Tekla Cunningham

Praised as “a consummate musician whose flowing solos and musical gestures are a joy to watch”, and whose performances have been described as “ravishingly beautiful” and “stellar” and lauded for “long, amber­tinted lines and pertly articulated phrases”, violinist Tekla Cunningham enjoys a multi­faceted career as a chamber musician, concertmaster, soloist and educator devoted to music of the baroque, classical and romantic eras. She is concertmaster and co­artistic director of Pacific MusicWorks with Stephen Stubbs and Henry Lebedinsky, and is an artist­in­residence at the University of Washington. She founded and directs the Whidbey Island Music Festival, now entering its sixteenth season, producing and presenting vibrant period­instrument performances of
music from the 17th–19th centuries, and plays regularly as concertmaster and principal player with the American Bach Soloists.

Ms. Cunningham is continually inspired by the expressive and communicative possibilities of the gestures and rhetoric of baroque and classical music. A passionate chamber musician, she founded the Novello Quartet which for over ten years explored the music of Josef Haydn and his contemporaries with Cynthia Freivogel, Anthony Martin and Elisabeth Reed. With La Monica Ensemble, she explored chamber music of the 17th century, with performances praised as “sizzling” and for their “pitch­perfect timing”. In a performance of Mozart’s g­minor string quintet at the 2018 Valley of the Moon Festival, “Ms. Cunningham’s violin playing was unutterably sweet and rich…Ms. Cunningham’s playing took the lead, and the quartet in turn followed. The depth of sorrow in this interpretation was heartrending. The concluding movement, adagio-allegro, began with a lovely singing and deftly phrased lament by Ms. Cunningham…it was an inspired and inspiring performance”.

Tekla has appeared as concertmaster/leader or soloist with the American Bach Soloists, Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Musica Angelica, and Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Pacific MusicWorks, TENET and has played with Apollo’s Fire, Los Angeles Opera, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and at the Berkeley, Carmel Bach, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Indianapolis, Oregon Bach, Vancouver Bach, Savannah, Bloomington Festivals and Valley of the Moon festivals as well as touring with Bruce Dickey, Hana Blažikovna and the Breathtaking Collective. She can be heard on live and studio recordings with American Bach Soloists, Disney’s Casanova soundtrack, Apollo’s Fire, Pacific MusicWorks, Philharmonia Baroque, La Monica, The Novello Quartet, Seattle Baroque Orchestra and many more.

A dedicated teacher, Tekla directs the Baroque Ensemble at the University of Washington School of Music, where she also recently taught the modern violin class as sabbatical replacement for Ron Patterson. Ms. Cunningham received her undergraduate degree in History and German Literature at Johns Hopkins University while attending Peabody Conservatory where she first studied baroque violin with Web Wiggins. She studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna Austria with Josef Sivo (Karajan’s concertmaster) and Ortwin Ottmaier (Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Orchestra), and earned a Master’s Degree in violin performance at the San Francisco Conservatory with Ian Swenson and chamber music studies with Paul Hersh, Mark Sokol and Bonnie Hampton. Tekla plays on a violin made by Sanctus Seraphin in Venice in 1746.