Robert deMaine (born December 6, 1969 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) is an American virtuoso cellist. He is known as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral principal, recording artist, composer/arranger, artistic director, and teacher.
Robert deMaine is a third-generation American who was born in Oklahoma City as "Robert J. Maine, Jr.," into a family in which his father, Robert, a native of upper St. Lawrence County, New York State, near the border with rural Ontario and Québec, Canada (whence his parents originally hailed - in the largely Francophone villages of Williamstown, Ontario and Beauharnois, Québec, now both considered part of metropolitan Montréal); was a Captain in the U.S. Army with a musical background, and of French Canadian ancestry, the original form of the family surname being "DuMaine" or "DeMaine" and many generations before, dating back to the 17th century in Brittany and Normandy in Northwest France where the family were situated for many centuries. His mother, Anna, a gifted cellist also with a strong musical background stretching back several generations, was born in Chicago of German-speaking Polish immigrants from Pomerania (or West Prussia), her father and mother each being descended of a grandparent from France (Alsace-Lorraine), as well. deMaine returned from his shortened surname after his father's death in 1988, legally changing it back to the more historically original and accurate version in 1995.
A former child prodigy, and fourth-generation string player, his many cello teachers have included his mother, Anna Rzeppa, and sister, Mary, and cellists Jane Smith, Kari Padgett Caldwell, Leonard Rose, Steven Doane, Richard Kapuscinski, Paul Katz, Stephen Kates, Ronald Leonard, Lynn Harrell, Luis Garcia-Renart, János Starker, Bernard Greenhouse, and Aldo Parisot.
He made his orchestral début at age 12 with the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra (now the Oklahoma City Philharmonic), playing Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33.
Robert deMaine is a fellowship alumnus of Yale University and the Eastman School of Music (where he also served as the youngest teaching assistant in the school's history at age 19), and has also studied at Bard College, the Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar and Festival at the University of Southern California, the Meadowmount School of Music,Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Marlboro Music School and Festival, Kronberg Academy, and the Juilliard School. At the age of 12 he attracted the attention of Leonard Rose who immediately accepted him for studies at Juilliard, becoming one of Rose's last students. DeMaine was also invited by the French cellist, Pierre Fournier, for private study in Geneva, and at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève in 1983.
Following additional early childhood studies in keyboard, solfège, composition, conducting, voice, and music theory/harmony with Rose Rahal, the music director and organist at St. Eugene Catholic Church in his hometown of Oklahoma City, notably at the age of thirteen, Robert deMaine was accepted for study with full sponsorship at both the Paris Conservatory (class of André Navarra) and Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (studio of David Soyer). However, he did not enroll at either school.
The recipient of many significant national and international honors and awards, Robert deMaine was named the winner of the fifth Irving M. Klein International Competition for Strings in San Francisco, and was the first cellist in the competition's history to win the Grand Prize, in 1990, and subsequently was a prizewinner from the Colburn Foundation in Los Angeles and Helen Saunders Foundation for the Arts in New England. The winner of the prestigious Italian Premio Sipario di Milano in 1995, and two-time winner of the Detroit/Motown/Motor City Classical Music Awards (in 2005 and 2008), Robert deMaine has received several important sponsorships, endorsements, and career grants, including a loan of a Carl Becker, Jr., cello from the Colburn Foundation Collection in Los Angeles early in his career, while still in college, as well as a gift of an extraordinary 1841 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume cello from the Raymond and Cecilia Benner Trust.
In 2012, Robert deMaine was named Principal Cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic by Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. DeMaine was Principal Cellist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 2002-2012, having been appointed by the ensemble's then-Music Director, Neeme Järvi. Previously, he was Core Principal Cellist of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Connecticut Opera Orchestra (from 1993-2002), and as a teenager during his studies at Eastman, performed in the cello section of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. While a student at Yale, he was a member of the Yale Cellos under Aldo Parisot. DeMaine has also served as a guest Principal Cellist in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway.
DeMaine was the founding cellist of the Ehnes Quartet, formed at the Seattle Chamber Music Society in 2010, and departed the ensemble in 2016. He often performs in recital with the Romanian-American pianist, Peter Takács, and also in a piano trio with violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Natalie Zhu. Currently based in Los Angeles, Robert deMaine maintains a prolific schedule of international solo, chamber music, festival, and recital appearances around his duties at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As a soloist, deMaine has appeared with many of the world's most renowned conductors, including Neeme Järvi, Leonard Slatkin, John Williams, András Schiff, Peter Oundjian, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Alexander Schneider, and Walter Hendl.
