Q: How do you pronounce your last name?
A: If I’m feeling like lending an air of authenticity to my name’s Spanish Basque origins, I pronounce it “Oo-ree-OH-stay”. When I’m feeling a bit more American and/or lazy, I say “You-ree-OH-stee”. However, I promise to respond to, accept, and smile at anything even remotely close!
Q: What is your heritage?
A: I am American, born and raised, but I am of Mexican, Italian, Russian, and Hungarian descent. My Basque last name ties in with the Mexican side of my family.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Hartford, Connecticut, but spent the majority of my upbringing in the Philadelphia area. From the ages of 5 through 17, I lived in a suburb called Lansdale and commuted into the city for my lessons, orchestra and chamber music rehearsals, and all other musical activities. When I was 17, I moved to center city Philadelphia to attend the Curtis Institute of Music.
Although I am currently based in New York City, I still have immense admiration for and pride in the Philadelphia classical music scene, and the Philadelphia Orchestra — the “hometown band”, if you will — remains one of my favorite symphony orchestras in the world.
Q: Do you come from a musical family?
A: I do not! I am an only child, and my parents, though enthusiasts of classical music, are not musicians. My mom was a lawyer for many years and now works as a project manager at a market research firm; my dad, formerly a submarine navigator, works for Lockheed Martin in international business development.
Q: When did you start playing the violin, and why?
A: My earliest musical inspiration came from the television show Sesame Street: at the age of two, I saw Itzhak Perlman featured on an episode, chatting and playing his violin. I was instantly enamored. Apparently I began pestering my parents for a violin immediately, and after three years they finally relented. I was fortunate enough to attend a public school that boasted a stringed instruments program, and so I began Suzuki lessons in kindergarten at the age of five. Shortly thereafter, I began studying privately.
Q: How do you stay in shape?
A: I am borderline-obsessed with Bikram yoga, a fixed set of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that are performed in a room heated to 105℉ and 40% humidity. Because the Bikram series of poses is the same everywhere in the world, I try to attend classes at every available opportunity. I’ve visited studios in something like 30 cities, from Burlington, VT to Budapest, Hungary! Click on the Yoga page for more information on this life-changing practice and how it relates to my musical mentality.
You might be wondering, “Yoga!? Why is there a yoga page here, and what does stretching by a waterfall have to do with playing the violin?”
It is my personal belief that all musicians would benefit from a regular yoga practice. Posture awareness, breath control, a gradual development of mental strength and clarity: the benefits that yoga can introduce to one’s life are truly invaluable.
I began practicing Bikram yoga in the summer of 2009, and from my very first class, I was hooked. Bikram yoga is a fixed set of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that are performed in a heated room (105℉, 40% humidity) and each class lasts for 90 minutes. Insane? Possibly. Effective? Definitely. Over the course of my regular Bikram practice, I have not only noticed changes in my outward appearance, but I have been able to adjust some unfortunate physical habits that I had built up over the years from my violin playing. Additionally, as it is no small feat to survive 90 minutes of yoga in a scorching hot room without falling over or dying, the Bikram sequence builds mental determination like you wouldn’t believe, as well as the ability to overcome most any seemingly impossible situation. My yoga practice is largely responsible for the sense of calm I am now able to access in even the most harrowing of performance circumstances. This is not to say that I am immune to pre-concert jitters, but I now know how to work with my nerves as opposed to against them.
Many musicians, in their quests to fulfill the intellectual and emotional sides of their craft, overlook the more athletic components — perhaps less often discussed, but in many ways just as relevant to effective music-making. An athlete would never launch into his or her physical acrobatics without properly nurturing and preparing the body; similarly, musicians should consider what an immense physical undertaking it is to play an instrument. Proper blood circulation and limber muscles are vital, given the amount of time we spend making strenuous, repetitive motions. Having had a myriad of physical issues with my violin playing for many years, I am immensely grateful for the better understanding of the human body that yoga has imparted to me, and I find it a fascinating ongoing study. Techniques and wisdom that I have absorbed in the yoga room creep into my violin teaching as well, and I often find myself encouraging students to spend as much effort thinking about the way their breath flows from their lungs, through their bow arms and onto the strings as they do agonizing over their intonation. All musicians should learn to treat their bodies with the awareness and respect they deserve, and to find joy in their physical connections to their instruments — and ultimately, to the music itself.
“Those Little Things”
A high-level administrator of a reputable orchestra recently paid me what I — and I imagine most of my colleagues would have — perceived as a backhanded compliment mere moments after walking offstage: “You played beautifully; all those little things don’t matter,” she cooed, miming a violinist’s left hand in action. “The important moments — they were beautiful.”
Non-musicians might struggle to empathize with or even identify the offending portion of that remark. To those of us in the performing arts, however, “those little things” — the pianist’s right-hand cramp, rendering that night’s passagework ever-so-slightly clumsier than usual; the dancer’s quivering ankle; the poet’s fleeting memory lapse, delaying the next stanza by milliseconds — are specters that haunt us long after we’ve left the stage. We can be showered with applause, begged for encores, praised to the high heavens in national news publications; but in the moment, “those little things” (which, by the way, we’re painfully aware of without anyone else bringing them to our attention) can feel like billboard-sized scarlet letters, branded indelibly not only onto that one performance but upon our very souls.
And yet when Administrator delivered that morsel of faint praise in the hushed, conspiratorial tone of a fellow musician, rather than descend into a post-concert shame-spiral, I let the sting wash over me briefly, and then, for perhaps the first time in my long history of backhanded-compliment-collecting, I decided to believe her. I chose to acknowledge the condescending bit, catalog it for a future practice session, and then move on to embrace the untainted portion of her congratulations. Because she was, after all, correct: “those little things” truly don’t matter.
I will be brutally honest: I have never once in my life fancied myself a Great Violinist. There are people for whom playing a musical instrument appears to be a physical extension of their own bodies — it must be something to do with their anatomy, the way their arms engulf the wood or metal of their chosen tools. Playing seems natural for them, effortless, like it’s something they could do in their sleep, and — particularly frustrating for folks like me — sometimes even without much in the way of practicing. This may be purely illusory, and I’ve known different types within the “effortless” category: those who have had to work as hard as anyone else to achieve their level of proficiency, and those who simply don’t need to practice all that much. The latter will forever hold mystical appeal to me.
I had incredible first violin teachers, bizarre and endearing characters who urged me to find my voice, experiment with tone color, and read about/listen to music with a voracious appetite from the age of five. Learning how to hold a bow effectively and without tension, however, was not high on their list of priorities. I wasn’t properly set up until a good nine years into my musical studies. I was cursed with The Shakes until the age of 19, and with chronic upper back and shoulder tension until several years after that. It wasn’t until I discovered yoga at the age of 23 that playing the violin — the physical, mechanical process of putting bow to strings — began to make sense to me on a cellular level.
The feedback I received about my violin playing from family members, random audience members, and critics alike was always fairly consistent, even from a young age: “You’re very musical.” “You really connect with the audience.” “You sure looked like you were having fun up there!” “The slow movement was beautiful.” None of these comments were or are even remotely cause for disappointment, yet I always interpreted them as consolation prizes, inserting a mental “It was technically disappointing, but…” before each of them. Despite my best efforts — up to 7 hours of daily practice in high school, fanatical study of the great violinists of eras past, decades of an obsessive daily warm-up routine designed to tackle my greatest technical insecurities — I’ve never once felt capable of dazzling a room with my violinistic showmanship. I’m not known for my third movement of Tchaikovsky Concerto (tubby), or Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (meh), or Paganini Caprices (NEVER AGAIN).
But I look back on all of the “goosebump” moments I’ve experienced as a listener, and I can’t remember a single one born out of the above pieces, or really any showpiece, for that matter. Instead, I can recall vividly Arnold Steinhardt’s achingly beautiful downward slides in the Cavatina movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet, Op. 130. The shimmery warmth of Kreisler’s thirds in his own Caprice Viennois on an old LP. Claude Frank’s slow movement of Schubert’s B-flat Sonata, during which time stood still and every heart in a five-mile radius of Field Concert Hall throbbed at the cosmic shift he had set in motion. And I think to myself, “That stuff matters.”
Mr. Frank had at least one hefty memory slip that night. Kreisler’s intonation can often best be described as “imaginative”. Mr. Steinhardt has been remarkably candid over the years about the slight tremor he experiences in his right hand when his nerves flare up. But to me, the listener, not only do these issues not matter, they actually serve to highlight these musicians’ invaluable qualities. Humanity. Complete emotional investment. An insatiable need to tell both the composer’s stories and their own. These artists can’t help but be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand.
The other day as I slumped under the florescent lights of my local nail salon, trying not to inhale the fumes of the acrylic being fused to my sad, splitting nails, I found myself drawn to the playlist streaming through the speakers: an odd mix of Frank Sinatra, Top 40 hits, and The Bee Gees. As the latter’s “How Deep Is Your Love” (one of my favorite songs of all time — seriously) started up, I found myself the teensiest bit annoyed that it wasn’t the beloved recording from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, but rather a live rendition. Barry Gibb’s intonation had some wonky moments, and as with any piece or song that one has internalized, I realized how used to the prepackaged recorded version I was. Within moments, however, I found my snotty observations giving way to a thorough enjoyment of the performance, as well as genuine curiosity about how Barry might execute the coming turns of phrase. Mostly I was struck by the sound: familiar rendition or not, this was unmistakably the Bee Gees. It could be no one else. What point would there be to a sterile, or worse, unidentifiable performance? What point is there to music that bears no trace of the performer’s relationship to the material?
The Bee Gees are but one example out of millions of musical groups and solo artists. Frank Sinatra, Björk, Louie Armstrong, Mariah Carey, Radiohead, Bing Crosby, Stevie Wonder: every one of these people or ensembles has a sound, recognizable within nanoseconds of listening. If you were to attend any of these artists’ performances, would you feel jilted if they sang a little bit off-key, made up a few lyrics, or even — audible gasp — had a memory slip!? Would you refuse to clap, or ask for your money back?
Why should classical music be any different?
Ahead of one set of performances I gave a few weeks ago, I was asked to complete a written interview for a local news source. One of the prompts was regarding my political stance, which I had made fairly transparent on social media in the weeks following our presidential election. As I began to craft my response, decorum quickly went out the window and I launched into an unabashedly liberal rant with a focus on the artist’s responsibility to communicate to his or her community, particularly in times of turmoil. I had forgotten the extent of my potentially inflammatory logorrhea until the interview was published a few weeks later, and reading it back, I felt a sense of satisfaction that I’ve rarely experienced reviewing my own work. I realized that I do indeed have something to say, and when I put my mind to it, I am reasonably good at saying it. It’s taken years of trial and error, not to mention countless articles published in which I’ve made about as much sense as Sarah Palin, but this article made me feel — dare I say it — proud of myself.
As I forge my way through the beginning of a new decade, I must admit that I have become less bothered by my violinistic limitations. This is not to say that I don’t make it my daily mission to stretch the boundaries of what I am capable of; having had the perspective of an active concert violinist now for nearly 15 years, I feel that I am actually becoming more adept at honing in on the specific areas that demand improvement. But my priorities have begun to shift. I will woodshed for weeks on end to get that pesky passage up to a respectable standard, but now if I tank it in performance, I think — I hope — that my reaction will not be one of irreversible despair, poisoning both the remainder of that night’s performance and my morale for the next several days. Instead, I will acknowledge my oops-moment, vow to work harder for next time, and refocus my energy on telling the story at hand.
There are literally hundreds of violinists who can whiz through the Mendelssohn or Tchaikovsky concertos more proficiently than I can. I admit this fact freely and without self-pity, and I am humbled by it. But I know that I am able to communicate, if not through jaw-dropping displays of technical dexterity, then during those more introspective moments when I can explore the bounds of nostalgia, despair, or ecstasy. I am confident in my ability to effectively convey joy and gratitude for the opportunity at hand. I am honored to be able to connect with the teenager in the masterclass who, until that moment, had never thought to exhale before setting his bow on the string. I delight in my ability to get a roomful of squirmy children quiet and focused on a Bach Sarabande. I am lucky to have writing as an outlet, to be able to pen this unnecessarily long essay and possibly, hopefully, have it strike a chord in someone out there. I may not be a Great Violinist. But I do have something to say, and I hope it’s audible.
