Guest Artist Bio
Internationally acclaimed soloist and
chamber musician Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is best known for her exciting performances, passionate interpretations and charismatic personality. An innovative artist, her daring, dedication and enthusiasm for all facets of her career have resulted in her becoming one of today's leading violinists, renowned for her work on the concert stage, in the recording studio and in her role as music director of the San Francisco-based New Century Chamber Orchestra, which she joined in January 2008. Her first three seasons have been hailed as a tremendous success by audiences and critics alike – "a marriage that works," in her words, and for renewing enthusiasm for "one of the most burnished and exciting ensembles in the Bay Area," according to Rich Scheinin of the San Jose Mercury News.
Salerno-Sonnenberg continues to divide her time between solo and chamber performances during the 2011-12 season. Upcoming orchestral engagements this spring include concerts with the symphony orchestras of Vancouver, Baltimore, Seattle, and the Westchester Philharmonic, as well as recitals in California. Performances earlier in the season included concerts with the Minnesota and Philadelphia orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, as well as duo recitals with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott in Colorado, Indiana and Illinois. Following the success of their first U.S. tour together last season, Salerno-Sonnenberg led the New Century Chamber Orchestra on an acclaimed East Coast Tour this past fall as part of the 19-member string orchestra's 20th Anniversary season. This May, Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century will present the world premiere of Commedia dell'Arte, Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's violin concerto (New Century's Featured Composer this season), which has been written specifically with her distinctive artistry in mind. This is Salerno-Sonnenberg's fourth season at the helm of the New Century Chamber Orchestra.
Salerno-Sonnenberg's exceptional artistry is paired with great musical intelligence which, along with her unique personality, have served her well in numerous environments – on camera, in a commercial for Signet Bank, hosting a Backstage/Live from Lincoln Center program for PBS, appearing in the PBS/BBCseries The Mind, even talking to Big Bird on Sesame Street. She was the subject of the 2000 Academy Award-nominated film Speaking in Strings, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Released in theaters nationwide and subsequently premiered on HBO's Signatures channel in 1999, this intensely personal documentary on her life is available on VHS and DVD through New Video. The CD of music from the film was released in 1999 by Angel/EMI. Salerno-Sonnenberg appeared on ABC's primetime comedy Dharma & Greg in 2001, and she has also been interviewed and profiled on CBS' 60 Minutes, 60 Minutes II and Sunday Morning; CNN's Newsstand; NBC's National News and Newsstand; NBC's National News and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; A&E's Artist of the Week with Elliot Forrest; Bravo's Arts & Minds and The Art of Influence; PBS' Live from Lincoln Center, The Charlie Rose Show and City Arts. On the publishing front, Nadja: On My Way, her autobiography written for children discussing her experiences as a young musician building a career, was published by Crown Books in 1989.
Salerno-Sonnenberg's professional career began in 1981 when she won the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. In 1983 she was recognized with an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and in 1988 was Ovations Debut Recording Artist of the Year. In 1999 she was honored with the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, awarded to instrumentalists who have demonstrated "outstanding achievement and excellence in music." In May of that same year, Salerno-Sonnenberg was awarded an honorary Master of Musical Arts from the New Mexico State University, the first honorary degree the University has ever awarded. An American citizen, Salerno-Sonnenberg was born in Rome and emigrated to the United States at the age of 8 to study at The Curtis Institute of Music. She later studied with Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School.