Thursday, May 9, 2019 Ifetayo Ali Takes Boston!

Ifetayo Ali
(Julie Ingelfinger)

Ifetayo Ali Takes Boston!


The young cellist Ifetayo Ali enchanted a sold-out Calderwood Hall at the Gardner in her Boston debut this past Sunday, along with able and intuitive pianist, Lorena Tecu.  Regal and poised, Ali is a phenom from Chicago who started Suzuki violin as a toddler under her musician mother’s tutelage, switched to cello at ~age 4, and first concertized at about age 6 years. She has much under her belt already, including her status as first-place laureate for 2017 in the Sphinx Competition Junior Division and solo engagements with various US-wide orchestras. She plays a gorgeous Peter Staszel cello with a focused yet rapturous look in her eyes. It is hard to believe she is only 16, given her mature interpretations (and perhaps her hair, currently a starkly-stripped white).  Romanian-born Tecu, a locally and internationally known collaborative pianist, enhanced the concert with her sensitively intelligent musicianship.

In Bach’s Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello in G Major, written in around 1720 (BWV 1007) Ali’s mastery of the phrasing—nuanced, sensitive and definitive—set the tone for a memorable concert. The prelude sounded as the exquisite tone poem it is, though with an occasional low-note growl.  Ali’s version of the Allemande, sweet and tentative, with its theme and variations, wafted delicately. The Courante, rushed and mobile, flowed well, followed by the majestic, serious Sarabande. The two minuets contrasted, and defined, left us wanting more, and the final Gigue hornpiped with energy.


African American composer and conductor Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson (1932-2004), named for the British-African poet and composer, similarly brought multifaceted arts to fruition. Ali chose the last of his Lamentations-Black Folk Song Suite for solo cello, written in 1973—Perpetual Motion, which recalls Bach in a novel voice.  Ali’s version stunned with its verve, shaping and tone.

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