The Gallery Players of Niagara held the first event of their new season this past Sunday at Silver Spire United Church. The all-cello performance featured a wide array of musical pieces and talent, with each cellist hand selected from Niagara region talent. Among cellists chosen was Grace Snippe, a Brock University student entering her fourth year in the Bachelor of Music program at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.
Snippe has been studying the cello under Gordon Cleland for the past seven years during which she has also been a member of the Niagara Youth Orchestra (NYO). She was principal cellist at the NYO for the past two years and was a featured soloist in the NYO Chamber Concert last April.
“I started playing the cello when I was nine years old,” said Snippe. “A string troop came to our elementary school and showed us all the instruments and since then I’ve been in various orchestras and groups because I just fell in love with the cello.”
In addition, Snippe stated, “As a little kid I was always in love with the double bass, but my family didn’t have a car that was big enough to hold one, so I thought ‘you know the cello’s pretty cool too.’ I can’t imagine playing double bass now, because I love the cello so much. It’s so human to me; I think it has the most human voice of all the instruments and it’s really easy to connect to. It has a beautiful sound and I’ve never met someone who didn’t like the sound of the cello, which is always nice to hear.”
Her love of the instrument and impressive musical ability has led her to have an active presence in the Niagara Region’s classical and contemporary music communities. Snippe is part of a string quartet that plays various local gigs, and is the principle cellist in the Niagara Youth Orchestra. As well, as part of Brock’s Music program, Snippe is putting on a cello recital at the end of the school year, as part of her final project.
Despite her wide array of playing credentials, performing with the Gallery Players has been one of Snippe’s most exclusive endeavors.
“I did a side-by-side type of concert with the Niagara Symphony once, when the Niagara Youth Orchestra got to pair up with everyone in the Niagara Symphony and put on a huge concert together,” said Snippe. “This is a bit different because I feel like I was more hand selected to be here. It’s not like ‘this group is joining this group’, but rather ‘we want that cellist and that cellist and that cellist’ and I was one of those cellists… it feels really good.”
The experience is not lost on Snippe, as playing with the Gallery Players has taught her a lot about the craft and the instrument she loves, and given her a glimpse into her future as a performance cellist.
“Playing with all the Gallery Players has been incredible,” said Snippe. “I’m 21 years old so I’ve only been playing for a little over a decade while people in there have been playing their whole lives. Each person has at least 20 years of experience, and they’ve been giving me advice the whole way. It feels so nice to be in this cushion of talent and I’m just learning from them.”
When last Sunday’s performance began and Snippe took her seat among the Gallery Players, it was clear that it was where she was meant to be. She fit in among seasoned professionals with ease, and was able to hold her weight as an established cellist.
“It’s also definitely a good taste of what my career could be like. I’m in a string quartet of people that are all the same level of talent and age group that I am, but to be part of something like this, to be making music and sounds that are so much more than what I’ve done so far is exciting. It’s inspiring to me and really keeping me going to know that this is the kind of stuff I would be playing the rest of my life,” said Snippe.
The concert was incredibly beautiful. The cellos sang as the Gallery Players moved through a wide range of classical cello concertos, and it was a treat to hear live. Considering this was an all-cello performance, the instruments still stood out from one another as each cello played a different, but equally complex part. The performance truly showcased why the Gallery Players of Niagara are one of Niagara’s most prominent presenters of classical chamber music.
For Snippe, the young cellist has quite a bit to look forward to in the upcoming months to further establish her career. She’s playing with the Avanti Chamber Singers, Brock University’s resident ensemble, next weekend, and has her final cello project recital to look forward to in May.
For more information and future concert dates visit galleryplayers.ca
Assistant Arts & Life Editor