Don’t stop the music: Cho performs as principal cellist


Not many can say they’ve been the co-principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and principal of the Missouri All State Orchestra and have performed as a soloist with the St. Louis Civic Orchestra.

But Eric Cho, senior, can.

Cho has been playing for seven or eight years and has been able to grow as a musician by practicing everyday and joining the higher level orchestras.

“You just need to keep challenging yourself and that’s how you keep growing as a person, no matter what level you are,” Cho said. “[If] you always have a challenge, you can go further.”
The audition process for the higher level orchestras is often similar in each orchestra, Cho said.

“They’re all blind, so the people that are judging it don’t know if you’re a guy or a girl, how old you are,” he said. “They just know how well you play.”

James Nacy, director of orchestras, has judged Cho’s playing in the past. He said Cho’s playing is in a different league compared to most other cellists.

“My impression when I hear Eric is that he sounds very different from the other cellists that are auditioning,” Nacy said. “It’s just a so much more mature approach to playing and a more confident approach.”

Nacy refused to compare him to other principal players from the past, but he said Cho is extremely advanced with great focus.

“I think I can say that in my career, I’ve only had a very very small handful of players that are of that caliber,” Nacy said. “You don’t get a lot of players at that level.”
Nacy said Cho’s playing speaks to the audience.

“He’s a very expressive player,” Nacy said. “So, his playing always says a lot, it’s always very heartfelt.”

Continuing that idea, Cho said playing his instrument is about expressing himself and communicating what can’t be communicated verbally.

“If you’re a chamber musician or a soloist or an orchestra member, there’s always someone that you have to speak to; there’s an audience,” Cho said. “The audience isn’t always the same- it can be people that are very interested in classical music or it can just be like preschoolers that are listening to music for the first time.”

He said this is the reason it is important to convey a message to the audience. For Cho, playing cello is a way to connect with the audience.

“Since music is a universal language, everyone understands it,” Cho said.