April 7, 2017
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Sphinx Organization and Competition. Especially in these trying times, to be able to celebrate such a remarkable organization and mission, even from afar, is an immense gift. Happy birthday, Sphinx! I will miss you this weekend. Here is my #SphinxStory:
I stumbled upon the Sphinx Organization almost by accident. As a young teenager, I overheard a girl in my youth orchestra talking about the Sphinx Competition one Saturday afternoon during a rehearsal break, so I was dimly aware of the organization’s general mission; but it wasn’t until the summer of 2002 when I met Gareth Johnson (the most recent Junior Division winner) that I seriously considered competing. Gareth urged me to apply, and when the deadline rolled around later that year, I gathered my materials and submitted them to my first large-scale competition. I had always been skeptical of those who seemed to thrive on the dirty excitement of the competition circuit — it seemed to me an extremely unhealthy way to look at both music and life — but the message behind Sphinx appeared to be a noble one. I never expected, however, to uncover an entirely new family of musicians, a newfound confidence in my playing, and a sense of pride in what I stood for and represented to the musical community at large.
Because, at its heart, the Sphinx Competition is not just a competition. It is a place for musicians who look a little different than your average American orchestra member/soloist/audience member/etc. to convene, share musical warmth, represent their communities, be ambassadors for our great art form, and become family. By entering and winning the Sphinx Competition in 2003 and 2007, I was not only given the opportunities to solo with some of the country’s best symphony orchestras, but I was able to bring the music I had been so passionate about since the age of two (thanks to Itzhak Perlman and the creative minds behind Sesame Street) to people who might not have otherwise had the chance to be exposed to it. I met other musicians who looked like me, which felt strangely comforting considering I had never given the matter of race much thought, at least with regard to the field of classical music. My parents raised me to be a strong, independent, savvy woman, someone who could do anything she set her mind to — the color of my skin, though something I had certainly been aware of from time to time over the course of my childhood, was never once something I viewed as an obstacle. And yet, upon entering the Sphinx community, it became a point of pride, and a source of great inspiration: as a Hispanic violinist, I now had a responsibility to share everything that had been given to me with communities across the country. Within the blink of an eye, I had a whole network of musicians — a new family — behind me, and every time I step onstage, my aim is to make them proud.
I owe so much of my professional success to the Sphinx Organization: it gave me my first taste of the career and life I had fantasized about since first picking up a violin. More importantly, I am so beyond grateful to everyone involved in the organization for helping to uncover a piece of myself I hadn’t even known I was missing. I am proud to be an ambassador for classical music and indebted to Sphinx for allowing me, with their help and encouragement, to step into that role, one I hope to occupy for the rest of my life.
February 8, 2017
I woke up to a brilliant London sun, a momentary diversion from the darkness of this day. Then I remembered the date, pulled the covers back over my head, and began to cry.
I spent the morning performing to a packed auditorium of North London schoolchildren and the afternoon guiding a group of 10 and 11-year-old violinists through basic yoga and mindfulness principles, followed by a masterclass. Whenever my brain wandered off for a split second and I remembered what was about to happen across the ocean, my eyes would well up with a fresh round of tears. I kept re-centering myself in the room with a reminder that the day’s activities — chamber music, yoga, the peaceful transfer of knowledge and experience — represent the opposite of what DJT stands for. I took, and take, solace in the gentle combat of ignorance with art.
We may not be able to change the minds of many of today’s grown-ups, but we can certainly give children the tools, motivation, and confidence to blossom into dazzlingly bright human beings, unafraid to knock down walls and replace them with pillars of strength, progressive ideas, and inclusion. Looking out at a veritable rainbow of young faces today, alert and eager for the music to begin, I was reminded that humans don’t start out their lives with hate in their hearts, for other skin tones or classical music or opportunities to better themselves. Intolerance is cultivated; conversely, so is kindness, curiosity, and ambition. It is our responsibility to lead by example and encourage the latter set of ideals in our successors.
I feel extraordinarily lucky to have spent this deeply dark day doing the things I love most in the world with some exceptional tiny humans. I feel confident that none of them, having listened to a bit of Kreisler or spent some time breathing deeply, will feel the urge to shoot up a school or deride an entire religion tonight. I predict that they will continue asking thought-provoking questions, making astute observations, and listening to other people as they speak. I hope they will pick up their predecessors’ slack and live by the campsite rule: to leave things in at least as good a state, emotionally and physically, as when they found them.
My eyes, when I close them in a few hours, will contain fewer tears than when I woke up this morning.
On Charleston, SC after two strong cocktails and a moonlit stroll:
I think the reason I’ve always felt so viscerally connected to San Francisco is because it reads like a child’s rendering of a city: houses of periwinkle and marigold and sage in curious shapes, trimmed in scrumptious vanilla icing; hills scattered at random according to the young artist’s fancy; a goofy peninsula surrounded by blue water and green mountains and a giant red bridge, unspoilt by grown-up cautionary mechanisms like high railings or “Caution!” signs. A child would want you to be able to stand in the middle of the sky and gaze out, unobstructed and unencumbered.
Tonight’s walk was taken from a different chapter of our young illustrator’s storybook, one shrouded in moonlight and mystery and dangling moss. In this town, underneath their own layers of icing-porches, the homes are noble and grand and rooted perpendicularly in the peaty earth just below sea level, daring Mother Nature to test them. The wrought-iron archways, tangles of metal middle fingers, beckon suggestively while defiantly reminding visitors that the world below the Mason-Dixon line is magnificent in its complexity. The streets are lined with characters of stone, stucco, brick, and marble, stoic but with hearts and hearths of gold; the oaks just outside mingle effortlessly with the palms and make sultry bedroom eyes at the passersby.
The child has composed a story of unity through diversity, a potentially cloying message when read with grown-up glasses on, but you fail to notice because your breath has been stolen. You have been irreversibly seduced by the flicker of street lanterns and dreams of becoming a member of the Charleston Library Society. You can’t wait to clutch your latest hardback find on those cool, pearly steps, cocooned in an evening blanket of gentle humidity and secrets. Marble pairs so perfectly with dusk, you observe, at the same time that you realize that it was you who drew this illustration decades ago — you just forgot until tonight.
October 16, 2016
In preparation for my upcoming performances of Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the Vermont Symphony and Jaime Laredo, here is my personal homage to Yehudi Menuhin, one of the concerto’s first and greatest champions.
Surprise! Not only was Menuhin a devastatingly beautiful musician, he was quite the dedicated yogi, studying intensively with B.K.S. Iyengar for much of his life.
January 19, 2015
Just over three years ago, my brilliant artist/chef/writer/social facilitator friend Doug gifted me the perfect notebook. Pint-sized and lime green, it quickly charmed the graphite right off my pencil, and before I knew it I was compiling a list of resolutions for 2012. I’d dabbled half-heartedly in the practice of self-betterment for the new year’s sake before, but had never bothered to immortalize my grand plans on paper.
I have cause to believe that my little green notebook and its opening entry of resolutions, printed determinedly and with notable elegance (for one’s penmanship is always on its best behavior at the beginning of an idea), set something positive in motion, that it’s no coincidence that the ensuing three years of my life have been unquestionably the most fulfilling and honest yet. Some of my proudest musical accomplishments have fallen between the icy pillars of January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2015, owed to true hard work — as I was finally, thankfully able to defeat an irritating post-conservatory work ethic slump, the Freshman Fifteen of practice habits — though I won’t pretend that the occasional comet of good luck hasn’t flashed across my life’s sky. The BBC New Generation Artist Scheme, winning $20 at a blackjack table my very first time playing — I have always been, admittedly, a lucky girl. (I will beat you at Monopoly.)
Anyway, perhaps it’s juvenile to think that my notebook is solely responsible for paving the way towards a deeply satisfying three years of musical and personal progress, but it does lead me to contemplate the power of sending out into the universe sentiments that might otherwise lie dormant, buried beneath layers of doubt, laziness, or cobwebs of expressive insecurity. On the off-chance that my notebook, with its now four sets of resolutions and countless ruminations in between, is indeed to be credited, allow me to bookend and celebrate its existence by once again sharing some of its insides. As with any content that finds its way onto this website, this entry was born into my notebook in the form of hasty scrawl and has since graduated to a pleasant adolescence of white Arial text.
To whomever is reading this: thank you, deeply, for humoring me by allowing me to write, and more relevantly, play for you. You can’t possibly know how important you are to me.
New Year’s Resolutions for 2015:
~Drink more water
~Learn to make three great soups
~Always remember to implement the following life lessons:
-Patience. The longer things simmer the better they taste.
-Always consider how your words and actions will affect others before going through with them.
-Never stop exploring, searching.
~Feel emboldened to express and continuously refine life plans and goals — one-year, five-year, etc.
~Buy a bow
~Experiment with Ashtanga yoga
~Write more letters
~Stretch muscles, not ligaments
~Don’t balk at the idea of conversations with strangers
~Figure out how to effectively absorb podcasts
~Expand knitting capabilities past scarves
~Learn and do more inversions
~Start something (festival, workshop, project [although I despise the word "project" when applied to a musical endeavor. It has become the "epic" of nouns. Well actually "epic" is a noun, too, but barely anyone uses it correctly. Or appropriately. This parenthetical inset is getting out of hand.])
~Make writing pithier
January 15, 2015
Below is the original version of an article I was asked to write for BBC Music Magazine, the first in a series of blog posts from the musicians on BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artist scheme. It is virtually impossible to effectively put into words the feeling of playing Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps”; nonetheless, here are some (irreverent) thoughts on my experience from a few weeks ago.
Having been brought up in a steadfastly non-religious household, choosing to worship instead at the church of “Be nice to people and use your conscience as your guide,” I tend to (perhaps unfairly) approach music rooted in religious faith with a heavy dose of skepticism. Or, to spin it more positively, music has usurped religion as the dominant presence in my life, grounding me through periods of triumph and providing elevation in moments of doubt. What better to believe in than the power of music: a force that transcends words, binds performers and listeners alike in the most intimate of agreements, inspires even the most cynical soul to weep, swell with rapture, or uncover some long-hidden truth?
But Olivier Messiaen, a deeply religious man in the more conventional sense, was able to translate his almost consuming devotion to a higher power into a sound world so vivid, so acutely moving, that it seriously calls into question my lifelong atheism. If this is what it means to truly believe, I can’t help but think as the pulsing heartbeat of his Louange for violin and piano melts away into an eternal silence, then that doesn’t seem like such a bad way to go through life after all.
Shortly after my appointment to the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist scheme, I met with Adam Gatehouse and Emma Bloxham to map out my coming two years and brainstorm repertoire ideas. Having seen the list of my fellow NGAs, a seed immediately planted itself in my head: Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps”. I had fallen in love with the piece years before and had the opportunity to perform it only once; upon realizing that among my new colleagues on the scheme were a clarinetist, a cellist, and two pianists, that particular choice of repertoire seemed predestined. “Can we?” I asked Adam and Emma timidly, thinking that such an undertaking, fated and seductive as I chose to view it, seemed improbable due to a host of logistical impediments. But nearly two years, a cycle of new pianists, and countless schedule-juggling emails later, ZZ, Mark, Leonard and I had all thrown our hats into the ring. A recording date was set.
I couldn’t have been alone in my trepidation regarding the decision to record Messiaen’s 50-minute masterpiece after just one day of rehearsals as a quartet, the maximum amount of time that our schedules and Atlantic Ocean-divided living situations would permit. Even with extensive time, detailed score study, and guaranteed collaborative chemistry, how does a group begin to scratch the surface of a work that encapsulates the entire universe!?
Nonetheless, when the four of us met at the BBC Maida Vale studios in London a few weeks ago, we delved into the work with a collective enthusiasm and synchronicity that suggested that we were continuing on in the middle of a chapter together as opposed to squeezing out an awkward introductory paragraph. Perhaps that is simply the nature of the Quatuor, a mammoth work possessing an emotional arsenal that ranges from terrifying to ecstatic to unspeakably tender: it gives the impression of having always existed, and unifies its undertakers accordingly. A group doesn’t assemble the piece, or build an interpretation from scratch; rather, it works to uncover the flow of music which happens to be passing through the room at that given moment.
