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Musical World

Gil Shaham

  • Violinist


In the 2010-11 season, Gil Shaham continues his long-term exploration of “Violin Concertos of the Gil 1930s”, which comprises performances and recordings. In concert, he plays the Walton concerto with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Zurich’s Tonhalle-Orchester, and Milwaukee Symphony; Prokofiev’s Second with the National Symphony in Washington, DC and Orchestre de Paris; Bartók’s Second with St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Orchestra and Sinfonieorchester Berlin; and the Barber and Hartmann concertos with the Toronto and Chicago Symphonies respectively.  The first recording of the “Concertos of the 1930s” project will be released this season on Shaham’s own label, Canary Classics. The CD features Stravinsky’s concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Barber concerto with the New York Philharmonic, and Berg’s with the Dresden Staatskapelle – all with David Robertson conducting.  In other performances, Shaham joins Emmanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma for Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic in a historic concert celebrating the 120th anniversary of Carnegie Hall; he plays Mozart’s Fifth “Turkish” Concerto with Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony; and he performs the Mendelssohn with Jansons and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.  Upcoming highlights also include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s season-opening concert; all-Bach solo recitals in St. Petersburg, Genoa, and Baltimore; and violin and piano repertoire with his sister, Orli Shaham, at New York’s 92nd Street Y, featuring the world premiere of a new work by Avner Dorman.

Last season, Shaham launched the “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” project with 35 performances, including appearances with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, Bavarian Radio Symphony, and London Symphony Orchestra.  His solo Bach recitals included performances in Waterloo, ON and London, Istanbul, Milan, Prague, and Cologne, and he played Mozart, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky on a West Coast tour with the St. Louis Symphony.  Works by Haydn and Mendelssohn that he performed on tour in Korea, China, and Taiwan with the New York-based ensemble Sejong were captured on disc; this and his other most recent CD, an album of Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works that also features his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and pianist Akira Eguchi, were issued on Canary Classics during the 2009-2010 season.

It is Shaham’s good fortune to enjoy musical collaborations with family members, including Adele Anthony, Orli Shaham, and his brother-in-law, conductor David Robertson.  On two occasions – first in 2007 and then again in 2009 – the violinist has succeeded in fulfilling his dream of bringing together family, friends, and colleagues for chamber music; both tours of Brahms programs culminated in a series of three concerts at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall.

Shaham has more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs to his name, including bestsellers that have appeared on record charts in the US and abroad.  These recordings have earned prestigious awards, including multiple Grammys, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d’Or, and Gramophone Editor’s Choice.  His recent recordings are produced on the Canary Classics label, which he founded in 2004; they comprise Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman; The Butterfly Lovers and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Singapore Symphony; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A with Yefim Bronfman and cellist Truls Mork; The Prokofiev Album and Mozart in Paris, both with Orli Shaham; and The Fauré Album with Akira Eguchi and cellist Brinton Smith.

Gil Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971.  He moved with his parents to Israel where he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music at the age of seven, receiving annual scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.  In 1981, while studying with Haim Taub in Jerusalem, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic.  That same year he began his studies with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellerman at Aspen.  In 1982, after taking first prize in Israel’s Claremont Competition, he became a scholarship student at Juilliard, where he worked with DeLay and Hyo Kang.  He also studied at Columbia University.

Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990 and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Award.  He plays the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius.  He lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and their two children.