Member of the Saint Joseph Symphony since: 2012
Bio: Sascha Groschang is an active recitalist and chamber musician, having performed across the United States and Asia. She has appeared at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall numerous times, and gave her solo debut recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2009. She has shared the stage with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Michael Buble, Peter Gabriel, and has extensive recording experience, including sessions for NBC, Atlantic and Rhino Records. In Kansas City, she is an active freelance musician, having performed with the KC Chorale, NewEar Contemporary Ensemble, Spire Chamber Ensemble, the New Theatre, the Coterie Theatre, Quixotic Fusion, and the Bach Aria Soloists.
In addition to classical music, Sascha is an avid performer and composer of new and non-traditional styles. She is co-founder, co-composer and cellist of the string duo, “The Wires” (with SJS member Laurel Parks) which explores unorthodox styles through original music (thewires.info). Sascha is on faculty at Missouri Western State University, where she is professor of cello and is a member of the faculty piano trio.
Ms. Groschang holds degrees from the UMKC Conservatory and Mannes College of Music in New York City. She lives in Kansas City with her husband, one-year old daughter and three fluffy Persian cats. cellolady.com
How did you get started in music and why the cello?
I come from a long line of musicians, my mother is a pianist and vocalist, and my grandfather and great-grandfather were jazz musicians. I started on piano at the age of 3, but found my true calling of the cello around the age of 9, through my public school orchestra program.
Who has had the greatest influence on you as a musician?
This is a hard question – there have been so many! But the ultimate are my parents. They took me to lessons, bought me the (expensive!) instrument, came to all my concerts and continue to do so to this day!
When you’re not rehearsing or performing, what do you like to listen to?
I play, perform and teach sometimes up to 16 hours a day, so a lot of time I like silence – but when I do listen for pleasure, I like indie folk music like Jose Gonzalez or string music in traditional styles like the Goat Rodeo Sessions (bluegrass) or Alasdair Fraiser and Natalie Haas (celtic).
Do you perform or teach outside of your work with the Symphony?
I do – I teach at Missouri Western State University and play in the faculty piano trio (with Rico McNeela, SJS conductor). I also teach privately at my home studio, have a church job on Sundays where I improvise with the worship band, own and coordinate an event string ensemble (we play weddings and the like), and compose and perform original music with my duo The Wires. In addition, I play a healthy variety of freelance gigs which includes everything from serious classical concerts and performance-practice Baroque ensembles to playing with bands, booking recording sessions and playing/recording for musicals and theatre.
You recently performed with Josh Groban and Sarah McLachlan, tell us about that experience.
Super fun! And sort-of stressful. Usually for big-name acts, you show up at the theatre the day of the show, sight read the music once with a conductor you don’t know, and maybe have a sound check for one or two songs with the artist. Then there’s lots of waiting. But when you finally get to showtime – the audience is so excited, and there’s fancy lights, and moving parts and giant screens and sometimes FIRE (not with Josh Groban) and it’s thrilling! Many times, we are “encouraged” to not speak with the artist. Josh Groban brings his dog to rehearsals, and he happened to come up and lick my cello – so I got to talk to Josh (now we’re on a first name basis!) and pet his dog.
How do you think we should keep symphony music alive for new generations?
By continuing public school music programs. I wouldn’t have found the cello without my school program – and I come from a musical background. These programs are so important, whether or not one pursues music for a living or a hobby. They facilitate a life-long appreciation for music, thinking in new ways, working with others through ensemble playing and so many more benefits, including exposure to all kinds of music – including orchestral.
If you weren’t an orchestra musician, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t a musician, I’d maybe run an Etsy shop? I like to knit, crochet and paint.
Did anyone inspire or encouraged your interest in music?
So many people! Probably my early public school teachers the most – they encouraged me and kept challenging me so that I was always intrigued and enlivened by music.