Despite the emotional gravity of much of the Quatuor, and paying due respect to the appalling conditions of the prison camp where Messiaen penned the majority of the piece, the four of us enjoyed a thoroughly congenial rapport from the get-go, due largely to our clarinetist’s side-splitting sense of humor. For me, that is the mark of a successful collaborative experience: the ability to handle the music seriously, but not ourselves. By the end of our one allocated rehearsal day, we had, to the very best of our ability, wrung as much meaning from the music as our exhausted minds and bodies could manage.
In a way, the eight-hour recording session the following day seemed almost an afterthought. Rather than treat the session as a representation of our definitive interpretation of the piece (a ridiculous mentality for any recording scenario, let alone one for such an abbreviated period of time!), letting the tape roll was merely the sonic equivalent to taking a photograph, a snapshot of the work we had done together on a piece that will forever be mightier than one day, one quartet of musicians, one lifetime of study. Admittedly, there were moments of chaos, of severe fatigue, of frustration at the limited amount of time we had been given for such a monumental undertaking; but there were also goosebumps, and tears of overwhelming joy, and glimpses of that intimacy which can only exist between musicians who are inhabiting the exact same space at the exact same time, accessed through a portal which only great music can open.
Perhaps one day life will lead me to believe in a higher power with the fervor and conviction of Olivier Messiaen. In the meantime, the gift of complete synchronicity, with my colleagues and with music itself, provides for me the wholly consuming magic that spiritual devotion offers for some. And that is more than enough for me, at least for the time being.
July 12, 2014
A few months ago, I was asked to pen a “Practice Diary” for The Strad, one of the go-to magazine publications for all things violin-related. Having read and admired the magazine from the beginning of my violin studies, I was immensely honored to receive the opportunity to combine two of my greatest passions — music and writing — in an article detailing my practice habits over the course of a few days. As is my tendency, however, a brief essay on how I might tackle a piece of music on a given day quickly erupted into a rambling treatise, including a detailed accounting of my warm-up routine (practically unchanged since the age of 14), the monstrous undertaking that is Richard Strauss’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, and even some not-so-subtle yoga proselytizing. My essay was of course miles too long for not only the hard copy publication but also the added online feature that the editors generously offered to me, so I’ve decided to feature the complete article here on my blog in its original form, American spellings firmly intact. If you have a few minutes and the desire to get really, really dorky — enjoy!
Diving into new repertoire is an undeniably exhilarating process, but I have always found revisiting a well-loved piece of music to be equally rewarding. It is not unlike hugging a dear friend after time spent apart: the familiar curves and nuances return instantly, flooding you with memories and generating excitement for future adventures. Of course, there is always room for enhancing the music — or perhaps even for a complete 180˚ turn of intention — but it is infinitely gratifying, even liberating, to return to a piece for which the groundwork has already been laid.
These days, I am inundated with old favorites: the sonatas of Strauss, Ravel, Janacek and Prokofiev; Schubert’s Rondo Brilliante; Vaughan Williams’s “Lark Ascending” and Ravel’s “Tzigane”; and the Elgar Violin Concerto, among others. Just writing out the names of all of those pieces is daunting, let alone tackling them in the practice room! For the sake of brevity (and my sanity), I’ll focus here on one of the heftier works: Richard Strauss’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in E-flat major, Op. 18.
Having performed the Strauss on numerous occasions over the past few years, I’ve gained a sense of familiarity with both the minutiae and the broader scope of the piece. With many of the larger decisions already accounted for (at least for now), this leaves ample time to ensure that the basics are in place. “Maintenance”, as I like to think of it, is one of my favorite types of practicing: it is physically comfortable and can be almost hypnotic, if you succumb to the process. Slow, relaxed practicing intimately acquaints one’s body with one’s instrument, instead of pitting the two against each other through mindless repetition.
First, however: the body must be suitably prepared to meet the rigorous demands of playing an instrument. Here I make a quick diversion out of the practice room and into the yoga studio, because I am of the firm belief that the practice of yoga is one of the best gifts a musician can give him or herself. Yoga warms and lengthens the muscles, making the body more pliable and thus more resilient. Musicians are a specific type of athlete, and we often tend to brush aside the physical demands of our instruments, discounting them as tertiary to “thoughts” and “feelings”. The fact is, without the proper tools to express everything we wish to convey through our music, our thoughts and feelings remain trapped inside of a potentially rigid, contorted shell of a body. Athletes would never dream of performing their various acrobatics without first properly conditioning their bodies — why should musicians, who spend hours each day making intense, repetitive motions, treat themselves any differently?
Even if yoga isn’t exactly up your alley, proper blood flow, an awareness of breath, and malleable muscles are vital to an effective practice session or performance. Before even taking my violin out of its case, I make sure to stretch every part of my arms and back; I roll my neck slowly in all directions; I make gentle, progressively widening circles in the air with my arms. When I feel properly limber and like blood is coursing to the tips of my fingers, only then do I reach for my instrument.
Multitasking has never been my forte, and my warm-up routine is no exception. To ensure that my hands are in tip-top shape, I work each one separately. For my left hand, I begin with the first exercise in Ševčik Part I (my right hand dangling happily at my side, bow-less), feeling the relaxed strength in the bounce of each finger and enjoying the little “thump” each one makes against the fingerboard. I follow up with a few lines of Kreutzer #9, making sure to involve my fourth finger in as many of the patterns as possible. I often joke that my left pinky is “purely ornamental”, but I am determined to utilize and strengthen it, little by little! I continue trilling various combinations of fingers until they feel warm, powerful, and relaxed, and then I move onto vibrato exercises. Placing my wrist right where the fingerboard meets the body of the instrument, I use the wrist to propel the first joint in each finger to wiggle — first once forward, then once backward, then two times forward, then two times backward, and so on. Eventually, the first joint of each finger is loose enough to wiggle in rapid succession, and two or three repeated oscillations melt into a continuous, measured vibrato.
I retrieve my bow and move on to the right hand, beginning with slow open strings. I experiment with bow speed and weight, really familiarizing myself with how my hand feels on the bow and bow feels on the strings. I pretend that my hand is pawing at the strings directly (string players have the disadvantage of having a THING intercepting their bodies and their instruments). I make sure that I am invested, physically and emotionally, in every inch of sound. I practice smooth bow changes, keeping my right hand as still as possible at the frog and making sure it has enough leverage to maintain contact at the tip. I don’t subscribe to the notion that fancy finger or wrist motions are necessary to change the bow smoothly — when the down-bow is over, switch directions; when the up-bow is over, switch directions.
To tie the two hands together, I play “two-fingered scales”: with continuous vibrato, I use only the first and second fingers of my left hand to play simple scales in first and third positions, feeling a warm current connecting the vibrato from each finger to the next, my bow continuing to carve out different depths of sound from the strings. I switch to my second and third fingers, then third and fourth: finally, I feel properly warmed up, connected to my instrument, and ready to melt into my repertoire for the day.
One of the prickliest challenges of the Strauss Sonata is intonation. Technical acrobatics abound for both instruments, and E-flat major is a notoriously tricky key. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I revisit the piece, I can never seem to crack the code to flawless intonation; it simply requires maintenance and patience. I work my way through every note of the piece, no matter its length, with a robust, pure tone, finding the bullseye center of each pitch. Great intonation can not only be heard but felt: when you are truly inside of a pitch, the violin itself recognizes it and resonates accordingly. The tone from the instrument becomes naturally amplified — the violin WANTS to be played in tune! In the cases of notes that have corresponding open strings, you can actually see when you are playing in tune, in addition to hearing and feeling it: say you are playing an E in third position on the G string. If you are truly in the center of the pitch, the E string will vibrate visibly. Granted, not all notes have the advantage of help from an open string, but if you approach each pitch with that goal in mind, you will begin to get a sense of what playing truly in tune really means, and the lure of that “halo” around each note becomes rather addictive.
It may seem that I place a disproportionate amount of time and attention on intonation, but when I feel secure, pitch-wise, I feel infinitely freer to make more advanced creative decisions. For me, intonation has little to do with muscle memory and nearly everything to do with having receptive, clean ears. Establishing a landscape of pure pitches as a base for any piece of music excites my senses, and allows me to build upon a foundation that is alive with color all on its own. (Chalk this up, perhaps, to my mild case of synesthesia!)
Once I’ve worked my way through the entire piece and feel stable and centered in my intonation, I make a checklist. What do I wish to experiment with today? Let’s examine, for instance: truly legato slurs, exaggerated dynamics, and different shades of vibrato to highlight Strauss’s harmonies. I pull apart each phrase, concentrating on one idea at a time. With the ringing, healthy sound from my intonation practice fresh in my ears, I begin to condense a phrase into fewer and fewer bows until eventually I am playing the printed (and ideally the composer’s original) slurs. The amount of bow at my disposal is obviously more limited than when playing each note separately; nonetheless, I strive for the same level of clarity and richness of tone that I was able to achieve with one bow per note. I eliminate any trace of the dreaded “wah-wah” sound by using my right hand’s thumb and second finger to pull the tone through the length of each bow. I make sure to save a bit of room at the end of each stroke so that the bow speed can increase slightly, propelling each bow towards the next and creating a broader legato (and ultimately, a longer musical line). I like to think of how a singer might move from one note to the next, and how the air must spin within his or her lungs in order to support each note according to its place in the phrase. A true legato can be positively intoxicating and should be a lifelong goal towards which to strive, for any breed of musician.
It is a common occurrence for a performer to listen to a recording of his or hers and remark, “But I thought I was doing so much more!” We might feel as though our dynamic range borders on ridiculous, and it may in fact sound that way directly under our ears. By the time a phrase carries to the back of a concert hall, however, many nuances have been held up or lost altogether due to acoustical limitations, audience noise, or sheer distance. In the practice room, I make sure to observe all printed dynamics religiously — not only the decibel levels they suggest, but also the characters. I search for a noble strength in the opening violin line of the Strauss, a probing intimacy in the hushed first phrase of the Improvisation, and a dazzling brilliance in the third movement’s ascending flourishes. I exaggerate each dynamic to the point of vulgarity in the practice room — I apply aural “stage makeup”, if you will — so that when it comes time to perform, I can be certain that my intentions are clear even to someone seated in the last row of the hall. I have yet to hear a performance of myself where I think, “Wow, I think I might have phrased too effectively there.”
I must confess that a lush vibrato is one of my favorite things in the world. I think of some of my favorite musicians — Fritz Kreisler, the members of the Guarneri String Quartet, Frank Sinatra — and a common link between them is how immediately recognizable each is through his respective vibrato. Accordingly, nothing ruffles my feathers more than when a note within a melodic phrase, for no apparent reason other than the inconvenience of the performer, is suddenly devoid of vibrato: a lone, naked note bobbing conspicuously in an otherwise picturesque sea. It should be noted that the intonation section of my practice session is done completely without vibrato, not only for the purpose of hearing each pitch clearly, unimpeded by wiggles, but also to gain a sense of what it feels like to have conscious mental and physical control over my vibrato usage. Vibrato should not be an involuntary spasming of the left hand; rather, it is a tool to bring further shading, personality, and sophistication to each phrase. I experiment with using different parts of the finger to vibrate: the fleshy pad for a round, rich wobble; further onto the tip for the shimmering, ethereal passages scattered throughout the Strauss. I play around with speed and width, coordinating my vibrato usage with that of my bow, making sure the two hands are in complete accordance so as to most clearly highlight the contours of each phrase.
Eventually, I might run through a larger chunk of the piece, attempting to combine the various ideas I have implemented over the course of my practice session. If the accumulated result is dissatisfying, I backtrack and dissect the music again, by phrase or by idea, solidifying one at a time before moving on. By the day’s end, I feel secure, inspired, and thoroughly exhausted.
…And a little stretching after a practice session never hurts, either.
December 6, 2013
The start of the academic calendar year is in full swing, which for me means that it’s time to trade in the comforts of home for the various discomforts of airports. Airports: fluorescent, Chili’s Too-scented, toddler-overrun productivity black holes, and my personal No Exit (particularly when there are slow walkers involved). While I certainly aspire to the habits of my former trio-mate, cellist Carter Brey, who can nonchalantly whip out and delve into his tattered copy of The Brothers Karamazov at LaGuardia, my airport tendencies are regrettably on the shameful end of the spectrum rather than the scholarly.
