicians must go through in order for their emotions, as well as those of the composer, to transcend beyond the notes on the sheet music.

Cohn said his personifications tend to vary between pieces, but he believes that "sometimes, creating a story about the music serves as a way to remember what feelings I wanted to convey at particular moments." Using these stories as a memory device, he explains it is "easier to remember some tale of a little boy running through the woods, tripping here, jumping through a meadow there ... than it is to remember a list of things like 'play this part harsh,' 'play this part boisterously.' But sometimes, that technique doesn't exactly lend itself to the music, so it really depends."

These intellectual efforts have definitely paid off in Cohn's favor. This past summer, he had the opportunity to attend two national chamber music programs. Spending a total of seven weeks at camps, he split the time between focusing on chamber music, and on solo performance. The previous summer was spent at an intensive orchestra camp for five weeks.

With all this success, one might think it comes easy.

"Everyone likes to start an instrument," Cohn said. "The problem comes about six months later, when you have to practice ... I practiced a lot, but not always at my wishes. I don't think that's unusual. I never wanted to give it up, though."

Having started the cello at age 4, Maury Cohn has been practically immersed in the music community his entire life.

"I was actually exposed to it through a babysitter who knew another kid who played the cello," Cohn said. "I then expressed interest and met with the teacher, Carolyn Suda, who was and still is an amazing teacher."

Cohn, 17, a senior at Galesburg High School, will make his solo debut with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony at the Orpheum Theatre on Feb. 25.

Suda said Cohn "is invested always in what he does. He goes where things are most fascinating and interesting and he immerses himself 100 percent in it. There's a point at which it has to be an intellectually intelligent lesson as well as musical," Suda said in describing Cohn's dedication to his music. "There's a bit of intellectual sparring that has to go on in order for him to be engaged."

For example, "we make up stories about the music so we can emotionally engage with the pieces. We always have to laugh," she said.

This practice, Suda explained, is something all musicians must go through in order for their emotions, as well as those of the composer, to transcend beyond the notes on the sheet music.

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