James Grochocinski and Emily Butler Chair
Cellist and teacher, Elizabeth Simkin was recently named professor emeritus after a 27-year career at the School of Music at Ithaca College. She is now beginning a second stage which focuses on teaching at all ages and stages. Having mentored 100s of college aged students, she is very much enjoying learning about teaching principles of balance and expressive freedom to students at different steps in the cello path. Elizabeth experiences the cello as a joyful, meditative and therapeutic learning tool, and finds that breaking through to new capacities is equally exciting at all levels.
Before coming to IC, she was a student of and teaching assistant to Janos Starker, whose artistry and pedagogy continues to inform her teaching and practice every day. He advised her to abandon her doctoral degree in favor of beginning her professional life and gave her the gift of an open letter of reference including, “As a cellist and teacher, she carries my maximum support.” She studied at the Eastman School of Music with Steve Doane and at the Oberlin Conservatory with Richard Kapuscinski. She grew up in Seattle Wa, where she was hugely influenced by Mihoko Yamaguchi/Hirata, who was the first Japanese ambassador for the Suzuki method of string playing in the US. Her main teachers in childhood were Carla Lumsden and Toby Saks.
Simkin has performed in 21 countries over the years. She served as a US Artistic Ambassador and has played and taught at many festivals, including Spoleto in Italy, Klasik Keyifler in Turkey and Bowdoin, Heifetz and many more here in the US. She currently plays with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra and recently finished a project of the complete piano trios of Robert Schumann with the Taliesin Trio with violinist, Ellen Jewett and pianist, Xak Bjerken. The trio used a beautiful Pleyel piano from the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards collection.
In addition to her teachers, Simkin’s biggest influences have been playing and touring with the American Soviet Youth Orchestra in the time of Perestroika and Glasnost, beautiful and life changing summers at Tanglewood, the dozens of guest artists at the New Directions Cello Festival for ten years at IC, sharing music at the bedside in health care settings, the Lalgudi family of Indian Carnatic violinists, the many friends with whom she has worked and played, and being a mom to her son, Cole.