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Meet Academy Alumnus Gabriel Cabezas

Gabriel Cabezas, cello   |  Academy graduating class of 2009

Where are they now?  In celebration of the Academy's 10th year, MIC took time to catch up with alumni of the program.


“An intense player who connects to music naturally, without artifice, and brings a singing line to the cello” (The Oregonian), Gabriel Cabezas is one of America’s most sought-after young musicians. Combining a superb technique, intellectual curiosity, and a pioneering musical spirit, he is at home in front of an orchestra, performing with a singer-songwriter, or sharing the stage with a dance troupe.
Cabezas has appeared as soloist with America’s finest orchestras, including those of Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Nashville. An avid chamber musician, he tours with Musicians from Marlboro and has collaborated with artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mitsuko Uchida. He is also a member of the New York sextet yMusic, hailed by NPR’s Fred Child as “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music.” Their virtuosic execution and unique configuration (string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet) has attracted the attention of high profile collaborators—from Dirty Projectors to Ben Folds—and more recently inspired an expanding repertoire of original works by some of today’s foremost composers.
Cabezas studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Carter Brey and is a recipient of the Career Grant by the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation. He is a winner of the 2014 Astral Artists National Auditions and joins this presenting and promotional organization’s roster of America’s finest young soloists and chamber musicians. A committed advocate for community engagement and education programs across the country, he is involved with Midori’s Partners in Performance, the Sphinx Organization, and Chicago’s Citizen Musician movement. He was the first place Laureate at the Sphinx competition twice: in the Junior Division (2006) and in the Senior Division. In addition, he is a recipient of the 2015 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, awarded annually to emerging classical artists of color who, early in their professional careers, demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and ongoing commitment to leadership.

What was most beneficial about studying with Hans Jensen and your time at the Academy?

When the Academy started, I was already working with my teacher at the time, Hans Jensen, but it gave me a wonderful excuse to play with and meet a lot of incredible young musicians that I ended up seeing at conservatory, summer programs and in my every day life today.

What were some highlights during your time at the Academy?

For me, the major highlights were my experience with my quartet (and two other prize-winning Academy groups!) at Fischoff, then the tour we did the next year to the East Coast, performing at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

How do you think the Academy prepared you for conservatory training?


In a lot of ways the Academy is like a small conservatory. You go to classes, have lessons with your teacher, go to orchestra, and play chamber music—just one day per week instead of all the time. Because of this, the transition to conservatory felt very natural. Plus, I ended up going to a very small conservatory, so it didn’t feel that different from the Academy at all!

What is your current position?

I freelance in New York as a soloist and chamber musician and am part of the contemporary chamber music sextet yMusic.

Do you have thoughts about where you see yourself in five years?

Who knows?! I try to take one experience at a time and take advantage of every interesting musical opportunity that comes that way. I hope to be playing as much as possible and learning new things every day. 


Read more Academy alumni profiles here >>