Q & A with New York Philharmonic Principal Cello Carter Brey
We're going behind the scenes again with some members of the Orchestra. New York Philharmonic Principal Cello Carter Brey will be performing as a soloist several times this season, including this November with Principal Violist Cynthia Phelps in R. Strauss's "Don Quixote", but music isn't his only hobby! You can find out what other things he enjoys doing while he's away from the Philharmonic below.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Orchestra: Q & A with New York Philharmonic Principal Cello Carter Brey
At the Philharmonic: Joined in 1996; solo debut in 1997 in Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with Kurt Masur. Most recent recording: the complete cello and piano works of Chopin, with Garrick Ohlsson.
Earliest musical memories: My mother singing lullabies to me, and my parents taking me to a revival of Porgy and Bess when I was five
When did you start learning an instrument? I began the violin at nine, switched to the cello at 12, and began private lessons at 16. I thought the violin sounded shrill. I regret that decision every time I hear a Mozart violin concerto!
What would you be if not a musician? An airline pilot or a delivery captain for offshore yachts
How many cellos do you have? Three: a 1754 Guadagnini for most of my concert use, a 2010 James McKean for backup, and a Yamaha folding electric for practice and travel
Who were your most important musical influences? Judy Garland, Jascha Heifetz, Mstislav Rostropovich, Glenn Gould, and The Beatles
You had a major solo career — why did you join the Philharmonic? It was a onceinalifetime opportunity to join one of the great orchestras of the world, and it gave me more time to spend with my family.
Most memorable moment with the Orchestra: Playing Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony with Kurt Masur in Cologne in 1998
What are your duties as Principal Cello?
Playing solos to a high standard and taking care of section bowings and divisi assignments
What other music do you love listening to?
The Bill Evans Trio’s Portrait in Jazz
Do you perform outside of the Philharmonic? I occasionally go back on the road as a recitalist, soloist, or chamber musician.
How do you spend your summers? Sailing to New England and traveling to Italy with my family
What do you like to do outside of work?
Running, dancing, and sailing. Sailing has a lot in common with playing music — an ideal balance between art and science. And ballroom dancing lets you channel your musical abilities in a different way.