In the fall of 2006 a group of 9 cellists got on stage at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge to perform western classical music in an informal setting.
Many of the cellists that night thought it would only happen once.
But slowly that one-off event became a second, and a third, cellists joined and left and rejoined the group again, to perform in Portland's most popular clubs. By 2009 the group had evolved into a nationally-recognized performing, recording and educational group with a revolving cast of cellists. Cello Project (or PCP as their fans affectionately call them) were quickly appearing anywhere and everywhere in North America, from punk rock clubs to symphony halls, from street parties to exclusive private events. By 2010 self-described horde of cellos were spending more than a quarter of the year touring, featuring a diverse repertoire that quickly ballooned to over 1,000 pieces of music.
Under the artistic direction of Douglas Jenkins, the group grew and evolved, working with an all-star group of cellists in the Pacific Northwest (Skip vonKuske, Diane Chaplin, Nancy Ives, Gideon Freudmann, Kevin Jackson, to name just a few...). The group developed a three-part philosophy that has mostly remained unchanged over the years:
To bring the cello places you wouldn't normally see it (from wild dance parties, to formal symphony halls, to street parties, to Millennium Park in Chicago...).
To perform music on the cello you wouldn't normally associate with the instrument alongside music from the Western Classical Tradition (from Pantera to Taylor Swift to Kanye West to Elliott Smith, alongside Bach, Rossini, and Saint-Saens, to name just a few...).
To build bridges between different musical communities through educational, community outreach, and through collaboration with myriad artists, from The Dandy Warhols to Garrison Keillor to Ural Thomasto Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) to Jolie Holland to Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), among many others, and cellists such as Ben Sollee, Maya Beiser and Zoe Keating.
January 12, 2018
Release of live Paranoid Android video from 11/25/17 performance of OK Computer at Revolution Hall in Portland.
January 4, 2018
Kicked off the year with a quintet performing a livestream worldwide on All Classical FM.
Celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the release of Radiohead's OK Computer with a string of shows throughout the Pacific Northwest with special guest singers Patti King (The Shins), Kyleen King, and Adam Shearer (Weinland).
Residency and outreach with the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center Orchestra. This women's prison has a one-of-a-kind in the country orchestral program as part of their rehabilitation program. This is among the (if not the) most rewarding outreach opportunity the group has ever taken part in.
Fairbanks, Alaska. Collaborations with the one-of-a-kind Alaska Cello Intensive Cello Choir (led by Mary Walters), who, aside from appearing with us on stage, appeared in the lobby before the show as a Cello Flashmob.
March 1, 2017
Release of the Gideon Freudmann, Portland Cello Project, Annalisa Tornfelt collaboration, Spring Breakup: Songs for Alaska.
Led by Gideon Freudmann, Cello Project does a weeklong educational residency and performance on the island of Kaua'i
November 25, 2016
Cello Project celebrates its 10th anniversary by headlining the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland. Special guests include Nancy Ives, Nafisaria Scroggins-Thomas, Chistopher Francis Schiel, DNVN, and Farnell Newton.
Doug Fir Lounge Dance Party Tributes in memory of Prince.
May 20, 2016
Jeff Anthony's last show with Cello Project as a Portland resident.
September 15, 2015
Collaboration with cellist Maya Beiser at Lincoln Hall in Portland.
Summer Festival tour of 6 shows in 5 days (both classical and jam band festivals, a one-off at the Great American Music Hall in SF and a private party for the elite of the elite world of tech entrepeneurs in the SF Financial district), which in itself is unremarkable, save for the fact that Diane had a broken leg, and both of the tour vans broke down at numerous points on the run, and yet no shows were cancelled.
February 28, 2015
That one time the tour van broke down in SLC stranding both Skip and Jeff for 3 days.
Skip vonKuske leads the group on multiple tours focused on "Cello, Metal, and all that Jazz..."
December 13, 2014
Release of the live video of our cover of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" featuring Diane Chaplin.
December 2, 2014
Release date of To E.S., the Elliott Smith inspired LP, including compositions commissioned by composers Rachel Grimes, Nancy Ives, Peter Broderick, Nat Evans famous piece for a "Tea Soloist," and others.
