Isabella Brown, 18, violin

July 24, 2021, 11:00 am

Share this Post

Isabella Brown as a soloist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Photo: Todd Rosenberg.

Today we hear from violinist Isabella Brown in her winner’s recital following her success in the 2020 Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artist Competition. She performs works by Johannes Brahms, Amy Beach, James Newton Howard and Henryk Wieniawski with pianist Milana Pavchinskaya. Thank you to the Music Institute of Chicago for letting WFMT record in Nichols Concert Hall.

This week’s episode of Introductions is dedicated to the memory of Beatrice Crain.


18-year-old Isabella Brown of Gurnee, Illinois has recently been making a name for herself on the classical music scene. She won a top prize in the 2019 Cooper International Violin Competition and subsequently performed with the Cleveland Orchestra. Critics wrote that Isabella exhibited “complete control,” “soared out nicely over the big orchestra,” and “delivered an intensely lyrical and scintillating performance of the Dvořák Violin Concerto.” Isabella went on to win the 2020 Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artist Competition is also set to debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in an upcoming season.

She has won first place in numerous other competitions including the 2020 Chicago International Music Competition, the Alexander and Buono International String Competition, the Chinese Fine Arts Society Music Festival in Honor of Confucius, the Sejong Music Competition, the MYA Walgreens National Concerto Competition, and the DePaul Concerto Festival.

Isabella made her solo debut with orchestra at the age of ten, performing with the Capitol Symphonic Youth Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, and has gone on to play with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra, the New North Shore Symphony Orchestra, the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, the Lakeview Orchestra, the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, the Kishwaukee Symphony, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the Cleveland Orchestra.

In addition to performing solo music, Isabella enjoys playing chamber music. Her Dasani String Quartet was awarded the Silver Medal in the Junior Division of the 2020 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and tied for the Grand Prize in the Amateur Division of the 2020 Chicago International Music Competition. She appeared with that quartet on Introductions in May 2020, and previously appeared on the show in March 2020, June 2019, December 2017, and with her older brothers Nicholas and Joshua in June 2014. She also performed a Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert in October 2020.

Isabella studies with Almita Vamos as a Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy, and this fall she will begin studying with Martin Beaver at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Isabella is very thankful to play on a Dom Nicolò Marchioni detto ‘Amati’ violin from Bologna circa 1740, generously on loan to her from Kenneth Warren and Son.


Johannes Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108
I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Un poco presto e con sentimento
IV. Presto agitato

Amy Beach: Romance, Op. 23

James Newton Howard: 133…At Least

Henryk Wieniawski: Polonaise brillante in A, Op. 21