Farewell ASO Cello Christopher Handley

28 Nov 2023
  • Musician Spotlight
by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Farewell ASO Cello Christopher Handley

After an amazing 37 years with the ASO, Christopher Handley is gearing up to bid us farewell. Join us in this Q&A where Chris shares his highlights, future plans, and what it has been like collaborating with his wife and fellow ASO cellist, Sherrilyn Handley.

How do you feel heading into your final performances with the orchestra?

I really made the decision to retire 18 months ago, so this year has been enjoyable for different reasons. Playing in a professional orchestra is an amazing experience. To be surrounded by such amazing musicians playing superb music under pressure is something I will miss and treasure always. So, this year, I have made more of a point of appreciating their performances and also, the audience reactions.

Looking ahead, what are your plans for retirement? Are there activities or pursuits you are looking forward to?

I will always enjoy music and cello in particular. I am looking forward to learning pieces I did not have chance to learn along the way.  There may also be a few opportunities for chamber music.

I do enjoy golf and sailing so I hope to be more involved on those sports.

You proposed to your wife and fellow cellist Sherrilyn Handley just half an hour after she found out she had received a full-time position in the Orchestra. How has the experience of working alongside Sherri enriched your career and personal lives?

Sherri has been the gift which keeps on giving. We have been in the orchestra together for 34 years and seen many changes. We are quite different people in many ways, so bring different ideas to the music which is always beneficial.  Our birthdays are also the same; although not our ages! We have been blessed with 2 daughters who both enjoy music so it has been rewarding to observe their development.

After being an integral part of the orchestra for so many years, will we have the pleasure of seeing you in the audience? Are there specific performances you are eager to attend as a spectator?

After playing cello professionally, one way or another since, I was 19 years old, it is difficult to just go to a concert as an audience member. One seems to always react like a player which is not always the same. Nevertheless, I am sure I will be at many concerts in the future.  Incidentally, this year there have been 4 generations of Handleys at some of our concerts.

Can you share a highlight from your 37 years with the ASO?

Honestly, there are so many, some very personal. ‘Opera in the Outback’ in 1988 was a really unique and beautiful event.  The weather was reasonably kind and the atmosphere quite stunning. Our tour to America in 2009 was also an amazing experience, staying at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, not our normal tour accomodation, and playing in Carnegie Hall.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The ASO journey has been one of considerable personal development.  There is so much to learn at this level of performance.  I am so grateful for the opportunities it has given me. Thank you to our audiences who have been so loyal over the years, and to all our Sponsors. 

Don’t miss Christopher’s final performances at Christmas Unwrapped this December!

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