“What struck me most was solo viola player Stephen Upshaw. By tradition, viola players are retiring types. But if I ever saw a serious exception to that rule, it’s Stephen. [His] execution was astonishingly powerful: full-on, self-assured, as well as searingly expressive. Supercharged viola players used to be an oxymoron but they aren’t now.” – Michael White

Since making his concerto debut at seventeen, American violist Stephen Upshaw has won several competitions and played in festivals around the world including the BBC Proms, Cheltenham, IMS Prussia Cove, Lucerne, Brighton, Huddersfield, Aix-en-Provence, Wien Modern, Donaueschingen and the Salzburg Chamber Music Festival. Much in demand as a chamber musician, he is a member of the Solem Quartet and has also shared the stage with artists such as Tai Murray, Gary Hoffman, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Philippe Graffin, Jennifer Stumm and Garth Knox. Recent recital and chamber music engagements have taken him to Boston’s Jordan Hall, London’s Barbican and Wigmore Halls, Tokyo Opera City, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Konzerthaus.

A noted interpreter of contemporary music, Stephen is also a member of London’s Riot Ensemble whose recent disc ‘Speak Be Silent’ was selected as one of New Yorker Magazine’s ‘Best Recordings of 2019’. He has worked closely with many of today’s leading composers, including John Adams, Julian Anderson, George Benjamin and Helmut Lachenmann. Expanding the repertoire of the viola through the commissioning of new music has always been a feature of Stephen’s work. He has taken part in over 300 world premieres including those of Georg Haas, Sally Beamish (alongside the composer) Mark Simpson and Michael Finnissy, the latter two having both composed solo pieces for Stephen.

Recent solo appearances include: Feldman’s complete “The Viola in My Life” at Cafe Oto and “Rothko Chapel” with the New London Chamber Choir, Jonathan Harvey’s Jubilus and Benjamin Graves’ new concerto “Four Façades” with the Riot Ensemble, a solo recital in the Time of Music Festival (Finland) and another in partnership with Nonclassical.

Additionally, Stephen has a strong interest in synthesizing music with other fields and has helped realize collaborative projects with the Boston Architectural College, Transport Theatre Company, Rambert Dance Company and Parasol Unit Art Space. He was also the artistic director of “Sounding Motion” – a company exploring the relationship between live contemporary chamber music and dance. Recognized for his work in this area, Stephen was recently invited to give  presentations at the New England Conservatory, University of Sussex and  Auburn University on the topics of contemporary music, entrepreneurial musicianship and interdisciplinary collaboration and has also given masterclasses and lead seminars at Trinity Laban.

A native of Atlanta, Stephen studied with Dr. Marilyn Seelman before earning a BMus (Hons) from the New England Conservatory in Boston under the tutelage of Carol Rodland and Martha Strongin-Katz. Stephen completed his Postgraduate studies in the class of David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he was elected a Junior Fellow and won a Guildhall Scholarship. Chamber Music mentors include Paul Katz, Ferenc Rados, Alasdair Tait and members of the Takacs, Belcea, Endellion, and Arditti Quartets.

Additionally, he has appeared in masterclasses with Thomas Riebl, Andras Keller, Kim Kashkashian, Pinchas Zukerman and Nobuko Imai.

In 2016 Stephen was awarded a prestigious soloist Fellowship from Trinity Laban College of Music and Dance. Stephen has also toured regularly to the USA, Europe and Asia with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and its music director, Joshua Bell.

Stephen plays a 1715 Daniel Parker school viola currently made available to him by Nigel Brown and the Stradivari Trust.

For further information, please contact Liz Webb Management.