“Curtis is unique, not only in the United States, but in the whole world.”
— Mstislav Rostropovich
Musicians from the Curtis Institute of Music
with Jason Vieaux, guitar & Roberto Díaz, viola
GRAMMY® Award-winning guitarist and faculty Jason Vieaux, renowned violist and Curtis President Roberto Díaz, and emerging artists perform an exciting program for guitar and strings ranging from Piazzolla to Paganini.
Jason Vieaux, guitar
GRAMMY® Award-winner Jason Vieaux is “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists” (Gramophone). Performance highlights from the 2019–20 season include debuts at the Domaine-Forget International and Carmel Bach festivals; and appearances with the Caramoor Festival as artist in residence, San Francisco Performances, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Ravinia Festival. Notable venues include the National Gallery of Art, Shanghai Concert Hall, Seoul Arts Center, Buenos Aires’s Teatro Colón, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, and New York’s 92Y.
As a chamber musician, Mr. Vieaux appears regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Music@Menlo, and the Strings and Eastern Music festivals. He has appeared as a soloist with over 100 orchestras and has performed premieres by Jonathan Leshnoff, Avner Dorman, Jeff Beal, Dan Visconti, David Ludwig, Vivian Fung, and Mark Mancina, among others.
Mr. Vieaux’s extensive discography includes the 2015 GRAMMY® Award-winning album for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Play. In 2019 Mr. Vieaux released a premiere recording of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Guitar Concerto with Nashville Symphony (Naxos) and the album Dance with the Escher Quartet (Azica). Other recent recordings include Infusion (Azica) with accordion/bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro, Ginastera’s Guitar Sonata, on Ginastera: One Hundred (Oberlin Music), and Together (Azica) with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. In 2009 he was the first classical musician to be featured on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” series.
In 2012 the Jason Vieaux School of Classical Guitar was launched with ArtistWorks Inc., an interface that provides one-on-one online study to guitar students around the world. Mr. Vieaux is head of the guitar department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he has taught since 1997. Mr. Vieaux joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2011. He plays a 2013 Gernot Wagner guitar.
Roberto Díaz, viola
A violist of international reputation, Roberto Díaz is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music, following in the footsteps of renowned soloist/directors such as Josef Hofmann, Efrem Zimbalist, and Rudolf Serkin. As a teacher of viola at Curtis and former principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Díaz has already had a significant impact on American musical life and continues to do so in his dual roles as performer and educator.
As a soloist, Mr. Díaz collaborates with leading conductors of our time on stages throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He has also worked directly with important 20th- and 21st-century composers, including Krzysztof Penderecki—whose viola concerto he has performed many times with the composer on the podium and whose double concerto he premiered in the United States—as well as Edison Denisov, Jennifer Higdon, Ricardo Lorenz, and Roberto Sierra. His recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Concerto won the GRAMMY® for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in 2018.
As a frequent recitalist, Mr. Díaz enjoys collaborating with young pianists, bringing a fresh approach to the repertoire and providing invaluable opportunities to artists at the beginnings of their careers. In addition to performing with major string quartets and pianists in chamber music series and festivals worldwide, Mr. Díaz has toured Europe, Asia, and the Americas as a member of the Díaz Trio with violinist Andrés Cárdenes and cellist Andrés Díaz. The Díaz Trio has recorded for the Artek and Dorian labels.
Mr. Díaz’s recordings on the Naxos label with pianist Robert Koenig include the complete works for viola and piano by Henri Vieuxtemps and a GRAMMY®-nominated disc of viola transcriptions by William Primrose. Also on Naxos are Brahms sonatas with pianist Jeremy Denk and Jonathan Leshnoff’s Double Concerto with violinist Charles Wetherbee and the Iris Chamber Orchestra led by Michael Stern. Mr. Díaz’s live performance of Jacob Druckman’s Viola Concerto with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra is available on New World Records. He has also recorded the Walton Viola Concerto with William Boughton and the New Haven Symphony for Nimbus Records, and works for viola and orchestra by Peter Lieberson with Scott Yoo and the Odense Symphony Orchestra and for Bridge Records.
Since founding Curtis on Tour in 2007, Mr. Díaz has taken this successful initiative to North and South America, Europe, and Asia, performing chamber music side-by-side with Curtis students and other faculty and alumni of the school. His tenure as president of Curtis has also seen the construction of a significant new building which doubled the size of the school’s campus; the introduction of a classical guitar department and new conducting and string quartet programs; and the launch of Curtis Summerfest, summer courses open to the public. In the fall of 2013 Curtis became the first classical music conservatory to offer free online classes through Coursera.
Also under Mr. Díaz’s leadership, Curtis has developed lasting collaborations with other music and arts institutions in Philadelphia and throughout the world and established a dynamic social entrepreneurship curriculum, supported by a prestigious Advancement Grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Designed to develop the entrepreneurial and advocacy skills of young musicians, this curriculum includes the project-based Community Artist Program (CAP) and the post-graduate Community Artist Fellowship program, which gives recent Curtis graduates the opportunity to dedicate a year of arts-based service to the community.
Mr. Díaz received an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin College and was awarded an honorary membership by the National Board of the American Viola Society. In 2013 he became a member of the prestigious American Philosophical Society founded by Benjamin Franklin. As a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was selected by then-music director Christoph Eschenbach to receive the C. Hartman Kuhn Award, given annually to “the member of the Philadelphia Orchestra who has shown ability and enterprise of such character as to enhance the standards and the reputation of the Philadelphia Orchestra.” He received a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Burton Fine; and a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where his teacher was his predecessor at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Joseph de Pasquale. Mr. Díaz also holds a degree in industrial design.
In addition to his decade-long tenure as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he performed the entire standard viola concerto repertoire and gave a number of Philadelphia Orchestra premieres, Mr. Díaz was principal viola of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich, a member of the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner. He plays the ex-Primrose Amati viola.
The Curtis Institute of Music opened on October 13, 1924. It fulfilled the fondest dream of Mary Louise Curtis Bok, the only child of Philadelphia-based Louisa Knapp and Cyrus H. K. Curtis, whose Curtis Publishing Company produced two of the most popular magazines in America: the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies’ Home Journal.
It was Mrs. Bok’s work at the Settlement Music School in South Philadelphia with culturally and financially deprived children, many of whom were gifted enough for professional careers, that convinced her of the need to organize a music conservatory with rigorous standards of teaching and performance to train the next generation of musical artists. With artistic guidance from conductor Leopold Stokowski and the renowned pianist Josef Hofmann, Mrs. Bok assembled a faculty that would attract the most promising students, and developed a philosophy ensuring that these exceptionally gifted young musicians would receive training to prepare them for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level.
Curtis’s rare tuition-free policy was established in 1928 and to this day provides merit-based, full-tuition scholarships for all Curtis students. Students continue to be accepted for study at Curtis solely on the basis of their artistic talent and promise.
In the school’s early years, Leopold Stokowski predicted that Curtis “will become the most important musical institution of our country, perhaps of the world.” That sentiment was echoed nearly 70 years later by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who said, “Curtis is unique, not only in the United States, but in the whole world.”
Since its founding, Curtis alumni have gone on to make history as soloists, composers, conductors, orchestral players, and chamber musicians. Curtis graduates have received Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, and Avery Fisher Awards and are in the front rank of soloists and conductors. They are members of the world’s leading orchestras, including principals in every major American orchestra. They have sung with La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper, and the San Francisco Opera, among others, and more than sixty have sung at the Metropolitan Opera.
“Curtis on Tour” is made possible by The Nina von Maltzahn Global Touring Initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music.