Armed with a diverse spectrum of repertoire and eclectic musical interests, American cellist Jay Campbell has been recognized for approaching both old and new works with the same probing curiosity and emotional commitment. Praised by The New York Times for his “electrifying performances” which “conveyed every nuance,” Jay Campbell has already forged a reputation as a spellbinding artist having collaborated with musicians ranging from Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, David Lang, and John Zorn, to members of Radiohead and Einstürzende Neubauten. Campbell holds the distinction of being the only artist ever to receive two prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grants – in 2016 as a soloist and again in 2019 as a member of the JACK Quartet.
In 2018 Campbell made his Berlin debut at the Berlin Philharmonie with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Upcoming highlights include the Italian premiere of Luca Francesconi’s cello concerto Das Ding Singt (commissioned for him by the Lucerne Festival); a recording of Marc-André Dalbavie’s cello concerto with the Seattle Symphony; and a recital tour with Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Campbell will serve as co-curator of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2019/20 Green Umbrella series opener with composer John Adams.
In 2017 Campbell was named artiste étoile (artist-in-residence) of the Lucerne Festival, the youngest artist ever to have achieved that distinction, where he had roles in programming as well as performing. The year prior saw his highly successful stint as artistic director of Ligeti Forward for the New York Philharmonic’s 2016 Biennial, which underscored his outstanding contributions as both curator and performer. Working closely with Alan Gilbert, he created a three-concert series exploring Hungarian composer György Ligeti as a fountainhead of modern music; these programs spotlighted the well-known piano, violin, and cello concertos, along with works by Ligeti’s students. In addition to putting his exceptional musical knowledge to work, Campbell was also a featured soloist on the second program, performing Ligeti’s Cello Concerto (1966).
Jay Campbell has premiered nearly 100 works to date, including concertos by Chris Rogerson and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. At the 2017 Lucerne Festival, he performed the Swiss premiere of Michael Van der Aa’s multimedia cello concerto Up-close, and the world premiere of a new concerto by Luca Francesconi, conducted by Matthias Pintscher. During the 2015/16 season, he premiered a new cello concerto entitled Genus and Species, written for him by American composer David Fulmer and co-commissioned by the Human Rights Foundation.
Campbell’s close association with John Zorn led to the release of the album Hen to Pan, featuring a collection of new compositions written for him by Zorn which was released in February 2015 and named by The New York Times in its “Best Classical Music Recordings of 2015.” Also a serious music scholar, Campbell wrote an article about the music of Pierre Boulez which was published in Zorn’s Arcana VII (Tzadik Composer Series). 2018 saw the release of a disc featuring George Perle’s cello concerto with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot (Bridge). Upcoming releases include a disc with works of Beethoven, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Pintscher (Victor Elmaleh Collection); and a collection of works commissioned for Campbell by David Fulmer (Tzadik).
Other highlights include Jay Campbell’s New York Philharmonic debut performing Tan Dun’s “Silk Road Encounters” from Crouching Tiger Concerto at Avery Fisher Hall, and his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Youth Symphony at Stern Auditorium, as well as a debut with the Alabama Symphony, Lucerne Festival Academy, 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. He has had the privilege of working with leading new music groups, including ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Ensemble InterContemporain, Da Capo Chamber Players, and the Argento Ensemble.
As a chamber musician, Campbell has collaborated with members of the Arditti, Takacs, Kronos, and Afiara string quartets, and is a member of the JACK Quartet, as well as the JCT Trio with violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Conrad Tao. He has been invited to the Marlboro and Music@Menlo Festivals, and has enjoyed residencies at Vermont’s Yellow Barn Music Festival and at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Texas. Other guest appearances include the Spoleto, Ojai, Moab, Chamber Music Northwest, Heidelberger Frühling (Germany), DITTO (Korea), Rockport Chamber Music, and Lincoln Center festivals. Campbell has served on faculty at Vassar College and the Banff Centre.
Recipient of awards from the BMI and ASCAP foundations, Jay Campbell was also First Prize winner of the 2012 Concert Artist Guild auditions, and Second Prize winner of the 2015 Walter W. Naumburg International Cello Competition, competing against more than 100 cellists worldwide. Born in Berkeley, California, he began playing the cello at the age of eight at the Crowden School in Berkeley. He holds an Artist Diploma, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School where he was a student of Fred Sherry.
Campbell plays on a cello crafted in the 1750s by Italian luthier Paolo Antonio Testore of Milan.