“Then he sat down and gave a beautifully soulful performance… rich in tone and wise beyond its years.”  -The Boston Globe

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Recipient of the 2016-2018 Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship, cellist Nico Olarte-Hayes has given solo recitals at Lincoln Center and the Neue Galerie in New York City, in Memphis’ Artists Ascending Series and New York’s Young Musician’s Forum, and throughout the Netherlands and Japan. He has played on Live From Lincoln Center (PBS) and The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS) in tribute to violinist Itzhak Perlman, a longtime mentor, and has collaborated frequently with Perlman, most notably in the grand opening gala concert of The Kennedy Center’s Family Theater. Other collaborations include performances with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, pianist Christopher O’Riley in Boston’s Jordan Hall, and violinist Ryu Goto in sold-out tours of Japan and the United States, broadcast on PBS, NPR, and Fuji TV, respectively. 

Equally accomplished as a conductor, Nico was recently named winner of the 2015 Vincent C. LaGuardia Conducting Competition, and has served as Music Director of New York’s IconoClassic Opera and Harvard’s Dunster House Opera, leading fully staged productions of Massenet’s Werther and Britten’s Albert Herring. He has led the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Sofia Festival Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Savaria Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Antonio Soler, and Salzburg Chamber Soloists as a conductor in numerous international workshops, including the Tanglewood Festival Conducting Seminar. In 2016, he led the New World Symphony in a workshop with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and served as cover conductor for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

A passionate educator, Nico recently served as Music Director of New York’s East End Youth Orchestra, an intensive workshop in ensemble playing for talented public school students. For many years, he also toured as an ambassador for New York’s Midori and Friends, giving performances for under-served children at inner-city schools, and on the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, was asked by the City of New York to perform at “Ground Zero” for the official memorial on NBC. In recognition of his accomplishments and artistic contributions to his community, Nico was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, given a Hispanic Heritage Youth Award, and honored by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

Nico was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and began his musical studies with his mother at the age of three. He completed pre-college studies “with distinction” at The Juilliard School under cellists David Soyer and Harvey Shapiro, and studied for eight years at the Perlman Music Program, Itzhak Perlman’s private academy, under Ronald Leonard. Nico graduated with honors from the Harvard/NEC Joint Program, simultaneously earning an A.B. in Physics from Harvard College, where he studied music with Robert Levin, and his M.M. from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Laurence Lesser. While at Harvard, Nico coached numerous student groups, performed as soloist with the Bach Society Orchestra, and was Assistant Conductor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra. He currently lives in New York City and is on faculty in The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division.

Last updated: December 2018