November 22, 2014
Premiere of the video for the PCP cover of Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars." Shot and edited by Reijean Heringlake and Nick Magaurn in the Central Oregon desert in August, 2014. Notable locations for folks traveling through the area: Crack in the Ground, The Sand Dunes and Petrified Forest near Christmas Valley.
Video features Diane Chaplin, Skip vonKuske, Kevin Jackson, and Kelly Quesada.
October 19, 2014
Collaborations with Trampled By Turtles at the Crystal Ballroom.
December 20, 2013
Cello Project headlines the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland for the first time. Guest artists included Laura Gibson and Laura Veirs, and ... the last ever Portland Cello Project ugly holiday sweater contest...
At this show, the group surprise released their now beloved Winter (The Best Nine Months of the Year) EP.
November 25, 2013
Premiere of a video we filmed on tour covering The Fleet Foxes "White Winter Hymnal," from our Winter EP.
National tour with the amazing Jolie Holland.
September 2013-March 2014
The Beck, Brubeck and Bach national tours, including the limited run Beck.Brubeck.Bach tour EP, now out of print.
August 11, 2013
Nancy Ives' first performance with the group.
This was high atop the Fremont Bridge as part of the annual Portland Bridge Pedal celebration.
Fourth Annual Extreme Cello Dance Party Events, including two sold-out nights at the Doug Fir Lounge...
Here's Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) and Christopher Francis Schiel singing Rock Lobster by The B-52s from that series of shows.
January 25-26, 2013
Collaborations with cellist Zoe Keating in Tacoma and Edmonds, Washington.
December 29, 2012
Premiere of the video for "Please Leave a Light On" from Beck's Songreader, featuring Patti King (The Shins). Video by Two Penguins Productions, featuring cellists John Whaley, Douglas Jenkins, Lauren McShane, Kevin Jackson, Galen Cohen, and Anna Fritz.
December 13-15, 2012
Portland Cello Project are the first group to learn, adapt, perform, record and release all 20 songs from Beck's sheet-music-only Songreader album. Guest singers on this record include Jolie Holland, Patti King (The Shins), Adam Shearer (Weinland), Elizabeth Ellison, and Stephfon Bartee (Chanti Darling).
September 22, 2012
Cello Project performs all of Radiohead's OK Computer from start to finish in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the release of that album. Special guests on the show include the entire City of Tomorrow wind quintet, and a male choir led by Stephen Marc Beaudoin.
July 25, 2012
That one time we brought the Extreme Cello Dance Party to the Oregon Zoo stage and inspired a child mosh pit. (Featuring Kaylee Cole, Brian Perez, and many more.)
Here's an image of Brian Perez studying the lyrics to "Gonna Make You Sweat" during the soundcheck.
Third-anniversary Extreme Cello Dance Party (over three nights in Portland, including two sold out nights in a row at the Doug Fir Lounge).
This evening iteration featured Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney), Rebecca Cole, Matt Berger, and Jeff Boyd as a quadruple-threat rhythm section. Looks like Brian Perez, Stephfon Bartee (Chanti Darling), Christopher Francis Schiel, Adam Shearer, and many others singing.
June 16, 2012
Performance on Prairie Home Companion.
Portland cello Project and Alan Sparhawk of Low cover Suicidal Tendencies "Institutionalized" in The Onion AV Club's offices.
May 16, 2012
Jay-Z shares a link about Cello Project's Homage on his Life + Times blog.
May 7, 2012
Collaborations with cellist Ben Sollee in Kentucky.
May 1, 2012
Release date for Homage, Cello Project's hip-hop inspired instrumental album (that also contains tracks by composers such as Osvaldo Golijov).
Cover art for this record was made by Cello Project drummer Rachel Blumberg (Bright Eyes, Decemberists, Norfolk and Western) whose drum stylings -- doubled up with those of Matt Berger (Musee Mecanique, Laura Veirs) to form the infamous Blumberger Drum Duo -- are all over the hip-hop tracks.
