Violist Andra Darzins (Latvian name Andra Dārziņa) leads an active solo and chamber-musical concert career in Europe and overseas and is a guest at many international festivals.
As a chamber musician she has performed in the chamber music hall of the Berlin Philharmonie, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Laeiszhalle Hamburg and plays regularly in the “Golden Hall” in Riga.
She has played as soloist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Latvia, Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Hamburg Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Kotka Symphony Orchestra (Finland), Erzgebirgisches Symphony Orchestra, Baden-Baden Philharmonie, Sinfonietta Krakovia, Cottbus Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Valdivia (Chile), Urban Camerata and others.
In 2011 she premiered the viola concerto by the Latvian composer Maija Einfelde, which was dedcated to her, (with Sinfonietta Riga and Normunds Sne).
In 2012 she appeared as soloist-conductor with the Orquesta de Cámara in Valdivia, Chile and 2014 with the Chamber Orchestra of the “Festival de Violin y Viola” in Santiago, Chile.
In the same year she founded the chamber orchestra “Urban Camerata”, with which she also performs as a soloist and conductor. Highlight of the collaboration is the release of three viola concertos on CD with the label CPO in December 2015.
Andra Darzins enjoys giving recitals with piano (among her partners are Andreas Kersten, Lauma Skride and Ventis Zilberts), and also plays in unusual ensembles like the Gremonda Trio (with flautist Renate Greiss-Armin and guitarist Johannes Monno) or the viola ensemble „Violissimo“.
Andra Darzins also constantly endeavours to realize musical projects involving non-traditional repertoire. She has recorded the Hindemith Sonata for Solo Viola – which contains the performance indication “Raging tempo. Wild. Tonal beauty is of secondary importance” – with pop-musician friends (StringfeverAustralia) using electro-techno sounds.
With the organist and composer Jürgen Essel she celebrated musical humor
in a jointly conceived and moderated “Fools’ Concert”. Along with the famous Arabic ensemble „Al-Kindl“, she performed microtonal music by Klaus Huber.
Andra Darzins is an enthusiastic performer of contemporary music and has given the premiere of a number of works, including the Viola Concerto by Alvilis Altmanis, the Concerto for Viola and 24 Percussion Instruments by Dieter Einfeldt, and Kurt Schwertsik’s duo for viola and tuba „Equilibristique.
In 2012 she premiered the work “Vasaras Muzika” by the Latvian-American composer Dace Aperans, which was dedicated to her and Lauma Skride. In 2013 she and fellow-dedicatee Sabine Sauer performed the premiere of the sonatina “Blue Limit” by their Stuttgart university colleague Jürgen Essl. The premiere of this work in a version with orchestra took place in October 2014.
With the SWR Vocal Ensemble she recorded the solo viola part of Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel for a 2014 release with Hänssler Classics on the SWR-Music CD “Amerika”.
In 2015 composer Prof. Axel Ruoff wrote a viola quartet titled „Passionato“ and dedicated this work to Andra Darzins. She played the premiere of this work in the ensemble „Violissimo“ in December 2015.
She has played as guest violist in the Ensemble Modern, including tours to Paris, Witten and Huddersfield and recordings of works by Brian Ferneyhough.
From 1993 to 2004 she was principal viola of the Hamburg Philharmonic, regularly appearing as soloist (in the concertos by Bartók, Hindemith, Schnittke and Janni Christou as well as Tippett’s Triple Concerto and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante). In Peter Konwitschny’s Hamburg production of “Der Freischütz”, she appeared on stage as a musician playing and dancing at the same time (live recording on Arte/Arthaus DVD).
After over ten years as an orchestral musician, Andra Darzins decided to utilize her pedagogical skills and to intensify her dedication to solo and chamber music performance. In addition to her own professorship at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler in Berlin, she substituted Prof. Tabea Zimmermann for one year.
In 2004 she was appointed professor at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart.
Since leaving the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Andra Darzins has often been invited to play as guest principal viola with the Staatskapelle Berlin, Munich Philharmonic, Radio Symphony Orchestra of Frankfurt, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and others. She is member of the Australian World Orchestra, in 2014 leading the viola section in Stravinsky´s „Rite of Spring“ under the baton of Zubin Mehta and in 2015 playing under Sir Simon Rattle.
Born in Australia to Latvian parents, Andra Darzins studied in Adelaide and with a Churchill Fellowship and German Government (DAAD) Scholarship with Wolfram Christ in Berlin. During her studies, which she completed with distinction, she was a frequent substitute in the Berlin Philharmonic. Touring with the orchestra in Europe, Japan, the USA and at the Salzburg Festival, was fortunate to experience performing under great conductors (including Karajan, Levine, Haitink, Ozawa and Mehta).
Supplementing her university studies with master classes given by Profs. Hatto Beyerle, Kim Kashkashian, Ulrich Koch and Thomas Riebl, she also took part in master courses for conducting (under Eliyakum Shapiro, Ronly Riklis, Roberts Zuika and Christopher Seamann).
Andra Darzins won first prize at the ABC Concerto Competition in South Australia, the Prix Frédéric Liebstoeckl of the Geneva International Competition and second prize in 1992 (no first was awarded that year) at the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition.
Her heritage inspired Andra Darzins to devote herself to the music of Latvia and the entire Baltic region. The recordings of “Latvian Impressions” Vol. 1 and 2 (Bauer/Animato) testify her special interest and were awarded the Krišjānis Barons Prize of the World Federation of Free Latvian Culture.
To make Latvian music known, Andra Darzins enjoys presenting moderated concerts in which she speaks about the country, its musical traditions and composers.
Together with the notable Latvian pianist Prof. Ventis Zilberts, she toured in the USA in 2015 with concerts in Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Boston. A highlight of the tour was a performance for the Latvian president Vejonis and invited guests in the Latvian UN Embassy in New York.
In May 2015 the “Animato” label released her CD “Reflections”, together with pianist Ventis Zilberts.
On the CD release with the CPO label in 2015, Andra Darzins performs both as soloist and conductor. The recordings of the viola concertos by Hoffmeister, Stamitz and the concerto for organ, viola and strings by Michael Haydn with the „Urban Camerata“ received enthusiastic reviews.
Her CD , together with the Vokalensemble Stuttgart, received the Prize of the German Record Critics (Preis der Deutsche Schallplattenkritik) in 2015.
For the past fourteen years she has been artistic director and founder of the Stuttgart chamber-music series „St. Antonius Autumn Concerts“.
Among her most recent projects are live improvisations with experimental deep techno artist Laima Adelaide. (see YouTube)