1st Prize winner of the 13th Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and the 14th Sphinx Competition, violist Paul Laraia is enjoying the early stages of a multifaceted career as soloist, chamber musician, and new music advocate. Acclaimed for offering “long lines with lyricsm and poise”, Paul has been soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Filharmonica de Bogata, New Jersey Symphony, Nashville Symphony, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. As a principal member of the internationally acclaimed Sejong Soloists and as the violist of the Grammy Award winning Catalyst Quartet, Paul has given hundreds of performances globally in venues such as Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, the Kennedy Center in DC, Seoul Arts Center, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, and Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series. Additionally, he has been an invited artist at major festivals such as the Yellow Barn, Sarasota, Vail International Dance, Festival Del Sole, incheon music hic et nunc!, Hong Kong Generation Next Arts, Sitka, Banff, Grand Canyon, and Cornell’s “Mayfest”, where he has performed with artists such as Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, Jorg Widmann, Vadim Repin, Edgar Meyer, Donald Weilerstein, Cho-lang Lin, Roger Tapping, Anthony Marwood, Daniel Phillips, and Paul Huang.
Paul comes from a Philadelphian viola lineage, having begun his viola studies with Brynina Socolofsky, the disciple of viola pedagogue Leonard Mogill, and then pursued study with Choon-jin Chang (Principal viola, Philadelphia Orchestra) and Che-hung Chen, under scholarship through Temple University’s Center for Talented Youth and the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. In 2007, Paul entered the New England Conservatory of Music with full scholarship and began the most central stage of his training, studying under Kim Kashkashian for 4 years, and making musical friends and colleagues that continue to influence him to this day.
In 2011 Paul won first prize at Detroit’s Sphinx Competition by unanimous vote, and maintains a close relationship with the Sphinx Organization and its mission to encourage diversity in classical music performers and audiences. In 2019, after nearly 6 years in the Catalyst Quartet, Paul competed in the 13th Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition held on the Isle of Man, and was awarded the 1st Prize and a Wigmore Hall recital in London.
Paul believes that it is crucial to bring the highest level of classical music to all people, and actively engages in outreach performances, gives masterclasses, performs new music, and explores the boundaries of what can be traditionally presented as “classical music”. As part of the Catalyst Quartet, Paul has brought music to inner city schools, Native American Reservations, hospitals, nursing homes, and has presented concerts to areas and communities with limited access to live concert music. Paul believes that music’s power to heal and to connect people is a gift that everyone should have access to.
Paul performs on a beautiful Hiroshi Iizuka viola in the ‘viola d’amore’ style, a Belgian bow by Pierre Guillaume awarded by the Bishops Strings shop in London, and is a proud supporter of Pirastro’s Eva Pirazzi Strings.