Soloist Spotlight: Kurt Behnke

Cellist Kurt Behnke is an active performer and teacher. A frequent participant at important music festivals from Aspen to Austria, Kurt enjoys a busy freelancing career, playing with several New York and New Jersey regional orchestras and chamber ensembles.

On Friday, January 24th, at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Kurt will join TCS to perform Darius Milhaud’s Cello Concerto No. 1.


TCS: How did you come to choose your instrument?

KB: Dad played violin, Mom played piano. They needed a cellist for chamber music and a trio was formed.

TCS: What has been the funniest onstage moment you've seen or have experienced?

KB: After an opera, the conductor walked forward during his onstage bow and fell into the orchestra pit right in front of me! Fortunately, he floated down on the scrim (cloth) at the edge of the stage, and no one (or their instrument!) were at the place where he landed.

TCS: What sets TCS apart from other orchestras?

KB: It is of course an inspiration to be part of a self-governing group which provides the opportunity for every member to be featured in a concert as soloist or composer.

TCS: Who are your favorite musicians, past and/or present?

KB: Janos Starker has been a major role model as a cellist -- his art, aesthetics, and intellect.

TCS: What is your ideal day of practice?

KB: One where I can do some things on the cello significantly better after practicing than I could at the start of the day.

TCS: Why did you choose to perform this piece with TCS?

KB: Darius Milhaud's life, art, and philosophy are compelling and attractive, and are exemplified beautifully by this concerto.

TCS: What are some things you learned while preparing? Did anything about the piece surprise you?

KB: Though I know I shouldn't have been surprised, the rigorous and learned compositional techniques employed in such a seemingly "casual" work have been fascinating and instructive.

TCS: Do you have a favorite recording of this piece?

KB: Starker is amazing here, as ever elsewhere. He has good fun with the wry humor of this work.


Join us as TCS welcomes cellist Kurt Behnke on Friday, January 24th, at 8pm, at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music at 450 W. 37th Street, performing Darius Milhaud’s Cello Concerto No. 1.