H-F cellist performs for world-class musician

Eric Nickerson performing with Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
Eric Nickerson performing with Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

Not only has H-F junior Eric Nickerson been playing the cello for eight years and been taking private lessons for three of those, he recently displayed his talents for Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the cellist who performed while Meghan Markle walked down the aisle in her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.

Between performing in H-F’s Viking Orchestra under director BJ Engrav to orchestras outside school to just practicing, Nickerson has no intention of putting down his bow anytime soon.

“[Kanneh-Mason] is my cello hero and inspiration to become a professional musician, so playing in front of him was a dream come true,” said Nickerson. “I played the Boccherini Cello Concerto no. 9 in B-flat major.”

Training under Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra cellist Ingrid Krizan, Nickerson plays in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO), is a Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) fellow and is a Fulton Ambassador.

“He’s a very hardworking student, he’s become very focused on music, especially in the last few years. He’s an outstanding cellist and an excellent student and takes criticism and direction very well,” said Engrav. “If he plays something out of tune he can understand that and he has a focus and determination to go and adjust it. Not only is he a great kid but he’s also got the drive.”


This “drive” has been with Nickerson since he started playing in an orchestra in fourth grade.

“I’ve always had an interest in instruments and how they sound and saw orchestra as a cool thing to do. I was inspired to play the cello after watching a few videos from the popular duo ‘2 Cellos’ on YouTube.”

When you begin the orchestra program, it’s entirely up to you to pick the instrument you’re going to stick with for potentially eight years. It can be a lot of pressure, but Nickerson claims the decision was no challenge.

“The range of the cello is almost identical to the human voice and I think people connect with that more than any other instrument,” said Nickerson. “The best pieces of music written for my instrument use its ability to sound like a human voice to evoke deep emotions.”

As previously stated, Nickerson has no plans to quit anytime soon.

“In the future, I want to inspire other people through my playing to explore the world of classical music and all it has to offer. My career and all that I draw inspiration from throughout my life will be a testimony to my faith in God,” he stated. “This opportunity to make music for people means everything to me. Some of the most meaningful and fulfilling relationships I have made with people have been through making music together.”

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