“She plays with a seemingly natural ease and her glowing, warm tone and honest musical interpretations draw the listener into her complete commitment to the music.” (The Strad)
“Her lyrical phrasing and colourful palette of sound — including razor-thin notes coaxed out of her instrument’s extreme upper range — was matched only by her virtuosic technique, immediately evident with her unflinching delivery of triplet passages during the first variation.” (Winnipeg Free Press)
“… cellist Denise Djokic…has recorded the [Britten] suites (originally composed for Mstislav Rostropovich) and made them her own. Her performance alone, lightly amplified to catch every subtlety in the score, is reason enough to go.” (Seattle Times)
Instantly recognized by her “arrestingly beautiful tone colour” (The Strad), cellist Denise Djokic captivates audiences with her natural musical instinct and remarkable combination of strength and sensitivity. Acclaim for her powerful interpretations, bold command of her instrument and insightful playing has earned her world-wide recognition and appearances in some of the most venerable halls. Denise burst onto the international music scene when millions of television viewers watched her performance of Bach at the 2002 Grammy Awards following the lauded release of her self-titled debut recording on SONY Classical.
Since then, Denise has accrued numerous distinctions and accolades: she has been named one of the top “25 Canadians Who Are Changing Our World” by Maclean’s Magazine, one of “Canada’s Most Powerful Women” by Elle Magazine, and had her life and career chronicled by a special BRAVO! TV documentary entitled “Seven Days, Seven Nights”. A natural leader and advocate for classical music, Denise is equally at home on the podium as a keynote speaker, having presented at forums such as IdeaCity in Toronto and the Women In Leadership Conference at Queen’s University. Denise believes strongly in passing along her knowledge of music and her instrument. She serves on the Faculty of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada each summer, has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa, and frequently gives masterclasses.
Always in demand for summer festivals, 2015 saw Denise perform with the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax, Toronto Summer Music Festival, and at the Edmonton Summer Solstice. She opens her 2015-2016 season with two concerts at the Concordia Chamberfest, followed by performances of the Schubert Quintet with the Jupiter Quartet in Champaign (Ill). Additional season highlights include a chamber concert of works by Mozart and Chausson in Halifax, performances of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 with the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra and a return to the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax. Denise will also be a Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa in the spring term.
Summer 2014 included a series of recitals in Indian River (PEI), Amherst Island (Ontario), at the Prince Edward County Music Festival and in Vermont’s Killington Music Festival where she also served as a Faculty member. Denise’s 2014-2015 season featured performances of one of her signature pieces – Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, with both the Victoria Symphony (Texas) and the Thunder Bay Symphony, a return to the Edmonton Symphony playing the Gulda Cello Concerto, and to the Kingston Symphony for the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1.
The 2013-2014 season, saw appearances at the Peninsula Music Festival for a Tchaikovsky tour-de-force, where she performed Nocturne, Op. 19, No.4, Pezzo Capriccioso, Op. 62 and Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 with the festival’s orchestra, at Edmonton’s Symphony Under the Sky Festival, the Sweetwater Music Festival for concerts featuring Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and the Haydn Concerto for Cello in C Major and in Winnipeg for Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with the Winnipeg Symphony, a piece she also played with the Saskatoon Symphony in February 2014. She performed the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Indian Hill Symphony, returned to the Edmonton Symphony for Hoffman’s Cello Concerto in D Major and JC Bach’s Cello Concerto in C minor and to Symphony Nova Scotia for the rarely-performed Gulda Cello Concerto. She also appeared with the Boston Trio in Winnipeg and Kitchener-Waterloo.