Calculating the amount of time that I’ve spent sprawled on planes and at gates each month is a task both dizzying and inadvisable, as the realization that I’ve spent most of those hours either drooling on myself while napping on Panda Pillow or stuffing my face with peanut M&Ms is downright humiliating. If only I were capable of utilizing those vast stretches of time to catch up on business emails, or to finally come up with a sensible fingering for that pesky run in the Elgar Concerto! Alas, at the first nauseating whiff of the perfume cloud radiating from Duty Free, my brain turns to mush and the best I can hope for in terms of productivity is reading about the eight new secret ways of remedying my crow’s feet.
…Which brings me to the topic of trashy magazines. This is one toxic vice I am proud to say I’ve kicked over the years… everywhere, that is, EXCEPT AT THE AIRPORT. “Yes, I would love to shell out $8 for this copy of Us Magazine to accompany my sour gummy worms, thank you.” My free hand balls itself into a fist of fury as I hear these words escape from my mouth. Just kidding, I would never utter something like that out loud. Instead, I mumble a nearly inaudible “Thanks!” as I hastily shove my purchases into my bag and reposition my giant headphones and sweatshirt hood over my bowed head so as to ensure my anonymity.
A regular feature of such magazines is “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” (or some variation thereof), a list made by B-list stars accompanied by pictures of the $300 skincare products they keep in their $3,000 purses. While I thought better of photographing my tattered Whole Foods shopping bag and the Labello chapstick and sweaty yoga mat I store inside of it, here, I have compiled a similar(ly ridicule-worthy) list with a few elaborations/anecdotes, just to prove that I can still write in complete sentences. And so, using hateful, glossy trash as my inspiration, I have attempted to squeeze one teensy drop of productivity out of all those mind-numbing airborne moments wasted ogling over red carpet dresses. Now I will go wash my brain out with peroxide and start Ada, or Ardor.
25 Things You Don’t Know About Me (And Probably Still Won’t Care About Even After You Know Them)
1. I detest asparagus, and certainly not for lack of trying. I have no idea why this is and frankly I’m embarrassed for my mouth that it is unable to make amends with this totally innocuous vegetable.
2. As a child, I was not permitted to own battery-operated toys or gadgets. As I found dolls creepy/boring, this left blocks, Legos, and the occasional stuffed animal to complement my books and art supplies. I can’t thank my parents enough for this rule.
3. I adore orange daylilies.
4. I am completely, unapologetically, perhaps even irrationally dismissive of any piece of writing that includes a misused apostrophe.
5. I have a mild case of synesthesia, which manifests itself in the form of printed letters, spoken words, and musical pitches all having corresponding colors. For example, if I hear or see in print the letter or note A, in my brain it registers as cranberry red; B = varying shades of blue; C = mustard yellow; D = also blue but a bit steelier; and so on. Hues and concentration vary slightly according to surrounding letters/chords/key signatures.
6. I always knew that I wanted to be a concert violinist, but when I was little, it struck me that since concerts were at night, I would need another career to occupy my attention during the day. These “other” occupations ranged from marine biologist to biomedical engineer to neurosurgeon. I still haven’t entirely given up on the hope of becoming a neurosurgeon.
7. I love how toe socks feel.
8. Among my most important childhood influences were Albert Einstein, Kerri Strug, and Ramona Quimby.
9. My baby teeth refused to fall out. 11 of them had to be pulled, in addition to 3 steadfastly impacted wisdom teeth.
10. My desert island album (non-classical) would be Radiohead’s Kid A.
11. All right, if I must… My classical desert island album would be the Guarneri Quartet’s recordings of the late Beethoven string quartets. This is technically a compilation CD spread out onto three discs, but since they come in the same plastic case and this is my fictional desert island scenario, I’m counting them as one.
12. I adore the word “ebullient”, in part because it starts off with my initials, which is kind of narcissistic but it’s still a fun word.
13. Remember how I loved Kerri Strug? Here’s the story of how my admiration for her resulted in a scar below my lower lip. Inspired by Kerri’s heroic performance at the 1996 summer Olympics, I took to cartwheeling around the house whenever possible. This ultimately resulted not in my family’s discovery of my burgeoning gymnastic prowess, as planned, but rather in a crash into my bathroom door frame, lots of blood from the force of a front tooth biting all the way through my lower lip, and a trip to the hospital whereupon I received 8 stitches and began harboring a secret desire to sew people professionally (see #6).
14. I like to eat things in even numbers: 4 strawberries, 200 jellybeans, etc. I am indeed aware that some might deem this a manifestation of the “O.C. Disorder” (don’t call it that)*, but I tend to think that numbers are happier in even groups, and I just wish to make my stomach a peaceful and joyous environment.
15. *I believe that Arrested Development is the funniest, most brilliant show in the whole wide world.
16. Recently I have really gotten into what some refer to as “mixology”, but since I neither own an arm garter nor employ terms like “house-made tincture”, I prefer to call it “bartending”.
17. Try as I might to be gracious, I am deeply resentful of anyone’s up-bow staccato that is better than mine — which, as it turns out, is everyone’s. Everyone’s up-bow staccato is better than mine. My cat could play Hora Staccato with more facility and aplomb than I could ever dream of.
18. My favorite museum (so far) is Il Teatro-Museo Dalí in Figueres, Spain, followed closely by the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.
19. Whenever I take a post-performance bow, I whisper “rhinoceros” to myself. My first violin teacher instructed me to do this so as to ensure an appropriate bow length.
20. I recently went skydiving and it was the most joyful, freeing, exhilarating experience of my life. I WILL get certified.
21. I have my driver’s license but have not driven a car in over 10 years and have no real plans to do so anytime soon.
22. My favorite type of dream is the variety where you discover a new room in a house or place you thought you knew intimately.
23. Deep down I believe that San Francisco is where I’m meant to live.
24. Among my favorite and most frequently reread books are Lolita, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Goodbye, Columbus.
25. I have a few steadfast beliefs (e.g., leggings are not pants; gluten intolerance is a made-up affliction most of the time) about which one would be hard-pressed to get me to change my opinion.
September 30, 2013
Welcome to www.elenaurioste.com, Version 2.0! Since my website has received a terrific makeover, I’d like to take this opportunity to refresh my resolve to keep a more regular blog. The next few weeks will bring some important firsts for me — the opportunity to record as soloist with an orchestra and an attempt to pack for Berlin and Albuquerque in the same suitcase, for starters — and I will try to keep you updated about my goings-on in my spare moments. For briefer, occasionally snarky morsels of information, please follow me on Twitter or visit my Facebook page. Thank you for dropping by my site, and feel free to take a closer look around!
June 1, 2013
Samuel Barber: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14
BARBER Violin Concerto, Op. 14 I. Allegro
Samuel Barber: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14
BARBER Violin Concerto, Op. 14 II. Andante
Sarasota Music Festival Orchestra
Larry Rachleff, conductor
Ernest Chausson: Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25 (excerpt)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Christoph König, conductor
Ernest Chausson: Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25
Ralph Vaughan Williams: “The Lark Ascending” (excerpt)
Alexandre Bloch, conductor
Ralph Vaughan Williams: “The Lark Ascending”
Manuel Ponce, arr. Heifetz: “Estrellita”
Manuel Ponce, arr. Heifetz: “Estrellita”
George Gerswhin, arr. Heifetz: “It Ain’t Necessarily So”
George Gerswhin, arr. Heifetz: “It Ain’t Necessarily So”
Carl Engel, arr. Zimbalist: “Sea-shell”
Carl Engel, arr. Zimbalist: “Sea-shell”
Tom Poster, piano
blank space here
Recital with Michael Brown, piano
The Kennedy Center; Washington, D.C.
“Violinist Elena Urioste and pianist Michael Brown appeared as part of the Fortas Series on Wednesday night in the Family Theater, one of the Kennedy Center’s more congenial spaces for chamber music. Both are polished, immensely self-assured prizewinners who come from prestigious musical backgrounds, Urioste from Curtis and Brown from Juilliard. Their thoughtfully conceived program ran the gamut from Mozart and Manuel de Falla in the first half to Olivier Messiaen and Brahms in the second.
Urioste produces her full-bodied, slightly grainy, always pleasing sound with a physical ease that reflects her long-standing interest in yoga. She is capable of the most exquisitely hushed soft playing, the kind that grabs the heart and holds on to it. Brown, who is also a composer, is an intelligent and musical pianist. [...]
Mozart’s mature Sonata in A, K. 526, was alternately spirited and soulful, if a little short on stylistic discernment. The “Suite Populaire Espagñole,” transcribed from a series of Falla’s songs, overflowed with piquant Iberian flavors. In two of the pieces, “Asturiana” and “Nana,” Urioste’s touching pianissimo was breathtaking, though she was nearly swamped by Brown’s exuberance in “Polo.”
Urioste and Brown together made a strong case for Messiaen’s early “Theme and Variations,” followed without pause by Brahms’s luxuriously languid G major Sonata, in which both artists played their hearts out at the conclusion of a satisfying evening.”
Patrick Rucker, The Washington Post; April 27, 2017
Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra
Elizabeth Schulze, conductor
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Op. 64
“A superb performance of the popular Mendelssohn Violin Concerto featured spectacular playing and deeply satisfying interpretation by guest artist Elena Urioste.”
Charles Spining, Arizona Daily Sun; April 23, 2017
The Cleveland Orchestra
Roderick Cox, conductor
Saint-Saens “Havanaise”, Op. 83
“The clear audience favorite was violinist and former Sphinx Competition winner Elena Urioste, guest violinist in Saint-Saens’ “Havanaise” for violin and orchestra. [...] The crowd went wild [...] after experiencing Urioste’s dashing, virtuoso performance.”
Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer; January 31, 2017
Columbus Symphony Orchestra
Rossen Milanov, conductor
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, op. 35
“Guest violinist Elena Urioste played with precision and passion.
Throughout, Milanov [...] gave all appearances of knowing every note by heart, but the conductor seemed to especially delight in the flair brought by Urioste.”
Peter Tonguette, The Columbus Dispatch; January 7, 2017
Dina Gilbert, conductor
Korngold Violin Concerto, op. 35
“Following the overture, American violinist Elena Urioste joined forces with Gilbert and the orchestra in delivering a spellbinding performance of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s violin concerto. [...]
Though relatively short — 25 minutes — the concerto proved an ideal vehicle for Urioste’s formidable virtuosity and expressiveness. The sighing lyricism that pervades much of the work (only the finale has a fast tempo) effectively showcased the warmth and richness of the violinist’s tone. Much of the solo writing lies well above the staff, and it is the angelic quality of Urioste’s upper-register sound that lingers in my memory.
The finale, marked ‘Allegro assai vivace,’ calls for an abundance of technical facility, and the violinist dispatched the solo lines with dash and élan.”
Terry McQuilkin, The Register-Guard; December 11, 2016
Jamie Phillips, conductor
Sibelius Violin Concerto, Op. 47
“Elena Urioste’s delivery of the Sibelius concerto was glittering from start to finish. From the shimmering opening of the first movement to the heavy technical demands of the last movement, her tone was beautiful throughout and her purity of intonation was incredible.
Particularly impressive was the second movement in which her build up was timed perfectly and was well matched by the orchestra, both providing a wonderful crescendo into the climax of the movement.
Elena flew through the finale with ease, playing at a brisk pace and maintaining amazing clarity throughout the torturous technical passages.”
Elaine Annable, The Yorkshire Times; May 6, 2016
Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
Jacomo Rafael Bairos, conductor
Barber Violin Concerto, Op. 14
“In the Barber, [the Knoxville Symphony's] work was more than matched by a breathtaking performance by violinist Elena Urioste, who played it as through it were coming from her own soul. Her playing of the “Andante,” second movement of the concerto was beyond masterful and exquisitely beautiful.”
Harold Duckett, Knoxville News Sentinel; March 18, 2016
“Like its Romantic predecessors, the Barber [Violin Concerto] has both sweetness and heat, in the form of achingly beautiful lyricism in the first two movements and blazing tempo and density in the finale.
Perfectly poised to take on these qualities was violinist Elena Urioste, whose poetic mastery of the concerto’s personality switch was a joy to behold. Her vocal-like legato phrasing of the Allegro movement’s theme and the equally expressive but more sedate Andante second movement pulled the listener closer and closer. Part of that intimate embrace in the Andante flows from an enchanting melody given first to the oboe, in this case rapturously played by KSO principal Claire Chenette.
