We had the good fortune of connecting with Nan Kemberling and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nan, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Music has been a consistent source of joy throughout my life. As a performer, I get to put all of myself into making music, connecting with an audience, and giving them something to remember. I love when folks come up to me after a concert and tell me they could see how excited I was as I played! I also love teaching music. I have developed a specialty of teaching adults who are just starting out with the cello. They aren’t trying to win competitions or make All-State orchestra, but rather they are expanding their mind and developing a skill they might have wished they had for their entire lives. And then this year, I am finally getting to share my music writing with the world, as I’m putting out my first album! I’ve been writing songs since I was in high school, but I’ve been working with David Tenenbaum to produce an album of them for the first time. It’s both thrilling and terrifying to let people know what I’m wrestling with on the inside, but I hope folks enjoy finding out!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The low point of my progression as a musician was the time I spent in conservatory. It’s an environment built around competition, where peers are threats and not collaborators. I’m skeptical that approach produces the best musicians for any purpose, but it definitely wasn’t the right fit for me. I had to find a more positive environment to be able to make the most of my ability.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I eat vegan, and Atlanta has some really outstanding vegan spots! For lunch, I’d take them to Green Sprout in Ansley Park, and for dinner we’d go to Mamak Vegan Kitchen in Chamblee. In between, we’d go to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Centennial Olympic Park. It’s got some amazing exhibits that really put you in the shoes of a protester in the 50’s or 60’s. Then after dinner we could head over to Actor’s Express for a show – they consistently put on some of the best productions anywhere.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would’ve quit playing cello before ever becoming a professional if I hadn’t met Martha Gerschefski. She’s a legendary teacher who has worked with a bunch of superb cellists. She taught me lots about playing cello with precision, accuracy, and passion, but she also taught me a mindset and a method of attacking problems that has served me well in all areas of life, in and out of music.
Photos by Max Eremine.