Antonio Lysy

Antonio Lysy, an artist of international stature and a dedicated pedagogue, has performed as a soloist in major concert halls worldwide. He has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia of London, Camerata Academica of Salzburg, Zurich Tonhalle, the Zagreb Soloists, Orchestra di Padova e il Veneto, Israel Sinfonietta, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Les Violions du Roi. He has collaborated with distinguished conductors including Yuri Temirkanov, Charles Dutoit, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Sandor Vegh, and Kees Bakels, and continues to perform regularly both as a solo, and chamber music artist.  Mr. Lysy enjoys exploring the versatility of the cello’s voice, from Baroque to electric, and is committed to projects which enrich his diverse interests in music.

Highlights of his recent work include an extraordinary recital, broadcast on live radio, celebrating Bach and the cello through performances on baroque, acoustic, and electric cellos at the Los Angeles County Museum of the Arts. A recent program with Les Violons du Roi in their new and fabulous hall in the heart of Quebec city, led “Le Soleil” to remark: “Antonio Lysy shone and enchanted his audience in an arrangement for cello and strings of Schubert’s Arpeggione”. He presented a multimedia concert with pianist and comedian Jean Marchand, showcasing the history of his Carlo Tononi cello on its 300th birthday. He has performed in recitals in New York and Los Angeles with pianist Pascal Rogé, and enjoys frequent collaborations with distinguished fellow faculty members at UCLA’s Royce and Schoenberg Halls, and at the Colburn School’s Zipper Hall.

Last year’s debut of “Te Amo, Argentina”, a journey through the heart and soul of Argentina’s fascinating culture, featuring solo cello and chamber works, dance, film, and spoken word, met with widespread acclaim. Te Amo, Argentina is based on Antonio Lysy’s latest CD – “Antonio Lysy at the Broad – Music From Argentina”, featuring the works of Piazzolla, Golijov, Ginastera, Bragato, and Schifrin. This CD won a Latin Grammy Award ‘Best Classical Contemporary Composition’ for Pampas, a piece he commissioned from Lalo Schifrin. A recent review on declares it “among the most beautiful recordings of cello and piano you are likely ever to hear”. 

Upcoming performances include a recital at the Uffizi Library in Florence, Italy, two programs with Vladimir Ashkenazy and his sons in Lugano, Switzerland, and touring the States, Canada Italy and Argentina with the show Te Amo, Argentina

About his first collaboration with the AYS Orchestra and Alexander Treger, Lysy says: “To be invited to perform alongside my young talented colleagues and Maestro Treger is a privilege and honor. The enthusiasm and dedication they bring to each performance is a joy to behold. Making music together in Royce Hall will be the icing on the cake!”

His love and commitment to chamber music is demonstrated by his musical directorship and founding of the annual Incontri in Terra di Siena Chamber Music Festival in Tuscany, Italy ( Distinguished artists from around the globe take part in this idyllic summer retreat, which is crowned by performances in medieval fortresses, palazzi, and churches in the Southern Tuscan region. The 2013 season marks the festival’s 25th anniversary.

Antonio Lysy has recorded extensively for CBC Radio, BBC Radio, Classic FM, and other European radio networks. His live recording of solo cello repertoire by Bach, Berio, Henze, and Walton, released on the Pelléas label, is “…some of the most beautiful Bach ever heard” (– La Presse, Montréal). In addition, he has recorded for the Claves, Dinemec Classics, and Fonè labels. In January 2012, he recorded and premiered the reworked Eric Zeisl cello concerto with the UCLA Philharmonia directed by Neal Stulberg. It will be released on the Yarlung Records label.

In the summer of 2003, Mr. Lysy accepted the position of Professor of Cello at University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to moving to the United States, he held a professorship at McGill University in Montréal. He was also, for a number of years, visiting professor at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland. He now resides with his family in Los Angeles.

Antonio will perform with the American Youth Symphony on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at Royce Hall.

Meet Antonio Lysy


How did your upbringing influence your decision to pursue music?
I think it is honest to say, my father more or less obliged me. I would have preferred soccer actually, but he was very convincing. He was an amazing violinist, protégé of Yehudi Menuhin, with a strong and rather chauvinist view of how a son should follow in the footsteps of his father. When the violin didn’t work out at the age of 4, because I was too lazy to stand apparently, he moved me to the cello. He thought sitting was the secret… When I went to the Menuhin School in England at age 10, I was able to do cello AND soccer and from that moment became rather happy with life! The next years determined much of my decision to pursue music, thanks to influential teachers and great musicians I had the privilege to get close to, including Gendron, Pleeth, Menuhin, Aldulescu, Kirshbaum, and of course my father. But, essentially I was better at the cello than anything else and opportunities fortunately always came my way.
I was also excited about discovering the magic and mysteries of the art and philosophy of teaching at an early age. That became an important ostinato figure in my life.
Did you play in a youth orchestra growing up?
I played in the Menuhin School Orchestra, then the Camerata Lysy which was a high profile, small string orchestra (the performing wing of the International Menuhin Music Academy) which toured the world performing as a means for the students to learn in the most direct and pressured way, on stage in public. I was a member later on of the young Chamber Orchestra of Europe under some amazing directors, then decided against following that field by instead choosing to get married!

AYS has been a fixture at UCLA since Mehli Mehta’s time and we currently count 15 UCLA students, including four cellists, in the orchestra. What do you think is the value of taking part in our program for your students?
I see the AYS as one of the most unifying and homogenous ensembles in this city, who not only bring together our most talented students for a communal heightened musical experience, but also by synthesis link our historic and valued musical institutions. This makes for an invaluable synergy and creates exchanges which benefit everyone – students, faculty and our diverse and supportive audiences.
What is your personal connection to Prokofiev’s Concertino? Have you played it before?
I have, under Charles Dutoit with the Symphony in Montreal. I have always found this work to be one of the most charming I know for the cello. I used to listen to a recording regularly as a boy. The contrasts, rustic qualities and the magical melodies were like a magnet to my ears. Along with Peter and the Wolf, it introduced me back then to Prokofiev’s music and has stayed with me ever since.
What would you like the audience to know before they hear the Concertino for the first time?
This was one of his last works, and seemingly a return in old age to a harmonic simplicity – a less complicated musical language. I see it as a sort of release, as if his journey went full circle, and in the process making a profound statement about life’s path.
What other projects are you working on right now? 
I am returning to Bach’s cello Suites with a performance next month in Florence’s beautiful Uffizi Library, after not performing them for a few years. They have always been close to my heart and I have recorded a few of them, but I feel a renewed energy after absorbing and digesting new information over time which I feel will not just bring more maturity to my interpretation, but more freedom too. I am also excited by the response and success of the multi-media show I created and premiered here in Los Angeles, now renamed ‘Te Amo, Argentina‘. It will be touring the States, Canada and Italy, and I am enjoying the way it is developing. Lastly, I am proud to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Tuscan Festival I founded, this summer. Nine concerts crown a 10-day residency of a group of distinguished international musicians, in idyllic Tuscan hill town venues, from outdoor Renaissance courtyards to Palazzi to mini opera theaters and cathedrals. Fringe events include exhibitions, wine tastings, garden tours, workshops, and more, making it a rich cultural tourism opportunity for guests from all over the world. All this should keep me out of trouble!