A native of Atlanta, GA, Daniel Holloway commenced his lifelong musical journey at the young age of five when he began studying the guitar with his father. In his youth, he was musically educated through means of demonstration and memorization, and did not learn to read music until his teenage years when he became involved in his middle school string orchestra program. After looking over the instruments offered in the string orchestra, the double bass drew his attention because of its similar tuning to the guitar. By age thirteen, he was achieving much success on both instruments. The final discovery of his “true musical voice” was not achieved, however, until a year later when he heard world-renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, performing the Bach cello suites on PBS. It was at this very moment that he became captivated by the instrument’s beautiful and expressive sound and decided to fully commit his efforts into mastering this eloquent instrument.
Soon after his newly claimed vow to play the cello, he began lessons with Nan Maddox, a former cellist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Just two years after switching to the cello and studying privately, he auditioned and was accepted into the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, where he played music with the city’s most talented young musicians and received training from various members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. This experience enabled him to meet his second teacher and musical mentor Martha Gerschefski, the celebrated and highly respected cellist and pedagogue. In January 2003, he was invited by his high school orchestra director, Carol Doemel to play a concerto with the Lassiter High School Symphony Orchestra at the Georgia Music Educator’s Association festival in Savannah, Georgia. His progress during his high school years with Martha and ASYO inspired him to pursue music professionally, and upon graduating, he auditioned for several music schools around the country, eventually choosing Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music in Columbus, Georgia. There he was afforded the opportunity to study cello with professor Andre Gaskins, a former assistant to the famed Janos Starker. During his college studies in Columbus, Daniel enjoyed teaching private lessons as well as playing cello in the Columbus, LaGrange, Albany, and Macon Symphony Orchestras. He also attended the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, North Carolina for two summers. In May of 2007, he received his Bachelor’s degree in music performance from Columbus State University, graduating cum laude. After his undergraduate studies, he went on to pursue his Master’s degree from Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, TX where he studied cello under the world-renowned cellist, Andres Diaz. During his time in Dallas, he enjoyed freelancing in the area and teaching private cello lessons through Plano Independent School District. Presently, Mr. Holloway resides in Canton, GA where he teaches cello and performs professionally in the Atlanta metro area and throughout Georgia. He currently performs in the cello sections of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.
Having been raised by parents who are musicians, it’s hard to remember a time where music wasn’t a part of my life. My mother taught voice, guitar and piano lessons, and my father taught guitar. I remember when I was a young boy being fascinated by the guitar and loved to listen to my father play. I would always ask him to teach me how to play, and he would always reply “you’re too small, the guitar is too big for you. I’ll teach you when you get older.” After relentlessly nagging him, that day finally came sometime when I was five years old. He showed me how to play three chords on the guitar, D, G, and A. I remember being instantly intrigued at the shapes my fingers made when fretting the chords, and loved the way they sounded. The guitar seemed like a fun, musical puzzle to me. When you played the correct combination of strings with certain positions held down on the fingerboard, you were rewarded with beautiful sounding harmony. He showed me how to hold the pick and a few strumming patterns and told me to practice changing between the three chords. I could barely reach my right arm around that big Martin D-18 acoustic guitar to strum the strings, but I didn’t let that deter me. My dad went about his day and left me with the guitar, thinking to himself, “lets see how long he lasts on that thing.” He recalls about twenty minutes later hearing me strumming away and changing the chords. Then I hollered to him “Dad, I got these down. Show me some more!” He says he had strange, conflicting feelings at that moment, a feeling of pride that his son was musically inclined, but also an uneasy feeling of what the future would hold if I ended up wanting to pursue a career in music like he had done.
At the end of that year, I woke up on Christmas morning to open presents with my brother and sister and right in front of the tree was a metallic blue three quarter size electric guitar and a small amplifier. The lights of the tree brilliantly reflected off its eccentric metallic blue finish, and to a five year old boy it looked like a glowing body of pure rock and roll awesomeness. I remember my father teaching me twelve bar blues songs that morning and how to improvise using the pentatonic scale. We went to my grandmothers that afternoon and my grandfather also played electric guitar, so of course we had fun playing the blues. While most of my childhood was spent playing everything from Eric Clapton, to the Eagles and Metallica, eventually I would discover the wonderful music of the great composers such as Bach, Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. When I began middle school, I had the option to join chorus, band, or orchestra. I knew I wanted to play strings, but after realizing that guitar was not in the orchestra, I decided that the double bass would be the next best alternative. After all, the bass is tuned the same as the four lowest strings of the guitar. I played the bass throughout 6th and 7th grade and really enjoyed learning how to play with the bow and learning how to read music. I didn’t particularly enjoy the parts I played on the bass. I would constantly gaze at the violins, violas and cellos, who all looked extremely engaged and focused on playing their parts which were more involved. In the bass section, you basically had four whole beats every measure before you had to change notes if you even had to change at all. We could play and carry on a conversation about what we were having for lunch or what we were hoping we didn’t have for lunch. This all changed for me during the summer of 1998 when I experienced Yo-Yo Ma perform the Bach cello suites on PBS. I was blown away by Bach’s music, Mr. Ma’s playing, and the beautiful sound of the cello. I had heard cellos before at school of course and my younger brother also played cello, but I never knew it could sound like that! My brother also liked Mr. Ma’s performance and my parents bought us an edition of the Bach cello suites. That summer, whenever my brother wasn’t playing, I’d take his cello and start reading through the first three suites. I could already read bass clef, and had an idea how the music should sound, so I spent that entire summer figuring out the left hand of the cello and trying to play these incredible pieces. I came back to orchestra in 8th grade and told my teacher I wanted to switch to cello and that I was sure I could keep up with the other cellists who had two years experience already under their belts. I told her I had been playing the Bach cello suites all summer, so anything in the All for Strings books or Suzuki would be a breeze. She said, “Ok, well let’s hear what you can do.” Of course I had brought the Bach edition with me and eagerly played the minuets from the G major cello suite for her. I remember thinking while playing for her, “please deem me worthy of switching to cello.” My former bass section friends glared at me as if I had betrayed them. After I finished playing she smiled and said, “Well I think there’s no question really, you’re a cello player now!” It was like a giant double bass had been lifted off my shoulders and I was free to play the cello forever!
