Heralded as a “First-magnitude star in the making” by the Seattle Times, British violinist Emma McGrath made her London debut aged 10 in the Purcell Room and at 14 she performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Howard Shelley, broadcast live on Classic FM. She has since performed with numerous professional ensembles and orchestras, and has played in France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Brunei, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Russia, Israel, the UK and the USA as a soloist.
In 1999 she won Cumbria’s Keldwyth Award, and in 2002 she was a National String Finalist in the BBC Young Musicians Competition, broadcast on UK TV and radio. In 2002 she was awarded the Mozart prize in the International Yampolsky Violin Competition in Russia, and consequently performed with the Moscoviya Chamber Orchestra in the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, Moscow. With the Panormo Quartet she won the Helen Just and Susan Connell prize for string chamber music, and played at the Wigmore Hall. Emma has given many recitals in Europe and the USA, and has a strong interest in contemporary works, having had several specially written for her. She features on the CD ‘Defiant Dames’ in aid of breast cancer, and also released ‘Fireborn’, a CD of live performances in aid of Signpost International. Whilst still a teenager she was a founding member of the Celtic band Tarras, with whom she recorded ‘Rising’. This reached No. 1 in the Folk charts and was voted Mojo’s Folk Album of the Month, and the band toured Germany, Holland and the USA. Emma also sings professionally and is a published and recorded composer. Her debut CD, ‘The Girl Stands’ was made at age 18 and is an eclectic mix of violin, fiddle and vocal music.
She is a graduate of the Keshet Eilon Violin Mastercourse in Israel and the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival in Maine, USA, and was awarded a Jerwood Scholarship to study at the International Musician’s Seminar in Prussia Cove, where she was invited back to play amongst internationally renowned musicians in the Open Chamber Music course. She was awarded the Ernest Cooke Scholarship to attend the Lake District Summer Music Festival, and has been a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, USA, where she gave a concerto performance and was awarded the Violin Prize. Emma has also been a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the National Repertory Orchestra, USA, and the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, Switzerland.
Emma graduated with a BMus(Hons) First Class from the Royal College of Music where she was a Foundation Scholar and Concertmaster of every ensemble and orchestra. She studied violin with Ani Schnarch and singing with Margaret Cable and was generously supported by the EmertonChristie Trust. Emma has also received awards from the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund, the Edmund Castle Trust, the Musicians Benevolent Fund, the Tillett Trust and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.
Emma completed her MMus and Artist Diploma in America at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, studying with Andrés Cardenés. Whilst there she was Concertmaster of every orchestra and was a member of The Starling Quartet, with whom she toured China and played at Steinway Hall, NYC. She won the 2004 Concerto Competition, and was the winner of the faculty nominated Violin Scholarship twice. She also won the inaugural Gindroz Travel/Study prize, for independent travel and research in music and architecture in Europe. In 2006 she was invited to be a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, America’s national music honour society, in recognition of her high level of musical achievement and academic excellence. In 2007 she was a winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society’s major auditions.
Emma was the Associate Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Opera Orchestra, from 2009 2016; She served as Acting Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony/Opera for two seasons, and was also Concertmaster for Seattle’s 2012 production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. She was previously the Assistant Concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and has also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and toured Australia and Japan with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Emma has been a faculty member of Seattle University and also maintains a private teaching studio. Her students have been accepted into Yellowbarn, Tanglewood, Bowdoin, and the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of America. She also enjoys playing baroque music and is frequently featured as a baroque violinist with Pacific Music Works, and the Early Music Guild in Seattle. Her numerous performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Seattle Symphony (on modern violin but with baroque interpretation) have met with great critical acclaim. Emma loves exploring the wonderfully varied musical life that Seattle has to offer – which includes playing concerti and recitals, adjudicating, presenting Masterclasses, chamber music, composing, singing, baroque violin, and various styles of fiddling!
Beginning in 2016, Emma will become the Concertmaster of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Australia, and will be a Guest Concertmaster with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.