Tommy Mesa biography

“As a Cellist, it’s not enough to play well, you need to engage your audience and show them who the composer is through your ideas and convictions….”


One of the most charismatic, innovative, and engaging performers of his generation

Dr. Tommy Mesa, Cuban-American cellist, has established himself as one of the most charismatic, innovative, and engaging performers of his generation.  He is the recipient of the 2023 Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award, First Prize in the 2016 Sphinx Competition, and Winner of the Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions.  He has appeared as soloist with major orchestras such as The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, The Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Highlights in the 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 seasons include premiering and touring Jessie Montgomery’s Divided for solo cello and orchestra, around thirty recitals, a residency at Colburn Conservatory, curating and performing chamber music programs with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, debut concerto recording with Sphinx Virtuosi on Deutsche Grammophon, and duo recording projects with Olga Kern, JP Jofre, and Michelle Cann.  Next season’s venues will include Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, The Supreme Court of the United States, Colburn School of Music, Kohler Foundation and numerous others. 

[Link to Concert Schedule]

Recently, Tommy was the featured cover story on Strings Magazine, September/October, 2020 

[Link to Discography]

Tommy plays a cello on loan by Tarisio made by Guilio Gigli, c.1789. His performance clothing sponsor is Coregami.

Recitalist and Recording Artist

Tommy has been consistently performing around twenty recitals a year at venues such as Mainly Mozart Festival in Miami, The Academy of Arts and Letters, Bargemusic, University of Miami’s Signature Series, the Colburn School, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Columbia University, Flagler Museum, Carnegie Hall, three appearances at the U.S. Supreme Court, guest artist at The Heifetz Institute, California Center for the Arts, Art of Piano in Cincinnati, Meadowmount School of Music, Perlman Music Program, and most major universities across the United States. The most frequent collaborators include pianists Ilya Yakushev and Michelle Cann.

As a recording artist, Tommy has recorded his first solo album called Division of Memory on the PARMA Recordings label which received rave reviews such as in PianoMania, “Do not hold your breath for Yo-Yo Ma to record this repertoire, for the just-as-excellent Mesa has the field entirely to himself.” Other projects in the works to be released on the same label include a duo album with Michelle Cann featuring composers who are Black and Latinx, a duo album with bandoneonist JP Jofre, and a duo album with Olga Kern. Tommy was featured on the GRAMMY-nominated album, “Bonhoeffer,” with the multiple GRAMMY winning group, The Crossing Choir. He has appeared with them as soloist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Longwood Gardens, The Winter Garden, and the Theological Seminary in NYC. Tommy and The Crossing Choir have also collaborated on the U.S. premiere of “Astralis” for choir and solo cello by renowned composer Wolfgang Rihm and have more collaborations/premieres scheduled for future seasons.

Tommy Mesa cellist biography
Tommy Mesa Cellist An Ensemble Musician

“As a late starter, I needed to become a cello scientist to catch up. This is why I love teaching…”

Chamber Music & Teaching

As an ensemble musician, Tommy has been on tours with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, is a frequent collaborator at Jupiter Chamber Players, and is the principal cellist of Sphinx Virtuosi who play every year on tour at almost every major venue across the United States. He has toured with Itzhak Perlman both nationally and internationally.

He has given masterclasses at institutions such as U.C. Berkeley, Boston Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of Miami, Meadowmount School of Music, Walnut Hill School and has held faculty positions at Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Sphinx Performance Academy, The Heifetz Institute’s Junior Division and PEG Program, Music Mountain Festival and School, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Montecito International Music Festival, St. Petersburg International Music Academy, and The Mozart Academy at John Jay College in New York City.

Tommy is represented by Dinin Arts Management and the Sphinx Organization throughout North America.  He received his BMus from The Juilliard School, MMus from Northwestern University, and DMA from Manhattan School of Music.  His clothing sponsor for performance wear is Coregami.