Cellist applies lifetime of passion to music

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Inbal Segev is a guest musician during this year’s Amadeus Festival, put on by the Glacier Symphony Orchestra. (Dario Acosta photo)

There was never a question that Inbal Segev was meant to have a cello in her hand.

At age 4, her mother tried starting her on piano lessons, but that didn’t stick. The next year she tried cello, and just a year later she was on stage performing Bach in Jerusalem.

“At five I started the cello and stuck with it,” Segev told the Pilot. “It was always like, yeah, I was talented, and I made quick progress from the beginning, and it was always like, ‘It’s going to happen. You’re a cellist.’ There was never something else, anything else that I really wanted to do.”

Segev will take the stage in Whitefish this week for Festival Amadeus. She performed Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 with the Festival Amadeus Orchestra last night after press time at the Performing Arts Center, and she’ll play trios by Beethoven, Bernstein and Dvorák with Tim Fain and Alon Goldstein Friday at the O’Shaughnessy Center. The performance beings at 7:30 p.m.

Segev’s impressive resume includes performances with acclaimed orchestra, like the Berlin and Israel Philharmonics, and a number of debut performances of commissioned works by the likes of Avner Dorman, Timo Andres, Gity Razaz, Dan Visconti and more.

She holds degrees from the Julliard School of Music and Yale University, and lives in New York with her husband and three children.

Though her mother was a pianist, Segev said she’d actually wanted to be a cellist.

“I like to say she was a closet cellist,” she said with a laugh. “She really wanted to play the cello, but she was given a piano and then it was too late so she passed it on to me. And I really loved the sound of the cello from the beginning, from hearing it on the radio.”

After performing the prelude from Bach’s first cello suite at 5-years-old, Segev continued her studies in Israel and worked her way up to her first concerto performance at age 15, performing Dvorák’s Concerto in B Minor with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra.

The Haydn concerto she played last night was also one of the pieces she tackled in her teenage years, and it’s one she still enjoys performing.

“I love this piece. It’s very joyful and light. So many of our cello pieces are dark, which I love too, but it’s just a contrast,” she said. “Even the slow movement, it’s uplifting. Really uplifting.”

While she enjoys playing concertos, especially ones like the Haydn with a smaller chamber orchestra, Segev said there’s also something special about trio performances like the one she’ll do on Friday night.

“It’s not about me, me, me. It’s not like I’m the star, it’s about the music. It’s not about virtuosity really, it’s like a conversation between three people,” she said.

In addition to performing the classic repertoire pieces from some of the most famous composers, Segev said she’s started turning her focus to bringing new music to the stage.

“I’ve done more and more commissioning of new music lately, and I’m really loving it, because it’s really the future. You can play Dvorák or Haydn again, and they’re gorgeous and people love them, but they’re 200 years old,” she said. “Just to create something with a living composer is something different.”

Along with performing full-time across the world, Segev also runs a YouTube channel with nearly 5,300 subscribers and 80 videos.

The channel is a way to share her music while also teach lessons to a broad audience, she said.

“I’m really happy I can give back that way,” she said.

Performing on stage for a living is a constant challenge, Segev says, but it’s also very fulfilling.

Getting to communicate with audiences and continually learn and interpret great works is what keeps her going.

“It’s like reading a great book for a living, how fun is that? It’s finding your own way and interpreting it,” she said. “It’s challenging, and it really never gets easier, which is good. You keep growing, and you have to, otherwise you won’t have a career.”

Glacier Symphony’s Festival Amadeus includes musical performances through Aug. 11. Tickets are available at 406-407-7000 or at www.gscmusic.org/festival-amadeus.

For more information about Segev, visit www.inbalsegev.com.

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