The specialized music magazine The Strad describes the Colombian cellist SANTIAGO CAÑÓN-VALENCIA as “technically flawless… totally under the skin of the composers’ idioms.” Critics praise him as “an artist from whom sound and texture flow with ease and authenticity” (The Whole Note) and as “one of the most promising young cellists” (Forbes Columbia). He is also a prolific soloist, composer, recording artist, commissioner, painter and photographer.
Born in Bogotá in 1995, Cañón-Valencia made his debut at the age of 6 as a soloist of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá. His musical mentors have been Henryk Zarzycki in Colombia, James Tennant in New Zealand, Andres Diaz in the United States, and Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt in Germany. He has been sponsored by the Mayra & Edmundo Esquenazi Scholarship through the Salvi Foundation since 2011.
Among his many accolades, Cañón-Valencia was Silver Medalist and “Audience Favorite” at the 2019 XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition; recipient of the 2018 Starker Foundation Award; Third Prize honoree at the 2017 Queen Elisabeth International Competition; First Prize winner at the Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition, Beijing International Music Competition, Gisborne International Music Competition, and Lennox International Young Artists Competition; and a major prize-winner of the Sphinx, Casals, Johansen, Cassadó, and Adam Competitions.
His international solo career has taken him to perform with such orchestras and conductors as the Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev, Frankfurt Radio Orchestra with Christoph Eschenbach, Brussels Philharmonic with Stephane Deneve, SWR Symphonieorchester with Andris Poga, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Nikolai Alexeev, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Antwerp Symphony with Muhai Tang and Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra with Yuri Bashmet, as well as all of the major orchestras in his native Colombia.
Current highlights include performances throughout Europe, including his debut at London’s Wigmore Hall and a recital at St. George’s Bristol with pianist Naoko Sonoda; New Generation Artist Showcase concerts and broadcasts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London and Ireland’s Ulster Orchestra led by Jac Van Steen; a solo recital at Italy’s Teatro Massimo; debuts with the Danish Chamber Orchestra at the Cartagena Festival and the Belgrade Philharmonic; and appearances with the Latvian National Orchestra and Spain’s RTVE Orchestra.
In the U.S., he appears as Guest Artist at the International Cello Institute in Minnesota, performs recitals at San Diego’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and Massachusetts’s Shalin Liu Performance Center, and returns to the Alabama Symphony . He is also invited to perform in South Korea in Seoul as part of the Mostly Cello Festival. In Colombia he has two concerts planned celebrating his latest album, Ascenso, at Teatro Metropolitano and Teatro Mayor and a performance with the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia. In summer 2024, he celebrates the 100th birthday of Janos Starker in events at Lotte Concert Hall with the Seoul Philharmonic in Korea and Suntory’s Blue Rose Hall in Japan.
Cañón-Valencia performed the world premieres of many new works he commissioned himself, such as Carlos Izcaray’s cello concerto as the featured soloist with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. He gave the Colombian premiere of Ginastera’s Cello Concerto No. 2 with the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, premiered Jorge Pinzón’s Cello Concerto “Rapsodia a los 4 Elementos” at the Cartagena International Music Festival, and premiered Gulda’s Cello Concerto in Auckland, New Zealand with the Auckland Chamber Orchestra.
He is known as a composer and arranger. He has been announced as the BBC’s 2022 Artist of the Year.