If one had not been won over by Urioste in the first two movements, the final up-tempo Presto in moto perpetuo did the trick. Urioste turned corners of tonality practically on two wheels, all the while vividly conscious of tone colors and textures, punctuating them with staccato angles, and driving with an unrelenting urgency. However, this was no blur of musical images whizzing by under Bairos’ control, but one of clarity and focus, albeit with vibrant energy.”
Alan Sherrod, Knoxville Mercury; March 22, 2016
Rogue Valley Symphony
Martin Majkut, conductor
Beethoven Violin Concerto, Op. 61
“The next piece on the program was a performance for the ages of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto featuring the most astounding young violinist I have ever experienced in my long life of listening to classical music and attending live performances, Ms. Elena Urioste […] Every time Ms. Urioste raises her Nicolas Kittel bow to her Alessandro Gagliano violin, magic seems to happen [...] She plays with a passion and an intensity that is striking and singular.
Elena Urioste has totally won me over. I am convinced, I am certain, that she is one of the most extraordinary and exemplary violin virtuosos to come along in several generations.”
Lee Greene, Performing Arts Reviews; January 15, 2016
Tucson Symphony Orchestra
David Alan Miller, conductor
Sibelius Violin Concerto, Op. 47
“Urioste’s technical prowess was matched by her instinctive sense of expressive phrasing. She made the devilishly difficult passages look simple as she danced at a breakneck pace along the fingerboard, scaling it end to end. Her fingers seemed at times to leap frog one over the other. She was going so fast at times that you didn’t dare blink for fear of missing out on a mystical moment of music-making.”
Cathalena E. Burch, Arizona Daily Star; November 14, 2015
Alabama Symphony Orchestra
Carlos Izcaray, conductor
Korngold Violin Concerto, Op. 35
“Retreating a half century, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto is one of the most luscious collections of melodies in the concerto literature. The soloist was Elena Urioste, a 29-year-old phenom who proved why her star is on the rise. She possesses a warm, bright tone that balanced impeccably with the orchestra, frequently soaring above Korngold’s thick orchestration.
[...] as the buoyant, highly charged finale unfolded [...] Urioste revealed her brilliant technical abilities along with her consistently sweet sound.”
Michael Huebner, ArtsBHAM; September 19, 2015
San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra
Donato Cabrera, conductor
Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
“The concerto on the program was Max Bruch’s Opus 26 (first) violin concerto in G minor with Elena Urioste as soloist. Sadly, she will not be joining SFSYO on the tour, during which Sergey Khachatryan and Renaud Capuçon will perform as soloist at different venues. I say ‘sadly’ because I have not previously listened to a violinist as expressive as Urioste when it came to the use of soft dynamics. This was apparent from her very first measures, which is one of the trickiest opening gestures in the violin repertoire. She knew exactly where she wanted her stress points to be and how to withdraw from them to a level that was practically a whisper. This is one of those “warhorse” concertos that all violinists must master; but Urioste personalized her approach to deliver an interpretation like no other. Cabrera clearly grasped this and knew exactly how to provide the appropriate levels of instrumental support and how to use Bruch’s choices of instrumentation to highlight Urioste’s solo sonorities.”
Stephen Smoliar, The San Francisco Examiner; June 20, 2015
New York Youth Symphony
Joshua Gersen, conductor
Beethoven Violin Concerto, Op. 61
“The soloist, Elena Urioste, played with an enchanting, sweet tone and shapely phrasing. There was an unaffected purity and naturalness to the trills that are sprinkled all over the solo part.”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times; March 9, 2015
Vermont Symphony Orchestra
Jaime Laredo, conductor
Elgar Violin Concerto, Op. 61
“How can it be? The Vermont Symphony Orchestra just keeps on getting better. December’s truly exciting performance [...] at Burlington’s Flynn Center was pretty difficult to top, but Sunday afternoon’s concert at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland did just that. (The same program had been presented at the Flynn on Saturday.)
A big part of it was Elena Urioste’s beautiful and exciting performance of Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B minor, Opus 61. The 20-something virtuoso and Marlboro Music Festival alumna played with a maturity and a depth that belied her age. The Elgar concerto is a big, sprawling late-Romantic work that plays like a soap opera. Urioste, with a warm and personal sound she used expressively, managed the full range of emotions from fiery virtuosity to intimate tenderness, with flair and depth. It was not only exciting, her playing in the slow movement brought many to tears.
Urioste had the good fortune to be accompanied by a conductor who had performed the work himself. VSO Music Director Jaime Laredo, also a renowned violin soloist, led the orchestra in a beautifully articulated and rich-sounding as well as responsive performance. It is a testament to Urioste, Laredo and the VSO that their performance combined the intimacy of chamber music with the fiery passion of a virtuoso concerto. Forty-five minutes never seemed so short.”
Jim Lowe, Times Argus; January 26, 2015
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
André de Ridder, conductor
Korngold Violin Concerto, Op. 35
“Elena Urioste [...] was gently bruising in the lovely second movement, rhapsodic and delicate by turns as required. Her veiled delivery of the final phrases came straight from another world of mystery. The set of upbeat variations which constitute the finale was properly sparkling, although it was here that the Hollywood origins of the thematic material (from The Prince and the Pauper) was most apparent. Urioste seems to be making something of a speciality of American violin concertos – she gave us a superb reading of Barber’s concerto here last year – and one looks forward to her further excursions into this repertory.”
Paul Corfield Godfrey, Seen and Heard International; November 19, 2015
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Cristian Macelaru, conductor
Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
“Urioste’s finely spun violin tone, with its quick vibrato and poignant quiet gave [Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1] an unexpected sense of vulnerability…”
Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune; November 8, 2014
Greenville Symphony Orchestra
Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor
Elgar Violin Concerto, Op. 61
“A commanding account of Elgar’s epic Violin Concerto by the young American violinist Elena Urioste provided a rousing opening for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-15 season Saturday night.
The Peace Center concert also featured a triumphant performance of Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 under the incisive direction of conductor Edvard Tchivzhel.
The 1910 Elgar concerto, a romantic and somewhat sprawling 50-minute work, is rarely heard in the concert hall but Urioste, 28, one of the finest violinists of her generation, made a persuasive case for its revival.
The mercurial concerto’s musical and technical challenges are formidable. Urioste boasted a beautiful sound and dazzling technique.
She eloquently negotiated Elgar’s nostalgic themes and articulated the concerto’s many bravura passages with chiseled clarity. The orchestra, under Tchivzhel’s direction, played splendidly.”
Paul Hyde, Greenville Online; September 21, 2014
Sarasota Music Festival Orchestra
Larry Rachleff, conductor
Barber Violin Concerto, Op. 14
“Violinist Elena Urioste never failed to produce magical sonorities in partnership with an impressive orchestral texture.”
Richard Storm, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; June 15, 2014
“The same magic happened in Barber’s gorgeous violin concerto. Elena Urioste, who was, herself, a student at the Sarasota Music Festival just a few years ago and has since gone on to solo with major orchestras from the New York Philharmonic to the Chicago Symphony, was the dazzling but sensitive soloist. She produced a singing line from her instrument, from the achingly beautiful opening theme to the never-ending perpetual motion of the finale. In between, the words to James Agee’s exquisite poem, “Sure on This Shining Night,” set by Barber in a most famous song, echoed through Urioste’s playing. Barber borrowed from his own song (“Sure on This Shining Night” is from his Opus 13 and the violin concerto is Opus 14). The middle movement has fragments of the poem sifting through the notes: “Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder, wandr’ing far alone, of shadows on the stars.” It’s all there, and with Urioste, the orchestra and Rachleff singing the concerto, it was truly shining.”
June LeBell, YourObserver.com; June 15, 2014
Asheville Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Meyer, conductor
Barber Violin Concerto, Op. 14
“To conclude the first half of the evening, the ASO invited out their guest performer, renowned violinist Elena Urioste, to perform the Samuel Barber Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. Between the orchestra, Maestro Meyer, and herself, the Concerto was what I believe Barber envisioned when he composed the piece. Every detail of the work fit perfectly with the players, expressing the drama and fire of Barber’s work at the highest level. My only regret is that I did not get to hear more from Urioste, as her ethereal playing was absolutely a high point for the evening.”
Joshua Hutchins, Classical Voice of North Carolina; February 8, 2014
Recital with Michael Brown, piano
Wigmore Hall; London, UK
“Elena Urioste and Michael Brown began this BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert at Wigmore Hall with a work that had a surprisingly long gestation period, Janáček’s Violin Sonata, which occupied him from 1914 to 1921. It’s a typically restless utterance, the music flitting around but never breaking free of the stranglehold of A flat minor, one of the composer’s most meaningful tonal centres. Where it does exhibit more freedom is in the second movement ‘Ballada’, an earlier work for violin and piano Janáček incorporated into this compact design. Urioste exhibited an attractive, lyrical tone, her higher register commendably secure in the chorale theme. [...] Brown’s ornamentation was very clear in the stormy textures, though, and the performance was a convincing one. Amy Beach’s Romance offered a nice complement to such excesses, in a graceful account that was notable for Urioste’s singing tone. The piece, based on the song ‘Sweetheart, sigh no more’, was a reminder that we do not hear Beach’s music often enough – it is tuneful and skilfully written.
Richard Strauss’s only published Violin Sonata is a relatively common repertoire piece these days, and it demands as much from its piano part as it does from the athletic violin writing. This was one of the more refined performances of the work I have heard, for Brown was very careful not to overplay his role, bringing clarity to even the most congested, quasi-orchestral passages that Strauss writes for the piano. Urioste’s [...] confidence in the soaring trajectory of Strauss’s slower themes was impressive, leading to some lovingly delivered phrases. The improvisatory second movement held the emotional heart of this performance, romantic but not too sentimental. [...] The players nonetheless delivered a focussed and musically intelligent reading. As an encore Urioste and Brown offered Jascha Heifetz’s arrangement of the Gershwins’ ‘It ain’t necessarily so’, a good choice and a stylish performance. Fun, too!”
Ben Hogwood, The Classical Source; December 6, 2013
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Garry Walker, conductor
Barber Violin Concerto, Op. 14
“For most, the names of Copland, Bernstein, Gershwin and perhaps latterly Glass are the American composers that figure in the general consciousness, so the BBC National Orchestra of Wales‘s series, Americana, exploring the wide, open space that is 20th-century American classical music is welcome. In this first concert, Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto was the only work that appears regularly in the repertoire and, in the hands of soloist Elena Urioste, it got a performance that was both thoughtful and, in the finale, virtuosic. Urioste is currently a Radio 3 new generation artist, an American whose name betrays her Mexican-Basque roots, thus epitomizing the very diversity of cultural references being explored in the series. Her fine tone and focused musicianship made their own mark.”
Rian Evans, The Guardian; September 25, 2013
“Elena Urioste delivered the opening of the Barber Violin Concerto at a real Allegro which at first seemed disconcertingly quick, but the music works better when not treated with too much rhapsodic freedom and there was plenty of light and shade in the playing. This made the slower middle section even more effective, when the opening melody blossomed out on the full strings; and the romantic effusion was all the better for not having been anticipated earlier. David Cowley played the oboe solo at the beginning of the second movement with exquisite phrasing in one of Barber’s most sheerly beautiful melodies; Urioste responded with playing of superbly controlled resonance. At the end of the movement the range of dynamics in the resonant acoustic of the Hoddinott Hall was huge…After that the finale was never going to seem more than lightweight; but the whirling perpetuum mobile still packed plenty of punch. This was a performance which looked at the well-known score with fresh eyes, and Urioste played the music as to the manner born.”
Paul Corfield Godfrey, Seen and Heard International; September 25, 2013
Recital with Gabriela Martinez, piano
Harriman-Jewell Concert Series; Kansas City, MO
“Elena Urioste and Gabriela Martinez effect a fine collaboration, playing with a unified and intuitive feel for each other’s musical outlook and direction…
From the beginning of Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ Sonata – an apt choice for an evening of cheering spring weather – one was immediately aware of Elena’s lush and deeply-felt sonority, expressed through long-breathed lines that bespoke careful consideration of pace and phrasing.”
