David Cunliffe, cello

Cellist David Cunliffe has performed with the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish and Royal Scottish Symphony Orchestras and the Balanescu Quartet, with whom he toured extensively to Australia, Europe and the United States appearing frequently on radio and TV including NPR and BBC.As a founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated Lincoln Trio, David has performed throughout the United States including Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Bryant Park Festival, Ravinia Festival, Green Center, Barge Music, Le Poisson Rouge, the Indianapolis Symphony Beethoven Chamber Music Series, University of Chicago, Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series and in Springfield, IL, where the trio was chosen to celebrate the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial celebration with President Barack Obama. He has also performed at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room. International engagements include performances throughout Europe, Asia and South America where this year he toured with the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia, performing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in five cities across Colombia. 

David has collaborated in chamber music performances with Shmuel Ashkenasi, Alberto Lysy, Roger Chase, Simon Keenlyside, Arianna Zukerman, Ilya Kaler, Roberto Diaz, Paul Colletti, Mathieu Dufour and Ricardo Morales, and has been invited to perform with the Rembrandt Chamber Players and Chicago Chamber Musicians, and relishes playing continuo for the Bach Week Festival. He has also made a guest appearance with Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues.

An enthusiast of new music, David has performed numerous compositions written especially for him and the Lincoln Trio, including premieres of seven trios by members of the Chicago Composers Consortium, an award winning work dedicated to the trio by young ASCAP winner Conrad Tao, a Chamber Music America Award commission with composer Laura Elise Schwendinger and works by Stacy Garrop, Mischa Zupko, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, and Ravinia-commissioned works for the Lincoln Bicentennial by James Crowley, Eric Sawyer and Lawrence Dillon. 

In 2015 the Lincoln Trio commissioned a work from Colombian composer, Juan Antonio Cuellar which they recorded in Bogota, Colombia. David has worked with George Crumb, Augusta Read Thomas, Terry Reilly, Michael Nyman, Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Pierre Jalbert, Shulamit Ran, and Joan Tower. He has served on the board of Music in the Loft, an organization dedicated to pairing up-and-coming young composers and performers. He is currently Vice President of the Society of American Musicians, a not-for-profit competition based in Chicago.

Valuing the importance of cultural diversity in music, David is a passionate supporter of both the Chicago-based Chinese Fine Arts Society and the Korean Sejong Cultural Society, which in 2015 commissioned three works based on Korean themes premiered at the University of Chicago and recorded by the Lincoln Trio.

With the Lincoln Trio, David has recorded numerous albums for the Cedille label including the complete works for strings and piano by Turina and their début album “Notable Women,” which features GRAMMY-and Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, Lera Auerbach, Stacy Garrop, Augusta Read Thomas and Laura Schwendinger. Their CD “Trios From Our Homelands,” featuring the works of Rebecca Clarke, Arno Babajanian and Frank Martin, was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY. David also recorded the Ravel Duo for Violin and Cello with his wife, Desirée Ruhstrat, for Albany Records. Other releases on Cedille include “Composers In the Loft,” “In Eleanor’s Words: Music of Stacy Garrop” and “The Billy Collins Suite.” 

While performing with the Balanescu Quartet, David was involved in numerous projects including recording the CD “Arabian Waltz” with the renowned oud player Rabih Abou Khalil, and the sound track for the movie “Angels and Insects.”

David’s teachers included Margaret Moncreiff, Moray Welsh and Antonio Lysy at the Royal Northern College of Music where he was the recipient of the Terrance Weill and Leonard Hirsch Quartet prizes and the Lady Barbirolli Chamber Music Award. He also studied with William Pleeth, Ralph Kirshbaum and Christopher Bunting. He completed his studies at the International Yehudi Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland and toured throughout Europe with Yehudi Menuhin and the Camerata Lysy.