Johnny Gandelsman's musical voice reflects the artistic collaborations he has been a part of since moving to the United States in 1995. Through his work with such world-renowned artists as Yo Yo Ma, Bono, Osvaldo Golijov, Suzanne Vega, James Levine, Kayhan Kalhor, Mark Morris, Alim and Fergana Qasimov, David Byrne, Nigel Kennedy, Martin Hayes, Christina Courtin and Jenny Scheinman, Gandelsman integrates a wide range of creative sensibilities into his own unique point of view.
A prize-winner at the Kreisler and Menuhin competitions, Gandelsman has performed as a soloist with such orchestras as New York and Israel Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Albany Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Deutsche Opera, Orchestra di Maggio di Fiorentina, Orchestra de Padova e del Veneto, Polish Radio Orchestra and Jerusalem Symphony. He has worked with such esteemed conductors as David Zinman, Zubin Mehta, Yehudi Menuhin, Schlomo Mintz, Daniel Oren, David Allan Miller, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Larry Rachleff, David Shillon, Paolo Olmi, Aldo Ceccata, Leopold Hager and Tadeusz Strugala. Gandelsman's recital performances have take him to the Verbier Festival, Cuernavaca Festival, the Radio Festival in Montpellier and the Istanbul Festival, as well as London, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Frankfurt, the Hague and Sao Paolo, to name a few.
Johnny is one of the founding members of Brooklyn Rider. Born out of a desire to use the rich medium of the string quartet as a vehicle for communication across a large cross section of history and geography, Brooklyn Rider is equally devoted to the interpretation of existing quartet literature and to the creation of new works. The group combines a wildly eclectic repertoire with a gripping performance style that is attracting legions of fans and drawing critical acclaim from classical, world and rock critics. NPR credits Brooklyn Rider with "recreating the 300-year-old form of string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble." The musicians have worked with such composers as Derek Bermel, Lisa Bielawa, Ljova, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Jenny Scheinman and Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, and they also regularly perform pieces written or arranged by members of the group. Another integral part of their work involves creative collaborations with other artists. Some recent special guests include Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, Syrian/Armenian visual artist Kevork Mourad, traditional and technology-based Japanese shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki, Irish fiddle player Martin Hayes, the trio 2 Foot Yard, and singer/songwriters Christina Courtin and Suzanne Vega. Courtin's debut album on the Nonesuch label features several tracks with the quartet, as does Vega's new album, Close Up 2: People & Places. A long-standing relationship between Brooklyn Rider and Kayhan Kalhor resulted in the critically acclaimed 2008 recording, Silent City, on the World Village/Harmonia Mundi label, selected by Rhapsody.com as one of World Music's Best Albums of the Decade.
Gandelsman has been a member of the Silk Road Ensemble since 2002, which has allowed him to work closely with great masters of musical traditions from along the ancient trading route. Hailed as “one of the 21st century’s great ensembles” by the Vancouver Sun, the group has performed to critical acclaim throughout Asia, Europe and North America. Gandelsman appears on three SRE albums, inclduing their most recent release, Off the Map, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2011. Gandelsman has played a vital role in the Ensemble's exploration of the music of the Roma people as well as the group's modern adaptation of an Azeri opera based on the timeless story of Layla and Majnun which premiered in the U.S. in the spring of 2009 to rave reviews.
As part of a strong desire to break down barriers between artists and their audiences, Gandelsman, along with Max Treitler, created a performance series in New York City in 2003 called “In a Circle.” Through this project Treitler and Gandelsman present diverse music genres such as Persian Classical, Folk, Bluegrass, Mugham and Rock, along with Western Classical music. The concerts present art exhibitions and commission new compositions. “In a Circle” brings together not only artists from around the world, but also their diverse audiences, creating a unique shared experience for all. Johnny launched In A Circle Records in 2008 with the release of Brooklyn Rider's eclectic debut recording, Passport, followed by Dominant Curve in 2010 and Seven Steps in 2012. All 3 albums made NPR's lists: Best Classical CDs of 2008 & 50 Favorite Albums of 2010 & Favorite albums of 2012 (so far...). The recordings have received glowing reviews from Gramophone, Strings, The Strad, Huffington Post, Big Takeover, Vice and Textura as well as the online indie magazines Pitchfork, Nerve and Lucid Culture. Other releases on ICR include a live DVD of Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony, performed by The Knights; as well as the debut album of guitarist Jon Mendle.
Gandelsman was born in Russia into a family of musicians. His father is a professor of viola at Michigan State University; his mother is a pianist, and his sister is a violinist as well. He studied with Maya Glezarova, Felix Andrievsky and Schlomo Mintz. Johnny attended the Curtis Insitute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Jascha Brodsky and Arnold Steinhardt. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Amber Star Merkens and their son, Julius Ivry.