MEET | Jonah Ellsworth Bio

Jonah Ellsworth . cello

onah Ellsworth has been hailed as one of the greatest cellists of his generation. He has won critical acclaim for his solo performances with the Boston Symphony, Akron Symphony, Boston Philharmonic, Jacksonville Symphony, and New Bedford Symphony, among others. Ellsworth has been referred to as “a kind of unrepentant Tannhäuser” and “a player to watch,” by The Boston Globe and The Boston Musical Intelligencer wrote that he is “fearless, [with a] complete range of expressive richness” and “definitely a player to watch.” These praises were earned after performances of the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto with the Boston Philharmonic, the Dvořák Cello Concerto with the Akron Symphony, and his performance of Strauss’s Don Quixote with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO).

Ellsworth was featured as a soloist with the New Bedford Symphony on their regular subscription series in 2012, performed as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Hall in 2011, and with Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra under the baton of the late Gunther Schuller. He was invited to be a participant at Marlboro Music Festival for 2014, 2015, and will return there again next summer. He is a member of the cello section of the Boston Philharmonic.

When Ellsworth recently performed Strauss’s Don Quixote with conductor Benjamin Zander and the BPYO in Prague, former Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer wrote “Ellsworth’s grasp of what the notes mean, of the stories they tell, of the feeling behind and within the notes, is firm, and very deep. His playing of some of the quieter episodes, the yearning that Don Q feels for the idealized Dulcinea, was profoundly moving, and there was plenty of rambunction as he tilted against windmills and scattered sheep. And he plays the death sigh of Don Quixote as tenderly and movingly as I have ever heard it – it is with a profound content that this Don Quixote he leaves this life, and not with a sigh of regret.” Also on this same tour, Ellsworth performed the Dvořák Concerto in Basel, Switzerland. The following is Dyer’s comparison of this performance to that of Natalia Gutman (a legendary Russian cellist who was also soloist with BPYO on this tour): “Ellsworth’s performance was the more mature, serene and centered, and he played with technical mastery, imagination, passion and deep feeling and he was fearless, despite the fact that moments before the concert his cello was knocked over and the bridge was cracked.”

His performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with YPO in Slovakia prompted the critic from The Boston Musical Intelligencer to write, “… Any praise of Jonah’s technical abilities is likely to be an understatement. He is completely assured and intensely musical; each of the variations had a distinctive character and tone color… This is a young man on the verge of an international career.”

Ellsworth was finalist of the 2011 Stulberg International String Competition in Michigan and received top prize from the Harvard Musical Association in 2012. He appeared on the PBS TV show of the “From the Top” taped live in Carnegie Hall in New York City which has been broadcast on PBS stations nationwide.

Ellsworth has studied with Lawrence Lesser at New England Conservatory and Peter Wiley at Curtis Institute of Music. Other teachers include Andrew Mark and Natasha Brofsky. He has attended Meadowmount Music School where he studied with Hans Jansen, Greenwood Music Camp, Orford Arts Center in Canada.