Instantly recognized by her “arrestingly beautiful tone colour” (The Strad), cellist Denise Djokic captivates audiences with her natural musical instinct and remarkable combination of strength and sensitivity. Acclaim for her powerful interpretations, bold command of her instrument and insightful playing has earned her world-wide recognition and appearances in some of the most venerable halls. Denise burst onto the international music scene when millions of television viewers watched her performance of Bach at the 2002 Grammy Awards following the lauded release of her self-titled debut recording on SONY Classical.
Since then, Denise has accrued numerous distinctions and accolades: she has been named one of the top “25 Canadians Who Are Changing Our World” by Maclean’s Magazine, one of “Canada’s Most Powerful Women” by Elle Magazine, and had her life and career chronicled by a special BRAVO! TV documentary entitled “Seven Days, Seven Nights”. A natural leader and advocate for classical music, Denise is equally at home on the podium as a keynote speaker, having presented at forums such as IdeaCity in Toronto and the Women In Leadership Conference at Queen’s University. Denise believes strongly in passing along her knowledge of music and her instrument. She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa, and frequently gives masterclasses. She has also served on the faculties of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Killington Music Festival, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Denise is currently an instructor of cello at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Denise’s recent performance highlights include a performance of Martinu’s 1st Cello Concerto with the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra conducted by Victor Yampolsky, as well as performances with the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony (Texas), Thunder Bay Symphony, Regina Symphony Orchestra, and Symphony Nova Scotia. Denise performed Steven Mackey’s “Through Your Fingers” at the 2019 Bowdoin International Music Festival, and performed with Symphony New Brunswick and Janna Sailor, conductor, in a 3-city tour the same year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Denise recorded a video performance of the first movement of composer Robert Rival’s Sonata for Cello and Piano with pianist David Jalbert, which was funded by the Canada Council through a “Digital Originals” grant awarded to Rival.
Denise’s Carnegie Hall debut with the Edmonton Symphony and conductor William Eddins featured a performance of John Estacio’s Triple Concerto with pianist Angela Cheng and violinist Juliette Kang. Other highlights include her acclaimed Lincoln Center performance of Arturo Marquez’s “Espejos en la Arena” with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas and Alondra de la Parra conducting, appearances with the Academic Orchestra of Zurich in Quebec City, Strauss’s Don Quixote with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain, a multi-disciplinary presentation with Seattle’s Spectrum Dance in the world premiere of Donald Byrd’s Love, set to Britten’s Cello Suites and a performance of solo Bach with Ballet Victoria.
As a recitalist, Denise performs frequently with acclaimed pianist David Jalbert. Recent performances have taken them to Washington D.C., San Francisco, Mexico City, Vancouver, Chicago, Tuscon, and New York’s Bargemusic. Denise and David also tour with Piano Plus, an organization which brings performances to Canadian communities in which the opportunities to hear live concerts are limited. In addition, her love of chamber music has brought her to the festivals across North America, including the world premiere of Christos Hatzis’s “In the Fire of Conflict”, with percussionist Ryan Scott and dancer Peggy Baker at the Toronto Summer Music Festival.
Denise’s award-winning discography features the a disc of Chopin and Rachmaninoff sonatas with her long-time recital partner, pianist David Jalbert (ATMA), the complete Britten Solo Suites for Cello also for ATMA which has received consistent accolades: “young Canadian cellist Denise Djokic does them proud here with breathtaking technique and a wide dynamic sweep” (Toronto Star) and “Djokic has a hugely impressive technique, and her projection of singing melodic lines without exaggerated vibrato can be very touching. (BBC Music Magazine), her highly acclaimed CD, entitled Denise Djokic featuring works by Barber, Martinu and Britten received the 2002 East Coast Music Award and Folklore (Allegro/Endeavor) received a JUNO nomination as well as an East Coast Music Award, hit the Billboard Chart’s top 15 Classical CD’s and was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.
Denise comes from a large musical family and began her early training in her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia with Olive Shaw and Shimon Walt. She moved to Cleveland, Ohio, during her high school years to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Richard Aaron and is a graduate of its Young Artist Program. Denise furthered her training at the New England Conservatory, where she completed her Undergraduate Diploma with Laurence Lesser and Paul Katz.