Local Musician Brings Symphony To Children

By: Lindsay Shively Email
By: Lindsay Shively Email

Most kids don't get to the symphony very often...but one local musician brings the symphony to them.

Dr. Steven Elisha seems to always be with his cello. "Someone said to me once that I grew around the cello," Elisha admits. "It's like a tree growing through a fence." And during his eight years in Topeka, he's branched out.

He's the director of strings studies at Washburn University, He conducts the Topeka Youth Symphony, and makes up one half of the Elaris duo with his wife.

At the 2008 Kansas Governor's Arts Awards, they won artists of the year and performed the first song they ever played together. "I like to tell people we fell in love somewhere between the first and last movement."

"It was a great honor. We just do what we do and we don't think anything about it except what we're doing and we always want to do it to the highest caliber."

But it's Elisha's passion for children that led to one of his favorite activities, Mr. Cello's Stories. It's a program Elisha performs for kids across the country. "It is a fun-loving program involving improvisation, music, and story-telling." And Elisha says kids provide an honest audience.

"Because they're so genuine, they have an immediate emotional reaction and they haven't learned to cover up things. When we bring music into a young life, that opens doors that may never be opened into adulthood. The arts are a dwindling thing and we need to support a new audience."

And though all of Elisha's activities keep him on the move, he describes it as a labor of love. "Music is what unites all of us. I travel around the world and the universal language is music. It's a powerful thing we're all a part of and that is exciting."

Elisha's cello got the name Mr. Cello when a flight attendant insisted on a name to put on the the cello's airplane ticket...and that's what she came up with. Yes, the instrument is too valuable to stow so as is common practice, whenever Elisha flies, the cello flies next to him.

If you'd like Mr. Cello to come perform for you or want to contact Dr. Steven Elisha for any other reason, you can contact the Washburn University music department.


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