Photo credit: Steven Khan
The first ever Venezuelan violinist to give a solo performance at Carnegie Hall, Evelyn Estava is a performer of international acclaim. An alumni of the celebrated El Sistema music program, her combination of impeccable performance technique and a prolific representation of Venezuelan and Latin American music have made her a fixture in both classical and contemporary music circles.
Estava’s origins from a bicultural and bilingual family define, in retrospect, a career of duality that maintains ties in multiple regions of the world. After first picking up a violin at nine years old, she earned membership in the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar de Venezuela—El Sistema’s flagship ensemble—at 15 years of age. The regular contact with world-class conductors and soloists fueled her meteoric rise, leading to her undergraduate studies at the Simón Bolívar Conservatory in Caracas, a six-year scholarship admittance to the prestigious Killington Music Festival in Vermont, and eventually her historic 2005 debut at Carnegie Hall for the Artists International Foundation.
Now with an international platform of her own, Estava tirelessly promotes Venezuelan music at every opportunity, including as a founding member of the Madison String Quartet. Created to spread the magic of Latin American composers writ large, the ensemble has released two CDs: Life is a Dream: Music of the Americas, and Duos and Quartets for Strings by David Rimelis. Additionally, on their 2019 tour of Austria and Germany, the MSQ gave a world premiere of Venezuelan composer Icli Zitella at Vienna’s Arnold Schoenberg Center. In her solo career, Estava is currently recording the violin sonata of another Venezuelan composer: Modesta Bor. A pupil of Khachaturian and the first cousin of Estava’s father, Estava knew the composer merely as “Tía Modesta”; the project pays homage to Bor’s profound legacy to Venezuelan music and to inspiring a young violinist many years ago.
In the orchestra world, Estava’s command of the classical repertoire has placed her versatile skills in steep demand. Of particular note was her world premiere, as soloist with the Plainfield Symphony, of Rhapsody from Themes by Leonard Bernstein’s ‘On the Town’ by Charlie Harmon, Bernstein’s former assistant and orchestrator. Elsewhere, Estava has performed concerti with orchestras across a 5400 mile vertical span of the Americas: the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra in Alaska, the Allentown Symphony in the USA, the Mexico State Symphony, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Falcón in Venezuela. In addition, she leads the Plainfield Symphony and Somerset Symphony as Concertmaster.
Estava lives in New Jersey with her husband and closest collaborator: the violinist/violist, conductor, and fellow Madison String Quartet member Michael Avagliano. He joins her in their 2016 duo album of composer Jacques Féréol Mazas (Mazas: duos for two violins, DoubleV Recordings). As an educator, Estava continues to teach at master classes across the United States and Venezuela. For featured interviews, she has appeared twice in Violinist.com, a leading news source for violin players. Noted in those interviews is Estava’s prowess as a cook—her recipe for Atún Guisado was published in Local 802’s Musicians Cook!—as well as her love of languages: she holds intermediate fluency in German, French, Italian, and Portuguese.