Cape Symphony's 'Forever Young' concert features child prodigy cellist

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Cameron Renshaw hopes to emulate famed musician Yo-Yo Ma: “I want to be just like him.”

The young cellist is off to a good start.

Renshaw, an 11-year-old musical prodigy from Michigan, will join the Cape Symphony this weekend in a program titled “Forever Young.” The concerts, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, are meant to recall everyone’s first experiences with classical music. The performances will include introductory favorites like Saint-Saëns’s “Carnival of the Animals” (featuring Cape pianists Ana Glig and James Rosenblum as featured artists) and Dukas’ “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

For Cameron, who will play a virtuosic cello showpiece, Popper’s “Tarantella,” the performances will be a continuation of the path he’s already been following for half his life. When he was 5, Cameron’s mother pulled her unused cello out of the closet. “I thought it was cool, and I loved the sound,” he says.

He started playing soon after, and when he completed the first Suzuki lesson book, he says, “that’s when I started getting more serious, and actually believing.”

People started noticing, as he puts it. That beginning led to a whirlwind of competition victories and performances — with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, on “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” at New York’s Carnegie Hall and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

And those appearances brought him to the attention of Cape Symphony music director Jung-Ho Pak, who “wanted an actual kid on the program,” Cameron says.

'I love playing for other people'

Now a sixth-grader at Nickels Intermediate School in Byron Center, Michigan, Cameron takes lessons at the university level with cellist Pablo Mahave-Veglia. He also studies recordings and videos of great cellists, like his beloved Yo-Yo Ma — “I listen to his recording of ‘The Swan’ over and over” — and earlier performers like Janos Starker.

“I look at the way they move, to try to get their tempo and pitch, but also to see how to express yourself,” he says.

Music-making is in the family. His mother, Tina — whose neglected cello started it all — studied at Indiana University. Cameron plays duets with a cousin, and has a violin-playing younger brother, Parker. Cameron’s sixth-grade friends seem to take his accomplishments in stride — “they’re cool with my cello playing,” he says. “I love music, I love to travel, and I love playing for people. No matter what, I know I would keep playing.”

Along with his precocious facility for the cello, Cameron is a synesthete — one of those few people who see specific colors when they hear sounds. “When I play sad music, it’s dark blue, or purple,” he says. “When the music is faster, I see green and orange. It’s impressionistic.”

Not everyone has Cameron’s breadth of youthful talent, but everyone who loves music has had some experience that created lasting memories. In keeping with the spirit of the symphony’s “Forever Young” program, audience members age 6 to 18 get free entry.

The program also includes Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”

To watch ‘Forever Young’

What: Cape Symphony’s “Forever Young” concert

Guest artists: Prodigy cellist Cameron Renshaw and married pianists Ana Glig and James Rosenblum

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13

Where: Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center, 744 W. Main St., Hyannis

Tickets and information: or 508-362-1111

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Cape Symphony adds child prodigy cellist to 'Forever Young' concert