Adam Caulfield: Cellos, Concertos & Immunology – curious arts

There are a few key things to note about this horribly bad photo I took of U of A student and cellist Adam Caulfield:

  1. He is the winner of the U of A’s 2016-17 annual concerto competition.
  2. He has been playing the cello ever since he was a small child.
  3. Although he plays with the U of A Symphony Orchestra, he is actually not a Music major, but is an honours student in Immunology.

One of the fun parts of my job is getting to meet people who are much smarter and far more talented than me. And by “fun” I mean “a great way to test my self esteem.”

Thankfully, when I finally got a chance to meet Adam and talk to him about his music, he was an incredibly humble and approachable guy. We found ourselves a table in a near-deserted Fine Arts Building (final exams were almost over, so not many students were left), and I got a chance to learn more about this fascinating guy.

First, how did he get to be so good with the cello? When he says things like “I started such a long time ago, that I actually don’t remember a time when I didn’t play,” I suspect that might have something to do with it.

Adam has been playing cello since he was four. (Photo courtesy of Adam Caulfield)

Since FOUR. (Photo by Deep Blue Photography)

He was so young when he started playing, that he doesn’t even remember having a say about it, or even why exactly his parents chose the cello. “We used to live in Parkallen, and a cello teacher lived just down the street, so I think there’s a good chance that’s why my parents picked it,” he laughs.

Flash forward many years later to 2014 when Adam decides to audition for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. He does this by preparing an audition tape where he performs Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129

At that moment, he doesn’t know that a couple years later, he would dust off that same concerto piece to win the U of A concerto competition, making him the featured soloist with the University Symphony Orchestra at the Free But Happy concert.

Adam Caulfield performs at the Free But Happy concert

Adam at the Free But Happy concert. (horrible photo courtesy of Erik Einsiedel)

But despite his talent with the cello, Adam chose to pursue a science degree instead of music, and is currently a 3rd year student studying Immunology at the U of A.

“I’m very interested in human biology, and I’ve had plans to go into medicine for a while. But what I discovered during my degree is a strong interest in infectious disease research,” he says. “I actually wasn’t even aware of it when I first chose my degree, but I’m glad it’s worked out this way.”

When he’s not earning standing ovations at the Winspear Centre or studying the world’s deadliest viruses, Adam loves watching movies and TV. At the time I spoke with him, he was working his way through the TV series Bones — “It’s kind of trashy, but I’m enjoying it,” he laughs. Adam is also an avid snowboarder who was disappointed he wasn’t able to hit the slopes this last season, but it was to ensure he didn’t “break anything” before his concerto performance.

As for the future, Adam plans to enter the U of A concerto competition again this October, but this time he’s teaming up with a violinist friend of his to tackle a double concerto by Brahms. But first things first: this summer, Adam writes his Medical College Admission Test, and we wish him all the best of luck with that.

Keep your eyes out for Adam Caulfield’s name on any upcoming music concerts. It’ll be a performance you won’t want to miss.

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