Paul Horsley, Kansas City Independent; June 19, 2013
West Michigan Symphony
Teresa Cheung, conductor
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
“The highlight of the evening was the second work. With a beaming smile and a sultry dress, Elena Urioste appeared on stage and immediately took command of the theater as she played the opening strains of the Violin Concerto in E minor by Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) on her 1706 Alessandro Gagliano violin… Urioste was as lovely to watch as she was to listen to. In the first movement her sound was pure, mellow, and controlled… With barely a measure of reprieve, the third movement allowed Urioste to display her speed and dexterity. She exhibited lightning quick vibrato, which was amazing to see and beautiful to hear.”
Laura Alexandria, Muskegon Chronicle; April 20, 2013
National Symphony Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
“Virtuoso Elena Urioste brought the house down with her fiery playing of Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor’ for violin and orchestra. Eschenbach was with the inimitable violin soloist at every beat, yielding sensitively to the expressiveness of her playing.”
Patrick D. McCoy, Washington Life Magazine; Feb. 14, 2013
Theodore Kuchar, conductor
Beethoven Violin Concerto
“When Urioste took the stage in a gorgeous, floor-length, deep-green gown, there was an audible reaction from the audience: She looked stunning. But it wasn’t her beauty that transfixed the audience. She powered through the concerto with a sophisticated balance of youthful ardor and cool grace, and in the most technically challenging movement, the 2nd, or Larghetto, she reached fiery heights.
Apart from the notes themselves, what stood out above all else was her joy. There’s no other word for it. Time and again a big smile would spread across her face, and at moments of rest, with just the orchestra playing, she almost seemed in a dreamy reverie. Most important, she connected with the audience, and you could just sense the goodwill in the air.”
Donald Munro, Fresno Bee; Jan. 27, 2013
Las Vegas Philharmonic
Alastair Willis, conductor
Sibelius Violin Concerto
“In a dramatic change of pace there followed violinist Elena Urioste as soloist in Jean Sibelius’ ‘Violin Concerto in D minor.’ This was the annual ‘Rising Star’ concert, but it may be inaccurate to dub Urioste a rising star since she has already arrived at stardom. She has appeared with the finest orchestras both here and abroad, and there is little doubt her career will endure and grow. Her technique is virtually flawless and seemingly effortless, even when tackling devilishly difficult passages. Her approach in the first movement was crisp and commanding. The slow second movement began with lustrous beauty which carried throughout. Its closing theme was intimate and delicate and enveloped the listener in its delicacy. The artist’s deeply expressive range was displayed throughout, but never more than in the poignant final movement. Talent aside, it doesn’t hurt that she is ethereally beautiful.”
Alan Adams, Las Vegas Review-Journal; Jan. 13, 2013
Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra
Maximiano Valdés, conductor
Britten Violin Concerto, Op. 15
“The excellent performance of Urioste was poetry that emphasized the lyricism of the concerto and that reminded us of the importance of the voice in the music of Britten… In the Vivace, Urioste was restrained virtuosity, serving every musical ideal. A magnificent performance.”
Luis Hernandez Mergal, El Nuevo Dia; Nov. 12, 2012
Astor Piazzolla, “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires”
“It was the ‘Four Seasons of Buenos Aires’ by the Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla that really stole the show. Or rather, it was violin soloist Elena Urioste who stole it. A drop-dead beauty who plays with equal parts passion, sensuality, brains and humor, Urioste tossed off the work’s captivating tangos and sly quotes of Vivaldi almost flirtatiously, as the Sphinx players provided precise and electrical accompaniment. It was an exciting and virtually flawless performance that brought the audience to its feet.”
Stephen Brookes, Washington Post; Oct. 11, 2012
Marlboro Music Festival
Beethoven Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 No. 3
“Tucked away in a small Vermont college town, Marlboro Music is doing what it has done for most of its 62 seasons: giving a handful of very talented musicians the chance to immerse themselves in a selection of pieces old and new. Only a few of the many works rehearsed each week are played in concert, so in most cases there is time to work and rework them, without the pressure of public performance.
The music presented in concert is often of a very high order, and that was the case during the festival’s fourth weekend of concerts. The two standout performances were of Beethoven quartets. While the festival is often thought of as fixated on the Austro-German tradition, it was significant that the Beethoven works were all receiving their first Marlboro performances.
On Saturday it was Beethoven’s Quartet in D major (Op. 18, No. 3). Many groups succumb to the tendency to overplay Beethoven’s young works, to show that the complex genius of his later music is foreshadowed early on. But here, the four performers — violinists Elena Urioste and Joseph Lin, violist Vicki Powell, cellist Angela Park — put a premium on lightness, transparency, and a sense of proportion that made it feel like the youthful work it is. There was also a flexible approach to rhythm and perfectly calibrated dynamics. It was a deft and sophisticated re-imagining of well-worn repertoire.”
David Weininger, Boston Globe; August 7, 2012
Mobile Symphony Orchestra
David Amado, conductor
Beethoven Violin Concerto
“Violin soloist Elena Urioste added her passion for the Beethoven Violin Concerto, one of the loveliest and most demanding works in the repertoire, which she delivered with a flourish. The opening Allegro ma non troppo opened quietly enough but soon introduced a soloist who displayed neither fear nor fault in the daunting arpeggios and extended runs that punctuate the first movement. The tone might have been leisurely, as program notes suggest, but Urioste was a riveting presence. She performed in bold strokes, alternately fiery and poetic, and she displayed the technique that earns worldwide acclaim.
In a recent interview with the Press-Register, Amado described Urioste as ‘refined and sensitive…with a deep reserve of technical ability,’ and she more than lived up to the praise Saturday night.
An NBC crew attended the concert to capture moments from the violinist’s performance for broadcast. The network people could devote an hour-long special to the soloist, who was spectacular without being showy — especially during a lengthy, challenging interlude toward the close of the first movement.”
Thomas B. Harrison, Press-Register; Feb. 26, 2012
Richmond Symphony Orchestra
Steven Smith, conductor
Brahms Violin Concerto
“The young soloist Urioste brought drama in spades to Brahms’ Concerto in D Major for violin and orchestra — a brilliant yet curiously conversational concerto in which the orchestra and violin embroider upon Brahms’ lush melodies in turn… Urioste’s sense of wonder, as if the drama of the piece were unfolding before her, carried the day.”
Anne Timberlake, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Sep. 20, 2011
Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
Gwyneth Walker “An American Concerto”
“The orchestra seemed to reach a point of full engagement with the fantastically charming An American Concerto by Gwyneth Walker presented with violin soloist Elena Urioste. Incorporating folk, jazz, and swing elements, the concerto requires a balance between showmanship and restraint in order to avoid becoming a caricature of its stylistic components. The ensemble delivered beautifully, and Ms. Urioste imbued her performance with a sleek flare, a sense of humor, and gorgeous lyric warmth throughout.”
Kathryn J. Allwine Bacasmot, Chicago Classical Music; May 27, 2011
“Walker’s ‘An American Concerto’ (1995) employed rock, folk and jazz idioms as guest violinist Elena Urioste soloed with great style in the three-movement whirlwind.”
Bryant Manning, Chicago Sun Times; May 25, 2011
“This amiable, neatly crafted fusion of rock rhythms, folk melody and jazz riffs went down easily, thanks to the sleek virtuosity of the terrific young violin soloist, Elena Urioste.”
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune; May 24, 2011
“Violinist Elena Urioste, who made a memorable debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last year, was the soloist in Gwyneth Walker’s ‘An American Concerto’ (1995)… Urioste delivered a stylish and tasteful performance.”
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review; May 24, 2011
Recital with Michael Brown, piano
Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Center, New York City
“Elena Urioste’s stunning performances as a violin soloist in the annual Carnegie Hall concerts by the Sphinx Organization — an educational foundation that offers classical music training to minority students — have been highlights of those programs in recent seasons. A winner of Sphinx’s competitions in 2003 and 2007, Ms. Urioste studied at the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, and is building an impressive mature career.
She proved an eloquent recitalist on Tuesday afternoon, when she played an inventive program with Michael Brown, a pianist, at Merkin Concert Hall.
Ms. Urioste’s spirited, playful account of Mozart’s Rondo in C (K. 373) quickly established some of the attractions of her sound and her interpretive personality. Chief among them are a thoughtful approach to dynamics and the kind of clearly defined articulation that emphasizes a score’s essential energy.
Very different qualities illuminated her ruminative, abidingly lyrical account of Fauré’s Sonata No. 1 (Op. 13). And Ms. Urioste’s driven reading of the darker Janacek Sonata tapped the work’s intensity and emotional turbulence, particularly in its powerful Adagio. She found other qualities in the piece as well: her shapely, nuanced account of the Ballada drew on some of the tonal opulence that made her Carnegie Hall appearances so appealing.
Ms. Urioste closed her program with Amy Beach’s sweetly singing Romance, and Hubay’s “Carmen Fantasy Brilliante,” a dazzler that begins by focusing on the drama of that Bizet opera, but quickly morphs into violinistic athleticism. Ms. Urioste, fully up to its challenges, was at her best in the speedy passagework that Hubay wove around the “Toreador Song,” presented straightforwardly in the piano part.”
Allan Kozinn, New York Times; April 8, 2011
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Dirk Brossé, conductor
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
“Watching an emerging soloist burn up the stage in the most standard of repertoire is more than just a momentary thrill — it’s something that reminds you how renewable classical music should always be. And what took Elena Urioste’s performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto a step beyond that Sunday with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia was the kind of collaboration you can’t count on with busier musicians on a subscription treadmill.”
David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer; Feb. 15, 2011
“As Urioste noted in her remarks, soloists must find the right balance between romantic emotion and classical form when they play the Mendelssohn concerto; they must be ‘passionate but elegant.’ Urioste produced an exceptionally intense, high-voltage first movement without violating her ideals and followed it with a slow movement that added dark weightiness to the sweetness and poetry of Mendelssohn’s score. Conductor Dirk Brossé and the orchestra gave her the kind of support that surrounds the soloist with a meaningful context and makes you aware of significant details, like the cheery little comments from the woodwinds in the finale.”
Tom Purdom, Broad Street Review; Feb. 15, 2011
El Paso Pro Musica Festival
“It’s a wonder the El Paso Museum of Art didn’t have to call out the fire department at El Paso Pro Musica’s Bach’s Lunch on January 20. The fiery fiddling of 24-year old beauty Elena Urioste was hot stuff, and torrid cellist and artistic director Zuill Bailey was on hand to perform and talk up the program. […] Urioste, a knockout to look at as well as to hear, made the incendiary Sonata No. 3 in D Minor by Eugene Ysaye an instant favorite.
[Joseph] Silverstein, star performer of this year’s chamber fest, shared his virtuosity Saturday…with a bevy of bright younger musicians. He and former pupil Urioste offered a sparkling performance of works by two modern, 20th century composers, Sergei Prokofiev and Arnold Schoenberg. They opened the concert with a skillful reading of Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins in C Major. As the almost 79 year old master violinist and 24 year old Urioste sailed through the melodic andante cantabile, saucy allegro, sensitive comodo and seamless allegro con brio, they displayed an innate grasp of togetherness.
A shining example of outstanding talent joined Silverstein and Urioste — violists Juan-Miguel Hernandez and Stephanie Meyers, plus cellists [Paul Wiancko] and Zuill Bailey — in a powerful reading of Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. To complete the unique program, Silverstein added his impeccable violin technique to the above listed musicians, plus violinists Ilmar Gavilan and Melissa White, in a dazzling rendition of the String Octet in E-flat Major by Felix Mendelssohn. It prompted a standing ovation.”
Betty Ligon, El Paso Inc.; Feb. 14, 2011
“Last Thursday, more than 200 music lovers came to hear violinist Elena Urioste, cellist Zuill Bailey, and pianist Ben Loeb perform; imagine the smiles when Bailey, Pro Musica’s artistic director, announced that violinist Joseph Silverstein would join this illustrious group — a big bonus for music lovers at the museum.
Urioste, a stunning young woman, played the technically demanding Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor by Eugene Ysaye, who wrote six violin sonatas, each dedicated to to a famous violinist. This one-movement sonata, dedicated to Romanian George Enescu, is a bravado work and Urioste provided the impressive gypsy-like flourishes.
For dessert, Bailey and Urioste performed the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia. The work, based on the last movement from Handel’s Harpsichord Suite, was originally arranged for violin and viola by Halvorsen. The violin and cello arrangement was a delicious conclusion to the noontime concert.”
