Conservatory Announces Three Cello Faculty for 2016–17 Academic Year


The UMKC Conservatory is pleased to note that three Kansas City Symphony cellists, Alexander East, Lawrence Figg, and Mark Gibbs, join our faculty for the 2016–17 academic year.  Additionally, UMKC will host Hans Jørgen Jensen, Keith Robinson, and Clancy Newman for three separate residencies in 2016-2017.  More about those residencies is available here.

Alexander East serves as the Kansas City Symphony Assistant Principal Cello. In addition to duties with the Symphony, which often include leading the section as principal for opera, ballet and chamber orchestra performances, East is also heard frequently in recitals and chamber music concerts throughout the Kansas City region and beyond. Locally, he has performed regularly in groups including Summerfest concerts, the Boulevard String Quartet and newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Before settling in Kansas City, East spent two seasons as a member of the New World Symphony under the direction of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and he was re-invited to coach the cello section as a guest alumnus September 2007. East has been featured as soloist with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, the Sedalia Symphony, the Erie (PA) Chamber Orchestra and the Fredonia Chamber Players. During the summer, he has participated in the Banff and Sarasota music festivals and has performed with the Sun Valley (Idaho) Summer Symphony every summer since 1992. He received his training at Indiana University where he received a bachelor's degree and performer diploma, and he earned his master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music. His teachers have included Tsuyushi Tsutsumi, Janos Starker, Laurence Lesser and Colin Carr.

Lawrence Figg Born 1963 in Dallas, Lawrence Figg began the cello in fourth grade strings class and later was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at age 18. After graduating in 1985, he moved to France where he lived for five years in Paris. He was a member of the Orchestre de Chambre d'Alexendre Stajic, performed a season with Pierre Boulez's Ensemble Intercomtemporain, and he was a regular recording artist for French radio and television. In 1986, he was a semi-finalist at the Tchaikovsky in Moscow and performed as soloist with several French orchestras during his stay in Paris. In 1991, he won a position as section cellist in the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine under the direction of Alain Lombard and was later appointed the to the position of assistant principal and then principal cello until 1994. Figg has been a member of the Kansas City Symphony since 1999, and he has been described as a distinguished cellist with beautiful tone and passionate, singing musicianship by the Kansas City Star.

Mark Gibbs Praised by the Kansas City Star for his “sweet, sensuous tone and a sophisticated feel for long-breathed lines,” Principal Cello Mark Tsuyoshi Gibbs holds the Robert A. Kipp Chair in the Kansas City Symphony. Prior to his appointment in Kansas City in 1999, Gibbs earned both his bachelor and master’s degrees from Northwestern University, where he was a student of Hans Jørgen Jensen. At Northwestern, Gibbs was named principal cello of the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He also worked closely with professor Jensen as a teaching assistant. Gibbs’ numerous awards include the Northwestern University Civic Scholar String Fellowship, the Union League of Chicago Civic and Arts Foundation Prize, first place in the Northwestern University School of Music Concerto Competition, first prize in the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Artist National Competition as well as grand prize in the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition. He has appeared as a soloist with the Kansas City Symphony, including on the Symphony's 2015 all Saint-Saëns disc from Reference Recordings, to critical acclaim. He is proud to be known as a “Fine Kansan Cellist” (Audiophilia Online Magazine) and currently resides in Olathe, Kan., with his wife, Kansas City Symphony Principal Second Violin Tamamo Someya Gibbs, and their daughters, Mika and Maho.


For more information, please contact:

Name: Dana Self
Phone: 816-235-2949