Nearly 200 IUSD cellists in grades four through six gather for inaugural ‘Cello Extravaganza’

There’s always room for cello — or, in this case, many, many cellos.

In what was billed as the largest cello orchestra in the country, nearly 200 IUSD cellists in grades four, five and six gathered at Woodbury Elementary School on Saturday morning to build their technical skills, play a few songs and share their passion for the violin’s larger cousin.

IUSD’s staff of string specialists organized the first-ever “Cello Extravaganza,” which featured Ian McKinnell, a member of the Pacific Symphony, sharing his expertise as a special guest clinician.

Advanced students arrived at around 8:30 a.m. to work on a Mozart piece with McKinnell, who then advised the younger musicians at around 9:45 a.m. Following a performance by the more advanced players, all 197 cellists played a tune known as “French Folk Song” with their parents in attendance.

“Because the cello is so highly specialized, we wanted to give the students an opportunity to receive instruction from one of the top teachers and performers of our county,” said string specialist Dianna Gray. “We also wanted to give our younger, less experienced cellists a chance to know what it is like to perform with more advanced student cellists.”

“Today, we hope that all students will be inspired by the true greatness of their instrument and its importance in the symphony orchestra,” Gray said.

IUSD’s music specialist program for grades four through six is made possible by the Irvine Company, which has pledged more than $20 million over 10 years for enhanced art, music and science.

So what do 197 cellos sound like? Check out our brief video above.