April 30, 2012
That one show at Dempsey's Aquarium in Fargo ND where Cello Project went on after midnight, and when they played De Falla's "Danza Del Fuego" and got to the col legno section, a very inebriated (yet educated!) woman in the front row yelled out "Woohoo! Col Legno!"
April 20, 2012
Collaborations with Will Sheff of Okkerville River and Jennifer Holiday at The Schnitz at a private event hosted by Peter Sagal.
Thoroughly enjoyable tours with Emily Wells (and Ollie) to promote the Homage record.
February 25, 2012
The Pantera Cello Project show at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Vulgar Display of Power.
July 4, 2011
Diane Chaplin's first show with Portland Cello Project
June 27, 2011
Performance at the Oregon Bach Festival, which is the same year that Yo-Yo Ma played the festival... possibly... the closest we'll ever come to performing with him :)
January 22, 2011
Premiere of what would go on to be the most popular, viral video from Portland Cello Project to date: Kanye West's "All of the Lights" from a live performance December 17, 2010 at the Crystal Ballroom.
December 17, 2010
Cello Project headlines The Crystal Ballroom in PDX for the first time.
Collaborations with Typhoon, Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), and the PHAME Academy Choir.
July 20, 2010
Cello Project releases Thousand Words, their first entirely instrumental LP, including staples of the PCP repertoire like Gideon Freudmann's "Denmark," and Skip vonKuske's arrangement of "Take 5."
This record started the sound that, though it is still evolving, continues to carry the group to this day. Co-produced by Larry Crane and Douglas Jenkins and recorded all over Portland, in churches, living rooms, TypeFoundry Studios and Jackpot! Studios.
With this record, the group begins a touring schedule that will have them on the road or performing locally almost 100 nights/year for the next three years in all manner of venues, from punk rock clubs (Billings... Fargo... STL... SLC... Chicago's Hideout... we love you...), loading dock parties in NYC (here's looking at you, City Winery...) to beautiful theaters, jazz clubs, symphony halls, and other performing arts centers. This was the year that started the schedule of trying to do community outreach whenever possible on days off, leading the group to residencies in K-12 schools, major universities, senior communities, differently-abled communities, and at one point a women's prison in Eagle River, Alaska.
August 19, 2010
Collaborations with Peter Yarrow and Dan Bern.
August 2, 2010
Cello Project headlines Millennium Park in Chicago with special guests The 1900s.
May 22, 2010
Collaborations with Storm Large, Laura Gibson, and Sallie Ford.
January 25, 2010
On this date, Portland Cello Project was the evening's halftime entertainment as the Portland Trailblazers took on the Los Angeles Clippers. (Blazers lost by 1 due to a clutch shot by Blake Griffin in the final seconds of the game.)
Guest singers John Brophy and Brian Perez sang "Take On Me" among other guilty pleasure dance hits.
Cello Project's first national (and Canada!) tour. The group went out as a quartet (Douglas Jenkins, Anna Fritz, Kevin Jackson, Samantha Kushnick) supporting Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, playing such venues as The Bowery Ballroom and... some hall in Detroit where the Insane Clown Posse were also performing. Jenkins did double-duty on this tour, also playing guitar, trumpet, keys, and cello with Thao's band. The wonderful David Schulz was also a part of this tour.
August 8, 2009
The first EXTREME CELLO DANCE PARTY SHOW (that night titled Extreme Dance Party Edition) at the Doug Fir Lounge. Singers on this first show included Brian Perez, Christopher Francis Schiel, Rebecca Gates (The Spinanes), John Brophy (Baby Ketten Karaoke), Adam Shearer (Weinland), Adrienne Sealy, Matt Sheehy, and Jared Mees and the Grown Children were the opening band.
July 16, 2009
Opened for Andrew Bird in Medford, Oregon.
June 9, 2009
Cello Project releases their second full-length album, and only album to be released on a record label (Kill Rock Stars), The Thao and Justin Power Sessions. 1/3 of the album is classical/instrumental (from Carlos Gardel to Pantera); 1/3 is a collaboration with Portland singer/songwriter Justin Power; 1/3 is a collaboration of San Francisco's Thao Nguyen.
