Ivo-Jan van der Werff has attained accolades as a chamber player, recitalist, guest artist and teacher throughout Europe and North America. As a member of the Medici String Quartet for 30 years, Mr. van der Werff has performed in well over 2,000 concerts in major festivals and venues worldwide, broadcasting regularly on radio and television. The Medici quartet made more than 40 recordings for EMI, Nimbus, Hyperion and Koch, and won many awards for works ranging from Haydn, Britten, Janacek, Schubert and the Beethoven cycle to more eclectic works of John Tavener, Saint-Saens, Wajahat Khan and Nigel Osborne. The quartet has had collaborations with many artists across the musical, literary and theatrical spectrum including the Royal Shakespeare Company, George Martin, Alan Bennett, John Williams, John Thaw and Jack Brymer.
Mr. van der Werff has performed as recitalist in places as far afield as New York, New Zealand and Hong Kong as well as numerous venues throughout the United Kingdom. His recordings for ASV and Koch include the sonata by Max Reger and the complete works for viola and piano/harp by Arnold Bax. His latest release on the Guild label featured works by Britten, Al-Zand and Shostakovich. Mr. van der Werff is regularly invited to perform with chamber ensembles throughout Europe, the USA and the Antipodes, such as the Alberni, Coull, Bridge and New Zealand string quartets, Trio con brio of Copenhagen, and the Montrose Trio.
Before joining the Medici Quartet, Mr. van der Werff’s freelance career saw him working under many conductors including Sir George Solti, Bernard Haitink and Klaus Tennstedt and he has since been invited to appear as guest principal viola and soloist with many of the United Kingdom’s leading orchestras.
Mr. van der Werff has been a professor of viola and chamber music at the Royal College of Music in London and is now a full time professor of viola at Rice University. He has also developed a private viola program near London and is director of the ‘Catskills Viola Retreat’ in Upstate New York. He has performed and taught at many summer schools including Dartington and Oxford in the UK, Schlern in the Italian Alps, in Sweden, at the Texas Music Festival, Domaine Forget, California Summer Music, Bowdoin, and Madeleine Island in the USA, and has also been an adjudicator on many competition juries. Mr. van der Werff has given masterclasses all over the world at schools such as Eastman, Colburn, Vanderbilt, and Santa Barbara in the USA, Trinity College, the Royal Northern College, and the Royal College in the UK, the Royal Academy in Stockholm, and the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts amongst others. Many of his former students hold principal and regular positions in orchestras such as the BBC Symphony, Philharmonia, London Symphony, and the English Chamber and English National Ballet as well as orchestras in Spain, Portugal, Norway, USA, and France.
For many years he played in London studios on literally hundreds of sound tracks for film, pop, and tv ranging from Harry Potter and James Bond to Madonna and Maria Carey to Pride and Prejudice and Doctor Who.
In 2011 he published A Notebook for Viola Players, a book consisting of exercises and explanations on and about viola technique, based in large part on his own studies with the great violist and pedagogue Bruno Giuranna and inspired by his viola mentors Margaret Major and Peter Shidlof.
Mr. van der Werff plays on a viola by Giovanni Grancino, of Milan, c1690.