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Portland State University College of the Arts Introduces New Cello Professorship

Hamilton Cheifetz will become the school’s inaugural Florestan Professor of Cello


Hamilton Cheifetz’s new role as Florestan Professor of Cello at Portland State University College of the Arts (PSU) was established through a gift from an anonymous donor, honoring the significant contributions Cheifetz has made to the arts at Portland State and the broader music community.

Also professor emeritus of cello at the college, Cheifetz has taught cello at PSU since 1977 — the same year he founded the Oregon-based Florestan Trio, which served as Portland State’s signature faculty trio in residence until 2006.

Taking cello lessons from the age of seven, Cheifetz made his first solo orchestral debuts at age 11. He attended Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, studying with Janos Starker, with whom he had a lifelong friendship.

The winner of the Piatigorsky Prize at Tanglewood, he has toured the U.S. and Canada and performed at the White House for President Carter and the members of Congress.

He later became the teaching assistant to Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi at the University of Western Ontario. Additionally, Cheifetz’s students have won positions in orchestras including the Boston and Atlanta Symphonies.

“Cheifetz has mentored generations of young students and introduced yet others to music and its history,” wrote the anonymous donor, explaining the establishment of this professorship. “[He] is also an extraordinary musician whose recordings span the cello/chamber music repertories and beyond into new music and music compositions. In addition to his virtuoso performing career, Cheifetz works to break down barriers to classical music through community outreach … The Florestan Professor of Cello is a fitting way to acknowledge him.”

“Through Hamilton Cheifetz’s impressive artistry, leadership, and dedication to mentoring the next generation of musicians, he has made indelible contributions to the reputation and curriculum of the School of Music & Theater,” added Dr. Leroy E. Bynum, Jr., PCU College of the Arts’ Dean, in the press release. “The Florestan Professor of Cello will allow Hamilton to continue sparking joy in the lives of others through performance and music education.”    

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