Composer and cellist Nancy Ives is a musical icon, having “built a career of such spectacular diversity that no summation will do her achievements justice.” (Artslandia) Deemed a “local treasure” by the Portland Mercury, Ives enjoys an illustrious performance career which informs her eloquent and enduring compositional style. “Modernistic but melodic and compelling… [with] a refreshing musical breadth, a diverse but integrated approach,” Ives’ music communicates “a uniquely personal voice.” (Oregon ArtsWatch) By way of an adventurous and multifaceted career which includes more than 20 years as Principal Cellist of the Oregon Symphony, performances and collaborations with virtually all of the region’s premier performance organizations, and a history of service to enrich the local cultural community, Ives is a gracious and essential cornerstone of musical life in the Pacific Northwest.
By creating music that is deeply inspired by the natural world and is at once informal and relatable while also offering depth and complexity, Ives effortlessly captures elements of style that reflect an Oregonian approach to life. A distant relative of the legendary composer Charles Ives, she carries on the tradition of her ancestral namesake with modern relevance, through highly-acclaimed performances of her work given by Fear No Music, Friends of Rain, Portland Cello Project, Siletz Bay Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival and OBF Composers Symposium as well as broadcasts on All Classical Portland and KBBI (Alaska). With the help of a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Ives commissioned six leading Oregon composers including herself to write new works inspired by the Allemandes from J. S. Bach’s Suites for solo cello, the recording for which is in process. Committed to creating music of consequence, Ives’ current projects involve working with Indigenous communities to authentically capture, amplify, and relay their stories to wider audiences.
In addition to her role as Principal Cellist of the Oregon Symphony, Ives is a member of the Palatine Piano Trio, the Rose City Trio, and the trailblazing ensemble Fear No Music. She has recently appeared with Chamber Music Northwest, Third Angle, Portland Piano International, the Oregon Bach Festival, Portland Cello Project, 45th Parallel Universe, and in solo concerto performance with the Oregon Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Portland Columbia Symphony, Clark College Orchestra, and Cascade Festival of Music, “demonstrating with attentive grace that technically challenging and sonically difficult music can still be beautiful.” (Oregon ArtsWatch) A regular performer in live radio broadcasts on All Classical Portland’s Thursdays @ Three, she was also the “Cellist in Residence” for a year on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s arts news magazine State of Wonder.
Having received a DMA from the Manhattan School of Music, Ives thrived in New York City where she was Principal Cello and a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, and Principal Cello of the American Chamber Opera Company. She was a regular recitalist at the Friends of the Arts Beethoven Festival and the Apollo Muses Festival in New Jersey, and in addition to performing the standard concerto repertoire with orchestras in the Northeast and the Midwest, She premiered her own composition Dialogue III for cello and orchestra with the Danbury Community Orchestra. Her rich history of new music performance includes membership in the North-South Consonance and Musicians' Accord, through which she gave over one hundred premieres by such illustrious composers as Milton Babbitt, Chen Yi and Bruce Adolphe. Her talent and versatility led to recordings on the Opus One and Koch labels and to soundtrack recordings for PBS and the Smithsonian. Known for her venturesome approach to music-making, she appeared with Laurie Anderson and Brazilian pop star Gal Costa at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, with Nana Vasconcelos at The Knitting Factory and Merkin Hall, and recorded with rock star Lenny Kravitz. Embracing an expansive approach to her artistry, Ives combined acting with cello playing in an Off-Broadway production of Orpheus in Love by Craig Lucas, and while on tour with Phantom of the Opera, performed a comedy routine about the cello in AIDS benefits across the country.
An enthusiastic teacher and mentor, Ives is an Instructor of Chamber Music at Lewis & Clark College. As a co-founder of Classical Up Close, she provides greater community access to music, bringing intimate performance to the places where people live, work, and play. Ives serves on the Board of Directors for All Classical Portland and is a past board member of the Oregon Cello Society and the Oregon Symphony. Discover more at nancyives.com.