Save my cello, urges Pereira

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STAR cellist David Pereira is about to lose the use of his borrowed 18th century Italian Guidantus.

David Pereira
Cellist David Pereira with the borrowed 18th century Italian Guidantus.

Pereira says the Guidantus is a cultural asset that should be retained in the Yass region, which has become something of a mecca for cello-playing with Pereira, the 2010 “CityNews” Canberra Artist of the Year, and the celebrated Israeli cellist Uzi Wiesel living in the district.

Pereira has been playing the instrument on loan from the family of its late owner Dr Roland Adrian Glennie “Rag” Holmes.

rag holmes
The late Dr “Rag” Holmes… brought the cello to Yass.

“Rag’s” son Nick has decided to sell the instrument and share the proceeds with his siblings. With a price tag likely to be in the vicinity of $500,000, the 1730 instrument might go to another part of the country or, worse, overseas.

It’s not as if Pereira will be left cello-less. He has a perfectly respectable $50,000 cello purchased some years ago, but it simply isn’t in the same league as this one – and it doesn’t have its history.

Pereira says the differences are “very, very great for the player” – and, he hopes, the listener too.

It was brought to Yass by Dr Holmes, who had played it at Sydney Conservatorium, at an outback campsite and in the Opera House.

A veteran of New Guinea and Borneo, after World War II the doctor became a living treasure of Yass district who, by repute, delivered half the local population into the world. He was once chairman of Yass Sorry Day and, incidentally, also Gough and Margaret Whitlam’s best man. There’s a street named after him in Macgregor. He died in 2007.

The founder in 1953 of the Yass Music Club, “Rag” was also a fine cello player who, his widow Ann Holmes has told “CityNews, treated her to “a concert a day” during their 26 years of marriage.

The cello first came into his life when the young “Rag” was about to turn 18. He spotted the instrument in the window of A. E. Smith’s music shop in Hunter Street, Sydney, and became besotted with it, so that his normally reserved mother bought it for him as a birthday present for what Ann Holmes estimates to have been a few hundred pounds.

That was, Pereira comments, long before “the significance now given to old instruments – a relatively recent phenomenon”. Values have shot up.

Ann Holmes, who sings praises for the rich artistic life of Yass to “CityNews”, says that when his first wife died in 1972, “Rag” gifted the instrument to their cello-playing son Nick, but that “no one in the family plays the cello now.”

Pereira does though. “Is there anyone out there who would find the money to keep his cello in the region?” he asks.

Anyone interested in the cello may contact Pereira at or 0404 499348.

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