Samuel Burstin VIOLA

Samuel Burstin is gaining international recognition as both violist and conductor. A member of the Philharmonia Orchestra since 2005, he has played principal viola with eight major orchestras in England, Scotland, Wales and New Zealand. In June 2014 he was a prizewinner at the prestigious Evgeny Svetlanov International Conducting Competition in Paris; he conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France at the Salle Pleyel and was described by a jury member as "unfailingly musical". He is the founder and conductor of the Paradisal Players, an ensemble of brilliant musicians who play heavenly music for wonderful causes; since 2011 they have given around three concerts a year, raising over £100,000 for charities. 

Born in London in 1981, Samuel studied violin, piano, saxophone and singing as a child. He became solo chorister of the Temple Church, and joined the National Youth Orchestra as a violist. He studied viola with Richard Crabtree and conducting with Peter Stark at Trinity Laban, winning prizes for Solo Bach, Chamber Music, Extemporisation and the Silver Medal for Strings; he graduated in 2004 with a First Class Honours Degree and Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction. After a year with the Southbank Sinfonia, he joined the Philharmonia; he has since made music on six continents and worked with many of the world's finest musicians. He has played principal viola with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, New Zealand Symphony, Opera North, Philharmonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Scottish Chamber orchestras. Samuel also loves playing recitals and chamber music; he played at the Wigmore Hall with members of the Southbank Sinfonia, and he will make his Royal Festival Hall chamber debut with Philharmonia colleagues in June 2015.

A decade of observing conductors of varying degrees of greatness has instilled in Samuel a fascination with the art. He has attended conducting masterclasses with Klaus Arp, John Farrer, Jorma Panula, Peter Stark, Neil Thomson and Benjamin Zander, and learnt much from working with Maestros Ashkenazy, Brüggen, Sirs Andrew and Colin Davis, Dohnányi, Dudamel, Dutoit, Gatti, Gergiev, Maazel, Mackerras, Masur, Muti, Nelsons, Pletnev, Salonen, Temirkanov and Zander. Samuel made his professional debut with the West London Sinfonia in 2009 with a programme including Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Viv McLean and Symphony No. 5. Other highlights include Stravinsky's The Firebird suite (1919) and Elgar's Cello Concerto with LSO's principal cellist Rebecca Gilliver and the Roman River Festival Orchestra; Rossini's William Tell overture and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Ana Sinkovec Burstin and the Paradisal Players at St John's, Smith Square; Schumann's Concert Piece for Four Horns with the horns of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Paradisal Players; and wonderful music by Beethoven, Borodin. Brahms, Corelli, Dvorak, Elgar, Finzi, Giazotto, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Poulenc, Shostakovich, Sibelius, R. Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams and Wagner. 

Samuel has taken viola classes and string sectionals at the Royal College of Music, Trinity Laban and Southbank Sinfonia, and regularly coaches youth orchestras. His commitment to communicating the joy of music has lead him to write blogs about life on tour with the Philharmonia, which are published on the orchestra's website. He is married to the Slovenian pianist Ana Sinkovec Burstin, with whom he has a beautiful baby girl.