Johnny Gandelsman

Violinist Gandelsman “plays with a balletic lightness of touch and a sense of whimsy and imagination” —Boston Globe

In January 2015, Violinist Johnny Gandelsman gave an unadvertised pop-up recital at MIT, performing Bach’s Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin to a small but packed house. Lloyd Schwartz, describing the event on NPR’s Fresh Air, said, “I’ve heard some famous violinists attempt this epic feat, but none of them gripped me and delighted me as thoroughly as Gandelsman.”

In October 2015, Gandelsman brought his powerful interpretation of these landmark works to a much larger concert hall, reprising his riveting performance for the first annual Terry and Rick Stone Concert in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium.

Johnny Gandelsman’s visits to the Institute are part of MIT Sounding, an innovative annual performance series that blurs the boundaries between contemporary and world music. Curated by Evan Ziporyn, Faculty Director of the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, the 2015-16 season of MIT Sounding’s diverse offerings run the gamut, from Bach to Led Zeppelin and Morton Feldman, and from acoustic recitals to electronic manipulations of the human voice. “We sought out artists who are reinventing performance and presentation,” Ziporyn says. “We selected people who are innovating not just through new works and technologies but by reexamining—and reframing—our notions of genre and repertoire, translating between mediums, or radicalizing the performance experience itself.”

The 2015-16 MIT Sounding Performance Series is presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) and MIT Music and Theater Arts.

Russian-born violinist Johnny Gandelsman’s singular musical voice comes from the spirit of collaboration. As a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, he has distilled the creative sensibilities of a wide range of master musicians from around the world. Gandelsman has also worked with Bono, Osvaldo Golijov, David Byrne, Bela Fleck, Kayhan Kalhor, Suzanne Vega, James Levine, Mark Morris, Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, Nigel Kennedy and Martin Hayes.

From 2012-2013, Gandelsman premiered works by Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, Vijay Iyer, Bela Fleck, Daniel Cords, Rubin Kodheli, Dana Lyn, Gabriel Kahane, Colin Jacobsen, Shara Worden, John Zorn, Christina Courtin, Ethan Iverson, Padma Newsome, Gregory Saunier, Evan Ziporyn, Bill Frisell and Nik Bartsch, as well as a violin concerto by Gonzalo Grau, commissioned for Gandelsman by Community Music Works. In 2008 he founded a label, In a Circle Records, releasing award winning discs by the Knights, Silk Road Ensemble, Nicholas Cords and Brooklyn Rider.


More at the artist’s website: Johnny Gandelsman.

Past Performances


Johnny Gandelsman / J.S. Bach
First Annual Terry and Rick Stone Concert
Bach’s Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
October 30, 2015 / 8:00pm
Kresge Auditorium, W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA


Johnny Gandelsman
CAST Visiting Artist Pop-up Concert
January 5, 2015 / 7:00pm
MIT Killian Hall, 14W
160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA



Boston Globe: Gandelsman Applies Collaborative Lessons In Solo Bach

Boston Globe: A Violinist’s Bach, Shorn of the Monumental

NPR: Brooklyn Rider Blurs Classical Boundaries On ‘Almanac’

New York Times: Deviating From the Modern, to Fresh Effect: Johnny Gandelsman Performs Bach Violin Works at Bargemusic

New York Times: Ideas From Near and Far Meet In Intimate Scale

New York Times: Unleashing the Potential of Strings

Daily Tar Heel: Brooklyn Rider Returns For 10th Time

Boston Globe: The View From Ma’s Silk Road


Johnny Gandelsman. Demetrius Freeman/ The New York Times/File 2013