Kitty Benton and the Return of “The Flying Cellist”

Left to Right: Kitty Benton, Daniel Goldhagen, Yoav Segev and Elliott Niebch, “selfie” by Elliott Niebch

On November 22, 2021, I received an intriguing email from long-time ACMP member and beloved former ACMP Newsletter editor, Kitty Benton. Her message warmed my heart and reminded me of one of the most precious aspects of ACMP: making friends through music, all over the world.

Kitty wrote:

“Recently, an ACMP cellist from Israel contacted me, saying he was a pilot, and was scheduled to come to New York City. He wanted to arrange chamber music while he was here. Would I be interested in playing viola? He already had 2 violinists plus himself.

Of course I would be and was interested, so we scheduled a Saturday morning date. We played Mozart and Beethoven Op 18, and had a lovely time.

We are planning a second session in December, when New York City would again be on his schedule. 

Meanwhile, something about his story twigged my editor’s memory, so I asked him if he ever flew to Asia. When we got to trading ACMP members that we knew (Yoel Epstein in Israel of course) and finally got to Stephan Brandel in Shanghai, I realized that he was the same person that I featured in a story about “The Flying Cellist” in the Newsletter, when I was editor – Yoav Segev! After all, how many pilots do you know that tuck a cello into the cockpit for meeting ACMP members at their destination? 

But one thing is sure….if there is another person who tucks an instrument into the cockpit of an airplane, it’s a sure thing that they belong to ACMP.”

Here is the original story from the 2013-1 issue of the Newsletter:

Excerpt from the Winter 2013 Newsletter in the ACMP archive. 

I then remembered that Kitty had told me about the “Flying Cellist” during an interview I did with her in June 2021.

Kitty Benton reminisces about the early days of ACMP

Kitty has since had another Play-In with “The Flying Cellist” on December 10, 2021. Joined by violinists Daniel Goldhagen and Elliot Niebch, they played Mozart and Mendelssohn quartets at Kitty’s home.

The Flying Cellist was since spotted in Los Angeles in late December 2021, where he played in two sessions with ACMP member violinist Andre Vanderhal, who wrote:

“We had 2 great days of playing with Yoav. I forgot to take pictures the first day – double cello quintets by Schubert, Dvorak (bass part), and Glazunov with Andre Vanderhal, Monica Minden, Liz Galton, Don Spuehler and Yoav Segev. The next day brought string quartets of Mozart (warm-up with Andante from Dissonant quartet), Beethoven (op 59 #1), Brahms op 51 #1, and Mozart KV 575 with Jakub Hlavka, Andre Vanderhal, George Goldberg and Yoav  Segev. Music was followed by delicious dinner ordered in and prepared by Essen Food Group. (Chef Aaron Robbins – our son – started his own business during the pandemic.) In the background you can see the patio that saved our sanity during the pandemic allowing string quartet outside, distanced and masked, even in 43 degrees Fahrenheit with a gas patio heater.”

Next time a Flying Cellist comes your way, please be sure to let us know!

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