Mikhail Istomin

Born and educated in Russia, Mikhail Istomin holds a Master of Music degree from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. While still in school, he became Principal Cellist of the State Hermitage Orchestra under the direction of Saulus Sondetskis and later joined the orchestra of the Kirov Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre under Valery Gergiev.

In 1987, Istomin became the cellist of the Leningrad Conservatory String Quartet, and in 1989 the group won the grand prize in the National Soviet Union Competition of String Quartets. Later that same year, Istomin defected during the quartet’s US tour, and was granted political asylum in the United States.

Immediately following these events, Istomin joined the Richmond Symphony and became a faculty member of both Virginia State University and the Governor's School for the Performing Arts at the University of Richmond.

Istomin was appointed Principal Cellist of the Pittsburgh Opera and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater orchestras in 1991, and the following year he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Lorin Maazel.

Istomin is a winner of both the Passamaneck Award of the Y Music Society and the Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Auditions. He has appeared as a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Williamsburg Symphonia, the Asheville Symphony, the Knoxville Symphony and others.

In July of 1998, Mr. Istomin returned to St. Petersburg to perform in the Second World Cello Congress under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich.

Istomin is a founding member of the Pittsburgh Piano Trio. The Trio has released three CDs on the Minstrel Label to resounding critical acclaim. Three Graces features the chamber music of British composer Armstrong Gibbs; Phantasie is dedicated to the chamber music of Frank Bridge; the CD of Russian music includes the Piano Trio by Georgy Sviridov and Seven Romances inspired by the poems of Alexander Blok. “Encore!...Encore!” is a collection of short works for a piano trio, including compositions by Piazzolla, Schostakovich, Albeniz, Glinka and many others.

A free copy of “Encore!...Encore!” can be obtained at

Frequent guests at major summer music festivals in the US, Canada and Europe, the Pittsburgh Piano Trio recently premiered a Triple Concerto by post-romantic Russian composer Paul Juon with The Tchaikovsky State Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Fedoseev at the Moscow Conservatory Grand Hall.

Active in music education, Istomin is a faculty member at Duquesne University and the City Music Center. In addition to that Mr. Istomin is an originator and the Artistic Director of the Music Business and Advanced Chamber Music Seminar, a unique summer event where young musicians are taught how to be true entrepreneurs and leaders. For more information about the Seminar visit