Dueling Cellos

Cross Creek sophomore vies to retain his seat as cello chair of Richmond County’s high school orchestra

Donald Davis prepares for his cello audition

Tashay Livingston

Donald Davis prepares for his cello audition

While most Cross Creek students went to friends’ houses, visited family or spent hours trying to figure out the new technology they got for Christmas, sophomore Donald Davis spent his holiday break pouring all his sweat and tears into practicing his cello piece, Air with Variations.

All that practice was in preparation for the fierce competition he faced Feb. 25 when he tried to maintain his position as cello chair of the Richmond County High School Symphony Orchestra.

Davis competed against more than a half dozen cello players from other high schools in the county who also want the position. The day after the competition, Davis said he felt pretty good about the way he performed, but acknowledged the pressure that was on him.

“I did all right at the audition, but not like I wanted to,” Davis said. “You’re nerves and stuff – you get jittery before you start playing.”

Davis said he won’t know if he retained his position until next week.

Davis has been playing instruments for more than six years. At first he began with the violin, but it just wasn’t his calling. He then had to choose another instrument to play and he decided on the cello.

There are only six cello chairs, and many high school students from all over the county come to compete for one of those six chairs.

Davis feels the cello is a special instrument.

“The feeling I get when I play the cello is peaceful,” Davis said. “When I play it makes me feel musically inclined because all the skills that I have learned.”

Philip Rhodes, director of the orchestra, said there are approximately 60 students in the orchestra. Six of them are from Cross Creek, he said.

Rhodes said the cello is a unique instrument because it closely resembles the human voice in range and timbre.

“The cello is a beautiful instrument,” he said. “It is a rich and varied tone, and (has) a wide range from its lowest to highest note.”

Davis said he is glad he decided on the cello as his instrument.

“I am very glad me and the cello have such a great relationship,” Davis said. “But that is probably because I picked up skills very easily.”