Many musicians and critics debate about the merits of this genre or that, whatâ€™s in, whatâ€™s out, and so on, but there are few talented artists who rise above the fray, and who dedicate their efforts to fostering the creation and evolution of music, rather than the categorization and judgment of it. Skip vonKuske is one these musicians. His open-mindedness, musical sensibility, technical ability, piercing emotion and improvisational skills have made him one of the most sought after cellists in the Northwest.
While perhaps best known as a master collaborator for his work with groups such as Vagabond Opera and the Portland Cello Project, Skip vonKuske is also many other things: a composer, an innovator, an improviser, and producer. The Oregonian has described him as â€œa one-man chamber ensemble,â€ and this is apparent in his solo work, in which he uses looping technology and sound-manipulation tools to push the cello into uncharted terrain, and yet does so without sacrificing the sentiment which is heard in his powerful, concise phrasing.
Skip began playing cello at the age of eight, and has studied with renowned cellists William Stokking of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Lorne Munro of the New York Philharmonic. He attended the Performing Arts School of Philadelphia and also studied at Michigan State University. While at MSU, Skip performed with numerous regional orchestras and in several original music projects, in which he also played bass, guitar and mandolin. When Skip moved to Portland, Oregon in 1994, his skills as an improviser and singer/songwriter set him apart from many other classically trained musicians. In his first three years in Portland he recorded with well over fifty artists. And over the last decade, Skip’s cello has provided vital, though often subtle texture, to hundreds of recordings including M. Ward’s “Post War” and Pink Martini’s “Sympathiqueâ€.
Skip has also worked with the Oregon Symphony and performed with Smokey Robinson, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Judy Collins, Crystal Gayle and many others. He stays active in the Portlandâ€™s Jazz community and continues to collaborate with film makers, producers, chamber music groups and is the first call of top music studios whenever a professional cellist is needed, whether their client has chord charts, written parts, or even no preconceived ideas.
Skip is currently concentrating on solo performance of personal projects and compositions including cellotronik, where he uses layered work with electronic elements to create hypnotic and techno-organic music which keeps the cello at the fore of countless blends of sounds and rhythms.
To order Skip’s album Intuit, click here