Compelling young Canadian Sybil Shanahan has been described as “a rare cellist who so obviously loves both the instrument and the music. We have only to sit back and enjoy the experience of her playing.” (Stephan Rieckhoff, OSR) Much sought after as a chamber musician, Sybil has performed in festivals around the world, including much of Canada, Europe and South Africa. Equally at home with Bach’s Fugue to the tango of Argentina, Sybil joined the sensational chamber group Ensemble Vivant, “Canada’s chamber music treasure.” (Toronto Star) in early 2011. Her debut CD of several previously unrecorded French Romantic cello duos with Coenraad Bloemendal, was released in 2014.
Committed to the importance of fostering a continued love of classical music, Sybil is an avid teacher and maintains a cello class in Toronto. She is the principal cellist of the NYCO Symphony Orchestra, where she was featured soloist performing Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations” in 2012. She participated in the first ever staged opera in Nassau, Bahamas in 2011, and while there, performed at a special fundraising event for the El Sistema program for music education.
Similarly in Canada, Sybil performs concerts, and gives masterclasses through EUTERPE, a not-for-profit musical organization whose mandate is to ‘awaken young minds to the joy of music’ through live, high caliber, interactive acoustic performances of classical and jazz. These performances are provided free of charge to children and others who might not otherwise have the chance to be enriched by the multiple benefits of this music.
She also enjoys both composing and arranging music for cello students and professional ensembles, and her genre diverse work has been featured on several recordings for songwriters, bands and film scores. Strongly interested in classical contemporary music, she has collaborated with notable composers Betsy Jolas, Jonathon Harvey and David Philip Hefti, and, performed in Amsterdam’s famous Gaudeamus Festival and the ISCM World Music Days in Slovenia.
Sybil holds a Master’s Degree from the class of cello soloist Patrick Demenga in Lausanne, Switzerland. She received her undergraduate degree in performance from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where she also studied the Viola da Gamba parallel to her work with Gregor Horsch, principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. As a student, she was the principal cellist of the European Youth Chamber Orchestra in Austria, and joined the Orchestre Symphonique de Bienne, the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (Switzerland) and the Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra (Holland) as part of their prestigious orchestral internship programs. Sybil was a national finalist in Holland’s Yamaha International Music Scholarship, and a prizewinner in the Rovere d’Oro chamber music competition in San Bartolomeo al Mare, Italy, with Duo AfriCan, a piano/cello duo formed in 2004 with pianist Mareli Stolp.
Sybil’s formative years of training began in Toronto where she was a member of the Young Artists Performance Academy of the Glenn Gould School. Her debut concerto performance occurred at the age of nineteen when she performed the Lalo Concerto. This was quickly followed by participation in the prestigious Banff Centre for the Arts chamber music program, and her winning of several awards, among which were the Elora Festival Young Performer’s Competition, the Gooderham Music Scholarship and the Bill Weatherspoon “Most Outstanding Performance.”