¤ Brief biography
¤ Concert schedule
¤ Solo cello
¤ The Bach Duo
¤ The Montpellier Duo
¤ The Tivoli Trio
¤ Nella and Kneale
| Nella and Kneale
In many ways the 1950s were a high water mark for jazz, especially in America. After the demise of the big bands, and the fresh winds that blew from the be-bop revolution of the 1940s, a period of consolidation followed. Informed by the history of the music and by high levels of technical mastery among the survivors of the previous decade, a body of small group music developed that is still, over half a century later,
known as modern jazz. In its day, this music achieved the kind of popularity and media attention
enjoyed by rock and pop music today.
The music drew on original compositions and harmonically rich ‘standard’ songs, forming a core repertoire which remains central to the music today. It is this music that inspires Nella and Kneale in their - for the jazz world - unusual duo of cello and piano. Many of the pieces they perform were originally designed to be sung, and the cello is ideally suited to bring out the best of these memorable tunes.
Nella Hunkins was born in New York and studied with Leonard Rose and Janos Starker. Associate principal cellist with the Cleveland Orchestra and member of the Casals Festival, she has performed solo, chamber and orchestral concerts throughout the world. Her 1980 appointment to the Music Hochschule in Berlin led to playing, touring and recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, and as a member of chamber groups such as Philharmonia Ensemble Berlin, the Scharoun Ensemble and the Kreuzberger String Quartet.
For much of the last decade Nella was principal cellist with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra; a highlight of this period was playing with Gil Shaham a number of times in the Butterfly Lovers violin concerto, in Singapore and on tour in the USA, Europe and China. She also has especially fond memories of performing alongside the singer Bobby McFerrin in Vivaldi’s Double Cello Concerto!
In 2009 she moved to Winchcombe, and is now active in chamber music and teaching. Recently she has also been enjoying exploring the jazz repertoire with Kneale Johnson.
Kneale Johnson enjoyed a successful career as an engineer in the oil industry while expanding and maintaining his enthusiasm for jazz playing. Although at school classical violin had been his main instrument, when he was introduced to the music of Louis Armstrong he took up the trumpet, later flirting with the double bass. All this time he kept up occasional piano practice and, finding himself in a Middle East oil camp with a piano but no-one to play it, resolved to concentrate on developing his jazz piano skills.
Like many jazz musicians, Kneale is obsessed with the music of J S Bach, and it was at a Bach concert in the Cotswolds that he first met Nella. Her enthusiasm for jazz led to their playing together and the formation of the duo ‘Nella and Kneale’.