Tanya Tomkins, a virtuoso on both the Baroque and modern cello, is equally at home playing a Bach cello suite in an intimate house concert or anchoring the cello section as principal cellist of the internationally renowned Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra on concert stages around the world. NRC Handelsblad (The Netherlands) describes her as “a cellist with a very special and unusual intensity,” and the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls her “a performer who combines an intense dramatic fire with Apollonian poise.”
Tomkins studied in the Netherlands with renowned cellist and early music specialist Anner Bylsma. She received her Soloist Diploma from The Royal Conservatory of Music at The Hague. Living in Europe for 14 years, she immersed herself in the study of early music and particularly music of the Baroque period. She founded the Trio d’Amsterdam, which toured extensively throughout Europe and subsequently made its New York debut at the Frick Collection.
In 2001 Tomkins won the Erwin Bodky Competition for early music soloists in Boston; she was the first cellist to be awarded the prize. As a performer of Baroque music, Tomkins has appeared as soloist with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Mozart Festival in San Luis Obispo, California, the Berkeley Early Music Festival and the Boston Early Music Festival.
Immersion in early music was not Tomkins’s exclusive focus, however, and, like her teacher Bylsma, she did not neglect the repertoire for the modern cello. She became equally fluent in this music and as a modern cellist has appeared in recitals and in chamber music performances to critical acclaim throughout Europe, Israel, and the United States. She has performed at major concert halls, including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Recital Hall, San Francisco Performances, Da Camera Houston and Los Angeles, New York City’s Lincoln Center as part of the “Great Performances” series, and the 92nd Street Y for the “Meet the Virtuoso” series, also in New York City. Music festival appearances include the Moab Music Festival in Moab, Utah and Music in the Vineyards in Napa, California, and the Umeå Chamber Music Festival in Umeå, Sweden.
As part of the Zivian-Tomkins Duo, Tomkins collaborates with pianist and fortepianist Eric Zivian on both modern and original instruments, and she is also a member of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and the Benvenue Fortepiano Trio with English Baroque violinist Monica Huggett.
Ms. Tomkins enjoys speaking during her Bach Suites performances. In the last two years she did this at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, “Le Poisson Rouge” in New York and for the Vancouver Early Music Society. She encourages the audience to ask questions about the Bach Suites and the Baroque cello.
She is also an avid teacher, giving master classes at Yale, Juilliard, San Francisco Conservatory, and she runs an Apprentice Program, furthering the careers of young chamber musicians as part of the non-profit organization, Benvenue House Music.