Well-Strung, a string quartet known for its pop covers and hunky members, was founded in 2012 by second violinist Chris Marchant and producer Mark Cortale. Since the pandemic, with group music-making a challenge, several members of the quartet have been striking out on their own. This summer, first violinist Edmund Bagnell performed his solo show, “He Plays the Violin,” at the Crown & Anchor.
Now, cellist Daniel Shevlin presents his own show, “Versatile,” premiering at the Art House this Friday and Saturday. If it is a success, he hopes to take it on tour. “It’s fun and a little nerve-wracking,” he says.
Shevlin grew up in South Jersey. He started playing the cello when he was around 10 years old. “It just stuck,” he says. “I really got into classical music then. I wasn’t a very athletic child — sports just weren’t my thing. This was a nice activity that was just mine.
“I did all the arts stuff in high school,” continues Shevlin. “Cello and theater and singing. I went to school for musical theater in New York, while studying cello on the side.” Shevlin acted and played cello in a national tour of Cabaret. He believes the instrument lends itself to different genres. “It’s the closest to the human voice,” he says. “People like to fill out music with it because it’s soulful. It kind of goes with everything.”
Shevlin describes “Versatile” as a “cabaret-style concert” blending musical theater, pop, and classical. Semi-autobiographical, “it is really an introductory piece to who I am as a musician,” he says.
Shevlin sings and plays the cello at the same time — no easy feat. “On a fretless instrument like the cello, you have to have the muscle memory,” he explains. “If it’s off by even a millimeter, it will sound out of tune. There’s this strange disconnect of using your hands but also having to listen while singing.”
Though pianist Lance Horne will provide harmonic support, “in a quartet, you share the workload. It will be hard to be the only one talking,” says Shevlin. He will use two different cellos: one standard, one electric. The electric cello has a lower fifth string and is worn like a guitar. It’s perfect for rock ballads and “frees me up to move around,” he says.
Shevlin says that he’s heartened by groups like Two Cellos and Time for Three that take classical instruments in new directions. “Obviously, classical music as a popular art form is not where it used to be,” he says. “But I also don’t think it’s dying. It’s changing. With Well-Strung, it’s evolved into something different. With the pandemic, things took a turn in the industry. I feel like there’s a real need for it now. We have to be careful and make sure it doesn’t slip away.”
No Strings Attached
The event: “Versatile” with cellist Daniel Shevlin
The time: Friday, Sept. 17 and Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
The place: The Art House, 214 Commercial St., Provincetown
The cost: $35 to $45 at provincetownarthouse.com