Anne Duthie McCafferty grew up in Indianapolis and has played with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 45 seasons. She never thought she would have the chance to have a performance job, but when the opportunity arose she took it. Since then, McCafferty has performed for millions of people, performed numerous fantastic pieces, and coordinates the local chapter of Classical Revolution. Read below about her life, career, and impact on Indy.
Anne Duthie McCafferty: Indy’s Beloved Cello Maven
Anne Duthie McCafferty has been playing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 45 seasons and has performed for millions of people in her outstanding orchestral career. She grew up in Indianapolis and came from a musical family. McCafferty’s father went to Northwestern University to study music and was a tenor soloist for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and her mother sang in the choir at Memorial Presbyterian Church. Her grandmother was a prominent church organist in town, and some of McCafferty’s earliest musical memories revolve around church music and being inspired by her grandmother: “my grandmother was a professional organist at some of the biggest venues in the city… at a time when women weren’t professional [musicians].” The combination of a strong foundation in music from her family and countless hours of hard work set McCafferty up for success. In high school, she performed in band, orchestra, and choir, took all of the music courses possible at Arsenal Tech High School, and went on to attend Indiana University School of Music, as it was called at the time.
At IU, McCafferty was studying music education when opportunity struck. She took an audition that ended up winning her the Assistant Principal Cello position with the Ft. Wayne Philharmonic. McCafferty played with the orchestra for three years before successfully auditioning for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1973, she would begin a journey performing with the ISO that would last for over four decades. “I was in school at the time, but I never thought I would get the opportunity to have a performance job, so I took it.”
Her position with the orchestra has allowed her to tour the United States and Europe. Some of her fondest memories with the orchestra were the European tours where she was able to go beyond her role as cellist. In 1993, McCafferty wrote a series of articles for the Indianapolis Star called Postcards from Europe. It was a great opportunity… That was a time before common internet, so we had to phone it in… Jay Harvey, the Indy Star’s music critic, picked out the dates and concerts and would call me. I would write the stuff in the back of the bus and then call him [to dictate the article to him].” In 1997 McCafferty was asked to perform a series of string quartet concerts with her quartet, The Spring Mill Quartet, that coincided with the ISO tour. She remembers fondly, “we gave concerts in Madrid, London, Cologne, and Vienna and so that was pretty exciting!”
In 2011, McCafferty and several friends decided to launch Classical Revolution Indianapolis, a casual chamber music series that takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at the Chatterbox Jazz Club. The formation of the Indianapolis chapter of C-Rev (as regulars call it) was handled by a couple of freelance musicians. However, right before the first performance at the Chatterbox, a couple of key musicians had to leave town to pursue job opportunities elsewhere. McCafferty stepped up to the plate to take over coordination of this delightful music series. “There was nobody else to sort of… coordinate it. I didn’t want it to go away because it was a great opportunity… I think it really brings something unique to the city.”
McCafferty’s favorite part about C-Rev is how it reaches a new audience. “Yes, people come just for Classical Revolution because they are interested in the music, but always the remarkable thing is how we get people who just happen upon us and that’s just the best… it’s always really gratifying.” Although McCafferty is in her final season with the ISO, don’t expect her to stop playing anytime soon. She plans to use her time to read new repertoire, try different projects, and, of course, continue to play at C-Rev. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to bring music to our community, Anne!
Christal (Phelps) Steele says
Anne (Annie to many of her friends) and I both grew up in Indianapolis and were part of the very small club of people lucky enough to secure symphony orchestra positions in their own city. We have been friends since grade school, and my admiration for her continues to this day. She has inspired me and countless others in the orchesta and community. Thank you for the article.
Faith (Marshall) Weliver says
Anne, were you and I in concert orchestra together at Tech HS. I played violin. I graduated in 1964.
Anne Duthie McCafferty says
Hi, Faith! I remember you! Weren’t we were lucky to have Tech’s terrific music programs?
Anne Reynolds says
A great woman and some nice recognition!
Muriel Mikelsons says
Wonderful musician, wonderful friend. An Indianapolis legend!
Gloria Trout Earl says
Enjoyed very much reading about you and your exciting and rewarding career. I remember you in our Tech HS days in music and have seen you perform with ISO. Indy is very proud of you–congratulations in a job well done!
Bob Merchanthouse says
A wonderful article. What a great privilege and joy to be able to play such beautiful music, with great artists, for so many years. Congratulations on the well deserved recognition.
Bob Bringle says
Beautiful portrait of Anne.
Cherri Jaffee says
It has been a privilege to have Annie as a friend for many years. She has star quality but is humble with a wicked sense of humor.
What an honor for Indy to witness her talent and hear her mesmerizing music for decades. Rock on!
Gary Walters says
A dear friend from long ago, with one of the best smiles ever. She is a superb musician and a beautiful human being.
Nancy gale says
Lucky lucky to have her play in Bellingham. And to know her.
George Daugherty says
What a beautiful and well-deserved article about a truly remarkable musician, artist, and human being. Annie has been my dear friend since I was 20 years old, and she was not much older. And that was 40 something years ago. I first had the good fortune to meet her as my cello teacher, but she soon became not only a colleague, but most importantly, a dear friend whom I have treasured ever since. I did not become a professional cellist (despite her incredible teaching, I was a very late starter!) But I did become a conductor, and Anne’s friendship and mentorship at that crucial stage of my life and career made all the difference in the world, in terms of steadfastly encouraging me to keep moving forward in so many ways. And the first cello concerto I ever conducted, at the age of 21, was a double concerto played by Annie and her magnificent cellist-husband Dennis McCafferty (another Indianapolis musical legend I am so honored to call a good friend.) It was a transcendent and life-changing experience for me. In the decades since, I have been incredibly fortunate to have guest conducted the Indianapolis Symphony on several occasions, and every time I rediscovered what I already knew — that Anne is simply one of those magical, miraculous musicians who not only plays sublimely, but quietly and beautifully radiates support and encouragement to all of her colleagues — including conductors! I cannot imagine the ISO without her, but I know her future adventures will be just as amazing as has been her exceptional Indianapolis Symphony career. Above all, I am just so privileged to know this incredibly gifted woman of so many talents, so much musical diversity, so much brilliance, a fabulous laugh and irresistible sense of humor, and surely the most beautiful smile to have ever graced any concert stage anywhere. She truly is as priceless as any Stradivarius or Montagnana cello!