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Esther Back

Esther Back





A frequent performer praised for her “passion and expressiveness that is wholly accessible to modern ears yet entirely authentic, learned, and respectful of the sources” (D. Tenbrook), Esther Back is an acclaimed cellist known not only for her solo, orchestral, and chamber performances but also as an avid educator and outreach advocate. She has performed at major venues in both the US and Europe. Back also has collaborated in chamber music, concertos, and symphonies with renowned artists such as Lynn Harrell, Bernard Greenhouse, Jackie Evancho, and Alexander Treger. A long-term pupil of world-renowned Baroque cellist and viol player Jaap ter Linden, Back began studying at Frankfurt University at the age of eleven and came to the US sometime later.  She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance at California State University, Fullerton, a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance at the University of Redlands, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Historical Performance Practices (Baroque Cello and Viola da Gamba) at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California. At present, she is working toward PhD/Musicology degree at CGU.

An enthusiastic teacher, Back serves as a faculty member at CSU/San Bernardino and has a large private studio; her students have won top awards at various music competitions, providing them with soloist opportunities with professional orchestras and invitations to regularly perform at prestigious venues. She also is the founder, artistic director, and conductor of the CSU/San Bernardino Cello Ensemble. Under her numerous years of direction, the former Orange County Cello Ensemble (OCCE)—which she founded—performed live on 88.9 KUCI frequently as well as at Walt Disney Hall and prestigious venues in France. She also produced the CD album, “Miracle of the Cellos.”

Despite her comparatively recent commitment to early music performance, she already has established a reputation for it. Back received an invitation several times to perform as Baroque cellist with “Southern California’s most important early music ensemble” (LA Times), Musica Angelica, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and she also was invited to participate in prestigious Baroque workshops held by Toronto’s Tafelmusik and Oberlin College (Baroque Performance Institute). 

Back also has collaborated in concerto performances, chamber music, and orchestral symphonies with renowned artists such as Lynn Harrell, Bernard Greenhouse, Robert Watson, and Alexander Treger. Her several solo appearances in concertos and concert pieces have included works by Dvořák, Schumann, Prokofiev, Vivaldi, and Paganini. Back won numerous awards, including Grand Prizes in the Concerto Competitions at both the University of Redlands School of Music and at CSU/Fullerton. She was the Grand Prize winner of the American String Teachers Association Greater Los Angeles Finals in 2004. In South Korea, she was awarded first place in the Kang Won State Annual Competition and the Music Journal Competition. 

Back began her professional orchestral career in 2007 and is a tenured cellist with the San Bernardino Symphony as well as a member of other noteworthy ensembles. She has served as the Principal Cellist for the Orange County Symphony, Orange Coast College Symphony, La Mirada Symphony, University of Redlands Orchestra, Summit Music Festival Symphony, Texas Music Festival Symphony, and Cal State Fullerton Symphony. She has also performed with the Burbank Philharmonic, Torrance Symphony, and Downey Symphony, and has experience as a recording studio musician.

Back is currently preparing a complete recording set of the six Bach unaccompanied cello suites for the Athene Label. 


  • Doctor of Musical Arts in Historical Performance Practices (Baroque Cello & Viola Da Gamba), Claremont Graduate University
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology, CGU, in progress
  • Master of Music Degree in Cello Performance, University of Redlands 
  • Bachelor of Music Degree in Cello Performance, California State University, Fullerton 


MUS 1420-02: Lower-Division String Instrument I: Cello

MUS 2420-02: Lower-Division String Instrument II: Cello

MUS 2392-02: Applied Strings and Repertoire I: Cello

MUS 3420-02: Upper-Division String Instrument I: Cello

MUS 3392-02: Applied Strings and Repertoire II: Cello

MUS 3832-01 : Cello Ensemble

MUS 3829-01: Chamber Music: Early Music 

MUS 4392-02: Applied Strings and Repertoire III: Cello

MUS 4420-02: Upper-Division String Instrument II: Cello

MUS 4500 Applied Pedagogy: Orchestral Strings

MUS 2135 Musicianship II

MUS 370-80 Music for Elementary Classroom Teachers

MUS 1800 Music Appreciation 

MUS 3080 Women in Music

Research and Teaching Interests

Studio Teaching (Cello & Baroque Cello)

Early Music Ensemble

Cello Orchestra/Ensemble Directing & Managing

Orchestral Repertoire

Chamber Music

Music Education