Hai-Ye Ni



Competition Winner

Born: 1972 (Shanghai, China)

Renowned cellist Hai-Ye Ni is celebrated for her exquisite tone and expressive performances. As the principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, she also enjoys a flourishing career as a soloist and chamber musician, performing with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National de Paris and Shanghai Symphony. The press has lauded her as "soulfully expressive" (Washington Post) and possessing a "superbly focused sound" (San Francisco Chronicle).

Throughout her career, she has collaborated with top artists such as pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lang Lang, and Yefim Bronfman, as well as violinists Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, and Pinchas Zukerman. Her festival appearances include Marlboro, Santa Fe, Aspen, Spoleto, and Pablo Casals. Notably, in the 2018-2019 season, she taught at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of Music.

In performance highlights, Hai-Ye showcased the Brahms Double concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Beethoven Triple concerto with Jean-Ives Thibaudet at Bravo Vail Festival. In October 2009, with pianist Lang Lang she performed on the Carnegie Hall series "Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture." She's been featured in performances from Vivaldi to Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger concerto and made impactful debuts with orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010 and New York Philharmonic in 2003. At Yo-Yo Ma's recommendation, she toured the U.S., premiering Bright Sheng's cello concerto.

As a recording artist, her work includes collaborations with violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pianist Helen Huang playing Zhou Long's chamber music for Delos Music, and a 2008 Ondine recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Her debut solo CD on Naxos was named CD of the week by Classic FM London.

Among her accolades, Ms. Ni won first prize at the Naumburg International Cello Competition in 1990, leading to a lauded debut at Alice Tully Hall in 1991. She secured the role of principal cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2006, having previously been associate principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic. Other honors include an Avery Fisher Career Grant and prizes from the Rostropovich and Tchaikovsky Competitions, as well as first prize in the 1996 International Paulo Cello Competition held in Finland.

Since 2015, Hai-Ye has been an Eastern Scholar, visiting professor at the Shanghai Conservatory.

Born in Shanghai, she began her cello studies with her mother at age 7 and studied at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 1985, she came to the U.S. and studied with Irene Sharp at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Joel Krosnick at The Juilliard School, and with William Pleeth in London.

As part of her Naumburg prize, Ms. Ni was given a commissioned work for solo cello: Bruce Adolphe's A White Light Still and Moving, premiered in November 1992 at Alice Tully Hall.

Excerpt, The New York Times, March 11, 1991 (Review of Hai-Ye Ni's Naumburg NY debut recital)

Review/Music; The Boundaries of Freedom

"In the performing world, great value is placed on interpretive freedom and the individuality it represents. Paradoxically this freedom is most evident when musicians control their instruments thoroughly and play with both discipline and a fully grounded sense of style. These were among the qualities that distinguished Hai-Ye Ni's cello playing last Monday evening, when she made her New York debut at Alice Tully Hall.

The centerpiece of Miss Ni's program was Benjamin Britten's First Suite for Solo Cello (Op. 72), a prismatic work that ranges from dark, Bachian chordal writing to an exotically droning Bordone movement and a speedy perpetual motion finale. The work's demands gave Miss Ni an opportunity to display a stunning technique and, more crucially, to show that she regards technique as a means, not an end.

In the finale, for example, her extraordinary speed did not prevent her from giving the music shape by playing with its dynamics and coloration. And in the long-lined Lamento, she used a lovely vibrato that seemed purposeful rather than reflexive, and that she varied with every note.

With the pianist Anne Epperson, Miss Ni gave an alternately assertive and demure account of Beethoven's Sonata No. 5 in D (Op. 102, No. 2), with an extraordinarily worldly, mournful slow movement. There was playfulness in Miss Ni's playing too, particularly in the finale of the Beethoven and in a somewhat Romanticized reading of a Locatelli sonata. And she brought a sweet, warm tone to three pieces by Nadia Boulanger and Tchaikovsky's "Pezzo Capriccioso." Allan Kozinn


1990 Cello Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

Bruce Adolphe: A White Light Still and Moving

Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

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