Born in New York, Brant Taylor began cello studies at the age of 8. His varied career includes solo appearances and collaborations with leading chamber musicians throughout North America, Europe and Asia, as well as orchestral, pedagogical and popular music activities. In Chicago, his recital appearances include the Dame Myra Hess Concerts, First Monday Concerts, Rush Hour Concerts at St. James Cathedral, the Ravinia Festival’s Rising Stars recital series and live radio broadcasts from the studios of WFMT. He has appeared regularly with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and on the CSO’s contemporary chamber music series MusicNOW.
In 2002, he began a seven-year association with the pop-music group Pink Martini. With this eclectic ensemble, he has appeared on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Show With David Letterman,” at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in venues ranging from nightclubs to concert halls across North America. He can be heard on Pink Martini’s 2006 release, Hey Eugene.
What work are you most looking forward to performing this season, and why?
It’s difficult to name just one in such an interesting season. Here are three. Each is a great piece which is not played as often as it should be: Britten’s War Requiem (performed in November), and Sibelius’ Four Legends and Janáček’s Sinfonietta (both to be performed in April).
Why did you choose your instrument?
My elementary school started stringed instruments a year before winds and brass, so the earliest choices I had were violin, viola, cello and bass. The sound of the cello appealed to me — that, and the fact that I was guaranteed to get to sit down whenever I played. I came home and said, “Mom, I want to play the cello.”
Offstage, I like to:
Teach, cook, bike, travel.
With which other musician would you most want to play a duet, and why?
This is another difficult choice. The short list would include Joni Mitchell, Brad Mehldau and Rush (the band I revered throughout my childhood). But I’ll choose someone who has written more songs I admire than any other living person: Paul McCartney.
Describe an unforgettable musical moment (as a performer or as a listener) you had as a young musician.
I went to the Interlochen Arts Camp one summer when I was in high school. During the first week, the orchestra played Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony. I had never heard the piece before and was moved both by the beautiful music and by the quality of the playing of this orchestra of students assembled from all over the world. I hadn’t known before that music could be “like that.” Once I did, my decision of whether to try to pursue a future in music was made much easier.
HOMETOWN: Though I wasn’t born here, Chicago is home more than anywhere else.
YEAR JOINED THE CSO: 1998.
EDUCATION: The Eastman School of Music and Indiana University.