Hailed by New York Newsday for “extraordinary musicianship...forceful, sophisticated and entirely in the spirit of the music,” American cellist Brinton Averil Smith's performances have drawn rave reviews from around the world, praising virtuosic performances and musical ideals rooted in the golden age of string playing. Smith’s debut recording of Miklós Rózsa’s Cello Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra received widespread international critical acclaim, and Gramophone praised Smith as a “hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist,” continuing “The sheer bravura of Smith’s reading is infectious.” His recording of chamber music of Fauré with Gil Shaham was selected as one of BBC Music magazine’s best albums of the year and the American Record Guide praised their performance as “Stunningly beautiful”, continuing “I cannot imagine a better stylistic match for Shaham” Mr. Smith's upcoming release of the Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Cello Concerto and virtuoso arrangements for cello and piano will be released on Naxos this spring.
Mr. Smith's North American engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and with orchestras throughout the country, while his broadcast performances include CBS's Sunday Morning and regular appearances on NPR’s Performance Today and Symphonycast. Mr. Smith has appeared regularly as a soloist with the Houston Symphony since joining the orchestra as principal cellist in 2005. Prior to this, he was the first musician chosen by Lorin Maazel to join the New York Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras. His live concert performances on youtube have been viewed nearly a million times, including over two hundred and fifty thousand views of a live encore of Paganini's 24th Caprice. As a devoted advocate of compelling unfamiliar repertoire, Mr. Smith gave the North American premiers of rediscovered works of Jean Sibelius and Alexander Zemlinsky, and recently gave the first professional performance of the lost cello concerto of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco since its premiere in 1935 with Arturo Toscanini and Gregor Piatigorsky.
An active chamber musician, Smith has collaborated with violinist Gil Shaham on numerous occasions including Carnegie Hall's Gil Shaham and Friends series. He has also collaborated with cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell, violinists Cho-Liang Lin, James Ehnes and Sarah Chang, soprano Dawn Upshaw, pianist Emanuel Ax, and members of the Beaux Arts Trio and the Guarneri, Emerson, Juilliard, Cleveland, and Berg quartets. He has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, the Seattle Chamber Music Society, the Mainly Mozart Festival, the Brevard Music Festival and the Texas Music Festival and is an artistic director of the Restoration Chamber Music festival in Galveston. Mr. Smith is currently a faculty member at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the Aspen Music Festival.
The son of a mathematician and a pianist, Brinton Averil Smith was admitted to Arizona State University at age 10, where he took courses in mathematics and German and, at age 17, completed a B.A. in mathematics. He then became a student of Eleonore Schoenfeld at the University of Southern California, where he was also a teaching assistant in the mathematics department, and completed work for an M.A. in mathematics at age 19. He subsequently studied with the renowned cellist Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School. While there he was a prize winner in several consecutive Juilliard concerto competitions as well as the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition and received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, writing on the playing of Emanuel Feuermann. Mr. Smith resides in Houston with his wife, the pianist Evelyn Chen, their daughter, Calista and two slightly evil but kind-hearted dogs.