Denise’s Carnegie Hall debut with the Edmonton Symphony and conductor William Eddins featured a performance of John Estacio’s Triple Concerto with pianist Angela Cheng and violinist Juliette Kang. Other highlights include her acclaimed Lincoln Center performance of Arturo Marquez’s “Espejos en la Arena” with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas and Alondra de la Parra conducting, appearances with the Academic Orchestra of Zurich in Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa at chamber music at festivals in Vermont, New York state, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Ottawa, and in concert throughout the US with the Boston Trio. Denise also appeared with • the Kingston Symphony • the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra • with Seattle’s Spectrum Dance in the world premiere of Donald Byrd’s Love, set to Britten’s Cello Suites and with Ballet Victoria in a special performance of solo Bach. She made a highly successful return to the Orchestre Métropolitain and Yannick Nézet-Séguin performing Strauss’s Don Quixote • debuted with the Aachen Symphony Orchestra under Marcus Bosch, appeared with • the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria in Mexico City • the San Diego Chamber Orchestra • the North Carolina, Portland, and Syracuse symphonies • Symphony Nova Scotia, and with l’Orchestre de la Francophonie. She has participated in the Amsterdam Cello Biennale as well as the International Cello Festival of Canada, where her performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Mickelthwate “brought a sense of intense involvement to Adagio con Variazione by Respighi. She seems to go into a place of her own as she plays, devoted entirely to the music. This was a passionate reading of a gorgeous and not often performed work.” (Winnipeg Free Press).
As a recitalist, Denise performs frequently with acclaimed pianist David Jalbert. Recent performances have taken them to Washington D.C., San Francisco, Mexico City, Vancouver, Chicago, Tuscon, and New York’s Bargemusic. Denise and David also tour with Piano Plus, an organization which brings performances to Canadian communities in which the opportunities to hear live concerts are limited. In addition, her love of chamber music has brought her to the festivals of Ottawa, Caramoor, Park City, Ravinia, San Miguel de Allende, and Vancouver. In 2008, Denise gave the world premiere of Christos Hatzis’s “In the Fire of Conflict”, with percussionist Ryan Scott and dancer Peggy Baker at the Toronto Summer Music Festival. She appears frequently with New York’s Jupiter Chamber Players and also tours with her chamber music partner since childhood, her violinist brother Marc.
Denise’s award-winning discography features the recent release of Chopin and Rachmaninoff sonatas with her long-time recital partner, pianist David Jalbert (ATMA), the complete Britten Solo Suites for Cello also for ATMA which has received consistent accolades: “young Canadian cellist Denise Djokic does them proud here with breathtaking technique and a wide dynamic sweep” (Toronto Star) and “Djokic has a hugely impressive technique, and her projection of singing melodic lines without exaggerated vibrato can be very touching. (BBC Music Magazine), her highly acclaimed CD, entitled Denise Djokic featuring works by Barber, Martinu and Britten received the 2002 East Coast Music Award and Folklore (Allegro/Endeavor) received a JUNO nomination as well as an East Coast Music Award, hit the Billboard Chart’s top 15 Classical CD’s and was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.
A MUSICAL FAMILY
Having grown up in a large musical family, Denise first began to learn the cello with her uncle and aunt, cellists Pierre Djokic and Michelle Djokic. Her parents, Lynn and Philippe, and brother Marc, are all musicians. Her early cello teachers in Halifax were Olive Shaw and Shimon Walt, before moving to Cleveland where she continued her studies with Richard Aaron and in Boston with Laurence Lesser and Paul Katz. Denise gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Denise currently lives in Urbana, Illinois with her husband, Nelson and young son, Dominic.
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Concert review: ESO up to the challenge in excellent Eddins Effect concert
Posted: February, 2015
Saturday night’s concert by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra was something of a special occasion for its music director Bill Eddins.
It was mostly devoted to the music he enjoys so much, that very American blend of the classical and jazz, in the tradition of Gershwin and Bernstein. The concert was titled The Eddins Effect, and its timing was spot on, as it was announced on Friday that his contract with the ESO has been extended through the 2016/2017 season.
The three jazz-related symphonic works he programmed were all by composers who will almost certainly have been unfamiliar to the audience. All three have the reputation as eccentrics, mavericks of the classical music world.
Friedrich Guida’s Concerto for Cello and String Orchestra (which includes percussion and guitars) was written in 1980 for cellist Heinrich Schiff. It is a kind of mad-cap patchwork of pastiche, from rock and jazz through echoes of early music in the style of the Spaniard Rodrigo, to Souza-like marches mixed with the cancan.
It’s crazy, but undeniably fun, with some whimsical lyrical beauty in a second slow movement that recalls the idiom of Stephen Foster. It doesn’t exactly challenge audiences, but it does challenge the soloist, especially in the extended, sometimes improvised, cadenza.
