Cello Soloist Journals by Dave Pierik

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Thank you to Lucky Dog Casino for your wonderful hospitality, and Happy New Year and Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who heard me play at those events, you were a wonderful audience!

If any of the romantic melodies I added to your experience made it an even better night for you than it already was, please let me know. I welcome your comments and testimonials!

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Here’s a photo of me playing cello in Union for a Mother’s Day event a few years ago.

Looking Back

Here are some gig notes from the past few years. Thank you to everyone for being such great audiences!

Repeat Performances

I have performed on multiple occasions at the following locations and events:

2 Summer Gigs

4 hours each, repeating no material.

The first was a benefit tea party held at Heaths & Heathers, with proceeds going to the food bank. As I’ve mentioned earlier I try to play one “Karma” gig a year and this was the one.

The second was a wedding and wedding reception in Mossy Rock.

Wedding Gig at Tacoma Art Museum

Thank you Don G. for hiring me to play in such a wonderful setting. Thank you also to everyone at the Tacoma Art Museum for being such a terrific audience. If there were ever such a thing as a perfect wedding reception, this could very well be it.

Chamber After Hours, Downtown Shelton

Thank you again, Everett Hughes (RIP), for having me play your After Hours celebration again this year. Ditto as all the comments in the following paragraph!
I would like to thank Everett Hughes, E.A. for hiring me to perform for his Mason County Chamber After Hours celebration of 26 years as an Enrolled Agent and tax accountant. Everett is one of the most intelligent, interesting people that I know. The fact that his little office filled up with so many well-wishers so quickly is a tribute to the real following he has developed over time. (entry from 2009- rest in peace, Everett – we all miss you.)

Retirement Party, Capital House Apartments, Olympia WA

Congratulations to Deborah on her retirement after a 30 year career with the State of Washington. I would like to thank Pete Chakos for hiring me to play cello for Deborah’s party, and for all the wonderful refreshments and cake. The Capital House Apartments in Olympia had a wonderful recreation room, carpeted, about 40′ square with an elevated stage and stained glass windows. The acoustics were great, so I didn’t need to bring my amplifier. I played mostly classical the first half or so, and a ’40s-’70s/Beatles mix the second half. There were a couple of requests I will be adding to my repertoire in the near future. Thank you for all the great feedback!

Harmony Hill Summerfest – Xihn’s Dinner

Harmony Hill Retreat Center in Union, WA www.HarmonyHill.org provides cancer patients a rare opportunity to deal with their emotional and psychological challenges together, free of charge. I have known many people who have suffered from cancer who could have benefitted from this invaluable service. Without donations, it would be impossible to offer this service. Certainly not for free.

So it was my privilege to be invited to donate my time to play acoustic cello solos at the Summerfest ’07 Dinner and Auction with Xinh. I would like to thank Xinh for the dinner, Pam and Gary Hanson of Cameo Boutique for the opportunity and the Harmony staff for helping set up the sound. I played contemporary popular music from 1915 to about 1980 and received a great number of compliments and gratitude. That feels good, and so does knowing that event raised $30,000 that night which was matched by the William and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thank you again to everyone involved, including Dale Hubbard of KMAS, who served as Auctioneer.

Little did I know that years later I would be a cancer survivor myself!

More Thank-You’s – again, Shelton H&R, Maple Glen, Alpine Way

Thank you to Shelton Health & Rehabilitation Center for hiring me to play for your Valentine’s party.

Thank you also to Maple Glen for the gig on the 14th. To each of you, and to everyone who showed so much gratitude for my performances, thank you.

I would also like to thank Ron at Alpine Way for continuing to hire me come play there. He tells me the residents keep asking for more.

