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Stephen Upshaw

Professorial Staff - Viola


Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Faculty of Music
King Charles Court
Old Royal Naval College
SE10 9JF

A photo of Stephen Upshaw, a white man, dressed in black and holding a violin


American violist Stephen Upshaw regularly appears as a soloist and chamber musician in festivals around the world including the BBC Proms, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Lucerne, Huddersfield, Aix-en-Provence, Wien Modern and the Salzburg Chamber Music Festival.


He is a member of the award-winning Solem Quartet – praised for their ‘“immaculate precision and spirit” (The Strad) and recognized as one of the most innovative and adventurous quartets of its generation. He has also shared the stage with artists such as Tai Murray, Gary Hoffman, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Philippe Graffin, Jennifer Stumm and Garth Knox. Recent engagements have taken him to Boston’s Jordan Hall, London’s Barbican and Wigmore Halls, Tokyo Opera City, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Konzerthaus.

A noted interpreter of contemporary music, Stephen is also a member of London’s Riot Ensemble, winners of the Ernst von Siemens Foundation Ensemble Prize, whose disc ‘Speak Be Silent’was selected as one of New Yorker Magazine’s ‘Best Recordings of 2019’. He has worked closely with many of today’s leading composers, including Max Richter, John Adams, Thomas Adès, George Benjamin and Helmut Lachenmann. Expanding the repertoire of the viola through the commissioning of new music has always been a feature of Stephen’s work. He has taken part in over 300 world premieres including chamber music of Georg Haas and Sally Beamish (alongside the composer) and solo works of Mark Simpson, Simon Holt, Michael Finnissy and Errollyn Wallen.

Recent solo appearances include recitals in the Time of Music (Finland), Brighton and Little Missenden Festivals, Kettle’s Yard and the National Gallery.

Stephen has also toured regularly to the USA, Europe and Asia with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and its music director, Joshua Bell and works with the Chineke! Orchestra as principal viola and as a member of the chamber players.

A highly sought after teacher, he has given masterclasses at institutions including Cambridge University, Trinity Laban, the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music (Poland), Royal College of Music Stockholm, Cardiff University, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Vanderbilt University, Liverpool University, University of Georgia and University of Michigan, among others.

Stephen also serves on the faculty of Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival Academy where he co-curates the annual ‘Festival Forward’. In recent years, he has been invited to adjudicate the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards and the Royal Overseas League Competition.

He has also published technique articles in Strad Magazine and was a featured guest on BBC Radio 3’s “This Classical Life”.