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Kaori Yamagami

Principal Cello


Kaori Yamagami has built an exciting and diverse career as a cellist, bringing her to several different continents from an early age.

Yamagami is a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she was accepted at the age of 13. She is also a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and received both a Diplom and Konzertexamen degrees with honors from the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, where she studied with Frans Helmerson, and was one of the final students of legendary Russian teacher Boris Pergamenschikow before his death in 2004.

Yamagami was the recipient of full scholarships from the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory and also of Career Grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. She is also the recipient of the Beebe Fellowship. In Europe, she has been chosen to play in several festivals and academies including Verbier Festival and Kronberg Chamber Music Connects the World.

Yamagami was the recipient of the Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts in 2011. This prestigious and highly coveted prize is given to one Canadian performer of classical music under the age of 32, who demonstrates outstanding talent and musicianship. Yamagami was also a prize winner of numerous international competitions including the International Rostropovich Competition in Paris (in 1997, aged just 15, and again in 2005) and the 2007 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow.

Currently on trial as Principal Cellist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Yamagami's orchestral experience spans many decades and continents. Most recently she served as Principal Cello of Amsterdam Sinfonietta for nine years until 2019, and since then has been performing with chamber ensembles and orchestras across Europe, guest leading ensembles such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Basel Kammerorchester.

She has performed with Teodor Currentzis and Utopia, an international orchestra that brings together soloists and concertmasters from various orchestras into one collective and provide an opportunity to delve deeper into music. Yamagami was asked to join this ensemble after ten years in Currentzis’ previous orchestra MusicAerterna, which she guest led on numerous occasions.

Over the past several years, Kaori has also dedicated a portion of her year to historical performance practice (HIP), and during the 2024 European summer will be performing with baroque ensembles at the Salzburg Festspiele.