Acclaimed for his inspirational performances and eloquent musicianship, cellist Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career as a concerto soloist, chamber musician, and conductor. Appointed Principal Cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra at age 20, he performs regularly as a concerto soloist with major orchestras throughout the world, including eight concerto appearances at the BBC Proms. A dedicated chamber musician, Watkins was a member of the Nash Ensemble from 1997 to 2013 and joined the Emerson String Quartet in May 2013. In 2014, he was appointed Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Detroit. Watkins also maintains a busy career as a conductor and, since winning the 2002 Leeds Conducting Competition, has conducted all the major British orchestras and many others in the USA, Europe, Australia, and Japan. Watkins has made over 70 recordings, including 18 solo albums for Chandos, as well as chamber music discs for Decca Gold, Deustche Grammophon and Hyperion.
At the Yale School of Music, Watkins teaches a studio of graduate-level cellists, coaches chamber ensembles, and directs the Yale Cellos with Assistant Professor Adjunct of Cello Ole Akahoshi. He has been featured in performance many times at Yale as a member of the Emerson String Quartet.
Born in 1970, Watkins studied cello with William Pleeth, Melissa Phelps, and Johannes Goritzki. He plays on an instrument made by Domenico Montagnana and Matteo Goffriller in Venice, circa 1730.