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ABOUT ||  individual bios:  ruhstrat :: cunliffe :: aznavoorian





David Cunliffe


“a cellist whose polish gives way to moments of artful recklessness”

(WQXR -  Q2 Music Album of the week).


Cellist David Cunliffe has performed with the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish and Royal Scottish Symphony Orchestras and the Balanescu Quartet with whom he toured extensively to Australia, Europe and the United States appearing frequently on radio and TV including NPR and BBC.


As a founding member of the Grammy nominated Lincoln Trio, David has performed throughout the United States including appearances at Carnegie's Weil Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Bryant Park Festival, Ravinia Festival, Green Center, Barge Music, Poisson Rouge, the Indianapolis Symphony Beethoven Chamber Music Series, University of Chicago, Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series and in Springfield, Illinois, where the trio was chosen to celebrate the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial celebration with President Barack Obama. He has also performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room in London. International engagements include performances throughout Europe, Asia and South America where this year they toured with the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia performing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in five cities across Colombia. The Lincoln Trio are frequent guests on Chicago’s WFMT and Sirius XM Radio Stations. 


David has collaborated in various chamber music performances with 

Shmuel Ashkenasi, Alberto Lysy, Roger Chase, Simon Keenlyside, Arianna Zukerman, Ilya Kaler, Roberto Diaz, Paul Colletti, Mathieu Dufour and Ricardo Morales and has been invited to perform with the Rembrandt Chamber Players, Chicago Chamber Musicians and relishes playing continuo for the Bach Week Festival. He has also made a guest appearance with Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues.


An enthusiast of new music, David has performed numerous compositions written especially for him and the Trio, including premieres of seven Trio’s by members of the Chicago Composers Consortium, an award winning work dedicated to the trio by young ASCAP winner Conrad Tao, a Chamber Music America Award commission with composer Laura Elise Schwendinger and works by Stacy Garrop, Mischa Zupko, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, Ravinia commissioned works for the Lincoln Bicentennial by James Crowley, Eric Sawyer and Lawrence Dillon. In 2015 the Trio commissioned a work from Colombian composer, Juan Antonio Cuellar which they recorded in Bogota, Colombia. He has also worked with George Crumb, Augusta Read Thomas, Terry Reilly, Michael Nyman, Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Pierre Jalbert, Shulamit Ran, and Joan Tower. He has served on the board of Music in the Loft, an organization that was dedicated to pairing up and coming young composers and performers. He is currently the vice president of the Society of American Musicians a non for profit Competition based in Chicago.


Valuing the importance of cultural diversity in music, David is a passionate supporter of the Chicago based Chinese Fine Arts Society and the Korean Sejong Cultural Society which in 2015 commissioned three works based on Korean themes to be premiered at the University of Chicago and recorded by the Lincoln Trio.


While performing with the Balanescu Quartet David was involved in numerous projects including recording the CD, “Arabian Waltz” with the renowned Oud player Rabih Abou Khalil and recording the sound track for the movie “Angels and Insects”.

As part of the Lincoln Trio, David has recorded numerous albums for the Cedille label including the entire works for Strings and Piano by Joaquin Turina and their debut album "Notable Women”, which features Grammy and Pulitzer prize winning composers Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, Lera Auerbach, Stacy Garrop, Augusta Read Thomas and Laura Schwendinger. Their CD's have received numerous accolades including NAXOS CD of the Month, Baker and Taylor CD Hotlist, Byzantion Recording of the month, TPR Classical Spotlighted album, WQXR/Q2 Music Album of the week, UK Observer Hidden Gems and was listed on Alex Ross of the New Yorker Magazine “Nightafternight playlist for summer's end” and Fanfare magazine “Want List”. Other releases on the Cedille label include "Composers In the Loft", "In Eleanors Words: Music of Stacy Garrop" and "The Billy Collins Suite”. In August of this year they released their latest CD “Trio’s From Our Homelands” featuring the works of Rebecca Clarke, Arno Babajanian and Frank Martin which was nominated for a 2017 Grammy. He has also recorded the Ravel Duo for Violin and Cello with his wife, Desirée Ruhstrat for Albany Records.

His teachers included Margaret Moncreiff, Moray Welsh and Antonio Lysy at the Royal Northern College of Music where he founded the Argyll String Quartet and was the recipient of the Terrance Weill and Leonard Hirsch Quartet prizes and the Lady Barbirolli Chamber Music Award. He also studied with William Pleeth, Ralph Kirshbaum and Christopher Bunting. He completed his studies at the International Yehudi Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland where he studied with Radu Aldulescu and toured throughout Europe with Yehudi Menuhin and the Camerata Lysy.

He is currently on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago.

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