Biography

Isabel Villanueva is valued for her expression and sensibility as well as for her passion and commitment to promote the viola as an instrument with its own voice.  In 2015 was awarded the prestigious Spanish National Radio Culture Prize and recently in 2018 her debut album BOHÈMES was awarded the prize ‘Best Classical Album of the Year’ at Independent Music Awards. Isabel announces herself as one of the best violists of the new generation who “risks” (The Strad Magazine) and wish to explore all the viola possibilities for development as a solo instrument.

She has appeared as a soloist with the Spanish Radio Television Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Soloists, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, New Russia State Symphony Orchestra,  Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra, Orquestra Nacional d’Andorra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, among others, under the baton of maestros including Jacek Kaspzyck, Lior Shambadal, Michel Plasson, Salvador Brotons or Andres Mustonen. She has a wide range repertoire from baroque period to several symphonic world premieres such as José Zárate and Houtaf Khoury Viola Concertos, dedicated to her.

Villanueva has appeared as a soloist and recitalist in Europe, Asia, Russia and Middle East, in prestigious venues including the Grand Hall of St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou, Bath Music Festival, Estonia Concert Hall, Rottweil Musikfestival, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, Schubertiade RTS, Lavaux Classic Festival, Royal Court Theatre in Copenhagen, Assembly Hall in Beirut, the Wigmore Hall in London among others, and main concert halls and festivals in Spain such as Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Palau de la Música in Barcelona, Palau de la Música in Valencia, Musika-Música Festival in Bilbao and Santander Festival. In 2013 performed at Roudaki Hall in Tehran becoming the first foreign violist to perform solo recitals in Iran.

Engagements for 18/19 season include concerto debuts with Orquesta de Córdoba (Michael Thomas / Antón García-Abril), Real Filharmonia de Galicia (Paul Daniel / Walton), Oviedo Filarmonía (Yaron Traub / Walton), Orquesta Sinfónica de Murcia (Virginia Martínez / Mozart), and recitals in halls and festivals in Spain, France, Switzerland and England.

In August 2017 was released a Sony Classical recording including her performance of José Zárate Viola Concerto with Orquesta de Extremadura. In October 2017 was released her first album “Bohèmes” for viola and piano together with pianist François Dumont for IMMStage label.

She has a strong interest in expanding music for viola. Premieres and collaborations include solo works by Gubaidulina, Olivero, Zárate, Sotelo, Khoury and Khayam. As a chamber musician she has performed together with Prazak Quartet, Vlach Prague Quartet, Daniel Schnyder, Martti Rousi, Trío Arbós, among others. Her concerts have been broadcasted by RTVE, Catalunya Música, RTV Slovenia, TV Szombathely, Estonia Klassika Raadio, RTV Lebanon, TV Russia Kultura and Swiss RTS.

She is prizewinner in international viola competitions including Mravinsky Competition in St. Petersburg, Beethoven Viola Competition in Czech Republic or Yuri Bashmet Viola Competition in Moscow. In 2014 she was awarded the ‘Prix Albert Lullin’ in Geneva to the most outstanding instrumentalist of the year. In 2015 she was recognized institutionally by Marca España and named ‘Global Ambassador of Spanish Talent’ by Clear Channel. She is ‘Cultural Ambassador’ from Fondation Prim’Enfance in Switzerland.

Villanueva is regularly invited to give masterclasses at institutions such as Royal College of Music in London, Birmingham Conservatoire, Conservatoire Superieur de Musique du Liban, Pacific International Youth Orchestra in Guangzhou (China), Iran National University of Music and Arts, and many conservatoires in Spain.

Born in Pamplona (Spain) in 1988, Isabel studied with Igor Sulyga, Yuri Bashmet, Lawrence Power and Nobuko Imai at Royal College of Music in London, Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena and the Haute École de Musique in Geneva. Isabel Villanueva plays an Enrico Catenar viola (Turin, 1670) and uses Peter Infeld strings kindly sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld (Vienna).