Lynn Harrell’s presence is felt throughout the musical world. A consummate soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, conductor and teacher, his work throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia has placed him in the highest echelon of today’s performing artists. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Piatigorsky Award and the Ford Foundation Concert Artists’ Award.
Born to musician parents, at the age of 8 Harrell decided to learn the cello. When the family moved to Dallas, TX, Lynn Harrell found an excellent teacher in Lev Aronson, the first to recognize his talent and who “showed me passion for the instrument, for music and for life” says Harrell.
After high school Harrell entered the Juilliard School, studying with the renowned Leonard Rose. Harrell then went to the Curtis Institute for further studies with Orlando Cole, who recommended that Harrell join an orchestra as preparation for his desired solo career. Harrell consulted with his godfather Robert Shaw, the choral director of the Cleveland Orchestra under conductor Georg Szell. Shaw arranged an audition for Harrell, who, at the age of 18, won a spot in the orchestra. Two years later Szell appointed him principal cellist, a position he held until 1971.
When Harrell was 27, he felt he was ready to pursue his solo career and was invited to appear as soloist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The New York Times enthused, “This young man has everything.” His career began to build and reached a decisive turning point when he won the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, launching his solo career into the international limelight.
Maestro Harrell has become known as one of the world’s finest cellists, whose career includes associations with many of the world’s major artists. He is heard on radio stations the world over, been interviewed by classical music pundits and critics and has performed with leading ensembles and orchestras in every corner of the globe.
From the Americas to Asia, Harrell continues to lead master classes around the world. Harrell has taught at music schools and conservatories, including the Royal Academy of Music in London and USC Thornton School of Music and Aspen Music Festival.
Before an audience that included Pope John Paul II and the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Harrell played solo cello in the historic 1994 Vatican concert dedicated to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, with the Royal Philharmonic conducted by Gilbert Levine.
Harrell has appeared on the Grammy® Awards broadcast, performing with Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman and has won two Grammy Awards for Best Chamber Music Performance.
His extensive discography of over 70 recordings include the complete Bach Cello Suites, numerous premieres of new works, and collaborations with the world’s foremost artists.
Lynn Harrell made his acting debut in the acclaimed award-winning short dramatic film, “Cello,” (2017) portraying the lead character, a cellist with ALS, and the choices he faces. The film and soundtrack, written by composer Randy Kerber, has garnered numerous national and international film and music awards that include premieres at renowned festivals in New York, Vancouver, Milan, London and Rome. The film was named the official selection in the 14th Annual Chinese American Film Festival in October 2018.
Harrell previously played a 1720 Montagnana cello he bought with the proceeds of his parents’ estate and also a 1673 Antonio Stradivarius cello that belonged to the late British cellist Jacqueline du Pré. His current instrument is a 2008 cello by Christopher Dungey.