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CSUEB music grad popularizes "rock cello" in Bay Area and abroad

the musical group Dirty Cello standing on the outside stairs of a concert hall.

(L-R) Members of Dirty Cello include Matt Roads '11, Jason Eckl '01, Rebecca Roudman '99 and Corey Wolffs (By: Rebecca Roudman)

  • July 3, 2013 5:00am

When Cal State East Bay music graduate Rebecca Roudman ’99, pulled the bow across her cello and played the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane,”  at a local competition, the audience went wild.

Right then, the term “rock cello” came to her mind and eventually led to the creation of her current musical group, “Dirty Cello”.

“We were brainstorming for a name for our group and thought, ’What is the opposite of playing cleanly on the cello - or playing classically on the cello?’ I came up with Dirty Cello,” Roudman said. “We instantly loved the name. Dirty Cello to us means ‘wild and rockin’.”

The daughter of a piano teacher and a music-loving controls engineer, Roudman attended CSUEB so that she could take cello lessons from the late CSUEB music faculty member and alumnus Larry Granger ’75, a gifted cellist with the San Francisco Symphony for 30 years.

“Mr. Granger taught me how to become a better cellist,” Roudman said. “He helped me become more musical and develop my technique. He also taught me how to have good stage presence and how to create feeling with my music.

“He also was very supportive of me and gave me advice about my life and my future on the cello. We stayed in contact and I still took occasional lessons with him even after I left college.”

Dirty Cello officially formed in 2011 and includes two other CSUEB music alumni – Jason Eckl ’01 and Matt Roads ‘11.

“I met Jason at CSUEB when he was a flute major, then connected with Matt through the recommendation of Mariko Abe, administrative support coordinator in the (university’s) Music Department.”

The group plays a mix of all their favorite types of music - blues, gypsy jazz, wild Eastern-European music, bluegrass and rock.  Roudman herself has performed with many musical legends, including Carlos Santana, Liz Phair, Deltron 3030, Isaac Hayes, Joan Baez, Lyrics Born, Magik Magik Orchestra and the Jazz Mafia.  She also performed on the movie soundtrack for Looper, released in 2012 and starring Bruce Willis. 

“The strong classical and technical training I received at CSUEB allows me to perform in a wide variety of different settings,” said Roudman.

What’s her advice to current Pioneers interested in a music career? 

“It’s important to learn how to play different styles of music,” Roudman advises. “Don’t limit what you can and cannot do.  Learn to improvise, be able to compose a part for yourself, and be able to teach music. If I just stayed with being a classical musician, I would have missed out on so many other opportunities.

“My cello playing has taken me everywhere: from the beaches of Brazil, to cities in China, and to the grand theaters of Europe. I’ve performed at hip-hop festivals with thousands of people in attendance, performed for audiences as young as 5 and as old as 100. Music has taken me places I’d never thought I’d go, and I love it,” she added.

Roudman is proud of what Cal State East Bay means to her.

“CSUEB was one of the best experiences of my life. I was fortunate to have so many musical experiences at the university, from performing and soloing with the orchestra, to playing classical chamber music, to premiering works by the composition majors, to performing with singers and other musicians.”

Visit the Dirty Cello Web site to view video clips of Rebecca Roudman on cello and to see upcoming performance dates.


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