Henry-David Varema

b. September 26, 1969 Tallinn
Member of the Association of Estonian Professional Musicians since 2010
Member of the Estonian Theatre Union since 1997

Cellist and pedagogue Henry-David Varema graduated from the Tallinn Music High School in 1987 with Laine Leichter and from the Tallinn Conservatory in 1992 with Peeter Paemurru. In 1992–1995, he furthered his studies in the cello class of Walter Nothas at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München and in 2000–2002 at the Universität der Künste Berlin under the guidance of Wolfgang Boettcher. In 2005 Varema earned his PhD at the Estonian Academy of Music under the supervision of Peeter Paemurru.

Varema has been the principal cellist of the Estonian National Opera since 1997. Since 2001 he has been teaching cello and chamber music at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (since 2016 as a professor) where he also holds the position of Vice-Rector for Artistic Affairs and International Relations (since 2016).

He has appeared as a soloist and as a chamber musician throughout the Baltic States and Scandinavia, as well as in Germany and Great Britain. The special place in Varema’s wide repertoire belongs to music by Estonian composers. He has recorded Estonian music for Estonian Radio and labels such as Warner Classics and Antes. In 2001 he gave the world premiere performance of Eino Tamberg’s Cello Concerto, which he recorded together with the Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Paul Mägi in June 2016.

During the season 2014, he was working as associate principal cellist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared as a guest principal cellist with the Camerata Nordica in Sweden, the Northern Sinfonia in the UK, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra of Berlin, as well as the Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand. Varema has also worked at the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra (2009–2012) and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (1989–1991).

As a member of the Berlin-based Petersen Quartet (2003–2009) Varema performed at international music venues in New York (Carnegie Hall Weill Hall), Paris (Châtelet), Berlin (Philharmonie), Munich (Herkulessaal), Zurich (Tonhalle), Sydney (City Recital Hall), and at major festivals such as Gstaad, Rheingau, Schwarzenberg, Salzburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Edinburgh. The Petersen Quartet’s large and highly acclaimed discography on the Capriccio label includes works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Dmitry Shostakovich, Robert Schumann, and Ernst Křenek. Prizes include the prestigious Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (2008, 2003) and the ECHO Classic award (2007). Varema has also been the member of Tallinn String Quartet (1993–2006) and participated in the work of the new music ensemble Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt.

As a chamber musician, Varema has shared a stage with Ivari Ilja, Mihkel Poll, Sten Lassmann, Hanna Heinmaa, Age Juurikas, Ralf Taal, Andrus Haav, Anna-Liisa Bezrodny, Mikk Murdvee, Triin Ruubel, Mati Lukk, Toomas Vavilov, Johanna Vahermägi, and many others. Currently, Varema gives chamber music concerts regularly together with Ivari Ilja, Mihkel Poll, Mari Polli, Triin Ruubel, Johanna Vahermägi, and others. Varema has established a close artistic partnership with violinist Mari Poll and pianist Mihkel Poll, performing together regularly as the piano trio Poll-Varema.

Henry-David Varema has given several cello and chamber music masterclasses at different universities and festivals in Europe (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Stuttgart Music Academy, Conservatoire of Music Giuseppe Tartini Trieste), USA (Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY), Canada (Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto) and Australia (Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne, Sydney Conservatorium of Music) and has been a member of many competition juries including the International Chamber Music competition Premio Trio di Trieste in Italy.

Henry-David Varema is the Member of the Board of the Association of Estonian Professional Musicians since 2010 (since 2018 the Vice-Chairman of the Board, in 2012–2013 and from 2020 Chairman of the Board) and has been the President of the Estonian String Teachers Association (2009–2014) as well as the Member of the Board of the Estonian Music Council (2012–2014 and since 2019).

Henry-David Varema was awarded a special prize (Best Performer) at the master courses of Carl Flesch Akademie in Baden-Baden (2000), the medal at the International Maria Canals Competition in Barcelona (1991) and the third prize at the Contest of Estonian String Players (1987). Henry-David Varema is the Laureate of Heino Eller Music Award with Tallinn String Quartet (2003) and earned the scholarship of Lili Kaelas Music Fund in 2000.

© EMIC 2010
(updated in February 2020)

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