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She plays the cello like she was born with one in her hands.
— D. Ferschtman

Compelling young Canadian Sybil Shanahan has been described as “a rare cellist who so obviously loves both the instrument and the music. We have only to sit back and enjoy the experience of her playing.” (Stephan Rieckhoff, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande)  Much sought after as a chamber musician, Sybil has performed in festivals around the world, including much of Canada, Europe, USA and South Africa.  Equally at home with Bach’s Fugue to the tango of Argentina, Sybil has been a member of the genre-busting group, Ensemble Vivant, “Canada's chamber music treasure.” (Toronto Star) since 2011. She has toured and recorded with the group extensively. She released her debut album, Caprice, in 2014 on the ERDECO label. This recording features several previously unrecorded French Romantic cello duos with Coenraad Bloemendal. Sybil’s most recent chamber music undertaking is the Tadioli Duo, featuring herself and violinist Suhashini Arulanandam, who perform on sibling instruments made by luthier Maurizio Tadioli.  As an entrepreneur, Sybil has run her own event music business, Beaux Strings, since 2011. She has completed over 100 musical arrangements and transcriptions of contemporary pop music for the sole use of this group to date.

Committed to the importance of fostering a continued love of classical music, Sybil is an avid teacher and maintains a cello class in Toronto. She was the principal cellist of the NYCO Symphony Orchestra from 2010-2017, where she was featured soloist performing Tchaikovsky's “Rococo Variations” in 2012.  She participated in the first ever staged opera in Nassau, Bahamas in 2011, and while there, performed at a special fundraising event for the El Sistema program for music education.  Similarly in Canada, Sybil performs concerts, and gives masterclasses through Euterpe and Axis Music, community benefitting organizations whose mandates include providing the highest calibre live music and music education to students who would otherwise not normally get to experience it.  She also enjoys both composing and arranging music for cello students and professional ensembles, and her genre diverse work has been featured on several recordings for songwriters, bands and film scores. Strongly interested in classical contemporary music, she has collaborated with notable composers Betsy Jolas, Jonathon Harvey and David Philip Hefti, and, performed in Amsterdam's famous Gaudeamus Festival and the ISCM World Music Days in Slovenia. 

Sybil holds a Master’s Degree from the class of cello soloist Patrick Demenga in Lausanne, Switzerland.  She received her undergraduate degree in performance from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where she also studied the Viola da Gamba parallel to her work with Gregor Horsch, principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra.  As a student, she was the principal cellist of the European Youth Chamber Orchestra in Austria, and joined the Orchestre Symphonique de Bienne, the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (Switzerland) and the Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra (Holland) as part of their prestigious orchestral internship programs.  Sybil was a national finalist in Holland's Yamaha International Music Scholarship, and a prizewinner in the Rovere d'Oro chamber music competition in San Bartolomeo al Mare, Italy, with Duo AfriCan, a piano/cello duo formed in 2004 with pianist Mareli Stolp.

Sybil's formative years of training began in Toronto where she was a member of the Young Artists Performance Academy of the Glenn Gould School.  Her debut concerto performance occurred at the age of nineteen when she performed the Lalo Concerto.  This was quickly followed by participation in the prestigious Banff Centre for the Arts chamber music program, and her winning of several awards, among which were the Elora Festival Young Performer's Competition, the Gooderham Music Scholarship and the Bill Weatherspoon “Most Outstanding Performance.


Photos by Denise Grant.

Short version

Compelling young Canadian cellist Sybil Shanahan is regularly observed to love both the music she performs and the instrument she plays. An international prizewinner, she has had the distinction of being invited to perform in music festivals around the world and has toured in Canada, Europe, the USA and South Africa to date. 

A member of the genre diverse chamber group Ensemble Vivant since 2010, Sybil has toured and recorded extensively with the ensemble. In 2014 her debut album “Caprice” featuring French Romantic cello duets with Coenraad Bloemendal, was released on the ERDECO label. This was followed by the release of the epic “Hieratikos”, a piano trio written by Canadian John Burke.

Sybil is an avid teacher with a private cello class in Toronto, and has been on faculty at the Lake Field Music Camp since 2010. She enjoys arranging music, both classical and not, often for her event performance business Beaux Strings. Sybil completed her University education in Europe. She holds a Master’s Degree from the class of cello soloist Patrick Demenga in Switzerland and a Bachelor from the class of Gregor Horsch in Amsterdam. Website:

Sybil is a member of the American Federation of Musicians (Toronto Musician’s Association 149) and an ACTRA Apprentice Member.

All materials here are copyright to Sybil Shanahan 2018 and must be used with permission.

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