The Israeli-born Amewrican pianist, Orli Shaham, is the daughter of two scientists, Meira Diskin and Jacob Shaham. Her brother is the violinist Gil Shaham. She was recognized early for her exceptional talents. She received her first scholarship for musical study from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation at age 5 to study with Luisa Yoffe at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. By age 7, she traveled to New York with her family to begin study with Nancy Stessin, and became a scholarship student of Herbert Stessin at The Juilliard School a year later. She won the Gilmore Young Artist Award in 1995 and the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1997, two prestigious prizes given to further the development of outstanding talent. In addition to her musical education at the Juilliard School, Orli Shaham holds a degree in history from Columbia University.
A consummate musician recognized for her grace, subtlety and vitality, Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today's most gifted pianists. Hailed by critics on four continents, she is in demand for her prodigious skills and admired for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. The Chicago Tribune recently referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean” in a performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London's Guardian said Shaham's playing at the Proms was "perfection", and The Winnipeg Free Press declared Ms. Shaham’s piano skills "almost too good to be true.”
Orli Shaham performs recitals and appears with major orchestras throughout the world. She has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphopny, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony Orchestra in north America; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala (Milan), Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Bilbao Symphony, Orchestra della Toscana (Florence), Orchestre National de Lyon, Taiwan Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. A frequent guest at summer festivals, she has performed at Tanglewood, Ravinia, Verbier, Mostly Mozart, Aspen, Caramoor, Spoleto, La Jolla, Bravo Vail, Music Academy of the West, Orcas Island, Amelia Island, Peninsula, and Sun Valley music festivals.
Orli Shaham has given recitals in North America, Europe and Asia at such renowned concert halls as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Frankfurt's Alte Oper, and the Herkulessaal in Munich, and has worked with many eminent conductors including Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Roger Norrington, Christopher Hogwood, David Robertson, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, Gerard Schwarz, and Jacques Lacombe among others.
In 2013, Orli Shaham released the CD "Nigunim - Hebrew Melodies", recorded with her brother, the violinist Gil Shaham. The album features masterpieces by Ernest Bloch, Joseph Achron, and Leo Zeitlin as well as a newly commissioned work by Avner Dorman. MusicWeb International called the disc “heartfelt and profound” and the St. Louis Post Dispatch descriped it as “a real and beautiful collaboration for two equal instrumentalists.” She and Gil Shaham have collaborated on several additional recordings including "Dvorák for Two" on Deutsche Gramophone, an all-Prokofiev disc ("As fine a recording of the violin and piano music of Prokofiev as has ever been made by one of the finest violinist and pianist teams of the last ten years." Barnes&Noble.com), and "Mozart in Paris".
In 2014, Orli Shaham released "American Grace", a CD of piano music by John Adams and Steven Mackey including the recorded premiere of Mackey’s Stumble to Grace (written especially for Orli Shaham) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, David Robertson conducting. “American Grace demonstrates that modern piano repertoire is alive and flourishing in the hands of some of the great composers of our time,” (Alison Howard of CBC Music). Brian Wigman of Classical.Net praised the album as having “nuance to the playing, and a sense of grace and poetry.” Composer John Adams himself wrote of Orli Shaham’s collaboration with Jon Kimura (Jackie) Parker on his two-piano work Hallelujah Junction, “any composer should be so lucky to receive such a reading as Orli and Jackie have done,” and the French magazine Pianiste praised the CD, saying "this album could well propel [Shaham] to the forefront of the world stage."
Orli Shaham’s 2014-2015 season is highlighted by the release of a new CD, "Brahms Inspired", which includes music by Johannes Brahms, music inspired by J. Brahms, and music that inspired J. Brahms. The CD includes new works by Brett Dean, Avner Dorman, and Bruce Adolphe. Orli Shaham’s solo recitals this season feature music from the new recording. Highlights of the season include the Aspen Music Festival, Arizona Musicfest, and the “Chicago Symphony Presents” series. Concerto performances in 2014-2015 include the Orchestre National de France in Paris, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Colorado Springs Philharmonic. In addition, she serves as the Artistic Director for Pacific Symphony’s chamber music series in Costa Mesa, California, a position she has held since 2007. This season’s performances for the series include her collaboration with principal cellist Timothy Landauer, performing cello sonatas by L.v. Beethoven, and a performance of Béla Bartók's Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion, highlighting members of Pacific Symphony’s percussion section. She is also the curator of their "Cafe Ludwig" chamber music series.
Recent concert highlights include Orli Shaham’s performances of Steve Mackey’s piano concerto Stumble to Grace with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (performed by Shaham in the same program with Leonard Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety), and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia. Of Shaham’s 2014 performance of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Winston-Salem Symphony, Classical Voice of North Carolina wrote, “it was clear thShaham is a powerful player and her interaction with the orchestra was first-rate.”
Orli Shaham’s interactive concert series for young children, "Baby Got Bach", is recognized by parents, media and the music community as a significant force in music education and entertainment for pre-schoolers. The wildly popular series is included in New York Magazine's "Best of New York" list, and has been cited as "magical" and "a terrific family event" in the press. "Baby Got Bach" is presented by the 92nd Street Y in New York, and has been presented in St. Louis and Aspen in past seasons. The concert programs provide hands-on activities with musical instruments, concepts and concert performances that promote good listening skills, and feature chamber music performances by professional musicians with Shaham as host and pianist.
Driven by a passion to bring classical music to new audiences, Orli Shaham has maintained an active parallel career as a respected broadcaster, music writer and lecturer. In 2012 and 2013 she served as the host of America’s Music Festivals, a radio program nationally broadcast to over 100 stations. From 2005 to 2008 she was host of "Dial-a-Musician," a feature she created especially for The Classical Public Radio Network. The concept of the program was to enhance listeners' experiences of music and musicians by directing listeners' questions about classical music to internationally renowned musicians, calling them on the phone to discuss the topic. She has interviewed more than forty artists to date, including John Adams, Emanuel Ax, Natalie Dessay, Christine Brewer, Colin Currie, and others. Orly Shaham has taught music literature at Columbia University, and contributed articles to Piano Today, Symphony and Playbill magazines and NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog, and was artist in residence on National Public Radio’s Performance Today.
In 2003, Orli Shaham married David Robertson, the Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Theuy live in New York and St. Louis, with stepsons Peter and Jonathan, and twin sons Nathan Glenn and Alex Jacob, born in New York City on September 15, 2007.]