Neal Cary

Principal Cello

Neal Cary has been praised for his “robust tone and high-romantic phrasing,” and the “tremendous amount of emotion and heart” he brings to his performances.

He has been principal cellist with the Richmond Symphony since 1988, and has served as principal cellist of the Williamsburg Symphonia since 2002. In 1984, he joined the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has served as principal cellist there every summer since 1988. In August of 2012, Neal Cary was a member of the All-Star Orchestra—an orchestra comprised of some of the finest musicians in the United States. This orchestra was created for the production of eight television programs which aired in the fall of 2013 on various PBS stations throughout the country (but unfortunately not in the Richmond area).

In addition to his symphony work, Neal Cary has been on the performing artist faculty at the College of William and Mary since 1991. Since 1989, Neal Cary has been a member of the Richmond Chamber Players which performs in Richmond on each Sunday in August.

Previous to his employment in the Richmond area, Neal Cary was co-principal cellist of the Kansas City Philharmonic and assistant principal cellist of the Tulsa Philharmonic, the San Antonio Symphony, and the Denver Symphony Ochestra. From 1994–98, he was on the adjunct faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University. While a student at The Juilliard School, he was a chamber music teaching assistant to Earl Carlyss and Claus Adam in 1980–81. While a student at Meadowmount School of Music during the summers of 1980 and 1981, he was a chamber music teaching assistant to Joseph Gingold.

Neal Cary’s major teachers have included Pat Ficarra, Robert Newkirk, Channing Robbins, and the world-renowned Leonard Rose. Mr. Cary holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Catholic University of America, and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School of Music.

Notable recital performances in the Richmond area include performances from memory of the 40 Popper Études and all the Bach Suites for Solo Cello. Mr. Cary has completed a “performance edition” of the Popper Études (as yet unpublished) and is working on a companion book which explains how to practice these études. He has also completed an unpublished edition of the Bach Suites for Solo Cello, based on three surviving copies of Bach’s manuscript.

Concerto performances include nearly 50 performances of most of the major cello concertos, unusual works, and a world premier with orchestras on the East Coast. YouTube videos of Mr. Cary include a live performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto, a performance of the Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 2, and a video lesson on the Saint-Saëns.

In addition to his musical endeavors, Neal Cary is a staunch supporter of religious liberty, freedom from religion, and state/church separation. In furtherance of these goals, he has served on the board of American Atheists since 1995, and has been Chairperson since 2009. From 1996 through 2001, he was the National Outreach Director of American Atheists where he headed the American Atheists Volunteers, and organized a new national system of State Directors geared toward Atheist activism. He wrote the “American Atheists Activists Handbook” and the “State Director Handbook.” As National Outreach Director, he began the annual American Atheists Letter to the Editor Competition in 2000 and ran it through 2010.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Catherine, his daughter Emma, and son Alan.


Photo credit: Kim Kiely Photography