Behind the Scenes with Cellist Gabrielle Peck

by Michelle Hoffman

We are continually amazed and delighted when we hear about the many interests and hobbies our musicians pursue successfully outside of MYSO.

One such musician is eleven-year-old cellist Gabrielle Peck. Gabby, as she is known, auditioned into MYSO’s String Orchestra in 2016 after having studied the cello for only seven months. In 2017-18 she was String Orchestra South’s principal cellist and was named winner of String Orchestra’s concerto competition. Gabby plays in Sinfonia this year.

Gabby studies the cello with Ravenna Helson, and previously with Roza Borisova. However, she began music with piano, and at age four, the bayan (like an accordion, but with buttons instead of keys). Gabby still studies piano and bayan with internationally-acclaimed bayan virtuoso Stas Venglevski.

Gabby studies music theory and enjoys composing music for the cello, bayan, and piano, especially for the combination of all three instruments so she can play trios with her sisters. She tells us that she is inspired to write pieces by performances she hears and “by the weird things her cats do.”

Gabby also loves musical theatre and is currently rehearsing Madagascar, Jr., with the West Allis Players.

Possibly the most interesting aspect of this serious cellist’s life is her involvement in the Brew City Micro Bruisers, Milwaukee’s first junior roller derby team. “Heartless,” as Gabby is known in the roller derby world, has worked her way up to nearly the highest level in only one year, and enjoys the Micro Bruisers with her sister Charlotte, a.k.a. “Char-mageddon.”

One of her happiest and proudest moments was getting the news on the way to roller derby that she had won the String Orchestra concerto competition. Gabby described what made her concerto performance in May even more memorable: a cello mishap during the concert. “Something weird seems to happen to me at every concert,” she laughs…and appears to take it all in stride. “During the concert, before I was to play my concerto piece, I accidentally hit the head of my cello on my stand partner’s knee, and the strings just slid off!” The story has a happy ending, though. Her conductor, Lynn Trinkl, saved the day by re-stringing (and re-tuning) the cello just in time for Gabby’s solo performance.

Playing the cello in MYSO is just one of Gabby’s many loves, but to her, it is an important one. Of her experience in MYSO, Gabby says, “I love it! I’ve made so many friends here, even friends in other sections. I’ve loved all my conductors and look forward to making even more new friends at MYSO.”

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