Called “top-notch in all respects” (Sequenza 21) and “an artist to be reckoned with” (Gramophone), violinist and violist Miranda Cuckson is widely acclaimed by audiences for her enthralling live performances of a wide range of repertoire, from early eras to the most current creations. In demand as a soloist and chamber musician, she appears in major concert halls, as well as at universities, galleries and informal spaces. She performs at such venues as the Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, Miller Theatre, the 92nd Street Y, Guggenheim Museum, Austrian Cultural Forum, Bargemusic, Museum of Modern Art, Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, and the Marlboro, Bard, Lincoln Center, Bridgehampton, Portland and Bodensee festivals.
She has made lauded appearances as soloist with orchestras in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including her recent Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium) debut in Walter Piston’s concerto with the American Symphony Orchestra and Leon Botstein. Her first CD recording was a disk of the violin concertos of Erich Korngold and Manuel Ponce with the Czech National Symphony, on Centaur Records. She subsequently made four recital CDs of seminal 20th-century American music for Centaur: disks of music by Ross Lee Finney (her doctoral thesis subject), Ralph Shapey (a two-CD set) and Donald Martino. These projects were awarded multiple grants from the Copland Fund for Music and the Ditson Fund. In 2010, Vanguard Classics released her CD “the wreckage of flowers”, comprising violin and violin/piano music by Michael Hersch, with pianist Blair McMillen. Releases in 2014 include “Melting the Darkness”, a disk of solo microtonal and electronics pieces by Iannis Xenakis, Georg Friedrich Haas, Oscar Bianchi and others; and a CD comprising Roger Sessions’ Sonata for solo violin, Elliott Carter’s Duo and a newly commissioned duo by Jason Eckardt with Blair McMillen (Urlicht AudioVisual). Her recording of Luigi Nono’s ”La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura” for violin and electronics (Urlicht), with sound artist Christopher Burns, was named a Best Classical Recording of 2012 by the New York Times. In January 2015, she will record her first CD for ECM Records in Europe, with duo music by Bartók, Schnittke and Lutoslawski.
She is director of the not-for-profit organization Nunc, (previously called Transit Circle), which she founded in 2007 in order to explore and illuminate music of current and older eras, and to enjoy the talents of an array of artists and composers. (www.nuncmusic.org.) Miranda has in recent years been one of the most sought-after performer-interpreters of contemporary music. She is enthusiastic about the role of the performer in the collaborative creative process, and about supporting the musical culture of America and other countries. In addition to working with numerous emerging composing talents, she has collaborated closely with such established composers as Henri Dutilleux, Elliott Carter, Thomas Adès, Salvatore Sciarrino, John Adams, Pierre Boulez, Lee Hyla, Steven Mackey, George Crumb, Michael Hersch, Helmut Lachenmann, Kaija Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Mario Davidovsky, Phillipe Hurel, Vijay Iyer, Derek Bermel, Yehudi Wyner, Georg Friedrich Haas, Jason Eckardt, Tristan Murail, Charles Wuorinen and Sebastian Currier. In 2012, she performed a new work by Harold Meltzer that was commissioned for her by the McKim Fund, at the Library of Congress in honor of Fritz Kreisler. A particular champion of Ralph Shapey’s music, she has curated and performed in concerts of Ralph Shapey’s music on Miller Theatre’s Composer Portraits series and the Contempo series at the University of Chicago, the latter of which was recorded live for release on Centaur Records. She is active performing with many ensembles and organizations including counter)induction, Sequitur, Talea Ensemble, ACME and others, and was a founder and leading violinist of Argento Chamber Ensemble from 2003-2011.
Some of Miranda Cuckson’s diverse recent projects include a three-concert traversal of the Sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven with pianist Thomas Bagwell; solo recitals juxtaposing works by Bach and Ysaÿe with contemporary pieces; the world premiere of “through a stillness brightening”, a work for violin and ensemble written for her by Jeffrey Mumford (the live recording of which was released by Albany Records); performing Dai Fujikura’s work “prism spectra” for viola and live surround electronics; and recording (ECM) and performing Vijay Iyer’s “Mutations” for string quartet and piano.
Miranda Cuckson studied at The Juilliard School, beginning at age 9 in the Pre-College and continuing into the college for her BM, MM and DMA degrees. She was awarded the school’s Presser Music Award and graduated with the Richard F. French Prize for best doctoral dissertation (“Ross Lee Finney and the violin: the recital works and their role in the evolution of his style.”). Her very dear teachers included Felix Galimir, Robert Mann, Dorothy DeLay, Shirley Givens, and for chamber music, Fred Sherry and the Juilliard String Quartet. She is on the violin faculty at Mannes College the New School for Music and the Composers Conference, and has given masterclasses and seminars at major conservatories and universities. She plays the 1742 “ex-Bazzini” Guadagnini violin and a 2008 viola by Jeffrey Robinson.
A United States citizen, she was born to a composer-pianist and a pianist in Sydney, Australia. She is of Austrian/Slovak/Jewish, English and Taiwanese descent. Cuckson, an old English name originally found in Yorkshire, is pronounced “Cookson” – as in the word to “cook” dinner.