Ruth Taber, El Paso Times; Jan. 25, 2011
Anthony Bramall, conductor
Sibelius Violin Concerto
“The center of the performance, however, was the  year old violinist, Elena Urioste, who played on a violin made by Alessandro Gagliano in 1706. Despite her youth, she was able to please the audience with her highly expressive stage presence, her cool, elegant style, and her rich tone. Her beguilingly played ‘Estrellita’ encore resonated long into the ensuing intermission.”
Sudwest Presse (Germany); Dec. 9, 2010
“The star of the evening was the  year old Elena Urioste. The manner in which the violinist presented the famous Violin Concerto by Jean Sibelius was simply first rate. She played one of the most popular pieces by the Finnish national composer with sensitivity and alertness in the first and third movements and melodious sensitivity in the middle one. The [American] virtuoso savored the rich sound quality of the excellent instrument on which she interpreted this piece from the late Romantic period.
Urioste used the warm tone of the instrument crafted by Alessandro Gagliano in 1706, illuminated especially in the Adagio, most notably in passages relying on the G string. The young virtuoso also proved that she can also play in a different style: she presented the most hair-raising passages in the first and last movements nearly perfectly. A delightfully heartwarming plus was the lovely appearance of this outstanding soloist.”
Frank Kupke, Main Post (Würzburg, Germany); Dec. 3, 2010
San Antonio Symphony Orchestra
Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor
Glazunov Violin Concerto
“Violin star Elena Urioste appeared for a lovingly rendered take on Alexander Glazunov’s little known but charming Violin Concerto… Urioste, with a ripe tone and wonderful technique, poured out all of the open emotion in the single-movement concerto.
Urioste and Prieto recently paired with each other, with another orchestra, for the Glazunov concerto. Their timing and coordination was excellent.”
David Hendricks, San Antonio Express-News; Nov. 13, 2010
Sphinx Organization Gala Concert
Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, New York City
“Elena Urioste and Melissa White, two superb violinists whose performances were also highlights of last year’s concert, returned to collaborate on a sizzling, acidic account of Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Solo Violins (Op. 56).”
Allan Kozinn, New York Times; Oct. 6, 2010
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Sir Mark Elder, conductor
Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”
“The gifted young violinist, Elena Urioste, in her Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut, charmed the audience with her lyrical sensitivity. For this performance she traded her Gagliano fiddle for the famed, $18 million, 1741 ‘Vieuxtemps’ Guarneri del Gesu violin, on loan from Chicago’s Stradivari Society. The sweet yet refined sound she drew from it was every violinist’s dream come true.”
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune; April 3, 2010
“Remarkably, [Ralph Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending] is receiving its first-ever Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances this week… If we had to wait this long, however, then it might as well have been to hear Elena Urioste, just 23, in her CSO debut… A totally poised performer, Urioste also understands what it takes to play a piece marked by such humility. If anyone has played solo pianissimos at Orchestra Hall with the hypnotic delicacy that Urioste offered, I must have been away. She already has a challenging and highly varied repertoire. Let’s hear her again soon.”
Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times; April 2, 2010
“Most violinists would likely prefer to make their Chicago Symphony debut with a splashy concerto but in its intimate fashion, Elena Urioste’s performance of Vaughan Williams’ gentle tone poem was as compelling as any Romantic barnburner. From the hushed rustle of her opening bars, the 23-year old violinist played with inward delicacy and expressive poise, her communicative performance aided by the sweet, penetrating sound of the $18 million ‘Vieuxtemps’ Guarneri, on loan from the Stradivari Society for these concerts. In the closing cadenza, Urioste’s barely audible fade into the distance could not have been more sensitively rendered, the young soloist winnowing her tone to a barely audible filigree.”
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review; April 2, 2010
Christopher Wilkins, conductor
Glazunov Violin Concerto
“Two guest artists are at Keinhans Music Hall this weekend, glamorous young violinist Elena Urioste and guest conductor Christopher Wilkins. Both are bright, engaging and passionate… Urioste is a young artist with poise and a disarmingly direct manner… She poured her heart into the lovely Glazunov. Her tone was rich, warm and confiding. The beautiful themes soared.”
Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News; March 28, 2010
Richmond Symphony Orchestra
Erin Freeman, conductor
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
“The first movement is so large and demanding, and Urioste played so magnificently, that the audience burst into lengthy applause at its end. This didn’t prevent her from immersing herself in the music of the second movement, which she played like a mother’s evening song… Even at top speed, each of Urioste’s notes [in the third movement] was crisp and clear. With what must surely be a waxing musicality and strength, Urioste is poised for a successful career.”
Angela Lehman-Rios, Richmond Times Dispatch; March 22, 2010
Leif Bjaland, conductor
Barber Violin Concerto
“Elena Urioste makes a striking figure on stage and even more so with her rich tone and thoughtful, lyrical performance of this dramatic score.”
Gayle Williams, Sarasota Herald Tribune; Feb. 21, 2010
Sphinx Organization Gala Concert
Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, New York City
“…violinist Elena Urioste […] offered a passionate, virtuosic rendition of the ‘Ballade,’ Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 3 for solo violin.”
Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times; Oct. 22, 2008
Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
Chelsea Tipton II, conductor
Waxman “Carmen Fantasy”
“‘Carmen Fantasy’…was played with virtuoso flair by violinist Elena Urioste.”
Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer; Jan. 21, 2008
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Robert Spano, conductor
Waxman “Carmen Fantasy”
“[Elena] was sultry-sweet razzle-dazzle in Franz Waxman’s ‘Carmen Fantasy.'”
Pierre Ruhe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; July 30, 2007
National Symphony Orchestra
Damon Gupton, conductor
Barber Violin Concerto
“Elena Urioste […] played with the seamless, creamy tone and phrasing that made me long for the quiet and controlled acoustics of a great concert hall. She appeared at ease and assured beyond her experience and thoughtful beyond her years. Her collaboration with Gupton seemed both comfortable and full of energy. It would be good to hear more from her.”
Joan Reinthaler, Washington Post; July 16, 2007
Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
James Gaffigan, conductor
Chausson Poème for Violin and Orchestra
“Urioste made her Cleveland Orchestra debut Tuesday at Severance Hall […] Her debut piece was Chausson’s Poème, Op. 25, and she played it beautifully […] Poised and sleek in an elegant gown, she drew warm tone from her historic instrument […] Urioste commanded the attention of the large audience in slow, unaccompanied passages […] the lyrical music sounded lovely.”
Wilma Salisbury, The Plain Dealer; Feb. 25, 2004
May 20, 2017:
Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra
Janna Hymes, conductor
Phi Beta Kappa Hall
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
May 26-29, 2017:
Brahms Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in G Major, Op. 78
Porgy & Bess Suite for Violin and Piano, arr. Heifetz
June 2, 2017:
North Carolina Symphony
David Glover, conductor
Meymandi Concert Hall
Vivaldi “The Four Seasons”
June 20-22, 2017:
Education work for London Music Masters and Apollo Music Projects
July 3, 2017:
Recording for BBC Radio 3
with Beatrice Rana, piano
Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 5 (“Spring”), Op. 24
July 6-8, 2017:
Classiche Forme Festival Internazionale di Musica da Camera
July 14-16, 2017:
Residency at Roman River Music Festival, recorded for BBC Radio 3
Tom Poster, piano
Raphaela Papadakis, soprano
Karim Sulayman, tenor
July 23, 2017:
Concert for Parkinson’s UK
Tom Poster, piano
Tai Murray, violin
Jennifer Stumm, viola
Laura van der Heijden, cello
Janáček Na památku
Bartók Duos for 2 violins BB104 (selection, transcribed for violin and viola)
Borodin String Trio in G minor (Variations on a Russian theme)
Suk Piano Quartet in A minor Op. 1
Dvořák Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major Op. 81
August 1-6, 2017:
Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival
August 18-19, 2017:
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Bramwell Tovey, conductor
Los Angeles, CA
Tchaikovsky Entr’acte from “Sleeping Beauty”, Op. 66
August 20-27, 2017:
August 29-September 3:
Chamber Music on the Eastern Shore
Tom Poster, piano
Melissa White, violin
Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola
Brook Speltz, cello
venues and programs TBA
Berlin and Snow Hill, MD
September 18-20, 2017:
Recording with Tom Poster
Grieg: complete sonatas for violin and piano
Project Launch: INTERMISSION
December 15, 2016
To my dear supporters,
I hope you are really well and that the holiday season is treating you beautifully so far!
As you may have noticed from some recent social media posts, my dear friend and fellow violinist/yogini/Curtis alum/Sphinxie Melissa White and I are gearing up to launch a project that is incredibly near and dear to our hearts. Together we have created Intermission, a program that celebrates the symbiosis between music and yoga, allowing musicians to reconnect their minds, bodies, and spirits with the process of music-making.
Intermission will have two branches: Sessions, an annual two-week-long workshop for exceptional young string players that combines personalized musical education with a daily yoga practice; and the Retreat, a week-long getaway for seasoned professional musicians to hone their crafts, practice yoga, and share creative ideas – sort of an artist colony meets yoga retreat.
We are all set to unveil our website and officially launch Intermission on January 2, 2017. Leading up to the 2nd, we will be doing a little pre-launch campaign on social media called “The 12 Days of Intermission”, during which we’ll offer a daily taste of what is to come: photography from the website, testimonials from fellow musicians about the benefits of yoga, our inspiration behind the whole project, etc.
I’m posting here because Melissa and I would love it if you could help us, in whatever small way, get the word out about Intermission. We will be posting on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts each day from December 22-January 2, and if you would consider sharing our posts – even a few of them – we would be so grateful! We would be so honored if we could have the privilege of introducing Intermission to you and your loved ones.
Stay tuned, happiest holidays, and take care! xx
Echoes: Available Now on BIS Records
October 7, 2016
Echoes, my music-baby with pianist/composer Michael Brown, is HERE! Head over to eClassical.com to download or visit iTunes to pre-order our first album together, featuring works by Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel, Amy Beach, and the inimitable Mr. Brown himself. Or stop by one of our concerts to pick up a physical copy, if you still have a CD player… (I don’t!)
Thank you BIS Records for believing in us, and most of all, thank you Mr. Silverstein. This one’s for you.
Chamber Music in Berlin
August 11, 2016
Hi everyone — first of all, I’m going to stop pretending that there’s some imaginary assistant writing these News entries for me and switch from the third person to the first. I hope that’s okay? Ahhh, much better.
So guess what!? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I’ve accidentally started a chamber music festival…
With the invaluable brainpower of cellist Nicholas Canellakis and friend/neighbor/knower of all things local Laurie Andes, we are kicking off “Year Zero” of Chamber Music in Berlin in just a few weeks here in gorgeous, beachy Maryland.
Wait — Berlin? Gorgeous? Beachy? Maryland!? Yup!!! We are delighted to bring chamber music to the super-cool town of Berlin, Maryland (seriously, it was voted America’s Coolest Small Town — by whom, I’m not exactly sure, but still), just moments away from stunning bay views, the surreally beautiful Assateague Island National Seashore, wild ponies, and all the hardshell crabs you could ever want.
Joining me and Nick for our inaugural year of concerts will be dear friends and colleagues Benjamin Beilman (violin) and Matthew Lipman (viola) for an American-themed program of beloved classics on Friday, August 26th at Buckingham Presbyterian Church. Nick and I will also present a violin/cello duo program on Wednesday, August 24th at a private home with spectacular bay views, and on the morning of August 25th I will give a violin master class for talented local young musicians at Stephen Decatur Middle School.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten all sorts of key information here, but I will be posting regular updates on my Facebook and Twitter pages, so please follow me there for an embarrassment of Maryland-related riches! And as always, if you have any questions/comments/concerns, please feel free to write to me here using the Contact page form.
And if you’re in the area, please stop by!
June 25, 2016
Elena and Michael Brown, her regular recital partner and dear friend, are thrilled to announce the release of their debut recording together on BIS Records. Their album, Echoes, will be available in October 2016 and will feature early recital works by Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel, Amy Beach, and Michael Brown, a gifted composer in addition to extraordinary pianist. This has been a dream project in the making for some time now and they could not be more thrilled to share Echoes with you in a few short months!
