Heralded as a “First-magnitude star in the making” by the Seattle Times, British violinist Emma McGrath made her London debut aged 10 in the Purcell Room and at 14 she performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, broadcast live on Classic FM. She has since performed with many professional ensembles and orchestras, and has played in France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Brunei, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Russia, Israel, the UK and the USA as a soloist.
In 1999 she won Cumbria’s Keldwyth Award, and in 2002 she was a National String Finalist in the BBC Young Musicians Competition, broadcast on UK TV and radio. In 2002 she was awarded the Mozart prize in the International Yampolsky Violin Competition in Russia, and consequently performed with the Moscoviya Chamber Orchestra in the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, Moscow. With the Panormo Quartet she won the Helen Just and Susan Connell prize for string chamber music, and played at the Wigmore Hall. Emma has given many recitals in Europe and the USA, and has a strong interest in contemporary works, having had several specially written for her. She features on the CD ‘Defiant Dames’ in aid of breast cancer. With the Celtic band Tarras she recorded ‘Rising’ which reached No. 1 in the Folk charts and was voted Mojo’s Folk Album of the Month, and toured Germany, Holland and the USA. She also sings professionally (her debut CD ‘The Girl Stands’ is an eclectic mix of violin, fiddle, and vocal music), and is a published and recorded composer.
She is a graduate of the Keshet Eilon Violin Mastercourse in Israel and the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival in Maine, USA, and was awarded a Jerwood Scholarship to study at the International Musician’s Seminar in Prussia Cove, where she was invited back to play amongst internationally renowned musicians in the Open Chamber Music course. She was awarded the Ernest Cooke Scholarship to attend the Lake District Summer Music Festival, and has been a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, USA, where she gave a concerto performance and was awarded the Violin Prize. Emma has also been a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the National Repertory Orchestra, USA, and the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, Switzerland.
Emma graduated with a BMus(Hons) First Class from the Royal College of Music where she was a Foundation Scholar and Concertmaster of every ensemble. She studied violin with Ani Schnarch and singing with Margaret Cable and was generously supported by the Emerton-Christie Trust. Emma has also received awards from the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund, the Edmund Castle Trust, the Musicians Benevolent Fund, the Tillett Trust and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.
Emma completed her MMus and Artist Diploma in America at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, studying with Andrés Cardenés. Whilst there she was Concertmaster of every orchestra and was a member of The Starling Quartet, with whom she toured China and played at Steinway Hall, NYC. She won the 2004 Concerto Competition, and was the winner of the faculty nominated Violin Scholarship twice. She also won the inaugural Gindroz Travel/Study prize, for independent travel and research in music and architecture in Europe. In 2006 she was invited to be a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, America’s national music honour society, in recognition of her high level of musical achievement and academic excellence. In 2007 she was a winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society’s major auditions.
Emma became the Associate Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 2009, having previously been the Assistant Concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Prior to this, Emma performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and toured Australia and Japan with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. She currently teaches at Seattle University and also maintains a private teaching studio. Emma loves exploring the wonderfully varied musical life that Seattle has to offer – which includes playing concerti and recitals, adjudicating, presenting Masterclasses, chamber music, composing, singing, baroque violin, and various styles of fiddling!
Photo: Yuen Lui