Press Room

Gil Shaham’s summer, from Tanglewood to the Hollywood Bowl

After master violinist Gil Shaham stepped in recently as a last-minute soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall to perform Brahms’s Violin Concerto, Anthony Tommasini commented in the New York Times: “The performance, put together with scant rehearsal time, was rhapsodic and compelling.” Brahms’s masterpiece is just one of several cornerstones of the concerto repertoire that the violinist – Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year – revisits during his busy summer season. He will reprise the work with the Suwon Symphony Orchestra in Korea, but not before undertaking Mendelssohn’s concerto with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, for the season-opening gala of the Caramoor Music Festival, and then Beethoven’s concerto, at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony and at the Blossom Music Festival with the Cleveland Orchestra. Versatile as ever, Shaham also continues his long-term exploration of “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” with Benjamin Britten’s contribution to the genre at the Aspen Music Festival. Aspen has been the violinist’s home-away-from-home for many consecutive summers now; this year he also performs chamber music there (Mendelssohn’s Octet), as he will at the Music Academy of the West, where he collaborates on Brahms’s Horn Trio, gives master classes and lessons, and performs a solo recital. Finally, capping the summer season, Shaham joins composer-conductor John Williams at the Los Angeles Philharmonic to celebrate “John Williams: Maestro of the Movies” for two nights at the Hollywood Bowl.
It was on the West Coast that the violinist first impressed the Los Angeles Times with his “stunningly clean account” of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, which he now brings to New York for the season-opening gala concert of the Caramoor Music Festival on June 23. Conductor Roberto Abbado leads the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in an all-Mendelssohn program that also features Tony Award-winning actress Bebe Neuwirth.
For two of his upcoming high-profile summer festival collaborations, Shaham turns to Beethoven’s sole Violin Concerto, with which he made a profound impression at the San Diego Symphony, performing under its music director, Jahja Ling. The San Diego Union-Tribune observed: “His interpretation had a freshness, even an openheartedness that was highly appealing. As much as the drama in Beethoven, Shaham brought out the composer’s humanity. That’s the true Beethoven effect.”
Now he and Ling reunite to present the concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival. Their July 28 performance forms part of an all-Beethoven program that also includes the Fifth Symphony. Then on August 19, Shaham joins the Boston Symphony under Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos to play the same concerto for the 75th anniversary season of the Tanglewood music festival. As Berkshire Living reports, Shaham “is a leading violinist of his generation…, and as a frequent guest with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, he consistently lives up to his reputation.”
The summer sees the violinist’s return to Aspen, where his annual residencies have long been a staple of the festival season. This year, on August 10, he joins the festival orchestra under the direction of his brother-in-law and frequent musical partner, David Robertson; Shaham’s recent collaboration with Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony proved “a knockout” (Los Angeles Times). At Aspen, the two join forces for Benjamin Britten’s seldom-performed Violin Concerto. Dating from 1938-39, this is one of the many works showcased by Shaham’s long-term exploration of iconic “Violin Concertos of the 1930s.” Conceived when Shaham realized just how many of his favorite 20th-century violin concertos had been written in that eventful decade, the project – now approaching the close of its third season – was recently hailed by Musical America as “one of the most imaginative programming concepts in years.”
Aspen also provides the ideal environment for Shaham to pursue his passion for chamber music. On July 24, for the Aspen Center for Physics’ 50th Anniversary Concert, he teams up with violinists Alexander Kerr, Stefan Jackiw, and Ellen de Pasquale; violists Masao Kawasaki and Catharine Carroll; and cellists Brinton Smith and Michael Mermagen, for one of the most beloved works in the chamber canon: Mendelssohn’s Octet. On the violinist’s recording of the chamber piece on his own Canary Classics label, Fanfare magazine declared that “Shaham’s mastery shines through,” and went on to pronounce the performance “urgently recommended.”
Chamber music is on the agenda once again at Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West festival, where Shaham joins Julie Landsman, who served for 25 years as principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera, and pianist Jonathan Feldman for a rendition of Brahms’s Horn Trio on July 3. Also at the Music Academy of the West, in addition to numerous master classes and lessons, the violinist gives the Mosher Guest Artist Recital on July 7.
Drawing the summer to a close, Shaham joins John Williams for a pair of “Weekend Spectacular” concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Shaham’s relationship with the legendary film composer/conductor is both professional and personal, going back many years. Williams explains: “When I think about Gil, I think of a gentle, giving, and humble man with a gargantuan talent,” and it was for the violinist that he composed Treesong (2000) for violin and orchestra. Shaham gave the concerto-like work its premiere at Tanglewood, with the composer conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra, before recording it with the same forces for Deutsche Grammophon.
At the Hollywood Bowl, the pair reunite for two nights (Aug 31 & Sep 1) to present “John Williams: Maestro of the Movies”: a program of the composer’s biggest and best loved movie hits on which they have already frequently collaborated, with performances over the past year at both the New York Philharmonic and Tanglewood. After this last, the Berkshire Arts Almanac reported:
Shaham’s beautiful playing added depth and poignancy to the score of Schindler’s List. … [His] playing is extraordinary, and he gave this tango [‘Por Una Cabeza’ from Scent of a Woman] the passion and sultry energy it demanded. … Williams and Shaham appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely, as was the audience. …
Film Night is a can’t-miss proposition: John Williams knows how to entertain, …the music is familiar and evocative, and when presented with guest artists of the caliber of…Gil Shaham, the evening becomes memorable, indeed.
Additional information about Gil Shaham is available at, and a list of his upcoming engagements follows.
Gil Shaham – upcoming engagements
June 23
Katonah, NY
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Roberto Abbado
Caramoor Music Festival
July 3
Santa Barbara, CA
Brahms: Horn Trio
Julie Landsman, French horn
Jonathan Feldman, piano
Music Academy of the West
Hahn Hall
July 7
Santa Barbara, CA
Solo Recital
Music Academy of the West
Hahn Hall
July 24
Aspen, CO
Mendelssohn: Octet
Alexander Kerr, Stefan Jackiw, Ellen de Pasquale, Masao Kawasaki, Catharine Carroll, Brinton Smith, Michael Mermagen
Aspen Center for Physics: 50th Anniversary Concert
Aspen Music Festival
Harris Concert Hall
July 28
Cleveland, OH
Beethoven: Violin Concerto
Cleveland Orchestra / Jahja Ling
Blossom Music Center
Aug 10
Aspen, CO
Britten: Violin Concerto
David Robertson, conductor
Aspen Music Festival
Benedict Music Tent
Aug 19
Lenox, MA
Beethoven: Violin Concerto
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Aug 23
Suwon, Korea
Brahms: Violin Concerto
Suwon Symphony Orchestra
Gyeonggi Arts Center
Aug 31 & Sep 1
Los Angeles, CA
“John Williams: Maestro of the Movies”
Los Angeles Philharmonic / John Williams
Hollywood Bowl


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