A consummate musician recognized for her depth, passion and grace, Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. Hailed by critics on four continents, Ms. Shaham is in demand for her prodigious skills and admired for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. The New York Times called her a “brilliant pianist,” The Chicago Tribune referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean” in a performance with the Chicago Symphony, and London’s Guardian said Ms. Shaham’s playing at the Proms was “perfection.”
Orli Shaham has performed with most of the major orchestras in the United States, and with many significant ensembles internationally, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Taiwan Philharmonic, the China NCPA Orchestra, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. A frequent guest at summer festivals, she has performed at Aspen, Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Bravo Vail, Caramoor, Grand Teton Music Festival, La Jolla, Mostly Mozart, Music Academy of the West, Spoleto, Italy, Tanglewood, and Verbier music festivals. Ms. Shaham has given recitals in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia at such renowned concert halls as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Symphony Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, the Herkulessaal in Munich and City Recital Hall in Sydney.
Highlights of Ms. Shaham’s 2021-2022 concert season include performances with the Utah Symphony (Case Scaglione, conducting), Marin Symphony (Alasdair Neale conducting), Reading Symphony (Andrew Constantine, conducting) and Youngstown Symphony (André Raphel Smith, conducting), and chamber recitals at Chamber Music Fort Worth, with members of the Vancouver (Washington) Symphony, and with the Parker Quartet at Chamber Music Athens. She continues to serve as the Artistic Director for Pacific Symphony’s chamber music series in Costa Mesa, California, a position she has held since 2007. She is host and featured performer on all of the chamber recitals each season.
Continuing her multi-year, multi-disc Mozart recording project, Orli Shaham releases Volume 2 and 3 of the complete piano sonatas by Mozart in 2022. Volume 1 was released in 2020, following the success of her 2019 recording of Mozart’s Piano Concertos K.453 and K.491 with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson conducting (Canary Classics). Her discography also includes “Brahms Inspired” (2015), a 2-CD recital of works by Brahms and his compositional forefathers alongside works by Brett Dean, Avner Dorman, and Bruce Adolphe, the latter two commissioned specially for the project; “American Grace” (2014) featuring Steven Mackey’s Stumble to Grace (written especially for Ms. Shaham) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, David Robertson conducting. In 2013, Ms. Shaham and her brother, the violinist Gil Shaham, recorded “Nigunim – Hebrew Melodies”, featuring showpieces by Ernest Bloch, Joseph Achron, and Leo Zeitlin and a newly commissioned work by Avner Dorman. She and Gil
Shaham have collaborated on several other recordings including “Dvorák for Two” on Deutsche Grammophon, an all-Prokofiev disc, and “Mozart in Paris” featuring Mozart’s Six Sonatas, Op. 1. Her discography also includes chamber music with Richard King, longtime principal horn of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra; John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with the composer conducting the San Francisco Symphony and fellow pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin; Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals with the San Diego Symphony, Maestro Jahja Ling, and her frequent collaborator pianist Jon Kimura Parker.
Founded in 2010, Orli Shaham’s interactive concert series for young children, ‘Orli Shaham’s Bach Yard’ is recognized by parents, media and the music community as a significant force in music education and entertainment for children ages pre-K to early elementary. The concert programs provide hands-on activities with musical instruments, concepts and concert performances that promote good listening skills, and feature chamber music performances by professional musicians with Ms. Shaham as host and pianist. In addition to its performances at its home base of Merkin Hall in New York City, Bach Yard has been presented in Los Angeles, Aspen, Princeton, St. Louis and Rochester, NY. Video programs specially created during the 2020-2022 pandemic were offered free of charge to audiences worldwide.
Driven by a passion to bring classical music to new audiences, Ms. Shaham has maintained an active parallel career as a respected broadcaster, music writer and lecturer. In 2020, she was named as Co-Host and Creative for NPR’s From the Top, the nationally broadcast radio program featuring performances and conversations with talented teenage musicians, after serving as regular guest host since 2018. Also in 2018, she hosted Orli Shaham’s Bach Yard Stories on WQXR, a series of short stories she had written to go along with performances of chamber music. She also served as the host of America’s Music Festivals in 2012 and 2013, a radio program nationally broadcast to over 100 stations. From 2005 to 2008 she was host of Dial-a-Musician, a feature she created especially for The Classical Public Radio Network. She has also been an artist in residence on National Public Radio’s Performance Today.
A dedicated teacher, Ms. Shaham has taught master classes at many prestigious institutions worldwide, including the Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, The Colburn School, Eastman School and the Aspen Music Festival. She often combines master classes with hands-on performances in which she instructs the students as they prepare a program for performance in collaboration with her. Ms. Shaham is on faculty at The Juilliard School, has taught music literature at Columbia University, contributed articles to Piano Today, Symphony and Playbill magazines and NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog, among others. She regularly serves on audition panels for Ensemble Connect and other performing organizations. She has also served on the juries of major piano competitions worldwide, including the Sydney International Piano Competition, Hilton Head International, and, in 2022, both The Cliburn and Honens Competitions.
Orli Shaham was recognized early for her exceptional talents. She received her first scholarship for musical study from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation at age five to study with Luisa Yoffe at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. By age seven, she traveled to New York with her family to begin study with Nancy Stessin, and became a scholarship student of Herbert Stessin at The Juilliard School a year later. She won the Gilmore Young Artist Award and the Avery Fisher Career Grant, two prestigious prizes given to further the development of outstanding talent. In addition to her musical education at the Juilliard School, Orli Shaham holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia University and pursued a master’s degree in musicology from Columbia. She is a member of the board of trustees of Kaufman Music Center, serving as Chair of the Board in 2021-2023. Orli Shaham is married to conductor David Robertson, and has two stepsons Peter and Jonathan, and twin sons Nathan and Alex.
"... a demonstrative artist, boldly imparting her deepest sentiments with courage, flair and vulnerability."
"Ms. Shaham offered a daringly forceful interpretation of the [Brahms] F minor Sonata. Where the music so much as hinted that power would be welcome, Ms. Shaham supplied it amply, with sharply articulated phrasing as a bonus... she was at her best when Brahms turned up the heat, and as big as her sound was in the scherzo and the finale, Ms. Shaham kept it trim and fully focused."
"She showed herself to be a first-rate Mozartean, combining a crisp keyboard touch with an uncommonly nuanced approach to tone and phrase. Her solos proved consistently well-crafted and engaging, her accompanying passages a sparkling counterpoint to the orchestral statements."
"Her playing across the board is warm and intelligent, shading the music with a range of emotions and creating some very special moments."
"Her playing blends confidence with reflective grace, digital wizardry with subtlety of touch. Shaham tied everything into convincing packages by sustaining lines and making sure the sonorities were as clear as crystal."
"Shaham not only exudes her deep understanding of and feeling for the music, but also radiates a contagious joy in performing it..."