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Source: David Littrell, 785-532-3804,
Photo available. Contact 785-532-6415 or 785-532-6415.
News release prepared by: Katie Mayes, 785-532-6415,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


MANHATTAN -- When Kansas State University's David Littrell was 9, he didn't know that picking up the cello would be life changing.

"I lugged the cello I had been assigned the mile to my home. It was almost as tall as I was," said Littrell, a university distinguished professor of music. "I vividly remember sitting in the living room figuring out how to play my first piece: the Campbell's Soup jingle I'd heard on the radio."

Now 50 years later, Littrell will reflect on his mastery of the instrument and role as a teacher for "Celebrating 50 Years of Playing the Cello" at 5:45 p.m. Monday, April 27, in the All Faiths Chapel auditorium. The recital is free and open to the public.

"I've been blessed beyond measure thanks to the career path playing the cello provided," Littrell said. "My students in the K-State Orchestra and my studio are the joy of my life and I love my job because it is new and challenging every day."

Each of the pieces to be performed during the recital is significant to Littrell. Movements from Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor, Op. 104, will be played, a nod to Littrell's many years conducting the Gold Orchestra, a group of around 70 Manhattan-area string students in grades 5-10. J.S. Bach's Suite No. 2 in D Minor is a favorite of Littrell's and Bach's Suite No. 6 in D Major is widely known by cellists as a technical challenge. Littrell will perform the preludes from both pieces.

He also will play a movement from Dmitri Shostakovich's Concerto in E-flat Major, a piece he heard in the car with his mother in 1965. As president of the American String Teachers Association, Littrell was honored to present the cellist who performed that very recording, Mstislav Rostropovich, with the association's Isaac Stern Award. Other pieces to be performed include movements from Franz Joseph Haydn's Concerto in D Major; "River of Glory," a solo piece composed by Littrell's wife, Laurel; and "The Lord's Prayer," by Albert Hay Malotte. The last two pieces reflect Littrell's years of playing solos for church services.

The very cello Littrell purchased at the time he had decided to become a college-level music teacher also will be played by his son, Nathan, during the Vivaldi concerto.

Littrell conducts the K-State Orchestra and teaches the cello, double bass and viola da gamba. He is director of String Fling, an annual event at K-State that attracts nearly 700 young string students from across Kansas. In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation named Littrell the Kansas Professor of the Year. He was named a university distinguished professor in 2001, K-State's highest faculty ranking; has twice received the College of Arts and Sciences' Stamey Award for Excellence in Teaching; and served as national president of the American String Teachers Association from 2002-2004.