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Mark Menzies

Composer, Performer


Residing in the United States since 1991, Mark Menzies has established an important, world-wide reputation as a new music violist and violinist. He has been described in a Los Angeles Times review, as an 'extraordinary musician' and a 'riveting violinist.' At 35 years, his career as a viola and violin virtuoso, chamber musician and advocate of contemporary music, has seen performances in Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand and across the United States, including a series of appearances at New York's Carnegie Hall.

Mark Menzies made his concerto debut with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with an invitation from Mstislav Rostropovich to perform at the opening of the 1988 International Festival of the Arts, in Wellington, New Zealand. The performance, conducted by Maxim Shostakovich, received rave reviews. Mark Menzies' solo career has continued to fulfill this auspicious beginning with critically praised concerto and solo recital performances across the globe.

While pursuing post-graduate studies in London, he formed the Salomon Ensemble with Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard, and was the ensemble's Artistic Director and concertmaster. The Salomon Ensemble's CD recording of the complete string works of Edvard Grieg was nominated for the equivalent of a Grammy in Denmark. A large part of the ensemble's commitment was to the performance of contemporary music, and this saw Mark Menzies give the world premiere of his commissioned transcription of Paul Patterson's Harmonica concerto as well as the British premiere of the Schnittke Sonata for violin solo, harpsichord and strings.

Mark Menzies is renowned for performing some of the most complex scores so far written and he has been personally recommended by composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Roger Reynolds, Michael Finnissy, Vinko Globokar, Philippe Manoury, Elliott Carter, Liza Lim, Christian Wolff, Richard Barrett and Sofia Gubaidulina for performances he has given of their music. An early success was performing at the Lutoslawksi Festival in London (1989) and subsequent highlights have included appearances at the Ojai Festival 2000, at the June in Buffalo 1996/9 and 2000 festivals, the Mirror of the New Festival in Hawai'i 1997, and as featured guest soloist in the 09/03 International Festival (of new music) in Auckland, New Zealand, 2003.

There has been considerable international critical applause for Mark Menzies' leadership in ensembles formed to perform contemporary and twentieth century, such as the Bloomington-based New Vienna Ensemble, Los Angeles's Southwest Chamber Music, San Diego's Sirius Ensemble and the New York-based Ensemble Sospeso. It was with Ensemble Sospeso that he organized a joint venture with CalArts to present the first professional concerts in the US dedicated to Brian Ferneyhough's music in December 2002. At present, Mark Menzies is in the process of initiating a new collective ensemble based in Los Angeles, called Inauthentica.

Mark Menzies is featured on a large number of CD recordings. This includes Process and Passion, a Pogus label release of chamber music by Roger Reynolds, as well as the world premiere recording of ...above earth's shadow by Michael Finnissy to be released shortly. Mark Menzies is a National Recording Artist of Radio New Zealand for whom he has made numerous studio recordings.

Mark Menzies is currently viola and violin professor at the California Institute of the Arts where he also teaches chamber music. Drawing from his innovative professionalism and artistic leadership, he initiated a successful collaborative series called Chamber Music Wednesdays that has contributed to the programming content of concerts presented by CalArts at their new theatre REDCAT at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. He currently curates a series called Classics at CalArts, a fall festival presented annually at the Valencia campus.

Composed (1)

The Ring (Cycle)

for violin and vibraphone

Commissioned (3)

Dream Compass

for chamber ensemble, 11m

some other plots for Babel

violin concerto for ensemble, 17m

Te Kahu

for violin, piano, and CD with recorded voices, 15m