“Kenneth Wilson is a truly mellow cello fellow”
Steven Isserlis, CBE, cellist and author.
“An amazing performance, great poetry. Powerful stuff!”
Richard Farncombe, Music in the Wood.
“Perfect harmonious sweetness”
Kenneth Wilson – Highway Cello
Hello. I’m Kenneth Wilson. I play the cello; I write poetry; and sometimes I ride a bike – which is where the name Highway Cello came from.
When I perform I usually intersperse the music with short poetical responses. The music tells a story, or evokes emotion, which the poetry then explores, teases, reveals – or maybe subverts…
“Easy, take it easy, Love,
I told him, over, often, but…
he wouldn’t listen,
foolish, foolish man…“
Extract from In Sally’s Garden, by Kenneth Wilson, a response to the Irish tune, Down by the Salley Garden
The Origin of Highway Cello
The Highway Cello name began with a journey. In the summer of 2022 I cycled from Hadrian’s Wall to Rome (“from the edge of Empire to its heart”). I built a rack for the back of my old Dawes Galaxy bike, strapped my special carbon fibre cello to it, and set off.
It was quite an adventure – the length of England, through France and over the Alps to Italy, and Rome. Every day I played the cello, in scheduled and pop-up concerts, busking, and just responding to the moment.
“…Here’s a dare then: get you home
then put that cello on a bike;
pedal South, go down to Rome
Be careful where you point the spike.
Play it every day en route
in squares and streets, in bars, on roofs;
posh restaurants where the food’s en croute,
low dives where no-one gives a F – hoot.
If you dare!“
Extract from The Cello Dare, by Kenneth Wilson
Highway Cello Performances
“The play’s the thing,” isn’t it? Poetry needs performing; music needs playing. It’s incomplete without an audience – a reaction, an interplay.
There are two kinds of performance I like best – the outdoor pop-up, and the house-concert in someone’s home. The intimacy of a small house concert, where the audience is close enough to see the sparks flying from the cello… that’s very special. And there’s an extra quality to the sound of a cello in the open air; the landscape and the elements add something.
You can watch my performances on YouTube. Here are a few!