Watch: Intrepid cellist performs in trees

Russick Smith performs in a stand of dead pine trees in the mountains outside Fort Collins, Colo.Courtesy of the artist

November 24, 2019

A few years ago, cellist Russick Smith of Breckenridge, Colo., grew tired of performing in traditional concert venues.

"I was feeling a little cynical about re-hashing some of the same old ruts," Smith recently told KDVR. "I wanted to feel this wondrous feeling that I had never felt before."

On a whim, he waded out to an island in the Blue River during an arts festival and started to play.

"I just took my cello and put the case on my head, and I borrowed some waders from somebody, and waded out there with my cello, and then sat down and played a concert," he said. "And people just came and sat down."

His next adventure in plein-air performance took him up into the trees.

"I got a tree stand and modified it so I could set my end pin down on it, and I went and climbed into this aspen grove and just let people discover it," he said.

Smith performs canopy concerts as both a solo artist and with his ensemble, Tree-O.

"In nature, you're just playing music for the sake of music," he said. "It seems like the music resonates at a different level."

Where will the intrepid cellist perform next?

"There's nothing I feel like that's off-limits. If it's possible, and even if it seems impossible, I'm game. Let's give it a shot."

With cold weather returning to the Rockies, Smith has put his outdoor playing on hold until the spring. Find out more about his upcoming performances and recordings on his website, and watch him perform while perched in a pine in the video below.