Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan


Praised by The New York Times for his “electrifying performances” which “conveyed every nuance,” American cellist Jay Campbell is the First Prize Winner of the 2012 CAG Victor Elmaleh International Competition. This spellbinding artist combines eclectic musical interests and a diverse spectrum of repertoire, which has led to collaborations with musicians ranging from Elliott Carter and Pierre Boulez to David Lang and John Zorn to members of Radiohead and Einstürzende Neubauten.

Jay’s summer 2015 schedule featured a return to the Moab Music Festival, as well as appearances at Chamber Music Northwest and the DITTO Festival in Korea, leading into the 2015-16 season, which features recitals at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Morrison Arts Series in San Francisco.  Featured concerto performances include the DuPage Symphony in IL featuring Chen-Yi’s Ballad, Dance and Fantasy (originally written for Yo-Yo Ma) and the Denver Philharmonic (Elgar Concerto).

Jay is the featured artist on Hen to Pan, a critically acclaimed CD on the Tzadik label (February 2015) comprised of duos and trios by John Zorn, which was selected by The New York Times classical critics as one of the best recordings of 2015.  Two new CD’s are scheduled for release early in 2016 on the CAG and Tzadik labels.

Recent concerto highlights include his New York Philharmonic debut performing Tan Dun’s “Silk Road Encounters” from Crouching Tiger Concerto on a Young People’s Concert at Avery Fisher Hall, his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Youth Symphony at Stern Auditorium, and Ligeti Cello Concerto with Juilliard’s Axiom Ensemble at Alice Tulley Hall, as well as Lucerne Festival Academy, Alabama Symphony, Oakland East-Bay Symphony, The Juilliard Orchestra and the Aspen Festival Orchestra. Among the conductors with whom he has collaborated are Pierre Boulez, Matthias Pintscher, Michael Morgan, Jeffrey Milarsky, Joshua Weilerstein and Ryan McAdams. Recent recitals include Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, the Italian Academy at Columbia University, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the Mondavi Center at UC Davis, all with pianist Conor Hanick.

Jay has premiered nearly one hundred works to date, including concerti by Chris Rogerson and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. In 2013-14, Jay premiered a new piece written for him by John Zorn called occam’s razor, and for the 2015-16 season, a new cello concerto titled Genus and Species is being written for Jay from American composer David Fulmer, a co-commissioned by the Human Rights Foundation. Jay has worked with leading new music groups including ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Ensemble InterContemporain, Da Capo Chamber Players, and the Argento Ensemble. A further testament to his dedication to the music of our time comes from the ASCAP Foundation which honored him with the Lieber & Stoller Award.

As a chamber musician, Jay has worked with members of the Arditti, Takacs, Kronos, and Afiara String Quartets. Festival appearances include Marlboro Music, Moab Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, and Festival Heidelberger Frühling in Germany, and he has enjoyed residencies at Vermont’s Yellow Barn Music Festival and at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Texas.

Born in Berkeley, CA, Jay Campbell studied at The Juilliard School where he received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees while studying with celebrated cellist Fred Sherry. Jay is currently an Artist Diploma candidate at Juilliard School, continuing with Mr. Sherry.


Stravinsky: Introduzione, from Suite Italienne

Debussy: Sonata in D minor

Elliott Carter: Figment I for cello alone (1994)

David Lang: i lie

Witold Lutoslawski: Cello Concerto (excerpt) with the Juilliard Orchestra

Brahms: Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 99, Adagio Affetuoso

Boulez: Messagesquisse for soloist and six cellos (excerpt)

Stravinsky: Aria, from Suite Italienne


  • Quotes

    “His athletic approach has nothing to do with display but stems from an effort to imbue every note with expression.”

    “The hushed intimacy of Campbell and Hanick’s performance was gentle, poignant and deeply moving…nothing short of breathtaking.”

    “…once Campbell wraps himself around the cello, you’re willing to follow him anywhere.”

    – The Washington Post

    “…subtle power and rich tone.”
    “…rich, rhapsodic colors.”
    “…Romantic flair and an instinct for the sweeping gesture.”
    -The New York Times
    “… a convincing program by the incredible charisma of Campbell, with strong underpinnings by Hanick. It is obvious that Campbell has a deep understanding of the most difficult and fractured modern compositions. He leads a skeptical audience from the beginning to end one note at a time. He never lets your attention lag for a moment, whether it is Bach or Ligeti… it is the mark of a great artist…”

    -Theater Jones

    -The Los Angeles Times
    “…with intelligence and lighter-than-air bow strokes.”

    -The Strad
     “Campbell’s sound is beautiful and dark, and his playing masterful…”

    -San Francisco Classical Voice
    “…Campbell journeyed colorfully and expansively, even vividly, through thick and thin…”

    -The Boston Musical Intelligencer

    “Jay Campbell’s cello playing was a joy throughout.”

    – The Boston Globe

  • Reviews


  • Orchestral Repertoire

    SAMUEL BARBER: Cello Concerto in A minor
    LUCIANO BERIO: Il Ritorno degli Snovidenia
    PIERRE BOULEZ: Messagesquisse
    BENJAMIN BRITTEN: Cello Symphony*
    ELLIOTT CARTER: Cello Concerto*
    TAN DUN: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Concerto
    HENRI DUTILLEUX: Tout un monde lointaine…*
    ANTONIN DVORAK: Concerto in B minor
    EDWARD ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor, Opus 85
    MORTON FELDMAN: Cello and Orchestra
    DAVID FULMER: Genus and Species (a new concerto for 2015-2016)
    FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN: Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major*
    DAVID LANG: i lie (from Labyrinth Within)
    GYORGY LIGETI: Cello Concerto
    WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI: Cello Concerto*
    MATTHIAS PINTSCHERr: Reflections on Narcissus
    CHRIS ROGERSON: That Blue Repair
    KAIJA SAARIAHO: Notes on Light
    ROBERT SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, Opus 129*
    DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Opus 77
    PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY: Variations on a Rococo Theme, Opus 33

    *preferred Concerti for 2013-2014

  • Programs

    PROGRAM #1

    Schumann: Fantasiestucke, Op. 73
    Matthias Pintscher: Uriel (2011)
    Rachmaninov: Sonata in G minor
    Igor Stravinsky: Elegy
    Brahms: Sonata in F Major, Op. 99

    PROGRAM #2

    Webern: Drei Kleine Stücke, op. 11
    Schuman: Fantasiestücke, Op. 73
    Webern: Zwei Stücke (1899)
    Schumann: Adagio und Allegro, Op. 70
    Kurtag: Signs, Games, and Messages (1987-2008)
    Brahms: Sonata in F Major, Op. 99

    Anton Webern, Robert Schumann, Gyorgy Kurtag, and Johannes Brahms represent a divergence of form and an intersection of content. Their shared dedication to the internal logic of their works, the expressive potency of the musical surface, and a reverence for the musical past manifests in four distinct voices. Despite operating under what may seem like four very different compositional orientations and temporal frameworks — spanning from tightly integrated atonal miniatures which last barely a minute to the upper limits of what the sonata, as a formal design, can handle — each composer’s range of expression is similar in scope and intention but presented in profoundly different ways.

    PROGRAM #3

    (unaccompanied program)
    Krzystof Penderecki: Capriccio per Siegfried Palm (1968)
    David Fulmer: Star of the North: Requiem for Zhanaozen (2013)
    Igor Stravinsky: Elegy
    Michael Finnissy: Doves Figary (1976/77)
    J.S. Bach: Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV1009