Long forgotten (or mentally blocked out?) trivia about the release shows in June 2009 for this record: anyone who bought this CD at one of the release shows received a very limited edition bonus EP of 4 Justin Timberlake covers (because, why not?). I think they weren't even professional manufactured but were CDRs. And at Portland show at the Aladdin Theatre, Cello Project had guest singers like John Brophy (Baby Ketten Karaoke), Tahoe Jackson and Melanie Valera singing Justin Timberlake with the group.
So, inadvertently, this CD release show for a Kill Rock Stars record was the inspiration for the first Extreme Cello Summertime Dance Party show, which would debut the next month, all because Jenkins got irrationally excited about writing Justin Timberlake covers and folks like John Brophy were excited to sing them.
December 5, 2008
First annual Portland Cello Project Holiday Sweater Spectacular at the Aladdin Theater. Special guests on this first show included Mirah, Jenny Conlee (The Decemberists), Richie Young (Loch Lomond), and The Flash Choir.
First tour (West Coast) opening for Buckethead.
This came about when Bucket's manager somehow got Jenkins' cell phone number and grilled him for an hour about what preventative, preparatory measures the cellists would take to prevent their own bodily harm appearing as main support for this legendary heavy metal guitarist. Properly convinced by the promise of video game themes and heavy metal covers, the group got the gig.
Jenkins was so excited by this opportunity that he purchased an original painting entitled "Chickens" from an artist in Bellingham to give to Buckethead at the first show.
Some other highlights of this tour include telling the audience that Cello Project was going to perform Slayer, but then performing Brittney Spears instead.
August 23, 2008
Performed on LiveWire Radio (and later the next month on KCRW) with The Dandy Warhols.
Looking back, Cello Project was still so new that it's a notable honor that a band as huge as The Dandy Warhols reached out to his ragtag horde of cellists before the group had developed its reputation.
August 8, 2008
Adam Shearer becomes the official emcee of the Portland Cello Project at this sold out show at the Aladdin Theater.
On 8/8/08 Cello Project released their (now out-of-print), self-titled debut CD chocked full of collaborations with Portland musicians such as 3 Leg Torso, Laura Gibson, Loch Lomond, and Cello Project member Anna Fritz.
July 12, 2008
Release party at the Doug Fir Lounge for a now out-of-print Cello Project EP collaborating with Horse Feathers, performing Arvo Paert's "Summa" and a cover of Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive."
The group went through many iterations in these years, finding consistent players, and finding a sound based on a three-part philosophy:
1) To bring the cello places you wouldn't normally hear it. (You name the club in those days and PCP played there: Doug Fir, Holocene, Berbati's Pan, Someday Lounge, The Crystal Ballroom, and every McMenamins in Oregon and Washington that had a stage);
2) To arrange and perform music on the cello you wouldn't normally hear on the instrument (OutKast's Hey Ya at Holocene? Sure, why not?);
3) To bridge musical communities together through collaboration.
November 16, 2007
Collaboration with cellist Matt Haimovitz at the old Borders Books and Music in downtown Portland.
Green Show Residency at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland
May 24, 2007
This sold out show at the Holocene (which included the premiere of Cello Project's cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic"), marked the first of a completely clean run of sold out Portland shows for the group that would last until December 2013.
January 21, 2007
Holocene Nightclub. Skip vonKuske's first show with the group.
January 15, 2007
The collective finally decides on one, immutable name: Portland Cello Project.
The process to decide was facilitated by Gideon Freudmann through a silent email process. Other names in the running included:
8 Cellos [Note: this was years and years before 2Cellos existed, so no connection]
Portland Cello Collective
Portland Cello Collaborative
Portland Cello Project
Bowl full of celli
Rogue Cello Section
Cello section 8
October 15, 2006
Portland Cello Project play their first show at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. The show happened under various names "Cellodarity" (as suggested by Zoe Keating, who, while she was living in Portland for a brief while came to some of the initial rehearsals), "Celli," and "Portland Cello Project."
Nine cellists took part in this first show: Tony Rogers, Kevin Jackson, Gideon Freudmann, Sonja Myklebust, Douglas Jenkins, Jenette Mackie (Polly Panic), Galen Cohen, Justin Kagan, and Megan "Allegra" Mathews.