Nancy Ives

Instructor of Chamber Music

NANCY IVES has been the Principal Cello of the Oregon Symphony since October 2000.  For her concerto debut in 2002 with the orchestra, she performed the Kabalevsky Cello Concerto No. 2 with James DePriest conducting and has since appeared in front of the orchestra in Strauss’s Don Quixote and Tchaikovsky’s Pezzo Capriccioso with Carlos Kalmar conducting.  In 2001, she filled in on the Dvorak Cello Concerto at the last minute for an ailing soloist with the Clark College Orchestra, and performed that masterpiece again with the Vancouver Symphony (WA) in 2009. In 2004, she joined Ron Blessinger and Stewart Goodyear in a performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto at the Cascade Festival of Music in Bend (OR) and in 2011, performed the Elgar Concerto with Huw Edwards and the Portland Columbia Symphony, a concert that was broadcast on KQAC AllClassical FM. Oregon Music News said of her Elgar, “She played with passion, superbly conveying the feeling of loss that is so prevalent in this piece.” Reviews have described her performances as “achingly lovely,” and said she “played impressively” and “evoked a deep sense of emotion.”


Nancy is an avid chamber musician with a particular affinity for new music. July of 2005 marked Ives’ debut with Chamber Music Northwest and 2011 marked her first outing with 45th Parallel. Over the years, she has been a guest artist with Third Angle Ensemble,  performed with jazz fiddler Hollis Taylor on several occasions, was a frequent member of the resident ensemble of the Ernest Bloch Festival Composers’ Symposium, and had the privilege of performing with Janos Starker in Lincoln Hall in February of 2001. When schedules allow, she enjoys working with the Rovetti String Quartet (with Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Concertmaster Marc Rovetti, Kairos Quartet violinist Denise Dillenbeck, and Oregon Symphony violist Charles Noble) and Trio Areté with pianist John Pickett and Denise Dillenbeck.Upon the arrival to Portland of former Oregon Symphony concertmaster Amy Schwartz Moretti (now a  member of the acclaimed Ehnes Quartet) she joined the other string principals in forming the Oregon Symphony String Quartet, about whose local debut The Oregonian said, “The quartet’s exhilarating energy and rhythmic drive inspired images of a rich future for fans of chamber music.” In addition to appearances across the state on behalf of the Symphony, in 2006 the quartet performed as part of the citywide “Month of Mozart” festival for Friends of Chamber Music and on the “New Music at Willamette” series.


During the 2003-04 season, Ives was Acting Artistic Director of the new music ensemble fEARnoMUSIC, and has since rejoined that intrepid group as its cellist. One particular highlight for her in that group’s 2011 season was recording all eleven cello parts of Gabriel Prokofiev’s Jerk Driver, preparing it with the composer, and giving its first live performance. In his blog, Gabriel Prokofiev said, “I was blown away by the accuracy and understanding of her interpretation…totally spot-on.” The fEARnoMUSIC String Quartet was in residence alongside Chen Yi and Duo Damiana for the 2014 Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium and regularly teaches at the OSU Summer Chamber Music Workshop. Nancy is a founder of Classical Up Close, an initiative by Oregon Symphony musicians to present a festival of free concerts in communities around the Portland Metro area to thank supporters and make new friends. She is a frequent guest with the Portland Cello Project and was commissioned by them to write a piece for their CD of covers and new compositions in honor of Elliot Smith. Starting in September 2014, Nancy started a year as ”Cellist-in-Residence” with OPB’s arts magazine State of Wonder, hosted by April Baer.


As a New York-based freelancer, before moving to Portland, she was Principal Cello of the American Chamber Opera Company and Principal Cello and a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, and was featured in a performance of the Dvorak Concerto in New York City with that group. She played in a quartet with renowned violist Emanuel Vardi and was a regular recitalist at the Friends of the Arts Beethoven Festival and the Apollo Muses Festival in New Jersey. In addition to performing the standard concerto repertoire with orchestras in the Northeast and the Midwest, she played her own composition Dialogue III for cello and orchestra with the Danbury Community Orchestra.  She appeared with many new music ensembles, notably North-South Consonance and Musicians’ Accord, playing over a hundred premieres by composers such as Milton Babbitt, Chen Yi and Bruce Adolphe. Her special interest in new music led to recordings on the Opus One and Koch labels and her versatility led to soundtrack recordings for PBS and the Smithsonian. She appeared with Laurie Anderson and Brazilian pop star Gal Costa at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, with Nana Vasconcelos at The Knitting Factory and Merkin Hall, and recorded with rock star Lenny Kravitz. Ives combined acting with cello playing in an Off-Broadway production of Orpheus in Love by Craig Lucas. During several years on tour with Phantom of the Opera, she performed a comedy routine about the cello in AIDS benefits across the country.


Nancy received her early training on the cello at the influential University of Texas String Project. She received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Kansas, studying with Ed Laut, where she was also an active composer, and her formal education culminated in both Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in cello performance, studying with Marion Feldman, from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was on the faculty of the Preparatory Division. Nancy studied Alexander Technique and Body Mapping with Barbara Conable, author of What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body and founder of Andover Educators, and employs this valuable information in clinics, master classes and her private teaching studio. She is a past president of the Oregon Cello Society and had the honor of serving for six years on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Symphony. Nancy enjoys yoga, gardening with chickens,knitting, scuba diving, kayaking and writing, including her blogs “House Concert” at, and Her Twitter handle is @cellonancy.