Optimism, vitality and joyful exuberance are among the rich elements of Camille Thomas’s compelling personality. The young Franco-Belgian cellist understands art’s power to bring people together, to unite individuals from diverse cultures, countries and backgrounds. Her charismatic artistry is driven by an infinite passion for life and a desire to inspire others to open their hearts to the intense emotions and beauty of classical music. “The most important thing [in performance] is the immediate experience, the now,” she says. “The artist gives and communicates, the audience experiences and responds. That’s what’s so magical about it.”
In April this year, Thomas signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Her debut album for the yellow label, set for release on 6 October 2017, turns the spotlight on lyrical works for cello and orchestra from the French Romantic period. It contains such uplifting compositions as Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No.1 Op.33 and the exquisite “Les larmes de Jacqueline” from Offenbach’s Harmonies des bois Op.76. Recorded with the Orchestre National de Lille and conductor Alexandre Bloch, the album also includes guest appearances by Thomas’s fellow Paris-based artists the tenor Rolando Villazón and violinist Nemanja Radulović.
The cellist’s natural charm has captivated television audiences during recent appearances on shows such as TF1’s Le Journal de 20h, ZDF’s Morgenmagazin, ARD’s Titel Thesen Temperamente, BR’s Capriccio, Arte’s Metropolis, 3Sat’s Kulturzeit and on Germany’s Deutsche Welle channel. She featured in Arte’s Stars of Tomorrow, hosted by Rolando Villazón, in February 2016 and reached an international online audience soon after when medici.tv broadcast her debut concert at the Flâneries Musicales de Reims. Thomas’s sense of fashion and contemporary style have proved a hit with younger audiences. Critics, meanwhile, have written of the clarity and expressive intensity of her music-making, with Spiegel Online praising “her deep, beguiling tone” and L’Express concluding that she “knows how to go beyond pure sonorous pleasure to deliver performances of great depth”.
Camille Thomas was born in 1988 in Paris. She began playing cello at the age of four and made such rapid progress that she was soon taking lessons with the acclaimed teacher Marcel Bardon. She moved to Berlin in 2006 to study with Stephan Forck and Frans Helmerson at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik. “I was 18 when I arrived,” she recalls. “And it was a coup de foudre – love at first sight!” Germany’s language, culture and social attitudes made a mind-opening impression on Thomas, and she continued her training with postgraduate lessons from Wolfgang-Emanuel Schmidt at the Franz Liszt Hochschule für Musik in Weimar.
Audiences took Thomas to their hearts long before she left music college. She gave debut performances at such prestigious venues as Paris’s Salle Gaveau and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Victoria Hall in Geneva and the Jerusalem Music Centre, and received immediate invitations to return for subsequent performances. The young cellist’s mature artistry also secured prize-winning success in a series of competitions. Her international breakthrough came in February 2014 when she was nominated for a “Newcomer of the Year” award at the 21st Victoires de la Musique Classique, the French equivalent of the Grammy® Awards. Eight months later she was named winner of the 2014 New Talent competition sponsored by the European Broadcasting Union, while more recently she triumphed in the “Young Soloist of the Year” category in RTBF’s 2016 C’est du Belge awards, chosen in collaboration with Paris Match.
In addition to her solo work Camille Thomas is a dedicated chamber musician. Her debut album, A Century of Russian Colours, made with Swiss pianist Beatrice Berrut, was released in 2013 and attracted international critical acclaim. Her second album, Reminiscences, recorded with Belgian pianist Julien Libeer and released in September 2016, explored the rich world of late nineteenth-century French chamber music and received considerable attention in the French and German media.
Highlights of Thomas’s forthcoming season include performances of some of the repertoire on her debut DG album – Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No.1 at venues in the Czech Republic, France, Denmark and China, and the Suite for cello and piano Op.16 in Belgium and Germany – and of the Schumann Concerto in France; recitals with Julien Libeer in Belgium and Germany; and, in April 2018, the world premiere in Paris of a new cello concerto written for her by the Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say.