“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
Cuban-American cellist Tommy Mesa has established himself as one of the most charismatic, innovative, and engaging performers of his generation. The recipient of the Sphinx Organization’s 2023 Medal of Excellence, its highest honor, Mesa has appeared as soloist at the Supreme Court of the United States on fouroccasions and with major orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Indianapolis, Madison, New Jersey, San Antonio, and Santa Barbara, among others. Mesa gave the world premiere and subsequent tour of Jessie Montgomery’s cello concerto in the 2022-23 season, with performances at major halls across the United States and Brazil including Miami’s New World Center and Carnegie Hall. His orchestral recording debut of the work was released in July 2023 on Deutsche Grammophon.
Orchestral highlights of the 2023-24 season include an extensive performance tour of Cuba and performance debuts with the Calgary and Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestras; the Ann Arbor, Bay Atlantic, Columbus, Greenwich, Gulf Coast, Knoxville, Quad City, Reading, Waterbury Symphony Orchestras; and Boston’s Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. Mesa returns to the Indianapolis Symphony as cocurator and featured performer for their chamber music series this season, premieres a new work by composer Andrea Casarrubios to kick off the new season at Bargemusic in New York, and will be featured in solo recitals with pianist Ilya Yakushev throughout the country including Jamestown (Rhode Island), Laguna Woods, and Sarasota. Past performance features include recitals at The Academy of Arts and Letters, Bay Chamber Concerts, University of Miami’s Signature Series, Columbia University, Flagler Museum, The Heifetz Institute, California Center for the Arts, Meadowmount School of Music, Strad for Lunch Series, International Beethoven Project, Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital, and major universities across the United States.
This season celebrates several new recording releases and subsequent tours, including albums with pianist Michelle Cann and with bandoneonist/composer JP Jofre. In the spring of 2023, Mesa was featured in an exclusive artist showcase on NYC’s classical station WQXR that included selections of his upcoming album of world-premiere recordings by Black and Latinx composers with Cann. He also has an album release scheduled with pianist Olga Kern in 2024 and with The Crossing Choir in 2025.
Recently, Tommy was the featured cover story on Strings Magazine, September/October, 2020
Tommy performs on a Nicolò Gagliano cello made in 1767 and a bow by Andre Richaume, both generously loaned to him by CANIMEX INC in Drummondville, Canada. 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.
“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.