Cellist Christopher Rex, who held the position of principal cello in the Atlanta Symphony for 39 years before retiring in 2018, has recently passed away.
Growing up in Winter Park, Florida, his family was immensely musical: his father was a composer and instructor at Rollins College, and his mother taught piano. Rex went on to study cello at the Curtis Institute, and then to The Juilliard School, where his teacher was prominent cellist Leonard Rose.
After completing his studies, Rex began playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He was to stay there for seven seasons before taking up his post at the Atlanta Symphony, where he stayed for the better part of four decades.
During that time, Rex stepped in as principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic for their tour of Europe in 1988, and also performed with the orchestra as a soloist. He also played chamber music, being one of the founding members of the Georgian Chamber Players and a member of the Christiana Trio.
Rex was the founder of Atlanta's Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, which has been running since 2001. The festival has now developed into one of the most prestigious of its kind, with performers including Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Joshua Bell.
The following tribute was written by Rex's brother Charles, who is currently a violinist in the New York Philharmonic.
"It is with great sadness and sense of extreme loss that not only have I lost my dear brother, but the world of music has lost a true artist and devotee to the love of beauty."
"My greatest musical joy was performing with Chris which we did quite frequently, the highlight of which was to premiere with the New York Philharmonic a double concerto, “The Veil of Illusion,” written especially for us by composer Stephen Paulus as a joint commission by the NYP and the Atlanta Symphony."
"Living alongside the artist in him was a person with a unique sense of humor, and some of my happiest years were living and working with him in the Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1970s. I will miss him totally beyond my ability to put into words."
Our condolences to Rex's family, friends, and colleagues. You can view a recording of Rex performing the third movement of Chopin's Cello Sonata in G Minor with pianist Elizabeth Pridgen below.