Biography

Isabel Villanueva is one of the most important violists of the new generation. She has been invited as a soloist with orchestras in Europe, Russia, Latinamerica, the Middle East and China. She is valued for her sensibility and passion as a performer, as well as for her commitement to promote the viola as a solo instrument. “A pure example of virtuosity, precision and sensitivity” (Ritmo Magazine), “Isabel Villanueva, an artist who risks” (The Strad Magazine).

Villanueva has performed as a soloist in prestigious halls and festivals including Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou, Bath Music Festival, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, Royal Court Theatre in Copenhagen, Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, Palau de la Música Catalana, L’Auditori de Barcelona, Palau de Valencia, Bilbao Musika -Musica Festival, Mallorca Formentor Sunset Classics Festival, Sociedad Filarmónica de Lima, Auditorio León de Greiff in Bogotá, Estonia Concert Hall, Assembly Hall of Beirut, Rottweil Musikfestival, Wigmore Hall in London, Roudaki Hall in Tehran.

She is pioneer in presenting concerts in numerous places where Viola was never programmed as a soloist before. Among other places, in 2013 she became the first foreign violist to perform recitals in Iran. She is particularly involved in new music collaborating with composers and performing works many dedicated to her, by S.Gubaidulina, M.Sotelo, G.Khayam, J.Cervelló, H.Khoury, T. Marco, J.Zárate and B.Olivero, among others.

Among other awards, in 2015 she received institutional recognition from Marca España as “ambassador of Spanish talent in the world”. That same year she received the prestigious prize “El Ojo Crítico” of the Classical Music by the Spanish National Broadcasting Corporation (RNE), and recently in 2019, she has been awarded the Culture Award of the Community of Madrid in Classical Music; both awards are the first time they are awarded to a violist.

At the age of 14 she made her debut as a soloist with orchestra, and at 18 performed Bartók Viola Concerto with Radio Television Spanish Symphony Orchestra broadcasted for TVE.
Season 19/20 will see Villanueva performing Paganini, Weber, Berlioz and Giya Kancheli Viola Concertos with Zagreb Soloists, Joven Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Filarmónica Boca del Río, Orquesta Sinfónica UANL and Filarmónica de Jalisco under the baton of Jorge Mester, Christian Vásquez and Rubén Gimeno.
During 18/19 solo performances included Walton, Paganini and Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Oviedo Filarmonía, Real Filharmonía de Galicia, Orquesta Bética of Seville and Murcia Symphony Orchestra. Moreover, in November 2018 she presented with great acclaim the re-premiere of the Viola Concerto “Cantos de Ordesa” by Antón García-Abril with Orquesta de Córdoba.
Villanueva has performed in recent seasons with The Moscow Soloists, Estonia National Symphony, Radio Television Spanish Symphony, Castile and Leon Symphony, Navarra Symphony, Andorra National Orchestra, Málaga Philharmonic, Lebanon Philharmonic, Istanbul State Symphony, New Russia State Symphony and Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta of Tallinn. She has performed concertos for viola from the Baroque period to new works under the baton of Michel Plasson, Jacek Kaspszyk, Yaron Traub, Paul Daniel, Andres Mustonen and Lior Shambadal.

Her discography includes the Concerto for Viola by José Zárate with the Orchestra of Extremadura for Sony Classical in June 2017. Her first personal album ‘Bohèmes’ was presented with the pianist François Dumont for IMMStage in October 2017. This album has received awards by The Strad, Melómano de Oro, Scherzo Magazine, Top 10 RITMO Magazine, and in 2018 was awarded Best Classical Album of the Year in the Premios MIN awards of Independent Music, being the first time a Viola album is recognized.

She is a passionate chamber music player and has performed with artists such as Prazak Quartet, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, Tedi Papavrami, Olivier Charlier, Victor Julien-Laferrière, Marti Roussi, Leonard Elschenbroich, Astrig Siranossian, Trio Arbós, Rafael Aguirre, Iddo Bar-Shaï, Thomas Hoppe and François Dumont.

Isabel Villanueva is a professor at the Higher School of High Performance Music in Valencia (ESMAR), and regularly invited to give masterclasses at the Royal College of Music in London, Bath Music University, Wells Cathedral School, Pacific Academy in Guangzhou, Conservatoire Supérieur du Liban, Académie Musicale de Morges, Festival Interviolas de Bogotá, Universidad Panamericana in México, Spanish Youth National Orchestra and spanish conservatories, among numerous institutions.

Isabel was born in Pamplona (Spain) beginning her musical training in her hometown and later at the Royal College of Music in London, Academia Musicale Chigiana de Siena, Haute école de musique de Geneva with professors I. Sulyga, L. Power, N .Imai and Y.Bashmet. She has been awarded in viola competitions such as the Mravinsky Competition in St. Petersburg, Yuri Bashmet Competition in Moscow and Beethoven Competition in the Czech Republic.

Involved in human causes, she is the Cultural Ambassador of the Prim’Enfance Foundation in Geneva. Isabel Villanueva plays with a viola Enrico Catenar (Turin 1670) and uses Thomastik Infeld strings.