Karen Gomyo

“…She was brilliant technically and – more importantly – she was brilliant musically…” Bachtrack

© Gabrielle Revere


Born in Tokyo and beginning her musical career in Montréal and New York, violinist Karen Gomyo has recently made Berlin her home. A musician of the highest calibre, the Chicago Tribune praised her as “…a first-rate artist of real musical command, vitality, brilliance and intensity”.

Karen’s 2019/20 season features European debuts with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin with Cristian Macelaru, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande with Jonathan Nott, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern with Pietari Inkenen, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with Gergely Madaras and Dresdner Philharmoniker with Roderick Cox, as well as returns to Bamberg Symphoniker and Polish National Radio Symphony, among others. Other recent European appearances include Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Radio France, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Danish National Symphony, and in March 2019 Karen opened the Dubai Proms with the BBC Symphony and Ben Gernon. Further ahead Karen makes her debut at the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra with Semyon Bychkov.

Already well established in North America Karen performs regularly with the orchestras of Detroit, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toronto, Montréal, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia among others. Further afield her popularity in Australasia continued over the last few seasons as she toured with New Zealand Symphony and also appeared with West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Perth, Tasmanian Symphony and in recital at the Sydney Opera House. This season sees Karen return to the Melbourne and Sydney Symphony orchestras. In Asia she makes her debuts with the Singapore Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Malaysia Philharmonic.

A passionate chamber musician, Karen has enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with guitarist Ismo Eskelinen which culminates in the release of a recording of works by Paganini and his contemporaries scheduled for the end of 2019 on BIS Records.

Download Karen’s 2019/20 biography here


Performance Schedule

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    19:30 22 Nov 2019 Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, ZAGREB

    PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35

    Conductor: Alevtina Ioffe
    Ensemble: Zagreb Philharmonic

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    15:00 31 Dec 2019 Tempodrom Berlin, BERLINKREUZBERG
    More Info Coming Soon...
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    19:00 31 Dec 2019 Tempodrom Berlin, BERLINKREUZBERG
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    20:00 08 Jan 2020 Victoria Hall Geneva, GENEVA

    BENJAMIN BRITTEN Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 15

    Conductor: Jonathan Nott
    Ensemble: Orchèstre de la Suisse Romande

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    30 Mar 19 Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto St Louis Symphony
    Powell Symphony Hall

    ”Gomyo […] demonstrated nonstop flair, authoritative presence and flawless technique throughout. Her performance was so dazzling that she received a prolonged standing ovation at the end of the first movement, and another one at the concerto’s bravura conclusion. Her lyricism in the second movement was no less convincing.”
    Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post-Dispatch, 30 March 2019

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    28 Feb 19 Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Dallas Symphony
    Meyerson Symphony Center

    ”…she played with such passion, with such dazzlingly flawless technique and with such tonal depth…”
    Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News, 1 March 2019

    ”Gomyo entered with a perfect balance of assertiveness and elegance for the main theme, followed by a gentle—but still assertive—lyricism for the yearning second theme. […] Gomyo pulled into a more subdued tone for the Andante middle movement, allowing the solo part to merge within the orchestra to create a sense of chamber music-style intimacy.”
    Wayne Lee Gay, Texas Classical Review, 1 March 2019

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    01 Feb 19 Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 Minnesota Orchestra
    Orchestra Hall

    ”…Gomyo gave it fresh life with a pure tone, gentle touch and some arresting cadenzas. The first-movement cadenza sounded something like a falling leaf twisting this way and that, while the second movement’s was more akin to the last strains of a lullaby. And the finale had a fine blend of forcefulness and frivolity.”
    Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, 2 February 2019

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    08 Nov 18 Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 San Francisco Symphony
    Davies Symphony Hall

    ”Gomyo’s playing boasts a bold, steely beauty…

    …[she] brought out one character of the music after another, engaging in eloquent counterpoint with other members of the orchestra, delivering the solo part with insight and tact, and finally settling in to give a bravura account of the huge solo cadenza.”
    Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 November 2018

    ”the violin concerto, […] as performed by Karen Gomyo, it was a revelation…

    …from the first notes of the reflective Nocturne, Gomyo played like a chamber musician; it was the kind of quietly excellent, self-assured musicianship that commanded stillness from the audience.”
    Rebecca Wishnia, San Francisco Classical Voice, 13 November 2018

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    27 Nov 18 Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Houston Symphony
    Jones Hall

    ”Soloist Karen Gomyo positively luxuriated in Tchaikovsky’s melodies. Whether they were big-hearted or introspective, she molded their contours sleekly and lingered over their most expressive turns of phrase.”
    Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review, 28 October 2018

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    19 Oct 18 Brahms Violin Concerto Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
    Chan Sun Concert Hall

    ”This was a performance of genuine long-run vision and command, featuring a compelling mix of architecture, feeling and tonal beauty.”
    Geoffrey Newman, Vancouver Classical Music, 19 October 2018