But Not For Me
May 22, 2015
Elena is thrilled — and, frankly, still a bit stunned — to announce that the film she acted and performed in last year, Ryan Carmichael’s first feature project But Not For Me, will receive its world premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival this coming June! Elena plays Hope, a brash, disillusioned Juilliard dropout who is nonetheless intent on saving the world through the power of music. The film will screen twice, first on June 4th at 9 p.m. at Nitehawk Cinema (Williamsburg), and again on June 7th at 8 p.m. at Windmill Studios (Greenpoint). For more information on the film’s premiere, as well as the Brooklyn Film Festival, please visit:
February 23, 2015
The winter of 2015 has been a bit unfriendly to the Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio — two of their concerts in the New York area this February have been postponed due to snow. Their performances for Tertulia and Ringwood Friends of Chamber Music will be rescheduled, hopefully both for early June, so please check back frequently for updates!
Upcoming New York Performances
January 22, 2015
As with many traveling musicians, it’s the rare concert that Elena plays that doesn’t require wings for its commute. Typically the question “When are you playing in New York!?” is met with a wistful sigh and a “Not for a while, unfortunately…” Well, no longer! The next two months see five performances for Elena in the New York area, most a quick subway trip away. Click on the dates below for more details:
~February 21: Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio (Ringwood, NJ)
~March 8: Beethoven Violin Concerto with the New York Youth Symphony (Carnegie Hall, NYC)
December 18, 2014
Elena, a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist (2012-2014), is eager to continue her performance schedule in the United Kingdom and Europe and is delighted to announce that she is now represented abroad by Thomas Hull of Ingpen & Williams. Upcoming engagements include a recording with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and a recital appearance in Munich, Germany with recital partner Michael Brown.
Six More Days…
May 29, 2014
…to listen to the broadcast of Elena’s recent performance of the mighty Beethoven Violin Concerto, Op. 61, with the BBC Philharmonic and Richard Farnes, conductor. The BBC Philharmonic is quickly becoming one of Elena’s most treasured collaborators: over the past five months, she has performed and/or recorded five major works with the orchestra, each experience more pleasurable than the last. On June 20th, she will join them once again for a recording session of the Bruch Concerto No. 1 in G minor before making her way to Chicago to perform the same piece with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
But she digresses! To listen to the Beethoven Violin Concerto, click here.
Great Britain, Great Times!
December 6, 2013
The past ten days in England were a whirlwind for Elena, to say the least! Now, with a recording of Vaughan William’s “The Lark Ascending” and a performance of Elgar’s epic Violin Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic, a Wigmore Hall lunchtime recital, and a Maida Vale studio recording of Schubert’s Rondo Brilliante and Prokofiev’s haunting F minor Sonata all under her belt, she is back at home and eager to commence some serious relaxation time and Christmas market-hopping. Her Wigmore recital with pianist Michael Brown is available to stream online for a few more days — click here to listen to their program of Janacek, Amy Beach, and Strauss.
Elena also recently received an opportunity to combine three of her greatest loves — music, yoga, and writing — in an article for The Strad magazine. Read about why a proper warm-up is vital to any practice session in the online version of the magazine, and be sure to look out for her thoughts on practicing the Strauss Sonata for Violin and Piano in the hard copy of the December issue. You can read the full version of Elena’s essay, American spellings and all, on the Blog page of her website.
Season Opener… With A Twist!
September 28, 2013
Earlier this week, Elena had the honor of making her live BBC Radio 3 debut with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. This was Elena’s second time collaborating with the wonderful Welsh orchestra (the first being for a recording of Ernest Chausson’s “Poème” in June), but the added ingredient of a live broadcast this time around made the experience all the more thrilling. Click here (around 29:00) to listen to Elena speak about and perform the Barber Violin Concerto with the BBC NOW and Garry Walker, conductor. Reviews from The Guardian and Seen and Heard International have also been posted to the Press section of this site.
In addition to her 2013/14 season’s more traditional kick-off, Elena also has an exciting (if unexpected) project on the horizon: she will be trying her hand at acting! A few years ago, Elena met a talented young filmmaker, Ryan Carmichael, with whom she collaborated on a short documentary about the tediums and rewards of practicing (watch it here). Now, Ryan is making his feature film debut with an ambitious project: a classical music hip-hop existential love story titled But Not For Me. The film, featuring Elena in one of the lead roles, promises to showcase classical music in a way that will attract audiences of all ages and demographics — one of Elena’s primary musical goals.
Are you curious to see whether this violinist can memorize words as well as notes? Have you long bemoaned how “stuffy” the genre of classical music can be, and are interested in seeing it portrayed in an inventive way onscreen? Whatever your reason, please check out the film’s Kickstarter campaign and consider donating, or passing the video along to someone who might be interested. No donation is too small, and every person you share the campaign’s short video with counts. Help Elena and the incredible But Not For Me team get this labor of love off the ground!
New BBC Radio 3 Broadcast
August 6, 2013
This past Sunday, Elena was in the middle of a highly caloric brunch with her two childhood best friends when she realized that she had completely forgotten to tune in to her own radio broadcast. After a brief period of self-admonishment, she decided that pancakes took priority over sonatas, at least on that particular morning. If you, too, had culinary or similarly engrossing pleasures keeping you away from your computer this past weekend, no need to worry! The broadcast of Elena’s most recent set of recordings for BBC Radio 3 is available to stream here for the next six days. Repertoire includes the Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 13 of Gabriel Fauré, as well as Leoš Janáček’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, both recorded with pianist Michael Brown at the Maida Vale Studios in London this past March.
Summer Festival Successes
July 30, 2013
Elena performed at two chamber music festivals this month: first at the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio, Texas, and this past weekend at the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival in the Hamptons, New York. After a year of mostly solo engagements, the opportunity to rehearse extensively and perform a collection of chamber works was a refreshing change of pace and a true pleasure.
Click here to read a review of the final weekend of concerts at the Cactus Pear Music Festival.
Watch YouTube videos of Bruce Adolphe’s “Bridgehampton Concerto” and Avner Dorman’s Concerto for Piano and Strings from the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival.
Welcome to the New Site
June 1, 2013
After much eager anticipation, Elena is thrilled to unveil Version 2.0 of her website! Nicholas Finch (who is not only a fantastic website designer but also a wonderful cellist and The World’s Most Patient Person) is responsible for the site’s head-to-toe makeover, and for putting up with Elena’s endless nitpicking about fonts, photograph alignment, and what sort of caffeinated beverages they should be drinking while brainstorming. Nick comes highly recommended to any of you with website design needs!
Warm Welcome for Elena Urioste in Fresno
January 28, 2013
The Fresno Philharmonic and the entire Fresno arts community welcomed Elena with open arms during her recent performances. Local media interviews ensured enthusiastic and packed houses at the Saroyan Theater for both performances of an all-Beethoven program that included the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, with Maestro Theodore Kuchar conducting. Standing ovations signaled just how warmly Fresno embraced Elena and its wonderful orchestra.
Elena Urioste Shines in Kennedy Center Debut
October 12, 2012
In her October 10th debut at the Kennedy Center, Elena dazzled the audience and critics in her electrifying collaboration with the Sphinx Virtuosi. In his glowing review of the entire program, Stephen Brookes of the Washington Post declared, “It was the ‘Four Seasons of Buenos Aires’ by the Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla that really stole the show. Or rather, it was violin soloist Elena Urioste who stole it. A drop-dead beauty who plays with equal parts passion, sensuality, brains and humor, Urioste tossed off the work’s captivating tangos and sly quotes of Vivaldi almost flirtatiously, as the Sphinx players provided precise and electrical accompaniment. It was an exciting and virtually flawless performance that brought the audience to its feet.”
Elena Urioste Selected as a BBC New Generation Artist
September 27, 2012
BBC Radio 3 has chosen Elena as one of six soloists to join its prestigious international roster of New Generation Artists. Elena follows in the footsteps of such esteemed soloists and chamber ensembles as violinist Janine Jansen, pianist Jonathan Biss, trumpeter Alison Balsom, percussionist Colin Currie, and the Belcea Quartet. The New Generation Artist scheme offers unique opportunities for its rising stars to develop their careers, including concerts and festival appearances in London and around the UK, performances and recordings with the BBC Orchestras, special studio recordings for BBC Radio 3, and, last but not least, appearances at the Proms.
Watch the interview of Elena and her recital partner, American pianist Michael Brown (www.michaelbrownmusic.com), filmed recently at the BBC studios in London.
Opening Night Includes…the NFL?!
September 18, 2012
Elena and the NFL’s Larry Fitzgerald normally do not cross paths, let alone share a stage. On Thursday, September 20th, however, that is exactly what this unlikely pair will do when the Phoenix Symphony opens its 2012/13 season with guest conductor Sarah Hicks. The program will open with the Star-Spangled Banner, conducted by Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Fitzgerald, and be followed by Beethoven (Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61), Brahms, and Bernstein, all under the baton of Maestra Hicks.
Sphinx Honors Elena Urioste with a Medal of Excellence
March 23, 2012
On March 15, Sphinx honored three young musicians whose accomplishments distinguish them among musicians of color: Anthony McGill, Tai Murray and Elena Urioste. The three were the recipients of the inaugural Sphinx Medals of Excellence. The recipients were honored at a black-tie dinner in Washington D.C. Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer were among the attendees.
The Sphinx Medals of Excellence honor young Black and Latino leaders in classical music who demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and leadership potential. The awards also carry an honorarium to further these burgeoning careers.
“The incredible success that Anthony, Tai, and Elena have already achieved is a clear indication that diversity and artistic excellence play important roles in classical music,” said Sphinx Founder and President, Aaron P. Dworkin.
ELENA URIOSTE, recently selected as a BBC New Generation Artist and featured on the cover of Symphony magazine, has been hailed by critics and audiences alike for her lush tone, the nuanced lyricism of her playing, and her commanding stage presence. Elena’s debut performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were praised by three separate critics for their “hypnotic delicacy,” “expressive poise,” and “lyrical sensitivity.” Since first appearing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age thirteen, she has made acclaimed debuts with major orchestras throughout the United States, including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Richmond, and San Antonio symphony orchestras. In Europe, Elena has appeared with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Wurzburg Philharmonic, and Hungary’s Orchestra Dohnányi Budafok.
As first-place laureate in both the Junior and Senior divisions of the Sphinx Competition, she debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2004 and has returned annually as soloist. She has collaborated with acclaimed conductors Sir Mark Elder, Keith Lockhart, Robert Spano, Carlos Miguel Prieto, and Alondra de la Parra; pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Christopher O’Riley, and Ignat Solzhenitsyn; cellists Zuill Bailey, Carter Brey, and Colin Carr; and violinists Joseph Silverstein, Shlomo Mintz, and Cho-Liang Lin. An avid chamber musician as well as soloist, Elena frequently performs in recital with her piano partner, Michael Brown, and has been a featured artist in the Marlboro, Ravinia, La Jolla, and Sarasota Chamber Music Festivals, as well as Switzerland’s Sion Valais International Music Festival.
Elena is the recipient of the inaugural Sphinx Medal of Excellence, London Music Masters Award, a Salon de Virtuosi career grant, and a first-prize winner of the Sion International Violin Competition, which also awarded her its audience prize and the prize for best performance of the competition’s newly commissioned work.
Her media credits include the popular radio programs From the Top and Performance Today; appearances on Telemundo and NBC’s Today Show; and a McGraw Young Artists Showcase performance for a live studio audience at WQXR’s Greene Space in New York City. She is featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Breaking the Sound Barrier, and in numerous magazines including Symphony, Strings, Philadelphia Music Makers, and Careers and Colleges. She was recently featured in the 15th anniversary issue of Latina magazine as one of its “Future Fifteen.” Her first CD was released on the White Pine label, and her second recording – with pianist Christopher O’Riley and cellist Carter Brey – will be released in 2013.
Elena is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Joseph Silverstein, Pamela Frank, and Ida Kavafian. She completed graduate studies with Joel Smirnoff at The Juilliard School. Other notable teachers include David Cerone, Choong-Jin Chang, Soovin Kim, and the late Rafael Druian.
The outstanding instruments now being used by Elena are an Alessandro Gagliano violin, Naples c. 1706, and a Pierre Simon bow, both on generous extended loan from the private collection of Dr. Charles E. King through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.