Best Senior Instrumentalist: Alex Abrams

Alyssa Fairbanks

Alex Abrams, a music major with an emphasis on performance, plays the cello. He has played the cello for 13 years.

Abrams said that he has only really been playing the cello seriously for four of those years.

Abrams grew up in Blaine, Washington where he attended the local high school. His high school did not have an orchestra so he played string bass for the Wind Ensemble. He still plays the bass as a secondary instrument.

After nine years of just playing for fun, Abrams began to put more of an effort into playing.

“I can’t really say why it is that I decided to put some real work into my instrument other than it felt like a very natural thing for me,” said Abrams.

Sophomore year of college Abrams transferred to Central Washington University (CWU) to further his study of the cello. He studied with John Michel, an accomplished soloist, chamber musician and Cello Professor who has taught at CWU for the last 14 years.

After a semester at CWU, Abrams returned to Whitman. “I basically missed my friends here at Whitman,” he said.

Abrams has performed in a wide variety of ensembles while studying here at Whitman.

He has been in productions at Harper Joy Theatre, String Quartets and flute trios. Abrams performed this year in the Fridays at Four Recital Series.

He was part the production staff, performing musical and vocal arrangements, for Harper Joy’s March production of “Medea’s Children.”

He has also performed extensively for the composition majors. Additionally, Abrams is one of 13 cellists in the Walla Walla Symphony: the oldest continuously operating symphony west of the Mississippi.

Abrams presented his senior recital Saturday May, 2, 2009 in Chism Recital Hall with Nathan Shiu playing the piano.

As for the future Abrams plans to pursue a masters of Music at CWU next year.

He hopes to move on to a doctorate eventually as well. He would love to teach at the university level.

Ultimately though, Abrams plans to be part of a big city orchestra.

In His Own Words:

Q: Why did you choose the cello as your preferred instrument?

A: I chose the cello by chance more than anything else.   In third grade I wanted to be in the school orchestra and when I was choosing instruments I knew I didn’t want to play violin.   So I flipped a coin and it was between viola and cello, and the rest is history.

Q: Have you considered voice, or are you strictly instrumental?

A: This may be an odd way to answer this question but the cello itself is a very vocal instrument making is a very versatile instrument.   It can provide bass lines in ensemble work or it can sing unlike many other instruments.   But on a personal level I enjoy playing an instrument and wouldn’t prefer anything else.

Q: Why do you consider music to be an important part of the arts?

A: In short I’d say that in the last couple of years I’ve discovered that music speaks true to the human condition.   Like all art, the marriage of form and technique both complicated and simple produces everything from the heroic to the tragic.   I truly think music is unique in that it speaks to humanity on a level I don’t think I quite understand. It is simply a different way to express oneself.