Hailed by New York Newsday for “…extraordinary musicianship...forceful, sophisticated and entirely in the spirit of the music,” American cellist Brinton Averil Smith has performed as soloist, chamber musician and in recital throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and New Zealand. Mr. Smith's engagements include performances at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival and the Banff Centre for the Arts and appearances with orchestras in Detroit, Houston, San Diego, New Jersey, Fort Worth, Tucson, Las Vegas, San Jose, Phoenix, Wellington and Auckland.

Smith’s debut recording of the Miklos Rozsa Cello Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for Koch
International Classics received widespread international critical acclaim, including the annual Gramophone Awards Issue which praised Smith as a “hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist,” and continued, “The sheer bravura of Smith’s reading is infectious.” His recent recording of Fauré’s Piano Trio and Après un Rêve with Gil Shaham for Vanguard Classics was selected as one of BBC Music magazine’s best albums of the year and the American Record Guide praised Smith’s performance as “Stunningly beautiful”, continuing “I cannot imagine a better stylistic match for Shaham”. Mr. Smith will also be featured on an upcoming Naxos release of the chamber music of composer Steven Gerber with violinists Kurt Nikkanen and Cho-Liang Lin.

Mr. Smith has appeared regularly as a soloist with the Houston Symphony since joining the orchestra as principal cellist in 2005. Prior to this, he was a member of the New York Philharmonic, and was the first musician appointed by music director Lorin Maazel. He was also previously the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Smith is currently a member of the faculty at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and has given masterclasses throughout the United States and served as a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

An active chamber musician, Smith has collaborated with members of the Beaux Arts Trio and the Guarneri, Emerson, Juilliard, Cleveland, and Berg quartets, as well as performances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic Chamber Series, the Marlboro Music Festival,  the Aspen Music Festival, the Killington Music Festival, El Paso Pro Musica, the Mainly Mozart Festival, the Bear Valley Music Festival, the Texas Music Festival, the Las Vegas Music Festival, the Ventura Music Festival and, with violinist Gil Shaham, at the Aspen Music Festival Winter Recital series and at the Linton series in Cincinnati.  Mr. Smith was a prize winner in the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition and in several consecutive Juilliard and Aspen Music Festival concerto competitions. While at Juilliard, he received the Melini Award for excellence in performance and was invited to perform at the American Cello Congress. His performances have been broadcast on CBS Sunday Morning and on radio across the U.S., including NPR’s Performance Today, and in New Zealand, South Africa, and Germany.

The son of a mathematician and a pianist, Brinton Averil Smith began his musical studies at age five. At age 10 he was admitted to Arizona State University, where he took courses in mathematics and German and, by age 17, completed a B.A. in mathematics. While a scholarship student of Eleonore Schoenfeld at the University of Southern California, he was also a teaching assistant in the mathematics department, and completed work for an M.A. in mathematics at age 19. He subsequently relocated to New York to study with cellist Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, writing on the playing of Emanuel Feuermann. Mr. Smith resides in Houston with his wife, the pianist Evelyn Chen, their daughter Calista and Sheltie, Grisha. 


Brinton Averil Smith  Artistic Director