Gil Shaham (born February 19, 1971) is an American violinist of Jewish descent.
Gil Shaham (Hebrew: גיל שחם) was born in Urbana, Illinois, while his parents, Israeli scientists, were on an academic fellowship at the University of Illinois. His father Jacob was an astrophysicist, and his mother, Meira Diskin, was a cytogeneticist. His sister is the pianist Orli Shaham. He is a graduate of the Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York. The family returned to Jerusalem when Gil was two. At the age of seven, Shaham began taking violin lessons from Samuel Bernstein at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. In 1980, when Shaham was nine years old, he played for Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein and Henryk Szeryng, and attended the Aspen Music School in Colorado, studying with Dorothy DeLay (the teacher of many other leading artists, including Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman and Sarah Chang) and Jens Ellermann.
Shaham is married to the Australian-born violinist Adele Anthony. They have three children, Elijah, Ella Mei and Simon.
At age 10, Shaham debuted as soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony, conducted by the violinist Alexander Schneider. Less than a year later Shaham performed with Israel's foremost orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, which was conducted by Zubin Mehta. At age 11, in 1982, Shaham won first prize in the Claremont Competition and was admitted to the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied with Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang. In addition, both he and his younger sister, the pianist Orli Shaham, attended Columbia University.
Shaham's career took off in 1989 when he was called upon to replace an ailing Itzhak Perlman for a series of concerts with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra. Taking time out from his studies at the Horace Mann School (where he was a senior), he flew to London at short notice, then performed the Bruch and Sibelius violin concertos, for which he garnered glowing reviews.
In 1990 Shaham received the Avery Fisher Career Grant. In 1992 he was awarded the Premio Internazionale of the Accademia Chigiana in Siena.
Shaham has performed with many of the world's leading orchestras, among them the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.
Shaham plays a Stradivarius violin from the "long pattern" period, the "Comtesse de Polignac" of 1699. It was offered to Shaham on loan, in 1989, by the Stradivarius Society of Chicago.
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