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    21 May 18 Samuel Adams Chicago Symphony Debut
    Symphony Center

    ”[…] which Adams interweaves the intense, stratospheric bravura of Karen Gomyo (the terrific violin soloist for whom the concerto was written). ”
    John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, 22 May 2018

    ”[…] the brilliant, dazzling playing of violinist Karen Gomyo bodily lifted this premiere […] the music accelerates into blindingly demanding solo passages, thrown off by Gomyo with sizzling bravura.”
    Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, 23 May 2018

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    14 Apr 18 Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 Cincinnati Symphony
    Music Hall

    ”For the centerpiece, the Canadian violinist Gomyo joined the orchestra for Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto in D Major. Although exceedingly difficult, it is one of his most lyrical works, and the violinist conveyed its warmth as well as its bite.

    She displayed a pure, ravishing tone in Prokofiev’s lyrical themes, and consistently played with stunning control. […]Even in the most percussive passages, her technical prowess was effortless.”
    Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Business Courier, 15 April 2018

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    02 Mar 18 Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 Milwaukee Symphony
    Marcus Center

    ”Violinist Karen Gomyo joined Weilerstein and the orchestra with an engrossing, pristinely executed performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra.

    Gomyo brought an enormous palette of colors and textures to her performance, from seamless, ethereal sounds in the opening sections to pure, muted sounds, snapping pizzicato sounds and crisp, decisive rhythms.

    Despite the active, sometimes frenetic qualities of the music, Gomyo played with absolute precision and complete command, without any sense of tension crossing the footlights. Her playing was constantly laser-focused and decisive, but never aggressive or shrill.”
    Elaine Schmidt, Journal Sentinal, 3 March 2018

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    24 Nov 17 Chausson/Ravel St Louis Symphony
    Powell Symphony Hall

    ”Gomyo soloed in two relatively brief works, Ernest Chausson’s “Poème” and Pablo de Sarasate’s “Carmen” Fantasy. Both demand virtuosic playing from the soloist, particularly the Sarasate. Gomyo, glamorous in a strapless red gown, was expressive and impressive in the Chausson.

    The “Carmen” Fantasy, however, took her technique even further, for a dazzling performance of this showpiece.”
    Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post-Dispatch, 25 November 2017

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    18 Oct 17 Jeremy Denk: Infinite Variations
    Milton Court

    “…The variations by the 19th-century Belgian Henri Vieuxtemps on Yankee Doodle were thrown off with barnstorming panache by violinist Karen Gomyo and Denk […] In the evening concert, Variations of Heartbreak and Hope, all three players [Denk/Gomyo/Steckel] brought out the storminess and tragic weight in the variation movement from Brahms’s second piano Trio…”
    Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph, 17 October 2017

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    16 Oct 17 Sibelius Violin Concerto National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa
    Southam Hall

    “NACO’s Ideas of North Festival has gone from strength to strength over the past 10 days, culminating in two memorable final concerts over the weekend […] The shortened Casual Friday featured the Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo in Sibelius’s Violin Concerto. Gomyo, dressed in monastic black, gave a lionhearted performance that was almost operatic in concept. Yes, she has spectacular facility, but it’s the singing, human quality of her tone and use of portamento that makes her playing so distinctive. This was fearless passion devoid of cheap sentiment.
    Gomyo was incredibly attentive to the orchestra, matching her colour to the clarinet solo  in the opening bars, for example, or to the pair of violas that accompany the soloist toward the end of the first movement. Shelley repaid her with characteristic generosity, creating a shadowy, agitated backdrop to contrast with her endless, glowing phrases…”
    Natasha Gauthier,, 16 October 2017

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    19 Aug 17 Bruch Violin Concerto New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

    ”The highlight of the NZSO’s recent Beethoven and Bruch concert was Bruch’s Violin Concerto played by Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo [who] was more than inspiring – she was spectacular. She not only played with an exceptional, technical wizardry but also her demeanour added to the richness of the work.

    She received a series of resounding ovations from the audience which was rewarded with an elegant piece by Piazzolla.”
    John Daly-Peoples, NBR, 25 August 2017

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    05 Jan 17 Matthias Pintscher Violin Concerto Dallas Symphony Orchestra
    Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas

    ”Matthias Pintscher, a 45-­year-­old German, continues the tradition, appearing in both guises Thursday night at the Meyerson Symphony Center. In a Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert otherwise populated with French impressionism he also led his own violin concerto titled Mar’eh, a Hebrew word that, depending on context, can mean apparition, face or beauty. In introductory comments he likened the 23-­minute piece to a walk through a beautiful garden.

    At least on first hearing, structures eluded my own consciousness. The five-­year-­old piece seemed, well, impressionistic — all about subtleties of timbre and texture, through which the solo violin wanders and flickers. Much of the music is quiet, rising to an anxious climax only 15 minutes in, soon returning to hushed intimacies. Again and again, I wondered just what instrument, or what instrumental combination, was producing a hard-­to-­describe timbre.

