Tony Rogers is a cellist and the director of the Austin Cello Choir in Austin. During the pandemic, he created the Covid Cello Project. He posted an invitation on Facebook for musicians to participate in a video project and ended up playing with more than 500 cellists from around the world.
“Initially it was just, ‘Hey, Austin Cello Choir, here, let’s do this. Participate if you want to.’ And not everybody did it, of course. … And then I put it up on one Facebook [page] … just a little announcement.”
The group started by learning a Bach toccata, following a list of instructions Rogers had posted. Before he knew it, the project took off.
“This project started with just 17 cellists from one country: the United States. And by the second project, it grew to three countries. Then by the third project, 18 countries, [then] 23 countries.”
The group has played everything from “Take On Me” by the band A-ha, to classical and contemporary to Led Zeppelin. Some players are young kids starting to play the cello; others are accomplished musicians.
“It was just, basically, kind of giving players, cello players, who didn’t have a way to play or a group to play with anymore, something to do, a project to participate on, to create something hopefully worthwhile, meaningful and beautiful at times and fun at other times and silly at other times. And I’m glad that it’s affecting other people that aren’t cellists.”