Center For Arts & Equity

Rupert Gillett

Rupert Gillett is a British cellist, singer, multi-instrumentalist & composer.  He specialises in jazz cello and is known for his Jazz Cello Tunes YouTube series, but is adept and experienced at many other styles, including rock, folk and Eastern European music. Like a musical mercenary, Rupert has a chequered career which has carried him from country to country and stage to stage – he has barely done an honest day’s work in his life.

Rupert is now based in Cologne, Germany, but spent much of his career in London, UK, where he caused general chaos and mayhem.  For many years he worked as a double bass player, performing on a relentless basis with groups such as the rootsy R&B quartet Dai & the Ramblers, 20s Jazz showsters The Boneshaker Band, music hall comedy band The Dead Victorians and countless other ensembles, many of which he has forgotten (and some which he would like to). More by accident than design, Rupert ended up floating to the top of the London Klezmer scene and was often caught in concert with bands such as the London Klezmer Quartet and Balkan/Klezmer adventurers She’koyokh.

Despite these shenanigans, Rupert started breaking into jazz and other styles on the cello, stealing many of the ideas he had pilcherred from different instruments and styles.  Guitar picking on the cello? Yeah, why not.  Serious bass usage? Yeah, ok.  Tenor Banjo chord voicings? Yep.  Hence, One Voice, One Cello was born.  No loops, no pedals, swiss army knife cello.

As a cellist, Rupert performs in the the duo Cellicious with singer/cellist Kate Shortt, the crossover trio Arcopia with cellist Gunther Tiedemann and Violinist Chris Haigh (The Fiddle Channel), chamber-jazz quartet Butterfly’s Wing with the legendary Jacqui Dankworth, the folk/renaissance/jazz trio Whistlebow and his duo One Voice, One Cello & A Mad Belgian, with which he has released 2 live albums. He was (apparently) a member of Modern Nature, where he was featured on 2 albums and an EP for the Bella Union label. He has released a few albums under his own name, including De-constructed Cello Part I (2020), Jazz Cello (2022) and Rupert Gillett (2023).

As a hired gun, Rupert has been ignored at private functions by Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, the late HRH Prince Phillip, Jude Law, Jeremy Clarkson, Ray Davies, Charles Dance, Salmon Rushdie and many more. Some of the strangest venues he has performed include Buckingham Palace (as a Scottish folk musician… eek, how did THAT happen?), under a giant Diplodocus skeleton and on the Orient Express.  He has performed on TV and BBC radio under various guises and has played some of the nastiest festivals in Europe.  He did a stint playing banjo on stilts (not a joke) and performed at the 2021 paralympic games.  He has toured UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain, Norway, Poland but hasn’t been caught yet.

As a composer, Rupert has had various works published by Boosey & Hawkes and Con Moto Publications.  He was commissioned to write the song cycle Memories of the Mayflower (2020) to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims.  As a producer and engineer, Rupert has worked on albums by award winning artists such as Katy Carr, Frank Denyer and others.

Rupert co-directs the 100 piece Cello Orchestra at the Celloakademie Rutesheim, Germany.  Over the years, he has given numerous workshops in cello improvisation or Klezmer/Balkan Music at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Dept., the New Directions Cello Festival, various folk festivals and even the Royal Marines Band (no idea how that happened).  He has written his own children’s environmental music project: „Singen Kann Was Bringen“ together with his partner, Valerie Rathmann with whom he also performs in the duo “Heart Strings Duet” as a singer/guitarist.

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