He has performed in recital and chamber music concerts with many of today's leading pianists, including Andrew Armstrong, Orion Weiss, Jeremy Denk, Anne-Marie McDermott, Adam Neiman, Peter Takács, Alexander Peskanov, André Watts, Marc-André Hamelin, Christian Zacharias, Jeffrey Kahane, Jon Kimura Parker, William Wolfram, András Schiff, Anton Kuerti, Kirill Gerstein, Emanuel Ax, and the late Claude Frank.
A much sought-after teacher and coach, deMaine has presented masterclasses at many important music schools throughout the world, including London's Guildhall School, the Grieg Academy in Norway, the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal, the Colburn School, the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, New England Conservatory, Music Academy of the West, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan, the Conservatorio Nacional Superior de Música (Argentina) in Buenos Aires, Corrientes Conservatorio in Argentina, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Yale University, Manhattan School of Music, Stanford University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Hartt School of Music, the Meadowmount School of Music, Florida International University or "FIU" School of Music in Miami, McDuffie Center for Strings, China's Shanghai, Sichuan, and Chengdu Conservatories, Houston's American Festival for the Arts, the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, and the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland.
The founding Artistic Director of Classical Brunch (a series in Metropolitan Detroit), current Artistic Director of Music at Millford (Millford Plantation, South Carolina), the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust Chamber Music Series, and the Artistic Director Designate of Chamber Music Los Angeles ("CMLA"), Robert deMaine is Artist-Faculty of the Montecito Music Festival, and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, both in California, and the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland. He has also taught at the Hartford Conservatory, Wayne State University Department of Music, the University of Michigan School of Music, and the Colburn School. Additionally, he is active as a teacher/coach on the Internet, being involved with the New England Conservatory-based organization "Cellobello," which offers online one-on-one lessons and masterclasses, as well as question-and-answer sessions. DeMaine has been active as a clinician and performer at the University of Iowa School of Music's "Cello Daze" in Iowa City, the Lev Aronson Memorial Festival at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and the Gregor Piatigorsky Festival at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has also been invited to participate on the juries of well-known national and international string competitions, most recently the American String Teachers Association Solo Competition, Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Russia, and the Irving M. Klein International String Competition. He will join the faculty of the Colburn School in Los Angeles in January, 2017.
Robert deMaine can be heard on the Naxos, Capstone, Delos, Chandos, Deutsche Grammophon, Grotto, and Onyx record labels, and is an exclusive Thomastik-Infeld artist. He has performed on cellos made by Antonio Gragnani (Livorno, 1795), Raffaele and Antonio Gagliano (Naples, 1798), Jean Baptiste Vuillaume (Paris, 1841, "Le Conquérant"), and currently plays instruments by Domenico Busan (Venice, 1748), and Antonio Stradivari (Cremona, 1684, the 'General Kyd, ex-Leo Stern,' in the collection of the Los Angeles Philharmonic). He plays on bows made by Dominique Peccatte, Mirecourt, ca. 1860; Louis Panormo, London, ca. 1830; Nikolaus Kittel, Saint Petersburg (likely originally from the atelier of Ludwig Bausch of Leipzig), ca. 1840; François Lupot II, Paris, ca. 1820; Étienne Pajeot, Paris, ca. 1825; and François Tourte, (date unknown), a generous gift from an anonymous Los Angeles-based donor. An avid collector of fine modern and antique cellos and bows, he possesses fifteen cellos and between thirty-five and forty bows, which he has regularly loaned to student and professional cellists alike.
DeMaine has written music for the cello which he regularly performs, including 2 concerti, and 12 Études-Caprices. He has also written several song cycles for voice and piano, and numerous cadenzas for cello concertos by Joseph Haydn and Luigi Boccherini, also improvising these during performances. DeMaine is currently working on several larger-scale works for solo instruments (violin, viola, cello, and keyboard), voice, and orchestra.
Robert DeMaine is married to musician Elizabeth DeMaine, and with their two children, Paul and Annette, they live in Los Angeles.
deMaine studied trumpet and guitar/bass guitar and voice, in addition to keyboard and cello, and is self-taught as a composer and improvisor. He has also been active in the film and television studio recording scene from a very early age, and deMaine has taught cello and tutored music theory/harmony from the age of 14 (from juvenile to elderly beginners). Maintaining a private teaching studio and online presence, he works with students of all different levels from beginners to advanced. He has premiered solo and chamber works written for him by composers Chris Theofanidis, Lawrence Dillon, Christian Ellenwood, Kenneth Fuchs, James Nicholas, Cristian Carrara, Joelle Wallach, Joel Eric Suben, Elisenda Fabregas, Kenneth Frazzelle, and a cello concerto has been commissioned for him to be composed by Jeremy Cavaterra (2016).