Students selected for the 2023 edition
Alphabetical order per instrument - Nationality as a country - Last school
View biographies clicking on the photos
- Edition of the Academy: 2023, 2022
- Nationality: U.S.A.
- Instrument: Viola
- Age during Academy: 23
- Last or current school: Yale School of Music
- Instrument played: Plays on a 2011 Douglas Cox viola, on generous loan from the Virtu Foundation.
Brian Isaacs, 23, grew up in Queens, New York City and started playing the violin at age four. After switching to viola in 2014 and graduating from LaGuardia High School in 2018, Brian began his studies at Yale University, where he received his B.A. cum laude in Sociology with Distinction in the Major, and his M.M. in Viola Performance as a student of Ettore Causa. Starting September 2023, Brian will be based in Berlin as a member of the Karajan-Akademie der Berliner Philharmoniker.
An aspiring viola soloist, Brian most recently won both the Yale School of Music Woolsey Hall and Yale College William Waite Concerto Competitions. As a result, he performed the Walton Viola Concerto with the Yale Symphony Orchestra in April 2022, conducted by William Boughton, and will return to New Haven in April 2024 to perform the Martinu Rhapsody-Concerto with the Yale Philharmonia, conducted by Peter Oundjian. Brian was one of eight semi-finalists at the 2021 Primrose International Viola Competition, a semi-finalist at the 2022 Kodaly International Music Competition, and a prizewinner in the 2019 Anton Rubinstein International Viola Competition. At Yale, he has also received the Wrexham Prize in Music, “awarded annually to that senior who, as a performer, has best exemplified the standards of Quincy Porter”, the Joseph Lentilhon Selden Memorial Award, given “to students especially notable for their contribution in the field of music” as well as the Terry E. and Irene A. Sharp Prize, awarded “to the most outstanding performer in the junior class in recognition of their fine musicianship and potential in the field of classical music”. He has performed as a soloist in masterclasses for artists including Misha Amory, Yuri Bashmet, Noemie Bialobroda, Alfred Brendel, Isabel Charisius, Nobuko Imai, Jeffrey Irvine, Lawrence Power, Thomas Riebl, Nadia Sirota & Nico Muhly, Steve Tenenbom, and Lars Anders Tomter. His pre-college teachers include Barbera Berg, Molly Carr, Caeli Smith, and Jonathan Weber.
Brian has been fortunate to perform chamber music around the world with remarkable musicians. Most recently, he traveled to South Korea in September 2022 for chamber music concerts in Seoul, Gimhae, and Heyri. Brian participated in numerous chamber music festivals in the summer of 2022, including the Viridian Strings (USA), NUME Festival and Academy (Italy), Geneva International String Academy (Switzerland), Verbier Festival Academy (Switzerland), Moritzburg Festival Academy (Germany), and Thy Chamber Music Festival (Denmark). He has performed with distinguished artists including Peter Bruns, Jose Gallardo, Annette von Hehn, Mihae Lee, Mi-kyung Lee, and Tony Nys. In previous summers, Brian attended the Taos School of Music, Maine Chamber Music Seminar, and NEXT Festival of Emerging Artists. At Taos, Brian received numerous chamber coachings from Misha Amory, Robert McDonald, Mai Motobuchi, Nicholas Tzavaras, and additional members of the Borromeo, Brentano, and Shanghai string quartets. He has performed in chamber music masterclasses for artists such as Simone Dinnerstein, Augustin Dumay, Lynn Harrell, Mathieu Herzog, Joel Krosnick, Michaela Martin, Fred Sherry, Gabor Takacs-Nagy, and Roger Tapping. Brian has been coached at Yale by Melvin Chen, Nina Lee, Don Palma, Wendy Sharp, Mark Steinberg, and members of the Omer and Rolston string quartets.
An avid orchestral musician, Brian joined the viola section of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in 2019 as its youngest member and gained tenure in 2021. He has served as principal violist with several renowned youth/university orchestras including NYO-USA, in which he participated in concert tours across Asia and Europe, the Moritzburg Festival Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, Yale Philharmonia, and Yale Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Brian attended the 2018 and 2019 New York String Orchestra Seminars and the 2020 Detroit Symphony Orchestra Summer Institute. As a member of the Karajan Academy, he will participate in the viola section of the Berlin Philharmonic for numerous performances over the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.
This summer, Brian looks forward to returning to the Viridian Strings, Geneva International String Academy, and Verbier Festival Academy and participating for the first time in the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival and Gstaad Menuhin Festival String Academy. Brian plays on a 2011 Douglas Cox viola, on generous loan from the Virtu Foundation.