Cellist Kim Souther to kick off faculty artist series with jazz-classical crossover

Kim Souther, cellist and director of preparatory music at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), will kick off the Music Faculty Artist Series with a recital on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m.. The concert’s premiere selection is the “Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio” by French jazz icon Claude Bolling.

Souther will be accompanied by Professor David Berry, music department chair, on piano; recent alum Joseph Harder ’20 on drums; and Cole Sheffer on bass. The recital will be livestreamed from Martin Chapel on EMU’s Facebook page.

The event is, in part, a tribute to Bolling, who passed away last month. The pianist and film score composer began winning jazz competitions as a teenager, and made his first recording at age 18. Bolling was renowned for his piano virtuosity, his film score compositions, and his crossover compositions that blended jazz and classical music.

Souther will also perform two original works – “Missing You” and “Come Thou Font” – and a traditional fiddle tune – “Boatin’ Up Sandy” – as short encores following the “Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio.”

“Claude Bolling was quite famous for structuring his concerts this way, so I thought it would be fun to offer up one last little tribute to the late composer by mimicking his program style,” Souther said.

“Missing You” was one of Souther’s first compositions after she began to experiment with “multi-style,” in which she layers the cello riffs upon themselves with a looper pedal. 

“I wrote this composition while living in Wisconsin and feeling the distance between myself and my family who live in Richmond,” Souther said. “Come Thou Font,” an original arrangement for cello, looper pedal, delay, and chorus pedal, is another musical experience that beautifully melds modern technology with Souther’s strings.

Read more about the musicians below:

Kim Souther is a genre-bending, nationally acclaimed cellist, touring artist, and educator. In addition to leading the Shenandoah Valley Preparatory Music program at EMU, she teaches world music and music education. Souther has performed alongside the likes of Trans-siberian Orchestra and Sarah Jarosz, and played and created music with artists from all over the world in the Global Music Workshop program.

David Berry’s performances have been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, as well as live radio broadcasts of New York City-based WQXR. Berry was the Grand Prize Winner of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition and a prize winner in the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition. He has collaborated with members of the nation’s leading orchestra’s including the New Jersey, Houston, Dallas and Seattle symphonies. Berry has also toured regularly as a member of the Ritz Chamber Players, Harlem Chamber Players, and Core Ensemble.


Joseph Harder is a Harrisonburg native and 2020 graduate of EMU. He is currently a climate futures fellow with the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions, carrying out research investigating expressions of the natural world in Mennonite hymnals. Joseph is also involved in a variety of music groups around town, most notably, Prince Bellerose.

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