Birth: Aug 31, 1952 in Detroit, MI
If anyone has "made" the viola in the latter part of the twentieth century, it has been American violist Kim Kashkashian. Born in Detroit and of Armenian extraction, Kashkashian studied the viola with Karen Tuttle and legendary violist Walter Trampler at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.
Kashkashian has been a staunch proponent of commissioning new works for her instrument. The list of composers who have written works especially for her reads like a "Who's Who" of contemporary composition: Arvo Part, Tigran Mansurian, Peter Eotvos, Krzysztof Penderecki, Paul Chihara, Sofiya Gubaidulina, Linda Bouchard, Giya Kancheli, and Gyorgy Kurtag are all among them. A frequent flyer at the Marlboro Music Festival, Kashkashian was strongly influenced in her approach toward commissioning new music for chamber combinations in her role as assistant to one of the festival's organizers, violinist Felix Galimir. It was also at Marlboro that Kashkashian met pianist Robert Levin, with whom she frequently performs and records; other public events at which Kashkashian can regularly be seen include the Salzburg, Lockenhaus, and Stavenger festivals in Europe. Kashkashian's musicianship has been well represented on recordings through her association with Germany's ECM label in a happy collaboration that is, in 2004, close to entering its third decade.
Kashkashian has written eloquently about the neglect of the viola and the reasons her instrument has been consigned to second-class status for so long. The instrument she terms "the much-maligned viola" has a first-class champion who works to broaden the range of technique, advocacy, and repertoire for the instrument. Kim Kashkashian teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music.
-Uncle Dave Lewis (All Music Guide)
Violist Kim Kashkashian has established herself as one of the most accomplished artists of her generation. In recent seasons, she has appeared as soloist with the major orchestras in New York, Berlin, Vienna, London, Milan, Munich and Tokyo including performances with Riccardo Chailly, Christoph Eschenbach and Riccardo Muti. She has performed recitals at the Metropolitan Museum and the 92nd Street "Y" in New York City, in Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Kim Kashkashian's quest for new directions and forms which she obtains through intense and continuous work with composers is an active part of her musical life. As a result of these relationships with such composers as Gubaidulina, Penderecki, Kancheli, Kurtag, Mansurjan, Part and Eotvos, she has extensively enlarged the repertoire for the viola. Her commitment to chamber music, which began during years of participation at the Marlboro Music Festival where she was strongly influenced by her work with Felix Galimir, continues through appearances at the Salzburg Marlboro, Lockenhaus and Stavanger Festivals. Current ongoing partnerships include duos with pianist Robert Levin, percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky, and harpsichordist Robert Hill.
A frequent Guest Artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Chamber Music at the "Y" series and Music from Marlboro, Kashkashian has performed with the Tokyo, Guarneri, and Galimir Quartets and toured with a unique quartet which included violinists Gidon Kremer and Daniel Phillips and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Recordings by Kim Kashkashian give an index of the range of her activities. After earlier recordings of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and Divertimento KV 563 with DGG and Sony, her extensive discography with ECM comprises many works including the complete Sonatas from Hindemith, the Shostakovich Sonata op. 147 (Robert Levin, piano), the solo concerti from Britten, Penderecki, Kancheli and Schnittke as well as works by Linda Bouchard and Paul Chihara for viola and percussion (Robyn Schulkowsky), the Bach Sonatas for viola da gamba and cembalo (Keith Jarrett), music from Eleni Karaindrou for the film "Ulysses' Gaze" by Theo Angelopoulos, and a chamber music CD with works of Kurtag and Schumann together with Eduard Brunner, clarinet and Robert Levin, piano. Kashkashian's recording, with Robert Levin, of the Brahms Sonatas won the Edison Prize in 1999. Her most recent recording of concertos by Bartok, Eotvos and Kurtag was released in June 2000, and won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award for a premiere recording by Soloist with Orchestra.
Kashkashian's extensive teaching activities have included professorships at the University of Indiana in Bloomington and at Conservatories in Freiburg and Berlin, Germany. In September 2000, she began teaching viola and chamber music at the New England Conservatory in Boston.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, of Armenian descent, Kashkashian graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she studied with Walter Trampler and Karen Tuttle.