Honoring Gary Fitzgerald

February 2021

Gary Fitzgerald

Leader, Conductor, Accompanist, Arranger, Cellist

We are very sad that our dear Gary Fitzgerald is retiring from Cellospeak! He announced to us in early January that the 2019 Cellospeak Workshops were his last. Needless to say, we have been reeling from the news. We certainly all wish Gary well and intend to stay in touch!


Since the early days of Cellospeak, Gary Fitzgerald and our founder, Dorothy Amarandos, have been the twin rocks upon which our community was built. After having lost Dorothy in 2019, it is hard to imagine what Cellospeak will be like without both of them. But, while we all will miss Gary and Dorothy – we are confident that Cellospeak will continue on the foundation they have laid.  Most of all, we are so grateful that they have both endowed Cellospeak with an immutable and magical culture of inclusiveness and support for adult cellists of all backgrounds and abilities, and the tradition of infusing all we do with love!

Beyond the difficulties of filling Gary’s able shoes, we will just miss his magnificent presence – his slightly gruff admonitions that being “on time” to Choir rehearsal is actually being late – his uncanny ability to determine, without looking at anyone in particular, exactly who, among 80 cellists, was playing an errant accidental or on the wrong string – his talent to inspire and illustrate by recounting incomparably fascinating and funny stories about his vast experiences as a player and conductor – his ability to convey what he wanted to hear with incredible economy of language and demonstration – his sensitive insistence that all will be well and that, when the time comes, we WOULD be prepared to perform – and his passion for music of the moment. If you were there, you were among the lucky few who shared a unique experience of time measured by an unrepeatable performance, and, if not – well, you just weren’t there. We have all been used to laying aside our anxiety and putting our trust in his capable hands with the confidence that he will lead us to success. We will miss that, and we will miss those incredibly special musical moments.

We have not wanted to accept the reality that Gary will no longer perform his singular annual miracles. No other human could perform them all.


In the short 5 days afforded him by our Ensemble Workshop schedule, Gary would regularly magically transform an apprehensive group of amateurs into a full-throated, well-coordinated, and confident Cello Choir – playing pieces they never thought they could master.

Gary performed equal magic leading our superb faculty ensembles with only scant rehearsals, to amazing performances at our workshops and in special 16Cellos concerts.


With no visible effort or apprehension, Gary invariably could supply uniquely insightful piano accompaniments that enabled literally anyone – from the most intimidated beginner to the most seasoned pro – to perform with confidence.


On top of that, Gary regularly filled our library with wonderful arrangements perfectly suited both to our multi-level amateur ensembles and to our elite professional faculty. Some of his most memorable arrangements for Cellospeak ensembles include Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, David Popper’s Requiem, Bruch’s Ave Maria, Haydn’s Now the Day is Over, Cellospeak’s signature closing piece Shenandoah, and a special version of “When Falling Asleep,” one of Strauss’ Four Last Songs, arranged specifically for Dorothy Amarandos. Luckily, he has said he will continue to provide arrangements for us. Performances of many of these Fitzgerald arrangements can be heard on the Cellospeak YouTube Channel.


Oh, and we can’t forget that on more than one occasion Gary himself performed on the cello!

Gary is one-of-a-kind.

For more on Gary….

  • Enjoy this recording of Gary’s presentation at our 2020 Cellospeak Studio “What’s Going On Up There, Including What To Do If It’s ME Up There” (Click “Add to Cart” below for free checkout to stream the video.)