A violist of international reputation, Curtis Institute of Music President Roberto Díaz follows in the footsteps of renowned artist/directors Gary Graffman, Efrem Zimbalist, Rudolf Serkin, and Josef Hofmann. As a member of the Curtis viola faculty since 2000 and as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1996 to 2006, Mr. Díaz has already had a significant impact on American musical life and continues to do so in his dual roles as performer and educator.
Some of Mr. Díaz's recent and upcoming performances include the Kansas City Symphony with Michael Stern, Fort Worth Symphony with Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias with Krzysztof Penderecki, Orquesta Simfónica de Barcelona with James Judd, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra with Gabor Ötvös, and the Bilbao Symphony with Juanjo Mena. Upcoming recital performances include appearances at the Gardner Museum in Boston and the Festival Cultural de Mayo in Guadalajara.
Mr. Díaz has collaborated with conductors such as Roberto Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Richard Hickox, Christopher Hogwood, Peter Oundjian, Hugh Wolff, and David Zinman. He has worked with important twentieth- and twenty-first-century composers, including Krzysztof Penderecki, Edison Denisov, Roberto Sierra, and Ricardo Lorenz, whose viola concerto Mr. Díaz will premiere in the fall of 2010.
Mr. Díaz has several recordings on the Naxos label, including an April 2010 release of Brahms sonatas with Jeremy Denk and a 2006 recording of viola transcriptions by William Primrose, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. Mr. Primrose served on the Curtis faculty from 1942 to 1951 and owned the 1595 Amati viola on which Mr. Díaz performs. Upcoming Naxos releases include a recording of Jonathan Leshnoff's double concerto with Michael Stern, violinist Charles Wetherbee, and the Iris Chamber Orchestra.
Mr. Díaz's other releases include a live recording of Jacob Druckman's Viola Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch (New World Records, 2001) and works by Henri Vieuxtemps for viola and piano (Naxos, 2004).
An active chamber musician, Mr. Díaz has performed with artists such as the Emerson String Quartet, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Christoph Eschenbach, Yo-Yo Ma, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Isaac Stern. His festival appearances include Marlboro, Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center, Spoleto, Kuhmo, and Verbier, among many others. As a member of the Díaz Trio, with violinist Andrés Cárdenes and cellist Andrés Díaz, he has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and Chile. The trio appeared at the Banff Centre in the summer of 2009 will perform at the Library of Congress in December of the same year.
Mr. Díaz was principal viola of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich, a member of the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra under Neville Marriner. While in the Philadelphia Orchestra, he served as a board member for three years, including two years on the executive committee. He was selected by Music Director Christoph Eschenbach to receive the Philadelphia Orchestra's 2006 C. Hartman Kuhn Award, given annually to "the member of the Philadelphia Orchestra who has shown ability and enterprise of such character as to enhance the standards and the reputation of the Philadelphia Orchestra."
Mr. Díaz graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1984 and joined the faculty in 2000; he holds the James and Betty Matarese Chair in Viola Studies. He has served on the faculty at the Peabody Institute and Rice University and has taught master classes at conservatories around the United States and abroad. In 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin College.