A Young Cellist Prepares for a Performance She’ll Remember for the Rest of Her Life


February 8, 2023

14-year-old cellist and 2023 Kaufman Music Center Concerto Competition winner Margot Pantoga, a student of Yari Bond, has been busy preparing David Popper’s dazzling Romantic showpiece, Hungarian Rhapsody, for the Winners’ Concert in Merkin Hall on February 12. She can’t wait to perform as soloist with an orchestra for the first time! Get tickets

  • What she loves about the piece: “The characters and the really intense range of emotion, dynamics and technique, and bow control and vibrato. There are so many things that come together to create a difference in sound for each section.”
  • What’s challenging: “The hardest thing was to really master the different characters, especially in the slower sections like the adagio, which is the star of the piece. Just being able to really play that character like it was meant to be played, and mastering the traditionally Hungarian rhythms.”
  • What’s interesting: Unlike Liszt, who also famously wrote a Hungarian Rhapsody, Popper was not Hungarian – he was born in Prague. ”This piece is a great example of exoticism. Popper heard all these different rhythms and melodies that are typically Hungarian, and he put that into his music.”
  • Margot loves the intense emotion and passion in the works of Elgar, Schubert, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. She enjoys singing and has recently been exploring jazz.
  • How does she feel about performing with an orchestra for the first time? “I’m a little nervous, but I’m also really excited because I know it’ll be an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Come see Margot and the other 2023 Kaufman Music Center Concerto Competition winners – pianists Mayu Kanai and Caroline Passman, cellist Yoonsuh Lee, and violinists Ilaya Levy-Schwartz and Charlotte Young – perform on February 12 at 5:30 pm in Merkin Hall! Get tickets

Watch Margot rehearse: 

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