Some additional cello solo gigs and venue history

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Off the top of my head, I should really add a few other places I’ve played and thank some more people  –

Here are a few of the venues where I’ve played cello gigs over the last few years:

A Greek church in Tacoma for a wedding, the Alderbrook Resort & Spa, for some weddings and I’ve also played in the lounge there, a custom program gig for a Swedish Christmas party at The Clubhouse Restaurant at Alderbrook; multiple churches over the years for weddings, including Shelton Baptist Church, Allyn Historic Church (pictured above) followed by a reception performance at Victor Community Hall; Shelton Farmer’s Market, a celebration of life at Hope Chapel; a graveside celebration of life featuring swing/jazz standards at Shelton Memorial Park; a wine tasting at Walter Dacon Winery; school assemblies at Pioneer Primary and Mary M. Knight; Taylor Station Restaurant for a new year’s Gig (in 2006); The Pavilion and Little Creek Casino for political events; Lynch Creek Floral, The Shelton-Mason County Journal and Case By Case Jewelers for First Friday/Holiday Magic; an “unplugged” wedding on a small island at Timberlakes; a historic cemetery dedication for the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Washington;

Dave Pierik’s musical background

The reason I’m able to perform unaccompanied cello solos in so many genres, for so many different audiences is really just a matter of momentum. From age 4 music has been part of my life and I just never quit. That said, music is not what I do for a living.

Professionally, I have been an award-winning advertising representative, and I am a big supporter of small media, especially local newspapers. I have been working in my chosen field since 1989. Newspaper ads sold and designed by me have won WNPA (Washington Newspaper Publisher’s Association) awards, including a few third places, a couple of seconds and I’ve recently won a first-place award or two. More importantly, I make a living in the advertising business. My customers are happy, because most of the time, what I do helps them to make more money. I have a degree in Communications, Advertising Option from the University of Idaho, where I studied Public Relations, Journalism, Media Ethics, The Advertising Agency, and Media Planning among other things. I was also a member of Ad Club and PRSSA. I was a paid Arts & Entertainment writer for the college newspaper, the Argonaut. I was a volunteer for the college/community radio station KUOI FM Moscow, 89.3.

At the University of Idaho, I minored in music (cello performance).  I got to meet jazz legend Lionel Hampton in person while I was an A&E writer, when Mr. Hampton visited the U. of I. School of Music. It became the Lionel Hampton School of Music from that point forward.

What besides cello do I play?

In my off-time, I was also the lead singer of a folk/comedy band (with my friend Dave Wascher) called The Forks (think of a toned-down Jack Black of Tenacious D, only circa 1988). We even played a wedding reception once. As a classical bassist, I played in the Washington-Idaho Symphony (“Eye Wash”).  I had started playing the electric bass in high school, so I was confident. My brother played drums and our friend John sang and played guitar. Man, we rocked hard. We played all our own songs too. We called ourselves a lot of things, from “Destiny” to “Black Velvet,” but we didn’t go anywhere. We didn’t even try to, we were just playing for fun. I learned to play drums and guitar a bit too, because we used to trade off instruments. All of us had paper routes, which earned us money for our instruments (as well as BMX bikes, and skateboards).

Musically, I played cello with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, then the Portland Youth Philharmonic Preparatory Orchestra (under Jacob Avshalomov), starting at an early age (I don’t remember exactly). I took third place in a youth cello solo contest at Portland State University. While still in high school, I became a section cellist in the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra, and was stand partner with one of my teachers, Karren Rhea. As a member of the Pops Players quartet as well as a family trio with my mom and brother, I played gigs at various businesses, restaurants and events. Once in college, I played with the Mt. Hood Community College Chamber Orchestra, which was a class also organized as a club by our instructor, Dr. Larry Zgonc (principal bassist with the Oregon Symphony). Dr. Zgonc also helped me locate and purchase the cello I own to this day, but that’s another story. As a club, the MHCC Chamber Orchestra performed locally to raise money, which we used to tour (“TUR!”) to Vancouver BC, where we played at the World Pavillion of Expo ’86. It was Dr. Zgonc who recommended I study under cellist Dr. William Wharton at the University of Idaho (where I minored in music, cello performance). I played cello in the U of I orchestra as well as chamber music in the Dorian and Syringa festivals held there in Moscow, Idaho. I also played bass viol in the Washington-Idaho Symphony.

