WILLIAMSBURG — Tunes in Town is an occasional series that will catch up with some of the local musical talents that call Hampton Roads home.
Ryan Lowe was six when a cellist visited his school and he was sold. Not having a cello of his own to play, Lowe got creative and tried building his own cello with wood and rubber bands, just to give himself the opportunity to play.
“I just couldn’t wait to play. My mother asked the cellist from my school if I could take lessons from her and she said ‘absolutely not, he’s too young’. I was this out-of-control six-year-old little boy and my mom begged her to teach me.”
The teacher finally caved. During that first class, he was rambunctious and didn’t listen as the teacher had expected, but Lowe was hooked and his parents were all in on his dream.
“I was supported by my parents when they bought me a cello. They let me practice, my mother would be asleep in bed and she wouldn’t mind if I practiced until 2 a.m. It was not a cheap hobby. My dad would drive me from orchestra rehearsal to lessons to auditions and performances. They always took a huge part of their time out to support me.” Lowe said.
Before graduating high school, Lowe was in roughly 16 different ensembles with different rehearsal schedules. While working with the cello, Lowe has been able to perform in most genres of music.
Growing up in Wales, “the land of music and poetry” according to Lowe, he was never forced into practicing. He developed a love for every aspect of training to be a professional musician.
“I was in the perfect place for loving music. I’m one of many Welsh cellists and musicians who benefitted from being in a country that loved the arts,” Lowe said.
Lowe has performed in some of the most famous venues around the globe, but there was one performance he won’t forget: that time he played for the late Queen Elizabeth II.
“It was an outdoor performance at a museum ship unveiling where there was a canopy over the stage. Being in the U.K., of course, it rained that day in London. The rain came in sideways and as I was playing, it soaked my cello,” Lowe recalled.
Lowe’s notable accomplishments include playing at Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall.
After moving to the United States and settling in Williamsburg, Lowe became a full-time cellist and also teaches cello lessons on the side.
When asked for advice to the next generation of cello players, Lowe is quick to fall back on the importance of practicing.
“Having a level of commitment and really understanding what that level of commitment sets you apart. It takes work and dedication. You can’t just show up and expect to perform a piece of music just by looking at it once. Pay attention to detail and find time to practice your craft,” Lowe says.
While he hasn’t put his own compositions out in the world yet, Lowe is involved in cello for the long haul.
“Recordings are the hardest because they take the most work. A live performance is very different to a recording where you have this final product that everyone can critique. It’s a bit of a different art when it comes to recording,” Lowe said.
That said, a cello recording could be in Lowe’s future. Overall, he just wants to continue to play his instrument.
“I just want to keep performing and do more solo repertoire. It’s a process that is never over and I can always improve. It’s a lifelong process to get better and keep improving. It’s a self-desire to improve and be the best cellist I can be.”