Ursula Smith is a Cello Professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where she is also Senior Tutor in Chamber Music and Conservatorium Maastricht in Holland. She has given guest masterclasses at many different conservatories in Europe, Japan and China. In 2014, at the invitation of Lukas Hagen, she was a jury member of the International Mozart Competition for string quartets in Salzburg and in 2019 will be on the jury of the Banff International String Quartet Competition in Canada.
Ursula studied with Emma Ferrand and Ralph Kirshbaum at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. She was a Fulbright scholar at Yale University where she studied with Aldo Parisot and graduated with a Master of Music degree. She participated in masterclasses with Steven Isserlis, Pierre Fournier, György Kurtág and Andras Schiff in Banff, Geneva and Prussia Cove.
From 2006 to 2012 Ursula was a member of the Zehetmair String Quartet , a quartet which performs and records for the most part from memory. She performed with the quartet in many of the world’s top venues including the Berlin Philharmonie, the Concertgebouw ,the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall. Festivals include Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Schleswig Holstein and Salzburg.Highlights of their work included a Schumann cycle at the Wigmore Hall, and taking part in Elliot Carter’s 100th birthday celebrations in New York in 2008.The quartet’s 2007 ECM recording of Bartok’s 5th quartet and Hindemith quartet opus 22 won the Chamber Music Diapason D’Or of the year in France.Other chamber music discs include the complete Beethoven folk songs for piano trio and voices for Deutsche Grammophon, playing with amongst others Marieke Blankenstijn and Malcolm Martineau.
Ursula was also Principal Cello of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 1993-2002 and has guest lead the cello sections of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.
As a soloist, Ursula has performed with conductors such as Jorma Panula, Andrew Litton and Mark Wigglesworth. She gave the British premiere of Nigel Osborne’s cello concerto, and toured South America playing John Tavener’s “Eternal Memory” for cello and strings. In 2013, to mark the Britten centenary, Ursula commissioned two new works for solo cello from the British composer Sally Beamish and the Danish jazz composer Jacob Anderskov. She will be releasing a cd of the complete Britten suites and the two new works for Meridian records in summer 2018.