In partnership with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s distinguished Diversity Fellowship program, the Taft Museum of Art welcomes cellist Anita Graef, as the 36th Duncanson Artist-in-Residence, April 16–30, 2023. The harmonious partnership is a collaboration between two award-winning programs focused on elevating the profile of Black and Brown contemporary artists. Described as a musician of “superb artistry” (Pasadena Now) who plays with “high energy and polish” (WQXR), Graef has earned recognition not only as an artist equally at home exploring traditional as well as contemporary works, but for her deep commitment to service, outreach, and education.
Graef’s notable appearances include Strings magazine’s “Sessions” video performance series, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series, and “Concerts from the Library of Congress.” Graef has also performed with orchestras across the United States including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Missouri Symphony and the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra. Highlights from the 2022–2023 season include her New York debut with the Riverside Symphony and recital appearances at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, Ojai’s Chamber on the Mountain, the Nielsen Concert Series, and return appearances on “Live from WFMT” and “Temecula Presents.” Graef’s accolades also include numerous prominent recitals and festival appearances.
As a passionate educator and instructor, Graef has performed and taught masterclasses at Washington and Lee University, Kenyon College, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the University of Missouri, Grand View University, Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and others. She has taught as a youth programs artist for the Music in May festival, as a teaching artist for GetClassical’s “GC In School” program and has led workshops for Lyric Chamber Music Society and Mayfair Arts Center. Her approach to programming is fresh and innovative, mixing works from the classical canon along with those from underrepresented voices, and several world premieres. She also serves as the artistic director and cellist of the Juliani Ensemble, an inventive, multifaceted chamber group with whom she has performed extensively, both nationally and internationally.
Graef was recently named as the 2022 Gheens Young Artist—an award from the Gheens Foundation that included her concerto debut with the Louisville Orchestra, as well as performing, speaking, and serving as an educator throughout the city. In 2021, she was announced as the recipient of the American Prize in Instrumental Performance.
Born into a family of professional musicians, Graef grew up surrounded by music. Her introduction to her art began with piano studies, then cello at age four. She made her concerto debut at the age of twelve. Graef went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, where she studied with professor Anthony Elliott. She completed her work for a master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Ilya Finkelshteyn. Today, Graef performs on a modern Italian cello by Ferdinando Garimberti, dated 1923.
For two weeks in April 2023, Graef will lead public programs, teach workshops, and visit schools across Greater Cincinnati. To learn more, visit taftmuseum.org/Duncanson-Artist-in-Residence.