Ida Kavafian enjoys an international reputation as one of the most versatile musicians performing today. With a repertoire as diverse as her talents, Ms. Kavafian has electrified recital stages throughout North America, South America, Asia and Europe. She has also appeared as soloist with major orchestras around the globe. For thirty-five years, Ms. Kavafian was the artistic director of the highly successful festival, Music from Angel Fire, in New Mexico. She also founded the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado and, as its music director for 10 years, built it into one of the country’s leading festivals.
Some of Ms. Kavafian’s many recordings include two world premieres representing her wide range – Fire and Blood by Michael Daugherty with the Detroit Symphony, Neeme Jarvi conducting, and two string quartets by the Bluegrass virtuoso, Mark O’Connor, alongside the composer.
Ms. Kavafian’s commitment to contemporary music has led to many world premieres by composers such as Toru Takemitsu, who wrote a concerto for her, and to tours and recordings with jazz greats Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis, in addition to Mr. O’Connor. She gave the world premiere of Daugherty’s concerto, Fire and Blood, with the Detroit Symphony under Neeme Järvi (her recording was released from these performances), and went on to perform it in Carnegie Hall with the American Composers’ Orchestra and with the National Symphony of Mexico, among many others. She also performed the work at the Interlochen Arts Academy, a place where she spent much of her musical youth, and from which she received the coveted Alumni Award as well as the Ovation Award. Subsequently, the Acadamy Orchestra and Ms. Kavafian toured together nationally in a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Academy.
Since her founding membership in the innovative group TASHI, Ida Kavafian’s chamber music appearances have included many renowned festivals and series throughout the world. She continues her 40 year association with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with a number of appearances. She has toured and recorded as violist with the Guarneri String Quartet, as well as with the Orion, Shanghai, Harlem and American Quartets. During her six-year tenure as the violinist of the legendary Beaux Arts Trio, the group was named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America and received a Grammy nomination. After leaving the trio, she formed the ensemble Opus One with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Peter Wiley, a group that has co-commissioned and premiered new works by Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra, George Tsontakis, Marc Neikrug, Lowell Liebermann and Stephen Hartke. More recently, she co-founded Trio Valtorna with pianist Gilles Vonsattel and hornist David Jolley. She also continues to appear frequently with her sister, violinist Ani Kavafian in recital and concerto appearances. Their television credits include features on CBS Sunday Morning and NBC’s Today Show. Ms. Kavafian has also had a solo feature on CBS Sunday Morning.
Born in Istanbul, of Armenian descent, Ms. Kavafian immigrated to the United States with her family when she was three. She began her studies at age six with Ara Zerounian, continued with Mischa Mischakoff, and ultimately earned her master’s degree, with honors, from the Juilliard School, where she was a student of Oscar Shumsky. She holds the Nina von Maltzahn Chair in Violin Studies on the faculty of the Curtis Institute, where she was awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. She has previously been on the faculties of The Juilliard School and the Bard College Conservatory. She has served on numerous competition juries and various boards.
Ida Kavafian made her New York debut with pianist Peter Serkin, as a winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and also received the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant. Her violin is a J.B. Guadagnini, made in Milan in 1751, and her viola was made in 1987 by Peter and Wendela Moes.