In honor of the legendary cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, the inaugural Piatigorsky International Cello Festival was held in Los Angeles on March 9-18, 2012, presented by the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the LA Phil in partnership with The Colburn School and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), brought together masters of the cello and young cellists from around the world for a unique celebration of the cello, its music and its musicians. Twenty outstanding artists, representing ten countries, converged on Los Angeles for ten days to share their artistry and teaching experience through orchestral concerts, chamber music performances, master classes and interactive events. The festival’s roster included some of the world’s most celebrated cellists – Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman, Steven Isserlis, Ralph Kirshbaum, Ronald Leonard, Mischa Maisky, Miklós Perényi, Jian Wang and Alisa Weilerstein among others.
Artistic director and acclaimed cellist Ralph Kirshbaum led the festival, which honored the memory of Gregor Piatigorsky, one of the legends of the cello, who heralded a period of incredible vibrancy in the cultural life of Los Angeles when he settled in the city for the final years of his celebrated career. Six of his outstanding former students, Terry King, Laurence Lesser, Mischa Maisky, Jeffrey Solow, Nathaniel Rosen, and Raphael Wallfisch, participated in this festival together with his grandson, the cellist Evan Drachman. The festival included four orchestral concerts and nine chamber music events, as well as 15 master classes, giving enthusiasts and students the opportunity to share in this one-of-a-kind convergence of talent and experience.