Arts, Culture & Media

How to fake it as a cellist


Photo by François Duhamel. Property of Paramount Pictures

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The new film "The Soloist" is based upon the unlikely and complicated friendship the at developed between the "L.A. Times" columnist Steve Lopez and homeless man named Nathaniel Ayers.  It stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Fox.

It was back in 2005 that Lopez noticed Ayers when he was playing a beat-up two-string violin in a downtown park in L.A.  near a statue of Beethoven.  Pretty soon Lopez found out that Ayers is, in fact, a trained string musician who had gone to Julliard in New York.  After he wrote about him, his newspaper readers were so moved by the story and by Ayers that they sent him cellos as gifts.

Cello music is central to this movie and that is where Ben Hong comes in.  Hong is the assistant principal cellist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was also the technical advisor for the new film “The Soloist” and taught Jamie Foxx how to play cello for his role. Hong describes the challenges of teaching a movie star how to fake it as a cellist. And Hong guides Kurt as he picks up a bow for the first time.


PRI's Peabody Award-winning "Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen" from WNYC is public radio's smart and surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt Andersen introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy — so let "Studio 360" steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life.

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