    The violin part isn’t self-­consciously showy, but it demands laser-­point tuning, in wide-­spread pitches and often stratospheric ranges. Some passages require genuinely virtuoso technique. It’s hard to imagine this challenging music played with more precision, subtlety and elegance than it was Thursday night by Karen Gomyo. Pintscher obviously knew what he was doing with his own piece, fastidiously detailing music requiring split-­second timing and elaborate nuance.”
    Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News, 5th January 2017

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    15 Oct 16 Berg Violin Concerto Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
    Orpheum Hall, Vancouver

    ”As a representative work from the Second Viennese School, it’s sometimes considered tough going by audiences. Certainly it is intense, complex, and richly scored. This did not faze either soloist or conductor. Canellakis created a transparent web of orchestral textures that complemented Gomyo’s fine solo work; the pair had the confidence to let the music speak with plenty of style. Gomyo’s playing was technically assured and emotionally generous. No doubt the VSO’s long-­term Mahler project informed the performance: sensitive playing from the orchestra made this one of the concerto highlights of recent seasons.”
    David Gordon Duke, Vancouver Sun, 16th October 2016

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    18 Feb 16 Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
    Symphony Hall, Atlanta

    ”Soloist Karen Gomyo ’s performance of Tchaikovsky ‘s familiar Violin Concerto was a revelation. It is refreshing to hear a version of a warhorse that enables the listener to experience it as if for the first time. This was an idiosyncratic performance, but in the best way imaginable. Her performance of the first movement cadenza was startling, holding a note here, speeding up a phrase there, all the while having a finely articulated dynamic range. Adding clean multiple stops, precise pizzicati and controlled bowing, enabled her to create a virtuosic and memorable performance. She was brilliant technically and – more importantly – she was brilliant musically.

    The second movement Canzonetta was sweet and affecting without ever becoming maudlin or self-­indulgent. Initially, it seemed that she had lost power because she began the movement pianissimo;; however, this was a smart choice because from that quietude grew a tender performance that was perfectly attuned to the music’s gentility. The third movement finale began aggressively, the performance gaining momentum and strength, showcasing Gomyo’s technical and musical wizardry. Throughout the piece, the timbre of her 1703 Stradivarius was rich and golden. In her deft hands it never sounded shrill, steely or harsh, in part due to her great bowing technique.”
    ★ ★ ★ ★ William E. Ford, 21st February 2016, Bachtrack

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    13 Nov 15 Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 Bamberger Symphoniker
    Schweinfurt Theater

    ”The center of this concert was the 1st violin concerto by Dmitri Shostakovich with the young violinist Karen Gomyo. Gomyo is a kind of globetrotter in respect to famous violin concertos: Mozart in Detroit, Mendelssohn in Oregon, Tchaikovsky in Tasmania, Beethoven in New Zealand, Saint-Saens in Melbourne, and now Shostakovich in Schweinfurt. […]

    The sensational technique, with which the young Canadian mastered the immensely dense and demanding work, was intriguing. So intriguing that even the first and second orchestra violinists sitting in the back craned their necks to see as much as possible of Gomyo’s performance.

    This was brilliant music-making, interpreted with perhaps even greater artistic taste: an almost machine-like precise intonation in the hazardous double stops and runs was opposed with a wonderfully rapt melancholy and musicality (in the third movement). The audience seemed to follow the furious interpretation similarly spellbound: no coughing, no harrumphing, no rustling during the big cadenza before the final movement. One breathlessly followed the violin acrobatics, eruptively cheering at the end. ” [TRANSLATION]
    Thomas Starost, Schweinfurter Tagblatt, 16th November 2015

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    02 Oct 15 Sibelius Violin Concerto Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
    Music Hall, Cincinnati

    ”The first half of the evening featured a more traditional debut. A sensational, 33-­year-­old violinist, Karen Gomyo, made her orchestra debut in the Sibelius Violin Concerto. She communicated with intensity and fearless virtuosity, flying through treacherous feats while making them look easy. The tone of her Stradivarius was something to behold in Music Hall’s glorious acoustical space. In the slow movement, her phrasing had an interior quality that, ultimately, was quite moving [… ] Let’s hope that Gomyo returns again, and soon.”
    Janelle Gelfand, The Cincinnati Enquirer, 3rd October 2015

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BACH A minor
BACH E major
BACH Double
BARTOK Rhapsody No. 1
BRUCH Scottish Fantasy
DUTILLEUX Sur le meme accord
LALO Symphonie Espagnole
MASSENET Meditation
MOZART Concertone
PIAZZOLLA Four Seasons
PINTSCHER (Matthias) Mar’eh
RAVEL Tzigane
SARASATE Carmen Fantasy
SIBELIUS Six Humoresques
VASKS (Peteris) Vox Amoris
VIVALDI Four Seasons