Biography

Swiss-born American pianist Gilles Vonsattel is an artist of extraordinary versatility and originality. He is the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award, and winner of the Naumburg and Geneva competitions. Vonsattel made his Boston Symphony (Tanglewood) and San Francisco Symphony debuts, and subsequently performed recitals and chamber music at Ravinia, Tokyo’s Musashino Hall, Wigmore Hall, Bravo! Vail, Music@Menlo, the Gilmore Festival, the Lucerne Festival, and the Munich Gasteig. His New York solo recital was hailed as “tightly conceived and passionately performed…a study in intensity” by The New York Times.

Vonsattel’s eventful 2017-18 season currently includes performances with the Spoleto Festival USA, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival, SummerFest La Jolla, Camerata Pacifica, Swiss Chamber Concerts, Zeughaus Konzerte, at Schwetzinger Festspiele and in Memmingen (Germany), North Carolina Symphony, String Orchestra of the Rockies, Gothenburg Symphony (Sweden), and his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In collaborative recitals he performs with cellist Adolfo Gutierrez Arenas at Theatro Liceo (Spain), Paul Watkins at the Maestro Foundation in Santa Monica, and with clarinetist Jörg Widmann at San Francisco Performances and Peoples’ Symphony Concerts (New York). He also tours extensively with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center internationally in venues such as Alice Tully Hall in New York and Wigmore Hall in London.

Recent projects include Bernstsein’s “Age of Anxiety” with the Munich Philharmonic and Kent Nagano, Berg’s Kammerkonzert with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, a tour with Jörg Widmann and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Mozart concerti with the Vancouver Symphony and Florida Orchestra, and performances at Seoul's LG Arts Centre and at the Beijing Modern Music Festival.

Gilles’ 2015 release, titled Shadowlines, includes the music of Scarlatti, Webern, Messiaen, Debussy, and George Benjamin (whose composition gives the collection its title) received great acclaim, with The New York Times calling it a “mesmerizing” album in which Vonsattel traced an “intelligent and imaginative path” throughout. His 2011 recording for the Honens/Naxos label of music by Debussy, Honegger, Holliger, and Ravel was named one of Time Out New York’s classical albums of the year, while a 2014 release, Heinz Holliger: Romancendres…, with cellist Daniel Haefliger, on GENUIN/Artist Consort received a 5/5 from FonoForum and international critical praise.

He has made guest appearances with the Warsaw Philharmonic, Calgary Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony, l’Orchestre Symphonique du Québec, Boston Pops, Nashville Symphony, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Staatskapelle Halle, and L’orchestre de chambre de Genève and has been reengaged by the San Francisco Symphony. Chamber partners include such luminaries as James Ehnes, Frank Huang, Nicolas Altstaedt, David Shifrin, David Finckel, Stefan Jackiw, Jörg Widmann, Gary Hoffman, Carter Brey, Anthony Marwood, Paul Neubauer, Paul Watkins, Phil Setzer, Emmanuel Pahud, Karen Gomyo, David Jolley, Ida Kavafian, and the Swiss Chamber Soloists. He has appeared in concert with the Pacifica, Orion, Ebène, Danish, Daedalus, Escher, and Borromeo Quartets. Committed to contemporary works, Vonsattel has performed in numerous premieres in the United States and Europe, and has worked closely with notable composers such as Jörg Widmann, Heinz Holliger, and George Benjamin.

A former member of CMS Two, Mr. Vonsattel received his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Columbia University and his master’s degree from The Juilliard School. He is on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Gilles Vonsattel is a Steinway Artist.

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