Adrián Varela

1st Violin

Adrián has been described as ‘a musical incarnation of Shakespeare’s Puck’ and a ‘Rennaissance man’. He combines his role as 1st violinist in the orchestra with those of conductor, pedagogue and composer/arranger. He also fronts his own electric Tango-rock band.

Portrait of Adrián Varela

Adrián joined the Philharmonia in 2002, and at the same time was the youngest concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra of Uruguay – the only successful auditionee between the 1980s and the present day to be appointed to that post.

Away from the Orchestra, Adrián is the Conductor and Artistic Director of Poland’s only National Youth Orchestra, the Lutosławski Youth Orchestra, and of the One Tree Hill Sinfonia, a local London-based orchestra which he co-founded.

In 2018 Adrián was appointed Director of Music at de Montfort University, Leicester, where his role also involves choral and orchestral conducting, pedagogy and arranging.

Adrian’s work as a composer is published partly by Schott, Mainz. His works have been performed by Ashkenazy, Kopatchinskaja, Ehnes, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC World Service, Tokyo FM, National Polish Radio and Uruguayan national and commercial radio and television.

A native of Montevideo, Adrián’s family escaped the civil unrest and military dictatorship of 70’s Uruguay. The family’s early nomadic diaspora, together with taking up the violin in Detroit combined with later contact with Tango roots and an assimilation of six European languages, created a unique identity where Adrián is equally at home in classical as in popular music scenarios, and where music is equally as important as the impact it has on society and individuals. In 1989 he joined thousands of other strangers in tearing down the Berlin Wall on New Year’s Eve.

Adrian has been described by the Ensemble of London as ‘an artist who can rise above the prejudices of a tough profession to defy convention…a glowing example of how it is possible to transcend all kinds of boundaries through the international language of music.’

Adrián lives in London with his wife, their two children and Flash the springer spaniel.

This Chair is currently available for endowment. Endowment opportunities at the Philharmonia offer supporters unique access and insights to our players. Find out more here.

Watch a film featuring Adrián Varela: