Violinist Stephen Waarts Wins Avery Fisher Career Grant

Janos Gereben on March 21, 2017
Steven Waarts | Credit: Matt Dine

At age 20, Los Altos’s Stephen Waarts has a collection of awards and honors that could make a violinist three times his age blush. Last week, Waarts — a San Francisco Conservatory and Curtis Institute alum — put a unique cherry atop his amazing musical sundae: an Avery Fisher Career Grant, a $25,000 award given this year to three young musicians and the Dover Quartet.

Waarts, violinist Chad Hoopes and pianist Haochen Zhang, youngest winner of the Cliburn Competition, gave a joint concert. Here’s the announcement and Waarts’s performance, beginning at 10:00.

Former Career Grant recipients include pianists Kirill Gerstein and Yuja Wang; clarinetist Anthony McGill; violinists Augustin Hadelich and Leila Josefowicz; and The Pacifica Quartet.  

Among Waarts’s prior awards: fifth prize and both audience prizes at the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition, first prize at the 2014 Menuhin Competition, and two prizes at the 2013 Montreal International Competition. In 2013 he won first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions to join the organization’s roster.

2017 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients Stephen Waarts, center, pianist Haochen Zhang and violinist Chad Hoopes | Credit: Steve J. Sherman

Acclaimed from a young age, Waarts has already performed over 30 violin concertos, both standard and rarely heard ones, while also playing recitals and chamber music. His engagements have recently included his Berlin Konzerthaus Orchester debut, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Mexico’s Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río.

Stephen Waarts in 2009, when he was a soloist with Symphony Parnassus

Both Waarts and the Dover Quartet — which did not participate in the  award event because it’s on a European tour — have been associated with [email protected], Waarts is scheduled to participate this summer for the fifth time.

Emailing today from Germany, where he is working on a master’s degree at the Kronberg Academy, Waarts wrote: “I was very pleasantly surprised to receive the award and am grateful both for the committee’s faith in me and the opportunities that the award will bring,” adding about the day’s big basketball game in Oklahoma City: “Rooting for the Warriors from afar.”


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