Hailed by The Strad as ‘an artist who risks’ and described by Pizzicato Magazine as ‘a sensitive artist who knows how to immerse in the depths of music’, her passion for the viola alongside her charismatic and expressive performances, and beauty of sound make Isabel Villanueva one of the most valued violists of today.
Isabel began her musical training in her hometown Pamplona, Spain and continued training in London, Siena and Geneva with Igor Sulyga, Lawrence Power, Nobuko Imai and Yuri Bashmet.
Isabel has developed a global career that has included solo performances at the Great Hall of St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou, Bath Music Festival, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, Royal Court Theatre in Copenhagen, Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, Palau de la Música Catalana, Santander Festival, Gran Teatro Nacional de Lima, Estonia Concert Hall, Rottweil Musikfestival, Wigmore Hall in London.
Since her debut, performing Bartók Viola Concerto with the Radio Television Spanish Symphony Orchestra, Isabel has been invited to perform with many orchestras including including; Moscow Soloists, Estonia National Symphony, Lebanon Philharmonic, Istanbul State Symphony, New Russia State Symphony, St. Petersburg State Capella, Jalisco Symphony, Colombia Symphony, Zagreb Soloists, Real Philharmonia de Galicia and Málaga Philharmonic.
Isabel has been involved collaborating and premiering more than 20 new works for viola, many of which are dedicated to her. Her discography includes the Concerto for Viola by José Zárate with Orchestra of Extremadura (Sony Classical 2017).
Her debut album Bohèmes with pianist François Dumont was awarded Best Classical Album of the Year 2018 at the Spanish Independent Music Awards (Premios MIN).
A passionate chamber musician, she performs with artists such as Prazak Quartet, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Tedi Papavrami, Victor Julien-Laferrière, Daniel Schnyder, Leonard Elschenbroich, Rafael Aguirre, Iddo Bar-Shaï and François Dumont.
In 2015 she received the prestigious Prize ‘El Ojo Crítico’ by the Spanish National Broadcasting Corporation (RNE) and in 2019 was awarded the Culture Award of the Community of Madrid; the first time that either of these prizes were awarded to a violist.
Isabel plays a Enrico Catenar (Turin 1670) viola and uses Thomastik Infeld strings.
Faculties / departments: Strings