You are what you listen to



“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent,” – Victor Hugo.

Charles Bullen, cellist for the Scottsdale Philharmonic agrees that music is one of the most brilliant accomplishments, in communication of the cooperative spirit in human civilization.


Charles grew up in Jackson, Mich., where music was offered in the public schools beginning in the fifth grade. Initially, he was attracted to the French horn, but wind instruments were not offered until the seventh grade. Impatient to get started Charles grabbed a cello setting the cornerstone for his life long love for classical music, and the joy of playing with an orchestra.


Charles had continuing support from both his parents who were classical music lovers themselves, particularly his mother who played the flute throughout her life.


Cellist, Yo Yo Ma has pointed out, “You are what you listen to.”


Charles’s family certainly took this to heart providing Charles with consistent inspiration and appreciation for classical music throughout his childhood.


Over the years Charles worked in various areas of the travel industry as a travel agency owner, and finally working on hotel computer system and databases. But it was when he traveled to Arizona, from Michigan, in 1983 to scout out business opportunities and discuss the probability of opening a travel agency that he found the place of his dreams, the Sonoran Desert.


It didn’t take long to put things together and move his life and work to his new home.


Today it’s no surprise that Charles Bullen plays the cello in the Scottsdale Philharmonic, serves on its board and is administrator of the donor database management system. In a manner of speaking Charles is using technology in service of the arts.


One of his favorite aspects of playing orchestra music is the collaboration with other musicians.


“Each part in and of itself is not generally that interesting, but when put together, something magical is created, none of us can do it alone,” Charles explains.


Recently Charles received an invitation to join the board of Tetra Quartet, ( The quartet specializes in presenting classical music in a non-traditional manner to non-traditional audiences. His goal is to help them with his practical operational, fundraising and donor management experience, while at the same time learning how the group works with non-traditional audiences.



Charles will be performing, with his cello, as a member of the Scottsdale Philharmonic, on November 18, from 4-6 p.m. at La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church, 6300 E. Bell Road in Scottsdale. The concert is free, doors open at 3:30 p.m.


For more information on the Scottsdale Philharmonic and their schedule of Fall performances visit


Contact Arts Columnist, Shea Stanfield, on