BBC Concert Orchestra delivers fine performance
By Hali Bernstein Saylor on February 13, 2013

Cello soloist for the Haydn concerto was Sophie Shao. A recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant at age 19, Shao has earned numerous accolades for her performances around the world and has won the top prizes at the Rostropovich and Tchaikovsky competitions. As she played Monday, one could hear why.

Shao put her heart and soul into her performance. Her entire body moved in rhythm with the music and in sync with her bow as it glided across her cello's strings.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
British Invasion in Northridge
by Stephen Cohn on February 18, 2013

Elgar’s music sounds like it is clearly part of the tradition of communicating human spirit and emotion rather than experimenting with the language as were some of his contemporaries, like Stravinsky and Berg, at the time the Cello Concerto was written.

The work begins with a solo recitative which returns in several forms and, bringing us full circle, is the final statement of the last movement. The orchestration, although containing great contrasts is, for the most part, quite transparent, leaving a great deal of dynamic space for the soloist. Ms. Shao made elegant use of this space with courageously soft, lyrically expressive passages and very full, rich, assertive ones that filled the auditorium. Throughout, her performance was confident, soulful and both her sound and her stage presence spoke of an artist who is one with the music. The sensitivity to the unfolding of the cello/orchestra dialogue between Ms. Shao and Maestro Lockhart was as moving as it was intriguing.
LA Opus
BBC Concert Orchestra features state, taste
By Timothy Mangan on February 13, 2013

Cellist Sophie Shao, winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, gave a thoughtful and strongly phrased reading of Elgar's Cello Concerto, avoiding the overcooked dramatics that many cellists bring to the score. Her rhythms, even in quietude, were gently pointed. Her playing highlighted the delicate and spare aspects of this autumnal music. Lockhart and the orchestra supported her handsomely.
Orange County Register
Cellist Sophie Shao and pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute offer romanticism at its finest
By Stephen Brookes on October 28, 2013

Bringing off a whole afternoon of romantic-era music isn’t easy; all that sighing and swooning and hot-blooded emoting can get a little ripe in modern ears after a while. But in a program of Schumann, Brahms and Beethoven at the Phillips Collection on Sunday, the extroverted cellist Sophie Shao — accompanied by the wondrous Lithuanian pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute — found an eloquent balance between rapture and cool restraint, and turned in a deeply satisfying performance.
Despite (or maybe because of) their distinct personalities, Shao and Jokubaviciute seemed ideally paired with each other. Opening with Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro in A-flat, Op. 70, Shao threw her head back and leapt in — hair flying and nostrils flaring in fine romantic abandon — as Jokubaviciute accompanied with quiet precision and delicacy, supporting Shao’s sweeping interpretation but bringing a compelling edge and nuance of her own. It made for romanticism at its best: impassioned, even transporting, but with a clear-eyed intelligence that kept it from overheating into mush.
That finely calibrated interplay marked the entire afternoon. Brahms’s spirited Sonata in E Minor, Op. 38, with its restless and sometimes combative back-and-forth between the two players, was a case study in the art of the duet, and Shao held little back in a warm, glowing reading. Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73, was equally satisfying — the playing just got better as the afternoon progressed — with an almost palpable connection between the players.
The Washington Post
A Perfect Trio
by B.A. Nilsson on December 12, 2013

As for the performance: we heard it in the Haydn and the dynamics of the Schumann only confirmed that Shao and friends achieve a remarkable clarity of presence. Although the three instruments philosophically function as one, there are moments when you should be hearing one or two of them more prominently, and they achieve this throughout. Tempos are well chosen and there’s not an over-emphasis on “interpreting” the music, in the sense of slathering upon it unnatural pauses as if to proclaim some super-cosmic emotional kinship. Let the music speak for itself and it will accomplish what’s needed, so my thanks to this threesome for doing so.
New cellist joins the Apollo Trio for emotional evening
Saturday February 11, 2017

By Susan L. Pena

The Apollo Trio returned to the stage of the WCR Center for the Arts with a new cellist, Sophie Shao (replacing Michael Kannen), and with three works of highly diverse moods and styles. The Friday evening concert was part of the Friends of Chamber Music of Reading series.