The young Canadian cellist Denise Djokic made a very strong case for the piece, her virtuosos playing binding together the weird elements. I thought she was more idiomatically effective than Schiff’s own recording, especially in the first movement, where she rocked with the best.
A Night of Shining Strings
By Hannah Spray
Any time cellist Denise Djokic wants to come back to Saskatoon, she is more than welcome.
“Amazing” and “unbelievable” were among the words I overheard whispered during her performance Saturday with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra at TCU Place.
Of course, some of the credit must go to Tchaikovsky for his brilliant Variations on a Rococo Theme, a virtuosic piece that calls on the solo cellist to do things we ordinary symphony-goers didn’t realize were possible.
After the cadenzas in the fifth variation, when Djokic’s fingers danced over the trills and runs, I wanted to stand up and applaud right there and then.
Then there were the notes in the high register, each one more amazing than the last, plus the chords and the soulful melodies.
The entire performance was one of beauty.
Winnipeg Free Press
Russian master expertly handled
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra kicked off its first-ever Tchaikovsky Festival Friday night, with the latest concert in its Masterworks series featuring three classics by the 19th-century Russian wonder.
The program featured acclaimed Canadian cellist Denise Djokic performing Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 that unfolds as a wonderfully crafted set of theme and seven variations. But in Djokic’s hands, it became so much more, as she displayed a breathtaking artistry that held the audience of 1,448 spellbound. The Halifax-born musician immediately launched into the theme that provided the first taste of her well-burnished tone. Her lyrical phrasing and colourful palette of sound — including razor-thin notes coaxed out of her instrument’s extreme upper range — was matched only by her virtuosic technique, immediately evident with her unflinching delivery of triplet passages during the first variation. In spite of a few perilous moments, her soulful cadenzas held the crowd rapt until her final, dazzling final variation with its quicksilver 32nd-note runs. Quite deservedly, this dynamo earned two curtain calls with a standing ovation for her enthralling performance.
Symphony Under the Sky: Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Dvorák
Organization: Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Bob Bernhardt
When: Friday, August 30, 2013
EDMONTON – The Edmonton Symphony took a real risk on Friday with the opening concert in Symphony Under the Sky, the orchestra’s mini festival.
The highlight of the concert, though, was Dvorák’s heartfelt and heart-winning cello concerto. The young Canadian cellist Denise Djokic sensibly warmed up — the wind was both strong and a little chill — with what she had originally intended as an encore, Tchaikovsky’s little Nocturne for cello and orchestra.
This was, though, a whimsical little prelude to the main fare. Djokic’s approach to the Dvorák was both highly romantic, and, in its way, commendably youthful.
For this was very much a Romantic concerto performance in the grand style, the soloist in a passionate dialogue with the orchestra, sometimes leading, sometimes arguing.
The effect was perhaps highlighted by the over-amplification of the cello (understandable in the open air). But it was also a solo performance of heightened, if never exaggerated, emotions. So often the concerto is played autumnally, old age looking back. But from her opening lines, the impassioned cello breaking into the mellow fruitfulness of the orchestra, Djokic emphasized the vigour that is also in the work. The lyricism, especially in the slow movement, was the yearning of loves desired, loves being lost, rather than of old age reminiscing. Indeed, the opening of the finale was jaunty, almost insolent.
Dvorák reworked his original ideas for this movement, following the death of his sister-in-law, whom he himself had proposed to many years earlier. The lyricism, when it does return toward the end, can understandably sound valedictory. But Djokic imbued it with a sense of hope, of looking forward rather than looking back, as the clouds turned pink and then gold in the gathering evening.
“It is always so great to have Denise back! She plays beautifully and is always a total pro.”
Eric Mathis, Operations Manager
Symphony Nova Scotia
October 26, 2017
“It was such a pleasure to work with Denise. Our audience was thrilled to hear her play the Dvorak concerto. Our conductor and musicians really enjoyed working with Denise. I hope we can have her back again sometime soon.” – Andrea Haughton, General Manager, Kingston Symphony Associatation
Just wanted to let you know that Denise’s radio broadcast is on CBC RADIO TWO on Saturday, October 27 at 10:00 NY time. Here is the link to the program’s website. They still have last week’s show up on the website but will be putting up Denise’s today, likely late in the afternoon.