Ursula Smith is a Cello Professor at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Holland’s Maastricht Conservatory, and also coaches chamber music. She has given guest masterclasses at many different conservatories in Europe, Japan and China. In 2014, at the invitation of Lukas Hagen, she was a jury member of the International Mozart Competition for string quartets in Salzburg.
Ursula studied with Emma Ferrand and Ralph Kirshbaum at the Royal Northern College of Music. She was a Fulbright scholar at Yale University where she studied with Aldo Parisot and graduated with a Master of Music degree. She participated in masterclasses with Steven Isserlis, Pierre Fournier, György Kurtág and Andras Schiff in Banff, Geneva and Prussia Cove.
From 2006 to 2012 Ursula was a member of the Zehetmair String Quartet, a quartet which performs and records mostly from memory. She performed with the quartet in many of the world’s top venues including the Berlin Philharmonie, the Concertgebouw, the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall. Festivals include Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Schleswig Holstein and Salzburg. Highlights of the quartet’s work included a Schumann cycle at the Wigmore Hall and taking part in Elliot Carter’s 100th birthday celebrations in New York in 2008. The quartet’s 2007 ECM recording of Bartók’s 5th Quartet and Hindemith Quartet Op 22 won the Chamber Music Diapason D’Or of the year in France. Other chamber music discs include the complete Beethoven folk songs for piano trio and voices for Deutsche Grammophon, playing with, amongst others, Marieke Blankenstijn and Malcolm Martineau. Ursula was also Principal Cello of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 1993-2002.
As a soloist, Ursula has performed with conductors such as Jorma Panula, Andrew Litton and Mark Wigglesworth. She gave the British premiere of Nigel Osborne’s Cello Concerto, and toured South America playing John Tavener’s Eternal Memory for cello and strings. In 2013, to mark the Britten centenary, Ursula commissioned 2 new works for solo cello from the British composer Sally Beamish and the Danish jazz composer Jacob Anderskov. She will be releasing a CD of the complete Britten Suites and the two new works for Meridian Records in summer 2016.