UC grad named as 2023 Duncanson Artist-in-Residence

Music has allowed cellist Anita Graef to travel around the world, gracing several stages with her music, including Carnegie Hall.
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 2:48 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A University of Cincinnati graduate and now professional musician was selected as the 2023′s Taft Museum’s 36th Duncanson Artist-in-Residence.

Music has allowed cellist Anita Graef to travel around the world, gracing several stages with her music, including Carnegie Hall.

For two weeks, Graef will be leading workshops and traveling to schools across the Tri-State.

The musician says each time the bow hits the strings of her cello, the musical notes carry her along a magical journey.

“When I’m performing on stage, it’s almost the only time in my life when I feel like my brain is going at the correct speed,” Graef said. “It’s the only time that I’m fully present reality in the world and that I feel a completely grounding sense of connection with other people, so that particular element of performance is so gratifying that I crave it.”

This is the dream Graef has had since she was a toddler. And now, it is her reality.

“Apparently, I started asking for a cello when I was two years old, and I can’t remember anything else from that time,” she said. “I know part of growing up around music I was always backstage at some concert hall somewhere with one of my parents, so I was exposed to a lot of music from an early age. And I just think that there was something about the sound of the cello, the Tambor, that just really resonated with me.”

Both of Graef’s parents are musicians. They started her out on the piano and later gifted her a cello when she was 4 years old. She has been playing for 25 years now.

During her journey, the cellist made her way to Cincinnati where she obtained a master’s degree from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music.

“While I was here studying for my Master’s Degree, I was part of the diversity fellowship program with the Cincinnati Symphony as well as CCM,” she said.

Now Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Taft Museum have teamed up to bring Graef back to the area through the Symphony’s Distinguished Diversity Fellowship Program and the Taft Museum’s Artist-in-Residence. Both programs highlight Black and Brown, contemporary artists.

“I think one of the most exciting parts of this journey is just getting to meet so many different types of people from so many different walks of life,” she said. “You know, I travel a lot as a concert artist, and it’s just really a privilege to get to experience so many different parts of the world and the people within it. And for me, performance is really a service-based endeavor.”

Music lovers can see Graef perform at the Taft Museum or during her Finale Concert at Carnegie Arts Center in Covington on April 29 from 7-9 p.m.

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