Adrian Bostian Takes Love of Music into College Cello Auditions

Bostian, who has spent his entire life around music, is preparing for cello auditions at several elite music schools


Isaac Bullwinkle

Adrian Bostian ’23 plays cello in his house

Isaac Bullwinkle, Reporter

Silent air fills a circular room, sunlight gaping through its stained-glass windows. A Steinway & Sons piano sits solemnly in the corner; next to it is a small music library. In it, several cello cases are visible and numerous sheet music copies of chamber, orchestra, and solo works are stacked on its shelves. In the center of the room sits Adrian Bostian ‘23 with his cello, preparing to practice for what is likely to be several hours. 

Even though his eyes are closed, Adrian plays the first note of the Dvořák Cello Concerto, one of the most challenging works in cello standard repertoire, with confidence and assurance. As his left hand shifts up and down his instrument’s four strings to communicate the correct sound to the cello, the bow he carries in his right hand produces it by stimulating the string with calculated pressure. He moves his body instinctively as the music, despite being wordless, communicates emotion and feeling. 

Adrian has demonstrated exceptional ability as a cellist during his high school career. He has been admitted into the Iowa All-State Orchestra all three years, placing fourth cellist his freshman year and first cellist his junior year (the festival was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic). He was awarded the University of Iowa Music Study Club annual scholarship in early 2021, and placed second in the Cedar Falls & Waterloo Concerto Competition later that year. Adrian spends his time today preparing for college cello auditions — he hopes to audition at schools such as Yale, Peabody Conservatory, and Cleveland Institute of Music. 

Adrian’s musical journey began at the age of four when he started learning piano at Preucil School of Music. He continued playing piano for several years, picking up the cello in fourth grade. After studying with his father Carey, a professional cellist, for a couple years, Adrian began taking lessons from Laura Shaw, a teacher at the Preucil School of Music who still teaches him today. 

“I noticed right away that Adrian was a very thoughtful musician from the very beginning. He has always thought very carefully about the way his technique works in order to make the music he wants,” said Shaw. 

This natural understanding of music may stem from both his parents being professional musicians, which set the standard fairly high for Adrian; however, he feels that there wasn’t immense pressure on him to follow in their footsteps. He believes this has been a driving force that has allowed him to find natural enjoyment in music — to see it as something he wanted to pursue out of his own motivations. 

“My parents are professional musicians, so there is a wealth of knowledge available to me when it comes to music, but because there was a lot of pressure on my mom to become a successful musician when she was growing up, I haven’t experienced the negatives that might come with that knowledge,” Adrian said. 

Adrian has been able to take advantage of that knowledge by studying cello with his father in addition to his lessons with Shaw. 

“It would be ridiculous for me to not get my dad’s ideas before I go off to college because he is a very knowledgeable teacher, so over the summer we made a plan for us to study together and it’s been working pretty well,” Adrian said. 

Adrian has been involved in several ensemble groups at Preucil for several years, including its symphony orchestra. Over the last summer, he traveled to Germany and the Czech Republic with the orchestra, performing several programs across both countries. 

“We did four performances total, all in amazing venues, and it was a great experience. These locations are great for people interested in music because they’re where a lot of music originated and where a lot of composers lived,” said Adrian. 

He’s also one of the most advanced cellists in Preucil’s cello choir, which is led by Shaw. 

“Cello choir is my favorite hour every week because of people like Adrian who really give their all, and he’s just such a strong chamber musician that he really brings a lot to the cello choir. He’s a great leader in the group who really helps hold it all together no matter which part he’s playing,” said Shaw. 

Even though the volume of his accomplishments is more than impressive for one instrument, cello is not the only one Adrian plays. He is also an accomplished pianist, having studied piano since he was four years old. However, he isn’t planning on pursuing piano professionally as he is cello; for Adrian, the piano is meant to be a more relaxing and enjoyable pursuit — he prioritizes playing pieces he enjoys while still challenging himself with difficult music. 

“The piano gets kind of the short end of the stick right now, because I’m planning to study cello in college and it’s what I’m more advantaged in, but I still hope to be involved with it [piano] on the side,” Adrian said. 

Adrian has also recently taken up the pursuit of learning classical guitar — even in the midst of auditioning for elite music programs, his enjoyment of music extends far beyond what he must do on the cello in preparation for his auditions. In regards to the instruments he is experienced with, however, Adrian’s extensive practice schedule includes both piano and cello, with most of his time focused on cello. 

“I’m aiming for around two hours of personal practice a day on top of working with my dad or any lessons that I have, as well as other activities like PSSO (Preucil School String Orchestra) and cello choir,” Adrian said. 

Given the advanced and competitive nature of the auditions, he believes that it is very important to maintain a consistent practicing schedule. 

“It’s all about the habits. If I’m in the habit of practicing this [much time], it’s unlikely that I’m going to deviate from that. Another thing that always helps with consistency is having a goal, which in my case is auditions in February. Having a goal is a cure for aimlessness,” Adrian said. 

Adrian is considering all possible careers for after he attends college. Whatever he does, however, will likely involve music — the force that has surrounded him his entire life might just  become it. 

“A safe career is a professor, so I likely wouldn’t turn that down, but I would also love to play in one of the major symphony orchestras. I think I would really enjoy every performance.”