Described as “an assured soloist” with “fearless technique,” Cecilia Huerta-Lauf brings passion and heart to her performances as an accomplished cellist. Currently, she is the director, co-founder & cellist of the NouLou Chamber Players, a substitute cellist for the Louisville Orchestra and an electric cellist in Electria.
A native of Dickson, Tennessee, she began playing the cello at age 4. She made her solo debut with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra at age 16. Her musical education began with a pre-college program at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, extended to her undergraduate degree at DePaul University studying under Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellists Steve Balderston and Brant Taylor, and continued with her master¹s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music as a student of Paul Katz. Cecilia completed her doctorate and teaching assistantship studying with Ross Harbaugh at the Frost School of Music at University of Miami, Florida. Her dissertation “The Exploration and Creation of Cello Arrangements for Selected Works by Carlos Guastavino” is available for public viewing. Solo honors & awards include first prize winner of the Chicago Cliff Dwellers String Competition and Frost Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. In August of 2012, she was selected as one of 17 semi-finalists from around the world in the Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition held in Morelia, Mexico.
As an orchestral musician, she has enjoyed tenures with groups such as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Discovery Ensemble, Florida Grand Opera, and Oistrach Symphony Orchestra as well as a substitute for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Cecilia was also the founding administrative director and principal cellist of the Boston Latin-American Orchestra. She has played under the direction of many distinguished conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Bernard Haitink, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Michael Tilson-Thomas. Cecilia was the first prize winner of the Chicago Cliff Dwellers String Competition, Frost Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. performed as guest assistant principal for the Louisville Orchestra during the 2017 Festival of American Music with conductors Teddy Abrams and Michael Tilson Thomas, and during the 22/23 season Cecilia served as an interim cellist for the Louisville Orchestra.
In the chamber music world, Cecilia has performed at numerous chamber music festivals & series such as Big Ears Festival, Dayton Chamber Music Society, Derby City Chamber Music Festival, Kitchner-Waterloo Chamber Music Society, Miami Bach Society, New Lens, and WUOLive. She has received training from artists such as Borromeo String Quartet, Vivian Weilerstein, Rami Solomonow, and Ilya Kaler. For the 22/23 season, Cecilia will perform in a string quartet for Kentucky Opera’s production “As One” and several ensembles for NouLou Chamber Players, including commissions with Daniel Gilliam & Jack McFadden-Talbot.
As an arts leader and entrepreneur, Cecilia was Board President of the Chamber Music Society of Louisville, including overseeing the Beethoven Festival with Emerson Quartet. During her studies, Cecilia had been awarded with the New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Grant, and was a nominee for the Chicago Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Young Artists. As Director of NouLou Chamber Players, Cecilia has overseen many collaborations, grants, commissions, an album, & participated in the Encore Team program at Leadership Louisville.
Cecilia enjoys expanding her repertoire outside of the traditional classical scene with forays into Latin-American music, Jazz, Bluegrass, improvisation, rock, theater, and Broadway. As of May 2015, she joined Electria as an electric cellist. Broadway shows include “Lion King,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Phantom of the Opera.” Cecilia has received bluegrass training with Mark O’Connor and performed “Limerock” duo with him at the “Fiddles on Fire” concert during Festival Miami ‘13. Her other improvisation trainers have included Warren Senders and Vincent L. Maggio as well as masterclasses with Christian Howes and Jeremy Cohen. She has recorded various movie & video game scores; recorded albums with George Benson at the Hit Factory and Weezer; and accompanied popular and Jazz artists in PBS specials and live shows such as Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Terence Blanchard, Dave Grusin, Lucius, Vince Mendoza, Michael Feinstein, Shelly Berg, Andrea Bocelli, Kenny Loggins, Ben Folds, Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, and Trans Siberian Orchestra. Cecilia has participated in music festivals across the United States, Canada, France, and Italy, including the Banff Centre and Carteret Cello Festival. More recently, she was in the Forecastle Symphony at Forecastle Festival and accompanied Bruce Hornsby & Chris Thile on a live broadcast taping of “Live from Here”. As a Henry Mancini Institute Fellow, she served as principal cellist and worked with young composers and arrangers such as Latin-Grammy nominated Rafael Piccolotto de Lima. Cecilia was also selected as a member of the newly established HMI String Quartet 2013-14 where she recorded commissioned works by Frost students, alumni and faculty.
As an instructor, Cecilia brings support and dedication to her pupils, having taught at the university and preparatory levels at University of Miami, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Frost String Academy, and Superior Music Academy. She is also a certified teacher in Suzuki Cello Unit One and in O’Connor String Method. Locally, Cecilia has served on faculty at Suzuki Stars Music Academy and University of Louisville’s Community Music Program. She has been a guest coach for the Louisville Youth Orchestra, a regular coach for Youth Performing Arts School, and has given weekly coachings to cello students at Westport Middle School and has run Suzuki cello programs at Farmer and Wheeler Elementary Schools. Cecilia has served as a judge for the Kentucky MTNA Competitions & Kentucky Cello Club Competition. Recently, she was a guest speaker at the GRL PWR Middle School Girls Summit. Cecilia also uses outreach as a means to connect future musicians and audience members with their life-long passions and music. She is available as a musical presenter and performer through programs such as Louisville Free Public Library. Her outreach training includes MusiCorps, NEC Community Performances and Partnerships, and HMI Outbound Program as well as performances through Tuneful Tales.