I'm a violist and composer, and an adult with a child-like curiosity who's still open to new experiences and new ways of doing all things creative. It's at those times that I'm able to lose myself and feel completely free, whether I'm playing with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, composing and recording my music or playing chamber music with friends. I just let go and hope that you are there to catch me. That's my life.
I am a Puerto Rican composer and the Principal Viola of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
My first audition was on violin with Pablo Casals, who at the time also invited me to be in his music for youth program - I was 4. Since then, I have dedicated my life to music and finding my own voice along the way.
At 16, I left Puerto Rico with no money and went to the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After graduating, I found myself as poor as when I was back home. That is when an audition for the Baltimore Symphony appeared - but, on viola - an instrument I really didn't know. After listening to all the other applicants practice, I figured out how to play it well enough to get through the audition, and in the end, I won my first professional audition on an instrument I didn't play. I asked the BSO for a loan to buy a viola, and to this day that is my instrument.
Violist, violinist, and composer Christian Colberg, began his musical studies at the age of four in his home country of Puerto Rico. At sixteen, he continued his studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, in Baltimore Maryland. Mr. Colberg is currently the Principal Viola of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Prior to joining the CSO, he was Assistant Principal Viola with the Baltimore Symphony. Other positions currently include serving as Principal Viola of the Bellingham Festival of Music and Aspen Music Festival Chamber Orchestra. In addition he is Artist-faculty at the Aspen School and has also held teaching positions at both the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
His main teachers include, Pablo Casals, Alexander Schneider, Saul Ovcharov, Charles Libov and Shirley Givens. Recipient of numerous awards, including the Alpha Delta Kappa Foundation Fine Arts grant, Colberg has also been recognized by the House of Representatives and the Senate of Puerto Rico for his achievements in the field of classical music.
As an active chamber musician, Mr. Colberg has collaborated with such artists as, Gary Karr, Milton Katims, Augustin Hadelich, Leon Fleisher, Samuel Sanders, Joseph Silverstein, Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson, and Marvin Hamlisch. Chamber music collaborations include, the Muir, Cypress and Ariel String Quartets and with the Silk Road Festival in China.
Mr. Colberg performed his Viola Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in October, 2018 (Read review in Cincinnati Business Courier.) He has performed it with numerous orchestras, including the Puerto Rico Conservatory Orchestra and Música de Cámara in New York City. The second movement of his concerto, "Aldonza", was used as the competition piece for the 2014 Primrose International Viola Competition. In June, 2018, The Rant - For Two Violas, was also premiered at the International Viola Congress in Los Angeles. In September, 2022, he will release a new recording titled Talking to Myself in which he composed and played each the parts.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
My grandfather played records all day. Through the eyes of a boy, his library was like what I imagined the Library of Alexandria must have been like. Books everywhere, but also lots of records, all accompanied by the smell of booze, olives, leather and moisture. His tastes in music spanned the globe. By the time I was five, I had heard the world. One sunny day (when is it not sunny in Puerto Rico?), when I was four, he put on a record that changed my life – "West meets East" by Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar. When I heard what was coming out of the record player, I said – “I have to play THAT”. From that moment, I knew I was a musician and nothing else would do. Truth be told, I meant I wanted to play the sitar ("that"), however, I’m not sure if there was even one single sitar in Puerto Rico at the time – so a violin had to do. I hit the ground running and dedicated myself to the instrument.
When I was five years old, my family was visiting with the Governor of Puerto Rico, Don Luis Muñoz Marin, at his farm house. He asked me to play something for him, but I was too shy at the time to say yes. After some heavy negotiations between the Governor and me, we agreed I would play around the corner of the house, away from people, under a palm tree.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Don’t get hit by a coconut.”