Charlie Siem is one of today’s foremost young violinists. Born in London to a Norwegian father and British mother, he began to play the violin at the age of three after hearing a broadcast of Yehudi Menuhin playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Siem was educated at Eton College, before reading Music as an undergraduate at Cambridge University. From 1998 to 2004 he studied with Itzhak Rashkovsky in London at the Royal College of Music, and from 2004 he has been mentored by Shlomo Mintz.
Siem has appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He has worked with conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Yuri Simonov, Sir Roger Norrington, Edward Gardner, and Libor Pesěk.
Recent and forthcoming performances include a Norwegian recital tour with Itamar Golan, and concerto appearances with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra (review) and Camerata Salzburg. Siem made his Hong Kong debut with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, opening their 2015/2016 season with a critically acclaimed performance under Ken-David Masur. His festival appearances to date include Spoleto, St. Moritz, Gstaad, Bergen, Tine@Munch and the Windsor Festival.
Currently signed to Sony Classical, Siem has a varied discography, and has made a number recordings, including with the London Symphony Orchestra (Warner Classics, 2011) and Münchner Rundfunkorchester (Sony Classical, 2014).
A great believer in giving to worthwhile causes, Siem is an ambassador of The Prince’s Trust. He is also a Visiting Professor at Leeds College of Music, making him the youngest professor in the United Kingdom. He gives masterclasses around the world – most recently at the Royal College of Music, London and Nanjing University of the Arts, where he has also been appointed Visiting Professor. Passionate about bringing classical music to new audiences around the world, in addition to his classical performance career Siem has revived the age-old violinistic tradition of composing virtuosic variations of popular themes, which he has done alongside artists including Bryan Adams, Jamie Cullum and The Who. In 2014 he wrote his first composition – Canopy, for solo violin and string orchestra – which was commissioned by US television station CBS Watch!, and recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra. Siem has also had numerous collaborations with fashion brands including Dunhill, Armani, Hugo Boss, Dior and Hackett London. He is the subject of a documentary entitled A Modern Man.
2008 Elgar & Grieg: Sonatas for violin & piano – Challenge Classics
2011 Charlie Siem Plays Bruch, Wieniawski, Ole Bull – Warner Classics and Jazz
Reviews & Accolades:
Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 (Concert Review)
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Leeds Town Hall, 25th October, 2008
The haunting quality of the Passacaglia mourning those who died in the Second World War is that part of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto usually reserved for the deeply felt emotions of Russian performers. But here was a young British violinist, Charles Siem, early in his career giving one of the most beautiful performances you are ever likely to hear. It came in a reading of the work that sang with sadness in the opening and closing movements, and bristled with virtuosity in the scherzo. He is a player with a big career ahead of him, and he was given a perfectly balanced accompaniment from the Moscow Philharmonic. Their concert opened with a stunning account of three excerpts from Khachaturian’s ballet Spartacus. Conductor Yuri Simonov took an unusually leisurely view of the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, but elsewhere spared the orchestra nothing in his exciting performance.
Elgar & Grieg - Sonatas for Violin and Piano (Challenge Classics)
Charlie Siem (violin) & Andrei Korobeinikov (piano)
“These are performances of remarkable freshness and spontaneity. The Elgar Sonata especially is beautifully done, at once mercurial and intimate, as if Siem is plucking the music straight from the air. Elgar would surely have approved the lightness of his bowing – never once digging too heavily into the strings – his tracing of the work’s elusive moods, his warmth and range of colour...Clearly he's a player of remarkable promise."
“Two spirited young players are clearly thoroughly enjoying themselves.”
-Gramophone Magazine, August 2008
“Siem compares and contrasts two big-boned, late-Romantic violin sonatas, and manages to focus unerringly on the musical core of each. His Elgar sonata is by turns confidential and quick-witted, perfectly shaded and full of sweet-sour regrets; the Grieg, a less personal more public piece, receives a more outward-going performance of such authority that one wishes Siem and his equally accomplished pianist, Andrei Korobeinikov, had included another of the works from the Op 45 set rather than the selection of salon pieces by Elgar and Grieg with which they complete the disc.”
"With his lean tone, ample technique, and concentrated vibrato, Siem can handle both works' physical demands, dashing through Elgar's opening Allegro with élan and tearing through Grieg's closing Prestissimo with panache."
-All Music Guide, Summer 2008
Charlie Siem plays Bruch, Wieniawski & Ole Bull
Charlie Siem (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Gourlay
"From the moment Charlie Siem makes his first swashbuckling entry in the Wieniawski...one feels in the safest of virtuoso hands as he goes on to negotiate even the blackest of staves with an almost nonchalant disregard for their difficulty. Yet what impresses most is Siem's tonal purity and emotional intensity, which combine in the Bruch to create a reading of tender sincerity and coruscating brilliance.”
-Classic FM Magazine, October 2011 ****
"British violinist Charlie Siem is something of a sensation, to say the least, having combined activity as a male model (check out his spread in Vogue) with a specialty in violin works of the most bone-crushing kind. Don't hate him because he's beautiful, for there's no question he has the chops to back up his looks. The most exciting moment on this Warner Classics and Jazz release comes right up front, when Siem confidently tackles the icily difficult opening solo in Henryk Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 14, and shows no signs of stress over the long string of parallel tenths. His tone throughout this extreme manifestation of late Romantic virtuosity is clean, wiry, and electric, and he has plenty of power in the heroic themes of Bruch's well-worn Violin Concerto No. 1 in G major, Op. 26."
-All Music Guide, Summer 2011
Under the Stars (Sony Classical)
"Siem’s programme flows effortlessly, concluding with his own likeable composition, Canopy, in which he also takes on the role of conductor."