CALUM COOK, CELLO
Hometown: Forres, Scotland
Joined Lyric Orchestra in 2014
Education: The Yehudi Menuhin School, Surrey, England
The Royal College of Music, London, England
Calum has enjoyed a variety of successes throughout his career on his journey to being appointed at Lyric Opera. Since making his concerto debut at the age of 15 playing Brahms Double Concerto with his sister Carol, Calum has appeared as a soloist with the Cardiff Bay Chamber Orchestra, the St Aldhelm’s Symphony Orchestra, the Dorset County Orchestra and at the Kronberg Festival in Germany, the Fairfield Halls in London and at the Edinburgh Festival. He was a finalist in the BBC’s nationally televised Young Musicians competition in 1998, a prize winner at the 1999 Aberdeen International Youth Festival and Gold Medalist at the British Federation of Festivals competition, and he won all available cello prizes at the Royal College of Music. During his time there he studied with Russian cellist Leonid Gorokhov.
After obtaining his Bmus degree, Calum worked extensively with the English Chamber Orchestra, with whom he toured regularly in Europe as well as China, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Japan, and the USA. Calum also appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as Assistant Principal Cello with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and as Guest Principal Cello with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Orchestra of Opera North, Scottish Opera, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera. Calum was a full-time member of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2014. He was also a member of Kokoro, BSO’s contemporary music ensemble, whose performances of new works were often broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
What are some highlights of your first season as Principal Cellist of Lyric Opera?
I was so thrilled to join Lyric in 2014 for their 60 Anniversary Season, and I am equally excited about next season’s productions, in particular Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. It was one of the first operas I ever played whilst I was still a student at the Royal College of Music. The production took place in a very remote part of Suffolk, England. The musicians and cast all stayed in the area for two weeks, and the performances took place in a barn that had been converted into a theatre. There was only enough room for a very small orchestra in the tiny pit: string quintet and single winds. The double bassist was my college roommate and very good friend, now Assistant Principal bass in the London Philharmonic Orchestra. We shared a stand and we had a lot of fun. Chamber music and Opera — a great combination. I seem to remember the local ales were also rather nice.
What other interests do you enjoy?
I am also a keen snooker player, which I am learning is not such a popular sport in the US. I played a lot as I was growing up in the UK where it is much more commonly played. It’s similar to pool but much harder, more tactical, and played on a massive 12’ x 6’ table. It’s a game of physics, technique, and precision, which also demands concentration, creativity, flair, and hours of practice — so much like playing a musical instrument. For anyone who knows the game, my highest break is 123.