“Oliver Herbert was the soloist, and he was a knockout. His technical command, full-throated but never indulgent tone, crisp yet expressive phrasing, and tactful use of vibrato flowed together.The audience adored him Thursday. A star, it seemed, was found and embraced.”
-San Francisco Classical Voice
Oliver Herbert is a cello soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician with a rapidly growing international presence. The recipient of a 2021 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Oliver’s natural musicianship and connective performances are carving a unique path in the world of music.
As a soloist, Oliver’s collaborations include appearances with the San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia, Erfurt Philharmonic, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has worked with conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Juanjo Mena, and Alexander Shelley.
Driven by the living quality and relevance of the works he presents to audiences, Oliver sees his role as a cellist as being a conduit for magical musical messages. His work is fueled by a passion for music ranging from past centuries to the present, with concerto performances spotlighting works from C.P.E. Bach to Haydn, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Ibert, Elgar, Barber, Shostakovich, Schnittke, Lutoslawski, and Vasks, among others.
Working closely with composers, he has commissioned several works including a new solo cello piece by Chelsea Komschlies as well as Andrew Moses’ Ecstatic Immanence for cello, percussion, and electronics which was recently premiered at the 2023 TICA Festival, Hong Kong. At the 2023 Kronberg Festival, Oliver gave the world premiere of Žibuoklė Martinaitytė’s new solo cello work, Spiral Spins. In recent seasons, his projects have included performances of the complete Bach Cello Suites at Capital Region Classical and the complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas at Guarneri Hall in Chicago.
"Herbert's playing took on deeply moving vocal inflections in extreme ranges, from a low of unusual richness to a delicate high.”
Oliver’s recital engagements have brought him across the United States to venues such as the Ravinia Festival and Kravis Center, as well as on tour to Greece, Germany, Switzerland, and Hong Kong. His programs are known for combining beloved with lesser known works, contextualizing them with equal advocacy and commitment.
As a chamber musician, Oliver appears regularly at leading festivals and venues such as the Rheingau Festival, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Marlboro, La Jolla SummerFest, Verbier Festival, ChamberFest Cleveland, Bridgehampton, Caramoor, CMS Palm Beach, and the Ravinia Festival. During his two summers at Marlboro, Oliver had the opportunity to work closely and perform with legendary pianist Mitsuko Uchida, the festival’s director.
Oliver’s debut in 2018 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony led to a re-engagement in the following season featuring Haydn’s D Major Cello Concerto. A recording of the performance was subsequently released by Warner Classics as part of highlights of MTT’s final season as music director. In June of 2020, Oliver released his debut album with pianist Xiaohui Yang, Frame of Mind: Fauré and Janáček, featuring the two cello and piano sonatas of Gabriel Fauré, as well as Leoš Janáček’s Pohádka (Fairy Tale).
Oliver’s awards include the Verbier Festival’s Jean-Nicolas Firmenich Prize in 2017, as well as top prizes in the Lutoslawski International Cello Competition, Klein Competition, and Stulberg Competition. He has been featured on PBS’s Now Hear This, NPR’s From the Top, the popular online interview series, Living the Classical Life, and more.
Born in 1997 in San Francisco, Oliver is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Colburn School, where he studied with Carter Brey, Pamela Frank, Clive Greensmith, and Peter Wiley. He is now a student of Frans Helmerson in the professional studies program at the Kronberg Academy. These studies are funded by the Nanno Lenz patronage. Oliver plays on a Guadagnini cello which belonged to the great Italian cellist Antonio Janigro, on generous loan from the Janigro family.
Debut Album out now!
Oliver Herbert and Xiaohui Yang’s recording of the cello sonatas by Gabriel Fauré and Leoš Janáček’s Pohádka (Fairy Tale) has arrived. This marks Oliver's recording debut, an ambitious independent project in collaboration with audio engineer Drew Schlegel, producer Ronaldo Rolim, and visual artist Jeong Im Yi, creator of the original artwork for the album cover.