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Infinite Variety

Program Description

An Infinite Variety performance will have everything from classical to jazz to pop to heavy metal to new music compositions and completely improvised works, all in an order as random as the weather of the Pacific Northwest. (I.e., if you don't like what's happening... just wait five minutes because it will change!) With over a thousand pieces of music in the repertoire to draw from, no two shows are alike, and every Infinite Variety musical journey engages the audience with clear, humorous and insightful narration from the stage to explain the musical choices that are made on each particular evening.

"Infinite Variety" has become the informal title of the prototypical Cello Project performance that has built the group's reputation over the last ten years. The primary sources of the phrase (Pablo Casals and Shakespeare) relate so closely to the primary philosophies of Portland Cello Project: to bridge musical communities of all backgrounds together through the cello, and to find the timelessness and beauty in all musical forms whether or not they were initially imagined for the cello. (More info and the exact quotes below.)


This performance happens usually with 5-8 cellists and a rhythm section and sometimes even some brass depending on who is around and available. The rhythm section and brass play on about half the program while the rest is the pure cello ensemble. Cellists on these programs typically include improvising cellist Skip vonKuske (Vagabond Opera), classical virtuoso Diane Chaplin (Colorado Quartet), and the shows are almost always led Douglas Jenkins (Cello Project Artistic Director). 

Technical Notes

Hospitality, tech rider, stage plot and input list are available upon request. 

Cello Project works with some of the finest sound engineers in the Pacific Northwest (and travel with their own FOH and frequently their own monitor tech). As with all Cello Project productions, Portland Cello Project’s production team is happy to work with venues individually in brainstorming ways to make the technical needs of the program fit with the wide variety of technical realities of venues. 

As this is the quintessential Cello Project performance that has been produced everywhere from symphony halls to festivals to street parties and punk rock clubs, it's one have a lot of experience being flexible bending the rules on to fit unique environments.

Further notes on the title "Infinite Variety"

The most obvious connection comes from a quote from cellist Pablo Casals that Yo-Yo Ma commonly refers to (indeed, we wouldn't have known this quote without hearing it from Yo-Yo Ma first). Casals described Bach's music as having "infinite variety."

"In Bach we find infinite gradations of musical allusion: the simple joy of the people, the popular dances, the elegance, the perfume, the loving contemplation of nature and the rest. ... All this infinite variety cannot very well be translated just by the writing of notes, and yet it is through these notes that we must reconstruct all the author's state of mind! Are there any set rules for this re-creating process? I cannot think of any." Conversations with Casals. J. Ma. Corredor. Trans. Andre Mangeot. 1957.

Bach captured all walks of life and cultures that surrounded him and brought them together, and the process of bringing such music to life is infinitely complex to the point that there are no rules. We simply search for the essence of music and life in the notes we play, but always through this mindset that respects the infinite variety of both sound and culture. 

And the other quote is from Antony and Cleopatra:

"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale

Her infinite variety" II.ii.271-2.

There is something in the best of all music, regardless of its history or associations, that has an intoxicating timelessness, from Bach to Coltrane to Radiohead to Elliott Smith to Kanye West. Sometimes shifting the context slightly while seeking out this timeless quality is all that's needed to bridge communities together.

More Info

For more information contact Gregg Little at New Frontier Touring: 




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