Student-founded cello-fest rocks Ecuador

Cellist Ivan Fabara has transported his instrument across four centuries and 10,000 kilometres –  far from its origins in Italy and now, home to a festival he founded in Ecuador.

Fabara, a Master’s student in Western’s Don Wright Faculty of Music, has embraced the breadth of the instrument’s lore. Five years ago, he co-founded the Quito Cellos Festival in Ecuador’s capital in order to promote and encourage participation in the arts in his home country.

“I started the festival after my studies in Venezuela; it is the country with the most developed music program in South America. I learned a lot about festivals, and I learned how to play cello in a group,” said Fabara, who came to Western by way of the University of Montreal and is now supervised by Music professor Tom Wiebe.

“For me that was natural. I feel I need that. In my country, there is not a lot of development in music so I (started) doing some concerts each year.”

The modern cello, born in the mid-16th century as a peasant rival to the sophisticated viola da gamba, was once a dance-band bass played in marches and parades. Over the centuries, it has adapted its voice to match the diversity of tone and spirit of musicians and listeners.

Adela Talbot // Western NewsCellist Ivan Fabara, a Master’s student in Western’s Don Wright Faculty of Music, co-founded the Quito Cellos Festival in Ecuador’s capital in order to promote and encourage participation in the arts.

Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope called the cello “the saddest of instruments” while for Swiss-born American composer Ernest Bloch, its round tones were “vaster and deeper than any spoken language.”

At Fabara’s festivals in Quito, the instrument has found yet another audience as it reflects the country’s rock, tango, Latin and classical musical overtones.

The festival is a concert series with local children, youth and adults invited to participate. Fabara, a member of the Cellos Prieto Ensemble, along with other musicians, organizes formal training sessions for those who apply.

The festival has grown from 20 participants in its first year to a capped 50 this past summer, he said.

“We work together to do this festival; we don’t have money to do it, but we work like a team to do it. We have a lot of people that work for free,” he said.

“Each year, we try to improve; the last one was really great. We got some money to have two international cellists. We had a lot of young cellists; we gave them an individual class each week, a master class, and had different groups to play together.”

At the festival last July, Germán Marcano, a renowned Venezuelan cellist who lives in the United States, was one of the conductors and performers. Yegor Dyachkov, a Russian master cellist who studied in Canada and is well-known here, performed after having taught classes to those who registered in the festival workshops.

The repertoire reflects the enthusiasm and interests of the musicians.

“We are trying to involve the people of my country with the culture; there is not a lot of good development in that, so I try to do more. We want to ask the government for more funding to develop the arts in my country. That’s my plan. Right now, I am trying to get some funding just to improve the festival each year,” he said.