Photography by Michel Novak
Isabel Villanueva is valued for her expression and sensibility as well as for her passion and commitment to promote the viola as an instrument with its own voice. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Spanish National Radio Culture Prize. Isabel is recognized as one of the best violists of the new generation.
She has appeared as a soloist with the Spanish Radio Television Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Soloists, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, New Russia State Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Nacional d’Andorra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, among others, under the baton of maestros Salvador Brotons, Andres Mustonen or Michel Plasson, with whom she peformed Walton Viola Concerto last season 16/17 with the Spanish RTVE Symphony Orchestra broadcasted by TVE. She has a wide range repertoire from baroque period to several symphonic world premieres such as José Zárate and Houtaf Khoury Viola Concertos, dedicated to her.
Engagements for 17/18 season include concerto debuts with Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra (Lior Shambadal / Bartók) and Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra (Jacek Kaspszyk / Walton), and recitals in halls and festivals in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, England and Germany.
In August 2017 a Sony Classical recording was released including her performance of José Zárate Viola Concerto with Orquesta de Extremadura. In October 2017 her first recital album for IMMStage label with pianist François Dumont will be released.
She has a strong interest in expanding music for viola. Premieres and collaborations include solo works by Gubaidulina, Olivero, Zárate, Sotelo, Khoury and Khayam.
She is a prizewinner in international viola competitions including Mravinsky Competition in St. Petersburg (2009), Beethoven Viola Competition in Czech Republic (2012), or Yuri Bashmet Viola Competition in Moscow (2013). In 2014 she was awarded the ‘Prix Albert Lullin’ in Geneva to the most outstanding instrumentalist of the year. In 2015 she was recognized institutionally by Marca España and named ‘Global Ambassador of Spanish Talent’ by Clear Channel. She is ‘Cultural Ambassador’ from Fondation Prim’Enfance in Switzerland.
Villanueva is regularly invited to give masterclasses at institutions such as Royal College of Music in London, Conservatoire Superieur de Musique du Liban, Pacific International Youth Orchestra in Guangzhou (China), Iran National University of Music and Arts, and many conservatoires in Spain.
Born in Pamplona (Spain) in 1988, Isabel studied with Igor Sulyga, Yuri Bashmet, Lawrence Power and Nobuko Imai at Royal College of Music in London, Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena and the Haute École de Musique in Geneva. Isabel Villanueva plays an Enrico Catenar viola (Turin, 1670) and uses Peter Infeld strings kindly sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld (Vienna).