Seventeen-year-old Maurice “Maury” Cohn began his solo career with a bang during Saturday’s performance of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony (KGS).
Cohn, a senior at Galesburg High School (GHS), was undoubtedly the highlight of the night and arguably the best soloist this season, performing “Concerto No. 1 for Violoncello” by Camille Saint-Saëns.
“My favorite part was when Maurice was playing,” junior Harrison Graham said. “It was beautiful. That kid pays so much attention to what he is doing.”
Cohn received a standing ovation from the audience and showed off his ability in an encore solo of the “Prelude to Bach’s Suite No. 3” for the cello.
“It was a really cool experience,” Cohn said after the concert. “There’s nothing quite like it.”
Cohn, who is planning to attend a musical conservatory in the fall, is likely to improve even more over the coming years and should be a returning soloist for years to come.
Overall, the symphony was uplifting, showing both new pieces as well as classics, helping ring in the coming spring.
“I have come out of it refreshed and reinvigorated,” sophomore Alex Burik said.
KGS finished the concert with the memorable Sixth Symphony from Ludwig van Beethoven.
“It was a pretty cool experience for me to hear the Beethoven in its entirety live,” freshman Clinton Davis said.
Overall, this performance was one of the best so far this season, due mainly to the excellent performance from Cohn.
Lifelong cello love
While most kids don’t pick up an instrument until they are well into grade school, Cohn started to take cello lessons when he was four.
“I fell in love with everything,” Cohn said. “I really liked the teacher — that’s what did it for me.”
Cohn has been taking lessons from Associate in Applied Music and KGS Principal cellist, Carolyn Suda, ever since.
Over the years Cohn, whose parents Steve Cohn and Nancy Eberhardt have been Knox professors since 1984, has maintained a love for music and the cello for many different reasons.
“If you don’t change your reasons you end up quitting,” Cohn said. “On any different day your reasons for practicing might be different. … Everyone that I meet through music is interesting; all the musicians I know are really interesting people and I love spending time with them. That’s a big factor for me. … Being able to use this language to talk about different things, which I think is really cool, is a big factor as well.”
While Saturday was his first solo performance in the Orpheum Theatre, Cohn is no stranger to the stage since first joining the symphony his sophomore year.
“Playing with people who have played this music a lot and know a lot of the tricks of how to do things is a great experience,” Cohn said.
Under the directorship of Professor of Music Bruce Polay, Cohn has been able to improve his playing because of his straightforward style in letting the members know what he wants in a performance.
“I’m very privileged to play with KGS in any capacity as a section player and now as a soloist,” Cohn said. “It’s not something that a lot of people get to do and I’m just very thankful that I get to do it.”
Before Saturday’s performance Cohn had his fair share of nerves.
“The nerves are more about the new setting,” Cohn said, since the song was ingrained in his head after playing it for the past few years.
After his graduation from GHS Cohn hopes to get into a music conservatory and complete a double degree program.
“I love Knox, but I’ve grown up here and my parents teach here. I think I might explore a new community, but not in any way because I don’t love Knox,” Cohn said.
Cohn hopes to keep performing the cello for as long as he can.
“It’s always an enriching experience no matter in any capacity you do it,” Cohn said. “Spending time in the minds of these geniuses, of Bach and Beethoven and all these people, can’t be anything but positive.”