1st Prize winner of the 13th Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, 1st Prize winner of the 14th National Sphinx Competition, and Gold Medalist with High Distinction at the 5th Manhattan International Music Competition, violist Paul Laraia has established an international career performing as soloist and chamber musician. Acclaimed by the Strad for his “eloquent” and “vibrant” playing, Paul has been soloist with major orchestras such as the Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Filharmonica de Bogata, New Jersey Symphony, Nashville Symphony, New Haven Symphony, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Sphinx Virtuosi, and has been featured soloist at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Shalin Lui Performance Center in Rockport MA, the 40th International Viola Congress, the Kennedy Center in DC, and in various venues across NYC, Philadelphia, and Boston.
Paul has given hundreds of performances globally in venues such as Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, the Kennedy Center in DC, Detroit’s historic Symphony Hall, Seoul Arts Center, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, Auditorio Leon de Greiff in Colombia, and at New York’s Lincoln Center. Additionally, he has been an invited artist at major festivals such as the Yellow Barn, Sarasota, Vail International, Festival Del Sole, incheon music hic et nunc!, Hong Kong Generation Next Arts, Macau International, Sitka, Banff, Grand Canyon, and Portland’s Chamber Music Northwest, where he is artist in residence for the 2022-2024 seasons. The 2022-2023 season also features Paul’s string quartet, Catalyst Quartet, as artists in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where they curated a series of inspired collaborations and performances throughout the year.
Paul has performed and collaborated with some of the greatest artists of our times such as Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Anthony Mcgill, Yo-Yo Ma, Jorg Widmann, Vadim Repin, Edgar Meyer, Donald Weilerstein, Khatia Buniatishvili, Kim Kashkashian, Anthony Marwood, Zlatomir Fung, Paul Huang, JP Jofre, and incredible artists of other genres such as Herman Cornejo, Cecile Mclorin Salvant, Aaron Diehl, Machine Dazzle, Caleb Teicher, and Calvin Royal. An avid new music proponent, Paul has worked directly with many of the leading voices in composition such as Jessie Montgomery (played together in Catalyst Quartet), David Ludwig Serkin, Gabriella Lena Frank, Richard Danielpour, Jimmy Lopez, Todd Machover, and maintains an especially close artistic partnership with Taiwanese composer Shiuan Chang, with whom he is crafting a new work as a requiem for peace in our troubled times.
Paul comes from a Philadelphian viola lineage, beginning studies with Brynina Socolofsky (student of Leonard Mogill), and then continuing with Choon-jin Chang (Principal, Philadelphia Orchestra) and Che-hung Chen, through Temple University’s Center for Talented Youth and the Settlement Music School. In 2007, Paul entered the New England Conservatory of Music with full merit scholarship and began the most central stage of his training under Kim Kashkashian for 4 years, making musical friends and colleagues that continue to influence him to this day. Other major musical influences from his time at NEC include Dimitri Murath, Roger Tapping, Donald Weilerstein, Paul Katz, and after NEC, Steven Dann at the Glenn Gould School.
Paul believes that it is crucial to expose the highest level of classical music to all people, and actively engages in community performances, gives masterclasses, performs new music, and explores the boundaries of how classical music is traditionally presented. Paul has brought music to inner city schools, Native American Reservations, hospitals, nursing homes, and has presented concerts to areas and communities with limited access to live concert music. As of 2023 Paul has joined the faculty of the Boston Conservatory at the Berklee School of Music in order to pass on his belief in music’s power to heal and to connect people. Paul is also a recipient of the Sphinx Organization’s 2019 MPower artist-grant for his innovative work in self produced/engineered recording projects. Paul’s musical work, as well as his musical writings have been featured in the NYtimes, Strad Magazine, on NPR, and WQXR multiple times.
Paul performs on a beautiful Hiroshi Iizuka viola in the ‘viola d’amore’ style, a prized Belgian bow by Pierre Guillaume awarded by the Bishops Strings shop in London, and is a proud supporter of Pirastro’s Eva Pirazzi Strings.