My parents, wanting to encourage my brother and I to continue playing, bought us each an intermediate cello. This definitely helped sustain our interest. These new cello’s sounded like heaven compared to the bright orange laminated rental cello we were sharing. That school year was spent studying Bach and other pieces from the Suzuki method series. My brother had already progressed into Suzuki book 6 which contains a very fiery piece in G minor by Antonio Vivaldi. I heard him play the first couple of bars and quickly ran over to him, asking what piece it was. He said, “It’s a concerto by Vivaldi. There are two cello parts if you want to play it with me.” We relentlessly practiced the first movement of this piece until it sounded worthy of performance. We performed it at the end of the year school talent show. As fate would have it, right before it was our turn to play, there was this popular kid who played guitar and he sang “Walking on the Sun” by Smash Mouth. His performance received a roaring applause with enthusiastic cheers from the audience. My brother and I looked at each other like, are you serious? We have to follow that? How do we stand a chance? But the fiery spirit of Vivaldi must have come over us as we ripped through the concerto, filling the auditorium with lusciously low to mid range tertian harmonies of G minor. To our surprise we brought down the house and everyone leapt to their feet with thunderous applause and cheers. It seemed like we had successfully one-upped the other kid when they announced us as the winners. It was a great feeling. Vivaldi 1, Smash Mouth 0.
My brother, being a bit more wise and realistic than I was, went on to study finance and internet marketing. I chose cello. Thanks to the Patrons of Music Society in Columbus, I was offered a generous scholarship to study cello performance at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University and pursue my dreams of having a career as a cellist. Having been a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra in high school, I knew that I wanted to focus my efforts on orchestral playing in order to have any chance of finding a job after school. I auditioned for the Columbus Symphony my freshman year and must have played well enough to pass the audition. I’ll never forget how proud I felt to rehearse and perform with the CSO in Bill Heard Theater. We did one of my favorite pieces, Dvorak’s 9th Symphony. I took the CSO audition every year during college to gain more experience auditioning for orchestras. I was very fortunate to have gained so much orchestral experience in college. Between playing in the Schwob Philharmonic, the Columbus Symphony, the LaGrange Symphony, the Macon Symphony, and the orchestras at the Brevard Music Center, I gained plenty of experience learning the orchestral repertoire and with great instruction from the likes of Patricio Cobos and George Del Gobbo. I can remember my first concert with the Chattanooga Symphony after graduate school. Brahms’ 1st Symphony was on the program. My stand partner had been in the orchestra for quite sometime and I’m sure she was thinking, who’s this youngster? Can he even play this music? She asked if I had ever played the piece before. I chuckled and said “Yes, this will be my fifth time playing Brahms’ 1st Symphony. It’s one of my favorite pieces in the repertoire.” She then went on to ask me who I’ve studied with and where I went to school. I’ve always been proud to tell them about Columbus State because a lot of people have no idea there is a world class school of music there.
One thing I’ve always felt is special about the Columbus Symphony and why it is so rewarding to play with them is their high quality of musicianship. I think there’s a good deal of credit that should go to George Del Gobbo for his ability to facilitate and encourage that result in a healthy way. Having worked with numerous conductors, some good and some not so good, he has always stood out in my mind as someone special. He always has a plan for rehearsals and gives clear, insightful directions on how to play and what to listen for when balancing the dynamics. I think reminding the orchestra to be aware of what one’s specific role is within the texture often fixes many balance issues that can arise just from the sheer size of an orchestra, and adds a clarity to the texture that is essential in symphonic music. Being a skillful violinist, his knowledge of how to use the bow is extremely beneficial in achieving various sounds from the strings. Any sort of quirky gestures or awkward phrasing that result from poor bow management are always brought to light in rehearsals. He works at a methodical pace, and is very respectful in his demeanor towards the musicians. His good sense of humor and ability to make people laugh has always made everyone feel more comfortable, and I think this kind of approach results in better playing from an orchestra than the commonplace, condescending ranting that I’ve experienced from others. He also brings great emotion to the performances that keep every performance exciting. There have been too many moving musical moments with the CSO to count, but my top three would probably be the performances of the Finale to Mendelssohn’s “Italian Symphony,” the Finale of Sibelius’s 2nd Symphony, and the Finale of Brahms’ 2nd Symphony. This will be my 14th season playing with the CSO and it’s always something I look forward to and will cherish forever. This city has something very special here with this orchestra, school of music, and its community of patrons of the arts and I’m honored to be a part of that. I’m excited to have the opportunity to play Vivaldi’s monumental Concerto in G minor for two cellos with my friend and colleague, Hilary Glen and the CSO in October. It’s been a trip down memory lane re-learning the first movement and so rewarding to study the other two movements which are equally beautiful and expressive. I look forward to being able to share that with the people in Columbus who have done so much for me.
-CSO Cellist, Daniel Holloway