Brenda van der Merwe, violin and viola
Brenda van der Merwe is an active chamber musician and soloist in the Boston area. She has concertized in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall, and at the Tanglewood Music Center. A New Music Connoisseur reviewer described her recent New York City premiere of an interactive solo violin work as “highly sophisticated microtonal playing.” She is the founding violinist/violist for the Xanthos Ensemble, and works directly with composers and performers to program the diverse concerts presented by the ensemble, helping to promote world premieres of new chamber works in Boston and abroad. As an advocate for new music, she regularly performs chamber and solo works by visiting composers, faculty and graduate fellows at Brandeis University, Boston University, Wellesley College, New England Conservatory, Dartmouth College, with the Harvard Group for New Music, and the Fromm Players at Harvard. She has appeared in chamber music concerts with former members of the Mendelssohn and Brentano String Quartets, and has appeared in concert with the Boston Ballet Orchestra, Opera Boston, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, ALEA III, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Arizona Opera, and the Tucson Symphony. She has performed with MidAmerica Productions' Chamber and Solo Music Series in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, at the Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival, with the AUROS Group for New Music, at the Gaudeamus International Interpreter’s Competition, with Guerilla Opera, and has appeared twice as a soloist in the Boston Cyber Arts Festival program for the Electronic Music Marathon at Brandeis University. She has also been a concerto soloist with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. As a member of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, she has recorded for Naxos, Chandos, Oxingale, and New World Records. More recently, she was featured on a CD of contemporary chamber music works recorded in Carnegie Hall and released on Clear Note Publications.
Brenda van der Merwe holds the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Boston University, where she studied with Bayla Keyes and was String Department Assistant. Her recently completed dissertation is entitled “New Frontiers in the Art of Violin Performance: The Contemporary Study and Pedagogy of Extended Techniques for the Violin.” Her teachers and coaches have included Bayla Keyes, Peter Zazofsky, Yuri Mazurkevich, Nicholas Mann, Lukas Foss, Mark Rush, and members of the Peabody Trio and the Muir and Lydian String Quartets. She has been a member of the faculties of Music on the Hill Chamber Music Festival and Powers Music School, where she was named Chair of the String Department. She has also coached for the New England Conservatory Preparatory Division and adjudicated for their annual Concerto Competition. At the University of Arizona, she received a Master of Music as well as a Bachelor of Music, graduating summa cum laude with Honors. She was the recipient of the University of Arizona's Research Grant Award for composition of works for solo electric violin, and a recipient of the Graduate Student Final Project Fund Award, for composition of works for the Electronic Percussion Ensemble and the Digital Arts Symposium. In Arizona she was a winner of the Tucson Symphony Young Artists Concerto Competition, the University of Arizona President's Concert Concerto Competition, and the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition. She performed as soloist and member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and served as Principal Second Violin for the Arizona Opera Orchestra. In 1996 and 1998 she was a member of the Arizona Opera Ring Cycle Festival Orchestra, which staged Wagner's Ring Cycle in its entirety.