Shao, winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and two top competitions, is a remarkable musician whose eloquence and gorgeous tone - her cello used to be owned by Pablo Casals - make her a fine fit with violinist Curtis Macomber and pianist Marija Stroke.
French Evening in Rockport
by Nate Shaffer on June 13, 2015

While there was a fair amount of spotlight-sharing, Cellist Sophie Shao radiated throughout the final selection of the night: Debussy’s Cello Sonata. Shao’ passion, along with her elegant and effortless technique, made for vibrant cantabile playing, even with the extended sections of pizzicato in the 2nd movement. Her phrasing had an elasticity to it: even in the more reserved moments, the inevitability and potential energy buzzed in her tone. Lee came out of her shell a bit more, perhaps having to tackle a more robust piano part. She demonstrated her timbral sensitivity, portraying the richness of articulations and color in Debussy’s orchestration. The pair gave a stunning performance of the work, certainly the quickest 11 minutes of the night.
The Boston Musical Intelligencer
Cellist Sophie Shao, pianist Andre Watts pair for high-wattage concert at Spa Little Theater
by Judith White on August 18, 2010

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Featured guest cellist Sophie Shao opened this first program since the resignation of director Chantal Juillet with a mesmerizing performance of Bach's notoriously difficult Suite No. 4 for Solo Cello. Eyes closed, Shao produced a mellow tone in the low introduction of the suite's Prelude, and moved on to show a very even sound throughout her instrument's range at the Sunday afternoon performance. She built chords with great sensitivity, giving each added note individual respect. She took no unnecessary liberties with Bach's music, playing it straight and perfectly in tune. Her final jig-like dance was lively and fun.
Shao was back onstage with Andre Watts and the Philadelphia Orchestra's amazing principal clarinet, Ricardo Morales, for Brahms' Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano in A Minor. Beginning with a whisper-soft upward clarinet run, this four-movement work gave ample opportunity for Morales and Shao to demonstrate technical prowess and musicality. Watts watched and listened attentively as he played his piano part, never over-shadowing the others. There was a full range of moods in this music, which offered sweet, delicate solo lines in the second movement, a lilting waltz in the third, and a fierce opening to the fourth movement. The trio of musicians sounded triumphant at the close of the work.
Saratogian News
Arts and Culture in Pictures by The Times/ Cellist Sophie Shao
Los Angeles Times


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Cellist Sophie Shao Captivates By Monique Santoso March 7, 2018 In the Robison Hall at the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts on Wednesday Feb. 28, a burgeoning audience waited impatiently for cellist Sophie Shao and her extraordinarily talented friends. Shao’s group, comprised of violinists Nikki Chooi and Carmit Zori, violist Paul Neubauer and pianist Orion Weiss, took the stage with their respective instruments as the hall applauded. Sans introduction, the group took their place and harmoniously began with the soft tones of Joseph Haydn, “Trio in E-flat Major, Hob XV:29” and the audience slowly fell into a musical trance. Shao and her friends Chooi and Weiss, delivered a powerful rendition of Haydn’s trio with rhythmic yet sharp and intense notes to exude a work full of character and humor. Violinist Chooi was most expressive, his controlled poise enchanting the audience as he moved to the strings of his violin. The audience smiled in delight, most of them closed-eyed throughout the performance, as the increasingly elaborate piece moved further and further from the mock-simplicity of the original. As the music shifted down from major third to B major, the audience relaxed from the calm energy of the music. As the song drew to a close and the next began, Zori and Neubauer took the stage for the “Piano Quintet, H.49” by Frank Bridge. The piece was a muscular, four-movement work, with a huge piano part, brim full of musical ideas, but rather unwieldy and certainly lacking the refinement and elegance of Bridge’s mature chamber works. This performance was a four-part series with musical ingenuity, brisk tempo and staccato tunes that included a cello-piano duet which Shao and Weiss carried out gracefully. According to audience feedback, it was the sort of music that could “heal a broken soul.” The flowing piece was contrasted with a quick ending that earned resounding applause from the audience for its zest and marvelous execution. Unlike other artists who describe the songs, impact and meaning to the audience, Shao and her friends did not make any interpretations at the start of any piece. Although unusual, I enjoyed the technique as it let the music mean whatever the listener thought. This mysterious allure was perhaps most reflected in the group’s final performance: Piano Quintet No.2, Op.81 by Czech composer Antonín Dvorák. The piano was the main instrument in the theme and Weiss’ fingers slid and glided across the Steinway with fantastic precision. Accompaniment by the strings was minimal and transparent through the second movement and as the pieces drew to a close, the tempo picked up once more, rushing to an exuberant close. he audience resounded in a much deserved standing ovation. Having played at the college for the 13th time, it is without doubt that Shao is a favorite among the Middlebury community. Series Director Allison Coyne Carroll described her as “always being a pleasure to work with, a consummate musician, and a special friend to the series.” Through the multiple reverberating standing ovations Shao and her friends receive annually, it is without question that we will see her grace Robison Hall again in the future.

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