After graduation, I continued to play with the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra, helping transform the advertising and printing of the programs as a board member and VP of Marketing at one point, and becoming co-principal cellist for a short time. Now an adult and a graduate, I still wanted to learn more, and spent my own money (something like $40 an hour, which was a heck of a lot at the time, but I was actually getting a deal and paying too little) to take private lessons from Jerry Bobbe, former cello prodigy and soloist for the WGN Symphony in Chicago (I hope I got that right). As a cellist, I learned a great deal from Jerry, in part because I paid such close attention to get my money’s worth. It was Jerry who really turned me on to Bach’s Six Suites for the cello, and gave me the courage to develop my solo skills.

When we first moved to Shelton, I played in the pit orchestra for a couple of high school productions, and began teaching cello, bass and violin lessons with ear training, music theory and advanced techniques. Over time, I developed a program of cello solos for a few local gigs (Tea & Crumpets, Hoodsport Marina Cafe, a wedding rehearsal dinner reception, Shelton and Harstine Farmer’s Markets, Alpine Way Retirement Center, Old Town Hobby).

I recently went back to school, earning degrees in Multimedia Communications and Web Design and becoming a Certified Digital Photographer among other things along the way, from Peninsula College.

The older I get, the better I get. What I tell people who compliment my cello playing may sound humble, but it is true. I say, “I started playing the cello when I was in the fourth grade. I was never greatly talented, and I wasn’t one of those people who practiced eight hours a day. My mom had started teaching me piano before I even started school, and gave me Hot Wheels to reward me (I think she started me at 4 or so). She also paid for private piano, cello and clarinet lessons for me all the way through high school, even when I didn’t practice. The only reason I play well is really because I just never quit. I wasn’t great. I didn’t work hard. But I started music early, and I never quit.”

I had a paper route in Gresham, Oregon for about six or seven years back in the early eighties, when newspaper carriers still personally collected from their customers each month. I met a lot of people, and learned a lot of things talking to people on my route. Being somewhat interested in music, I would talk to people about that. Often I would hear people say things like, “I used to play the bassoon (or the ____, fill in the blank), but when I got a job (had a kid, was broke, again, fill in the blank) I had to quit.” It was so sad. Here is an area of beauty in people’s lives, and our society cares nothing about its demise. Art and music seem to be almost taboo in American society, or so it would seem. The same seems to be true for other creative endeavors too. For me, I came out of my experiences with an early inner resolve not to quit, no matter what happened.

It all happened.

I went to college, got a job, got a house, lost a job, got a new job, rented a tiny house, got married, sold my half of the first house and bought a bigger house, bought things, became so broke we almost lost the bigger house, worked our way out of trouble, partnered in a game store that failed, lost relatives, gained a daughter. I even survived cancer.

Throughout everything, I have always kept playing cello on a regular basis (admittedly less regularly at some times than others, but I’ve never sold my cello or quit entirely). I have always told myself, “I have too much time and money invested in this to throw it away.” It’s true, and also I have been able to make a small amount of money teaching and performing. After all these years, playing the cello is fun for me again, maybe more fun than it ever has been for me. I wonder now, whether if I had tried harder when I was younger, if I would play at a higher level now. But I know, too, that many of my peers who pushed themselves (or were pushed) extra hard, quit. They were better cellists than me then, but now I’m a lot better than they were. Certainly if any of them picked up a cello now, they wouldn’t be able to play very well, if at all. What a waste.

So that’s my secret. Don’t worry about being perfect at what you do. Just don’t quit.



Over 24 HOURS of Repertoire? Yes it is true.

I played my first gigs in Portland, Oregon in the 1980’s. I’ve never stopped really –
From that time until now, I’ve performed live unaccompanied cello solos in the following musical styles:
Classical, Jazz, Swing, Light Rock, Christmas, Wedding, Pop, Celtic, Country, Folk, Blues, Original Compositions/Arrangements, Improv, and more.
I’ve arranged and performed music inspired by so many genres because different audiences want different music for different kinds of events, moods and age groups.

Out of all of it, the most popular requests I get are for Big Band / Swing (the kind of music you would hear Frank Sinatra perform), and Light Rock (a lot of it from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, including the Beatles to Sting and Simon & Garfunkel). I take a lot of requests – which I then permanently add to my repertoire.

Thank you!

Dave Pierik

davepierik at gmail dot com