Denise Djokic

She plays with a seemingly natural ease and her glowing, warm tone and honest musical interpretations draw the listener into her complete commitment to the music.” (The Strad)

“Her lyrical phrasing and colourful palette of sound — including razor-thin notes coaxed out of her instrument’s extreme upper range — was matched only by her virtuosic technique, immediately evident with her unflinching delivery of triplet passages during the first variation.” (Winnipeg Free Press)

“Cellist Denise Djokic…has recorded the [Britten] suites (originally composed for Mstislav Rostropovich) and made them her own. Her performance alone, lightly amplified to catch every subtlety in the score, is reason enough to go.”  (Seattle Times)

Instantly recognized by her “arrestingly beautiful tone colour” (The Strad), cellist Denise Djokic captivates audiences with her natural musical instinct and remarkable combination of strength and sensitivity. Acclaim for her powerful interpretations, bold command of her instrument and insightful playing has earned her world-wide recognition and appearances in some of the most venerable halls. Denise burst onto the international music scene when millions of television viewers watched her performance of Bach at the 2002 Grammy Awards following the lauded release of her self-titled debut recording on SONY Classical.

Since then, Denise has accrued numerous distinctions and accolades: she has been named one of the top “25 Canadians Who Are Changing Our World” by Maclean’s Magazine, one of “Canada’s Most Powerful Women” by Elle Magazine, and had her life and career chronicled by a special BRAVO! TV documentary entitled “Seven Days, Seven Nights”. A natural leader and advocate for classical music, Denise is equally at home on the podium as a keynote speaker, having presented at forums such as IdeaCity in Toronto and the Women In Leadership Conference at Queen’s University.  Denise believes strongly in passing along her knowledge of music and her instrument. She serves on the Faculty of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada each summer, has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa, and frequently gives masterclasses.

Highlights of the coming 2016-2017 season see Denise give a recital with Heng-Jin Park at the Shortgrass Music Festival Cimarron, New Mexico, recitals with longtime musical partner pianist David Jalbert for Chamber Music Kelowna and at the Capital Theatre in Nelson, BC, a concert with Triple Forte in Montréal’s Salle Bourgie, and an appearance with the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra conducted by Dinuk Wijeratne. Renowned for her performances of Bach’s Cello Suites, Denise is currently working on a video project featuring the complete suites in collaboration with filmmaker Andrew Coll.

In August 2016 Denise performed Richard Prior’s Cello Concerto at the Peninsula Music Festival with the festival orchestra conducted by Victor Yampolsky. Recent engagements include Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 with the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony (Texas), and Thunder Bay Symphony, Gulda’s Cello Concerto with the Edmonton Symphony, Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Indian Hill Symphony, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Kingston Symphony, chamber music concerts at the Concordia Chamberfest, a return to the Scotia Festival of Music, and works by Mozart and Chausson with the Saint Cecilia Concert Series in Halifax.

Denise’s Carnegie Hall debut with the Edmonton Symphony and conductor William Eddins featured a performance of John Estacio’s Triple Concerto with pianist Angela Cheng and violinist Juliette Kang.  Other highlights include her acclaimed Lincoln Center performance of Arturo Marquez’s “Espejos en la Arena” with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas and Alondra de la Parra conducting, appearances with the Academic Orchestra of Zurich in Quebec City, Strauss’s Don Quixote with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain, a multi-disciplinary presentation with Seattle’s Spectrum Dance in the world premiere of Donald Byrd’s Love, set to Britten’s Cello Suites and a special performance of solo Bach with Ballet Victoria.

As a recitalist, Denise performs frequently with acclaimed pianist David Jalbert. Recent performances have taken them to Washington D.C., San Francisco, Mexico City, Vancouver, Chicago, Tuscon, and New York’s Bargemusic.  Denise and David also tour with Piano Plus, an organization which brings performances to Canadian communities in which the opportunities to hear live concerts are limited.  In addition, her love of chamber music has brought her to the festivals across North America, including the world premiere of Christos Hatzis’s “In the Fire of Conflict”, with percussionist Ryan Scott and dancer Peggy Baker at the Toronto Summer Music Festival.  She appears frequently with New York’s Jupiter Chamber Players and also tours with her chamber music partner since childhood, her violinist brother Marc.


Denise’s award-winning discography features the a disc of Chopin and Rachmaninoff sonatas with her long-time recital partner, pianist David Jalbert (ATMA), the complete Britten Solo Suites for Cello also for ATMA which has received consistent accolades:  “young Canadian cellist Denise Djokic does them proud here with breathtaking technique and a wide dynamic sweep” (Toronto Star) and “Djokic has a hugely impressive technique, and her projection of singing melodic lines without exaggerated vibrato can be very touching. (BBC Music Magazine), her  highly acclaimed CD, entitled Denise Djokic featuring works by Barber, Martinu and Britten received the 2002 East Coast Music Award and  Folklore (Allegro/Endeavor) received a JUNO nomination as well as an East Coast Music Award, hit the Billboard Chart’s top 15 Classical CD’s and was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.

A Musical Family

Having grown up in a large musical family, Denise first began to learn the cello with her uncle and aunt, cellists Pierre Djokic and Michelle Djokic.  Her parents, Lynn and Philippe, and brother Marc, are all musicians.  Her early cello teachers in Halifax were Olive Shaw and Shimon Walt, before moving to Cleveland where she continued her studies with Richard Aaron and in Boston with Laurence Lesser and Paul Katz.  Denise gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Denise currently lives in Urbana, Illinois with her husband, Nelson and young son, Dominic.