Brandon Vamos

Brandon Vamos

About Brandon Vamos

Assistant Professor of Cello, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Cellist, Pacifica Quartet

B.M. Eastman School of Music, M.M Yale University

Brandon Vamos has performed solo and chamber music recitals both in the U.S and abroad to critical acclaim. Called a “first rate cellist” by the Chicago Reader and praised for his “gutsy bravura” by the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Vamos has appeared as soloist with several orchestras worldwide including performances with the Taipei City Symphony, the Suwon Symphony in Seoul, the Samara Symphony in Russia, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in Chicago. Mr. Vamos has collaborated with many distinguished artists including Paul Katz, Michael Tree, Yo-Yo Ma, Menachem Pressler, and the Emerson Quartet and has recorded for Cedille, Naxos, and Cacophony Records. Awarded a Performer’s Certificate at the Eastman School of Music where he earned a Bachelor of Music Degree as a student of Paul Katz, Mr. Vamos has also studied with distinguished artists such as Tanya Carey in Macomb, Illinois, and Aldo Parisot at Yale University, where he earned a Master of Music Degree. He has previously served as a faculty member at Northwestern University and currently is Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Guest Lecturer at the University of Chicago and Boston’s Longy School of Music.

The Pacifica Quartet has achieved international stature as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. Recent career honors include appointment as quartet-in-residence at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the position held for 43 years by the Guarneri String Quartet. In 2009 the Pacifica was named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America and received the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. Other awards include the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award and appointment to The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s program for gifted young musicians. In 2006 the Pacifica was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, becoming only the second chamber music ensemble to be so honored in the Grant’s long history.

The Pacifica Quartet tours extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia and performs in the world’s major concert halls. The ensemble can be also be heard on many of the nation’s most prominent radio broadcasts, including Chicago’s WFMT, Boston’s WGBH, New York’s WNYC, and American Public Media’s Performance Today and St. Paul Sunday. Having given highly acclaimed performances of the complete Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Elliott Carter string quartets in recent seasons, the Quartet will perform the monumental Shostakovich quartet cycle in Chicago and New York during the 2010-2011 season. In 2011-2012, the Pacifica will take the Shostakovich cycle to London’s Wigmore Hall and will also present the complete Beethoven cycle at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Self-Motivation and Summer Vacation — by Brandon Vamos

As I helped my students over the last few weeks in preparation for their juries and looked through my calendar to discover how many recitals I will be attending before the middle of May, it suddenly hit me. The end of the school year is upon us once again. That time when there’s one final burst of juries and lessons, tests and papers before summer vacation hits. And after a long academic year, summer vacation can offer a welcome change. I remember those summers I was attending summer programs, and had three or four weeks off, or those students who sometimes have the entire summer devoted to working or relaxation. But regardless of what your summer plans may look like this year, I’d encourage you to remember one very important [...]

Cycles, Shostakovich, and the Final Four — Brandon Vamos

I often get asked about performing cycles. I am a member of a Quartet that is passionate about performing cycles of music, including the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Carter, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich (among others). But why bother with cycles? What do they have to offer us a musicians or audience members? I like to think of it like I think of my Vikings (in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan). Why bother following a team game to game or season to season? Well for one, you start to learn the language of the game. Not just the game of football itself, but how that TEAM plays the game. The aggressive way they run plays or their team personality, what feeling they leave with you at the end [...]

Raising Your Self-Awareness — by Brandon Vamos

I recently worked with a student preparing a Bach suite for his recital. In his lesson, he was struggling with the many challenges one faces when playing Bach. A week later he performed the entire suite in studio class and I was taken aback by the dramatic improvement. He played the work with great poise, clarity, and a much higher level of solidity and intonation. I was curious about this sudden jump in playing level and asked him what his focus had been during that weeks’ preparation. His answer was that he had become much more self-aware and objective of his playing. He had made a conscious effort to sit back and get a true sense of what was coming from his instrument. The result? He was better able to [...]