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Maya Beiser Shreds The Cello

Maya Beiser's new rock covers album is called<em> Uncovered</em>.
Courtesy of the artist
Maya Beiser's new rock covers album is called Uncovered.

Through the decades, classical cellists have studied the masters: Pablo Casals, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jacqueline du Pre. AC/DC doesn't quite make that list — but cellist Maya Beiser loves playing their music.

Beiser gives some of her favorite rock and blues numbers — like AC/DC's "Back in Black" and Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" — a modern cello workover on her new album, Uncovered.

"If you look at the trajectory of all the things I've done, this is very much in line," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "Because my whole career mission has been to re-introduce new ideas and new sounds for the cello."

One of Beiser's early mentors was violinist Isaac Stern, who didn't take too kindly to young Maya's interest in rock 'n' roll. She says she told him, "'This music is so great! I'd like to try to do it on the cello.' And he looked at me very upset and said, 'You know, this is really not serious music.'"

Beiser says that while classical purists might not embrace this direction, it is necessary to keep moving the classical world forward.

"We need to make concert music part of the cultural landscape," she says. "And it's great to play the great old masters from the past, but in order to really make it a relevant art form, the only way is to play music that is relevant to our culture."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.