Brinton Averil Smith

About Brinton Averil Smith

With memberships in several leading American orchestras to his credit, cellist Brinton Averil Smith (also known as Brinton Smith) has emerged as a prominent soloist, and he began a recording career in the 2010s. Smith has given the first performances of several major 20th century cello works. Born near Detroit to a pianist mother and mathematician father, Smith as a toddler would fall asleep to his mother's rehearsals with Detroit Symphony cellist Italo Babini. The family moved to Phoenix, and drove Smith to his lessons with Tucson cellist Gordon Epperson -- and later to the airport for flights to Detroit for lessons with Babini. Despite a strong desire to study the cello, Smith majored in math and German at Arizona State, earning a B.A. in the former when he was just 17. He took a math graduate assistantship at the University of Southern California so he could study cello with Eleonore Schoenfeld there, traveling to the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado for lessons with Zara Nelsova. "As a student of Casals, Feuermann and Piatigorsky and a great cellist in her own right, Zara was a link to the old style, and an inspirational role model," Smith has said. He went on for a doctorate at the Juilliard School in New York, studying with Nelsova and meeting his wife and duet partner, pianist Evelyn Chen, and then landed a principal cello position with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra although he had little experience in orchestral cello playing. When that ensemble suffered financial problems, Smith joined the cello section of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and then that of the New York Philharmonic. He became principal cellist of the Houston Symphony in 2005. A frequent soloist with that orchestra and others, Smith has appeared on CBS television's Sunday Morning and regularly on NPR's Performance Today and SymphonyCast. After a duo recording with violinist Gil Shaham, with whom he has often collaborated, Smith released his debut solo recording, performing Miklós Rózsa's Cello Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Smith has given American premieres of works by Jean Sibelius and Alexander Zemlinsky, and played Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Cello Concerto for the first time since its premiere in 1935 by Piatigorsky. He recorded that concerto along with other works and transcriptions by Castelnuovo-Tedesco for the Naxos label in 2018. ~ James Manheim

Michigan, United States of America

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