Stein Performing at Glendale Noon Concerts


Milton Babbitt possibly may not have cared if you listened, but Derek Stein does – a lot.

The Kansas-born cellist has distinguished himself in Southern California and across the nation not only as an instrumentalist of superlative artistry, but also as a committed champion of new music. Through his work as a member of Gnarwhallaby, WasteLAnd Music, wildUp and his own solo work, Stein has demonstrated time and again that the composer of today has a devoted friend in him.

“A lot of musicians make the mistake of performing new music like it’s something to apologize for,” he said. “But I love playing these works. If a performer does what he’s supposed to do and the commitment comes through, then even music that isn’t considered so ‘accessible’ can become so to audiences unfamiliar with it.”

He’ll be demonstrating that commitment to new music next Wednesday at the next program of the Glendale Noon Concerts. The program is composed of an eclectic mix of music from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Familiar and less familiar opuses by Hindemith, Prokofiev and Penderecki will share space with Los Angeles-based composer Nicholas Deyoe. The composer is a friend of Stein’s and has been closely associated with him. Stein said he met Deyoe about a decade ago at UC San Diego at a rehearsal where Deyoe substituted as conductor. When he later moved to Los Angeles, Deyoe wrote a quartet for Gnarwhallaby.

“Afterwards I became deeply interested in his music. It’s so uniquely him – his music – it’s like it’s full of his essence,” Stein said. “A lot of his music personalizes who he is. There are moments in his music which are so beautiful and sweet, then others which are so loud and extreme. He can be like that too.”

Deyoe’s “Fluff No. 12” for solo cello, which is included on next week’s program, is a gnomic score that makes use of a panoply of extended techniques for the cello in its few brief measures before it closes.

“It’s wacky and exciting and over before you know it,” Stein said.

Another work that figures large on Stein’s program was Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Capriccio for Siegfried Palm.” The work is a favorite of the cellist’s and one that he was immediately gripped by after hearing his teacher perform it during his student years.

 “It kind of exists in two worlds. It’s very avant-garde and experimental on one hand, with these moments where it’s like more sound than music,” he said. “But if you explain to audiences that the work is a kind of spoof on Paginini’s ‘24 Caprices,’ then they feel more relaxed. Music, new music, can be funny and it’s okay to laugh when there’s humor involved.”

He then added that it was sometimes a “challenge” to play new music for audiences.

“But if you go into it with an open mind and share that with the audience, they will come to appreciate it.”

Derek Stein will play his solo cello recital at the Glendale Noon Concerts on Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 12:10 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Glendale City Church (610 E. California Ave., corner with Isabel Street). Admission is free to the public, though donations are encouraged. For more information, visit or call Victoria Lucero at (818) 244-7241. To learn more about cellist Derek Stein, visit his website at