Cellist fills Atrium with classics

Aimee Smith | The Signpost

Students slowed their pace a bit through the Shepherd Union Building on Tuesday to watch and listen as Weber State University alumnus and professional musician Sam Runolfson filled the Atrium with the low and versatile sounds of his cello.

His performance began with the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, and included other familiar classical pieces infused with his own improvisations and bits of jazz. He varied the traditionally expected slow and somber pieces with others that were light and quick. At one point, he put down his bow and played by tapping the body of his instrument and plucking the strings.

“He’s very talented,” said Dan Linford, a student and friend of Runolfson’s who just happened by the performance while enjoying lunch with some friends. “It beats whatever they were blasting over the speakers yesterday.”

Runolfson’s career as a cellist began at the age of 11, when he started playing in his sixth-grade orchestra class. By high school, he was taking private lessons and considering a full-time future in music. He graduated from WSU in 2009, where he earned a Crystal Crest Award, and is now pursuing a master’s degree in cello performance at the University of Utah.

He has performed throughout Northern Utah as a soloist and as a chamber musician with the WSU Symphony Orchestra and the New American Philharmonic. He also plays professionally with the piano trio Tria Fata, who were recently named national finalists in the Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music Competition.

“I have a real love and appreciation of music,” Runolfson said. “I hope to pass along all of that hard work and practice in finished form for the audience to enjoy, so that hopefully they can walk away inspired or feeling an emotion.”

Steven Hoggan, a student who works in the union building, stopped to enjoy the performance while taking his break.

“I enjoy classical music,” Hoggan said. “It’s nice and relaxing. It helps you decompress. I like the time that people put into it, all of the combinations of notes and keys — I value that dedication to it.”

Runolfson also teaches for the Ogden and Davis school districts, and gives private and group lessons. He has been teaching cello and bass with Blue Sky Music Camps for two years, and he has traveled to Haiti as a volunteer professor.

Bryce Winget, who also works in the union building, took the opportunity to stop and ask Runolfson for his business card.

“I’ve played the cello occasionally for five years,” Winget said, “and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone who plays and offers lessons. I’d really like to pick it up again.”

The Center of Diversity & Unity performance as part of its free weekly Sessions on the Ledge, which take place every Tuesday from 12-1 p.m.

“Our goal is to engage the campus and the community by providing cultural entertainment,” said Adrienne Gillespie, coordinator for the CDU. “We’re always looking to showcase new talent.”

To find out more about Sessions on the Ledge, performers and opportunities to perform, students can contact Gillespie at 801-626-7243.