This UA prof ditched his barista job to achieve music dreams

buchholz

Dr. Theodore Buchholz, professor of cello for the UA, poses with a cello. Music has almost always been in Buchholz' life.

Within the depths of the Fred Fox School of Music’s abundance of talent resides a professor who’s regarded as a virtuosic musician.

Dr. Theodore Buchholz is the current professor of cello at the UA, the director of the Tucson Cello Congress and the president of the American String Teachers Association of Arizona. He began teaching at the UA in 2014, doing one-on-one lessons and hosting weekly studio classes for cello majors attending the UA.

Hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, Buchholz began playing the cello in sixth grade and from there moved to San Francisco at the age of 17 to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 

During this time, Buchholz participated in a number of chamber music groups and professional orchestra ensembles, such as the Monterey Symphony and the Vallejo Symphony. 

“Orchestra playing was what I really wanted to do,” Buchholz said.

After finishing his undergraduate studies in San Francisco, Buchholz set his sights on New York and soon gained admittance to the Manhattan School of Music, which he attended for two years. 

“There’s really something about New York,” Buchholz said. “There’s effervescent energy everywhere, so I never felt bogged down.”

Then, one day, while working a shift at a Starbucks to make ends meet, Buchholz had a realization.

“I hated the moments when I could not be doing music,” Buchholz said. “I realized that I had to get out and teach, so I was given the fortunate opportunity to apply [to teach] for the Queens Music School.”

There Buchholz began his career by teaching preparatory students music theory and giving cello lessons. 

“The time in New York made me realize that teaching music was so important to me,” Buchholz said.

This position lasted for about a year and a half, and in 2006, he left New York for Tucson to join the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

“I worked really hard to create a cello scene in Arizona,” Buchholz said. “I was doing a lot of private teaching and some studio work over at Pima [Community] College.” 

In 2008, Buchholz founded the Tucson Cello Congress, a yearly event in which cellists from across the state come together for a weekend of concerts and master classes. Buchholz said he drew inspiration from a local professor in South Carolina who hosted a similar event.

Buchholz’s work with the TSO lasted until 2014, when he was offered his current position as the professor of cello for the Fred Fox School of Music. 

One of the major programs that Buchholz became a member of is the American String Teachers Association. 

“I can always remember the superb work that ASTA does; they’re key player[s] in advocating for music education in the country,” Buchholz said. “Without ASTA’s work, I know of many programs throughout the country that would not exist.”

As the current president, he works alongside many others for promotion of music education.

Currently, Buchholz actively follows his dream of spreading music education throughout the world. This December, Buchholz will be guest teaching at the Boston Conservatory of Music. He also spends his summers teaching and performing.

The work Buchholz does within the UA School of Music includes training chamber music ensembles, one-on-one lessons, recitals for the general public and a cello studio class. 

Under his guidance, the cello studio performs a multitude of music as they begin to master their craft. 

The cello studio recently held a competition amongst themselves and in conjunction with professor of harp Carrol McLaughlin’s harp studio. Every student learned and auditioned with Camille Saint-Saëns’s “The Swan” from “The Carnival of the Animals.” 

The first, second and third place winners will be performing as soloists in an upcoming concert, which takes place Dec. 13 at Saint Paul’s Church. Afterwards, they will be taking the song to the recording studio to begin working on the release of a CD.

“He’s a really wonderful cellist,” said Alberto Macias, a junior in the cello program, of Buchholz.

Similar words of praise are echoed by all of his students.

“He is just a wonderful teacher,” said Sage McCollough, a freshman in the cello program.

Dr. Theodore Buchholz has become a recognized name within the music education community. His efforts are easily seen in the numerous programs, events and concerts he and his students partake in.


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