The Curious Case of the Wandering Cello
Once you’ve held an instrument in your hands, the power of music travels with you wherever you go. But for our Simply for Strings family member and sales associate, Elisabeth, that’s quite literally the case. Throughout her travels around the world, her cello has been with her every step of the way. From Fiji to Ecuador, South Africa, America and all around Australia, her cello is one piece of home she can’t help but take with her everywhere she goes.
But how did her lifelong love affair with the cello begin, and what makes it so important that it’s become a permanent fixture on her globetrotting adventures?
To answer that, we need to go back to the beginning, when a 6-year-old Elisabeth travelled to Papua New Guinea on her first mission trip with her sister and a few of her violin-playing friends…
“They took their violins to play for the local communities we stayed with, and after seeing how the community enjoyed and connected with the music, I must have thought that it was natural to take your instrument with you wherever you went.''
It wasn’t long before Liz was trying her own hand at music, taking both piano and singing lessons. But it was one day four years later, at her local church conference, that she became mesmerised by the cello.
“I’m not sure if it was because I’d never seen anyone play one before, or the rich warm tone of the sound, but from that moment I knew I would play the cello.”
Since then. Liz has covered half the globe with her cello in tow. Growing up in an immigrant South American family, she often spent months at a time in her homeland of Ecuador, where music was an integral part of sharing her culture and experiences with friends. Often, local friends and families would collide in a world of musical improvisation and storytelling well into the night, and it’s this sense of community that Liz tries to take with her wherever she goes.
When she visited Fiji just a few years later, however, it became evident that traveling with a cello wasn’t exactly the romantic idea she’d always imagined.
“I look like I’m moving houses every time I travel!”
But in the end, after several awkward bus rides and trudging along dirt roads, she also visited with friends and made new ones in every community they passed through, which made any hardship on the logistics front well worth its while.
“You could say my cello is my conversation starter when I face a new culture or community. The awkward first meetings and fear of the unknown disappear when you connect with your audience through music.”
From Fiji, it was on to South Africa and America where, even without her own cello on hand, Liz found a way – through kind-hearted sharing and renting of local instruments – to bring her music to each community she visited. Whether it’s playing at the local church, teaching the next generation of musical prodigies, or simply providing entertainment at local events, to Liz, it’s a way of paying it forward to the cultures that have given her so much in return.
“Music has given me the opportunity to experience travel and life from a different perspective, and I love being able to give back. One local community even told me that I’d inspired them to engage a fulltime cello teacher for their students – that’s what it’s all about for me.”
So, what’s next for Liz and her wandering cello? Given that she’s hiked to the top of Mt Tibrogargan in the glass-house mountains in search of inspiration and to play original music with the rest of her string trio, it’s fair to say the sky is quite literally the limit.
“I have a bucket list of places that I would like to travel to. I recently visited Iguazu falls in Brazil and, as I stood gazing at the falls, I decided that I would return one day with a cello and a few friends to play facing the grandeur of the falls.”
In the meantime, Liz is off on a medical mission trip to the Solomon Islands, and to perform at a conference in Sydney early next year.
And we can all guess what might be hiding in her ‘elephant in the room’ suitcase when she touches down for her next adventure. “I love seeing the look on people’s faces when I arrive at the airport – everyone stares!”
Are you heading on a journey with your cello? Check out our range of lightweight travel cases for your cello here