Tessa Lark



Competition Winner

Born: (Richmond, Kentucky)

Violinist Tessa Lark, winner of the 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition, was  nominated in 2020, for a Grammy in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo Category and received one of Lincoln Center's Emerging Artist Awards, the special Hunt Family Award. She is the recipient of a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, as well as Silver Medalist in the 9th Quadrennial International Violin Competition in Indianapolis. Tessa is also a highly acclaimed fiddler in the tradition of her native Kentucky, delighting audiences with programming that includes Appalachian and bluegrass music and inspiring composers to write for her.

Tessa has been a featured soloist at numerous U.S. orchestras, recital venues, and festivals since making her concerto debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age sixteen. She has appeared with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra; the Louisville Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic; the Albany, Indianapolis, Knoxville and Seattle symphonies; and has been presented by such venues as Carnegie Hall, New York’s Lincoln Center, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, the Music Center at Strathmore, London's Wigmore Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, San Francisco Performances, Ravinia, the Seattle Chamber Music Society, Australia’s Musica Viva Festival, and the Marlboro, Mostly Mozart, Bridgehampton, and La Jolla summer festivals.

In April 2022, she performed the world premiere of Michael Schachter’s violin concerto, Cycles of Life, with the Knoxville Symphony.

Tessa’s debut commercial recording—SKY, a bluegrass-inspired violin concerto written for her by Michael Torke and performed with the Albany Symphony Orchestra—earned a 2020 GRAMMY nomination, and Tessa’s discography has been expanding ever since. Recordings include Fantasy, an album on the First Hand Records label that includes fantasias by Schubert, Telemann and Fritz Kreisler, Ravel’s Tzigane, and Tessa’s own Appalachian Fantasy; Invention, a debut album of the violin-bass duo Lark and Thurber that comprises arrangements of Two-Part Inventions by J.S. Bach along with non-classical original compositions by Tessa and her husband, Michael Thurber; and a live performance recording of Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, released in 2021 by the Buffalo Philharmonic in honor of Piazzolla’s 100-year anniversary.

Her newest recording, The Stradgrass Sessions, includes collaborations with composer-performers Jon Batiste, Edgar Meyer, Michael Cleveland, and Sierra Hull; original works by Tessa; and the premier recording of John Corigliano’s solo violin composition STOMP.

Tessa’s belief in music’s power to foster global connection and community across boundaries manifests in her genre-defying collaborations. Along with the Lark and Thurber duo, new projects include a string trio with composer-bassist Edgar Meyer and cellist Joshua Roman and a duo partnership with jazz guitarist Frank Vignola.

In addition to Tessa’s performance schedule, she serves as Artistic Director of Musical Masterworks, a chamber music presenter in Old Lyme, CT. Tessa is also a champion of young aspiring artists and supports the next generation of musicians through her work as Co-host/Creative of NPR’s From The Top, and as Mentor and board member of the Irving M. Klein International Strings Competition.

Her primary mentors include Cathy McGlasson, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Miriam Fried, and Lucy Chapman. She is a graduate of New England Conservatory and completed her Artist Diploma at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Sylvia Rosenberg, Ida Kavafian, and Daniel Phillips.

Tessa plays a ca. 1600 G.P. Maggini violin on loan from an anonymous donor through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.

As part of Tessa Lark's Naumburg Award she was given a commission by Avner Dorman, Violin Sonata No. 4 (2015), receiving its world premiere on October 26, 2015 in Weill Recital Hall performed by Ms. Lark and pianist Amy Yang.


Alabama Symphony; Alpesh Chauhan, Conductor

Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3

"To the rescue came violinist Tessa Lark, the 26-year-old budding superstar who recently received an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Not only did the Kentucky native solidify the ensemble, she provided a lovely lyricism and rhythmic inflection that connected palpably. Cadenzas were beautifully rendered and infused with playfulness, sighs and effortless double- and triple-stops. While not a forceful soloist, she projected Mozart’s elegance with warmth and conviction."

-Michael Huebner, artsBHAM, November 19, 2016

Lexington Philharmonic; Scott Terrell, Conductor

Barber's Violin Concerto

Next, Bluegrass native Tessa Lark made her debut appearance with the LPO with her remarkable rendition and astonishing technical skill in performing Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto Op. 14.” Lark’s marathon “fiddling” in the last movement commanded a standing ovation and an encore. Her pensive yet playful “Appalachia Fantasy” tugged at our heartstrings as she honored her return to her Kentucky home.

-Jim Fields, Lexington Herald Leader, October 19, 2016

Recital with Amy Yang, piano

"Her violin produces a sweet, mellow sound that can even make the jagged edges of [the Prokofiev D major Sonata] sound warm. She and Ms. Yang combined to make the lush romantic and thrilling sound of the Strauss E flat sonata into a great recital finale, earning them the second of two ardent standing ovations."

-John G. Miller, Shelter Island Reporter, October 12, 2016


2012 Violin Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

Avner Dorman: Violin Sonata No. 4

Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

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