Critics have described American cellist Brinton Averil Smith as a “virtuoso cellist with few equals,” hailing him as “a proponent of old-school string playing such as that of Piatigorsky and Heifetz.” Gramophone praised Smith in his debut recording of Miklós Rózsa’s Cello Concerto as a “hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist,” and BBC Music magazine wrote of Smith's recent recording of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Cello Concerto “his is a cast iron technique of verve and refinement put entirely at the service of the music... The artistry on display here is breathtaking” while David Hurwitz of Classics Today wrote “Smith plays the living daylights out of it. His full tone, impeccable intonation, and fleet passage work–never for a moment ungainly or stressed, -lets the music soar” Gramophone also wrote of Smith’s most recent Naxos recording, Exiles in Paradise, which explores the rich legacy of the émigré composers who gathered in Hollywood in the mid-20th century “Smith plays the bejesus out of it and teems with old-school elegance and just the right dose of schmaltz.”
Mr. Smith's North American engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and recital and concerto engagements throughout the country, while his broadcast performances include CBS's Sunday Morning and regular appearances on NPR’s Performance Today and Symphonycast. Mr. Smith has appeared regularly as a soloist with the Houston Symphony since joining the orchestra as principal cellist in 2005. Prior to this, he was the first musician chosen by Lorin Maazel to join the New York Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras. His live concert performances on youtube have more than one million views and Smith gave the North American premiers of rediscovered cello works of Jean Sibelius and Alexander Zemlinsky as well as the world premiere of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Sonata for violin and cello.
An active chamber musician, Smith has collaborated with cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell, pianists Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, Jeffrey Kahane and Kirill Gerstein, violinists James Ehnes, Cho-Liang Lin and Sarah Chang and members of the Beaux Arts Trio and the Guarneri, Emerson, Juilliard, Cleveland, and Berg quartets. He has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, the Seattle Chamber Music Society, and the Mainly Mozart Festival, Mr. Smith is currently an Associate Professor at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and a faculty member of the Aspen and Sarasota Music Festivals.
The son of a mathematician and a pianist, Brinton Averil Smith was admitted to Arizona State University at age 10, where he took courses in mathematics and German and, at age 17, completed a B.A. in mathematics. He then became a student of Eleonore Schoenfeld at the University of Southern California, where he was also a teaching assistant in the mathematics department, and completed work for an M.A. in mathematics at age 19. He subsequently studied with the renowned cellist Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School. While there he was a prize winner in several consecutive Juilliard concerto competitions and the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition and received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, writing on the playing of Emanuel Feuermann. Mr. Smith resides in Houston with his wife, the pianist Evelyn Chen. Their daughter, Calista, is a soprano studying at Northwestern University.