Born into a family of musicians, cellist Clara Abel found a delight for music at a young age. Her particular love of chamber music led her to study at Juilliard with the legendary cellist of the Juilliard String Quartet, Joel Krosnick. She has performed at chamber music festivals such as Kneisel Hall, Norfolk, Clasclás International Music Festival in Spain, and Thy Chamber Music Festival in Denmark.
She was recently praised in Danish newspaper Nordjyske for chamber music performances in Thy: “cellisten Clara Abel markerede sig med sin smukke tone og fine solospil” (“cellist Clara Abel distinguished herself with her gorgeous tone and fine solo playing”). String quartets hold a special place in her heart, and as a quartet cellist she has participated in Juilliard's Honors Chamber Music Program and held quartet residencies at Kneisel Hall, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and twice at the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar.
She is profoundly grateful to have been mentored by three generations of Juilliard String Quartet members during her studies. Additionally, she has been fortunate to study under members of the Brentano, Tokyo, Emerson, American and Orion String Quartets, as well as artists such as Natasha Brofsky, Joseph Kalichstein, Paul Neubauer, Itzhak Perlman and Laurie Smukler. She has collaborated in chamber music performances with musicians such as Benjamin Beilman, Guy Braunstein, Catherine Cho, Joseph Lin, Steven Tenenbaum, Alex Gebert, Melvin Chen, and Vadym Kholodenko.
Clara performed as a soloist in Elgar's Cello concerto twice this past year, once with the Centre Symphony Orchestra and Scott Jackson Wiley (with whom she made her New York Concerto debut in 2015 with Dvorak's cello concerto); and once with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA and conductor James Ross, as a prequel to their international tour with Alisa Weilerstein and Daniel Harding.
Equally at home as a chamber musician, soloist, and baroque cellist, Clara has spent the past few years pursuing her studies of baroque cello in Juilliard's Historical Performance Program. During her time there she has performed around the world and worked with renowned musicians in the historical performance field. She was also a frequent soloist with Juilliard's period instrument ensemble, J415. In 2022 she won Juilliard's Baroque concerto competition and consequently appeared as a soloist in CPE Bach's A Major Cello Concerto, which she performed in Alice Tully Hall and at the Boston Early Music Festival under the direction of Paul Agnew. She also soloed in Alice Tully Hall under Masaaki Suzuki, performing Telemann's concerto for Flute, Violin and Cello. Clara is a recipient of the English Concert in America Fellowship.
She is a substitute cellist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, New York Classical Players, and is a member of New York-based chamber music collectives Vista Lirica and Cosmopolitan Chamber Players. The latter ensemble is comprised largely of musicians from her immediate and extended family. As an orchestra player she as toured nationally and internationally as principal cellist of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, and has worked under esteemed conductors such as Valery Gergiev, David Robertson, Pablo Heras-Casado, Itzhak Perlman, Nicholas McGegan, Alan Gilbert, William Christie, Paul Angew, and Masaaki Suzuki. She has performed in solo masterclasses for Tamás Varga and Jonathan Sharp, and her performances as a solo, chamber and orchestral musician have been heard on medici.tv, BBC, CBS, and NPR. She was one of three finalists in Juilliard's 2019-2020 Concerto Competition, playing Shostakovich's rarely-performed Cello Concerto No. 2.
Clara enjoys performing for all types of audiences, and in a variety of settings, ranging from venues such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, and the Kennedy Center to living rooms, museums, schools, and soup kitchens, in an effort to share her belief that music is for everyone. In response to her growing artistic curiosity, Clara plays in a variety of musical languages, including improvisation, crossover and historical performance.
Music has been a part of my life since before I even entered this word. It brought my parents together (and my grandparents), and it has filled every corner of my childhood home since before I can remember. It is one of the ways that I interact with my own family of four (we are a string quartet), as well as my extended “family orchestra”; It is also one of my favorite ways of getting to know new people -- I find that through sharing art and music and experiencing where another person finds beauty, we can get a small peek into their soul and often understand them better than we could otherwise. Thus through music I have found new families besides the one I was born into!
I believe that classical music is something that can be appreciated by just about anyone, but I know that the classical music world is not always the most welcoming. As a musician I bring people together through shared artistic experiences. It is my hope that these moments shared between people might cultivate human connections, understanding, and empathy, all of which our world needs greatly. To that end, I strive to make everyone in my audience feel welcome. For me this includes performing in a variety of non-traditional venues, and often setting aside the typical formality of performances in favor of a more friendly, candid, (and perhaps more honest) atmosphere.
I'm fascinated by the way different art forms interact with each other. I love the combinations of music with painting, food, and dance, and I think these art forms can speak the most strongly when combined with one another.
I often stumble upon beauty (and humor) in unexpected places, and I always feel lucky when I do. For example...
A different view of the Brooklyn Bridge
The sidewalk during an eclipse
I like to run and paint, because unlike with music, no one expects me to be good at it and that gives me an incredible feeling of freedom. I love exploring different cuisines! Plants give me a special kind of joy.
I care deeply about the earth, and I try my best to live an environmentally conscious lifestyle. I have been vegan for 13 years, because I know that that single choice can greatly reduce my carbon footprint. I also know that there is much more that I can do, and I hope that everyone on this earth will look for changes that they can make in their own lives to ensure the future of our planet.