Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Alfia Nakipbekova


Described by The Strad as “sensitive and elegant” and praised for her “seamless legato characteristic of the best Russian cellists” (The Times), Alfia Nakipbekova is one of the most highly regarded cellists to emerge from the former Soviet Union. Originally from Kazakhstan, she studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire with Mstislav Rostropovich. She also received a series of master classes with Daniil Shafran and, later in London, with Jacqueline Du Pré. She is a recipient of the “Special Prize for Outstanding Mastery of the Cello” at the Casals Competition in Budapest.

As a concerto soloist, recitalist and a founder member of The Bekova Trio, Alfia has made numerous critically acclaimed recordings for Chandos, Toccata Classics, Melodya and BIS and has appeared in many festivals and recitals in the UK, Russia, USA, Middle East, Canada and Australia, including Gidon Kremer Lockenhaus Festival, Cheltenham Festival, City of London, Bath Festival, Brighton Festival, Melbourne Festival, Cork Chamber Music and Moscow Autumn Festival. The Bekova Trio have won international acclaim for their performances, appearing at the South Bank – Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall and other major UK venues; as well as being featured regularly on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, Classic FM and mainstream TV.

Alfia’s extensive discography includes major chamber music repertoire for Piano Trio, Cello/Piano Sonatas, Cello/Violin Duos, including critically acclaimed recordings of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Martinù, Shostakovich and Charles Ives. BBC Music Magazine selected the Martinù album as a CD of the Year (1998), and the Clarke/Ives album was Critic’s Choice for the year 2000, in Gramophone magazine. The Bekova Trio was ensemble-in-residence in Cork Chamber Music Festival and the Dartington Summer School, performing and coaching chamber groups.

The Bekova Sisters’ arrangements of Russian music for piano trio (Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Shebalin) are published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Alfia is active on the new music scene and has taken part in numerous projects and collaborations. Among the new works she has premiered are: Concerto for cello and chamber orchestra by Timur Tleukhan (first performance at the Moscow Conservatoire, Rachmaninov Hall with Musica Viva), Sergey Zhukov – Gethsemane Night for electric cello, choir, piano and percussion, Concerto-Mystery, Concerto Grosso (first performances at the Moscow Autumn Festival, recorded for Chandos), the premiere recording of Steven Gerber – Triple Concerto (Chandos), In Stiller Nacht by Michael Finnissy and Rock-Caprices by James Hesford (WCM).

In 1998 Alfia began her series of “Bach Marathon” recitals playing all six Bach Suites in one evening, attracting high critical acclaim. She has performed in many prestigious venues and festivals, including St. Johns Smith Square, London, Oxford, Melbourne Festival, Cork Chamber Music Festival, Aldeburgh and St Magnus, Orkneys, among others. The double album of the Bach Cello Suites (recorded at the 12th century St. Boniface Kirk, Papa Westray, Orkneys) was released in December 2009 (WCM) and was nominated as the best album of the year by the Russian Classical Radio “Orphey”. In the review of the Elgar Cello Concerto performance at Cadogan Hall, London, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Margarita Mota-Bull wrote: ” She was wonderful, delivering one of the most beautiful, poignant performances of Elgar’s concerto that I have ever witnessed in concert. She instantly captured the audience with her graceful, smooth style and delicate dexterity. Her technique seems flawless, with the easy, natural legato which so often appears to be an inherent characteristic of the best cellists from the former Soviet Union.” SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL (MusicWeb International’s Worldwide Concert and Opera Reviews)

In his review of one of Alfia’s latest recordings – Hans Gàl Cello Works on Toccata Classics with Jakob Fichert (piano), Colin Anderson wrote: “Alfia Nakipbekova plays superbly and with total conviction, creating many colours and dynamics from her instrument.” (INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, June, 2012).

Alfia is a Founder and Artistic Director of two chamber groups: contemporary cello quartet, Cellorhythmics, and a new music ensemble WCMO (Working Classical Music Orchestra), that brings together musicians from different musical backgrounds and disciplines. The ensembles have toured the UK and Europe, performing at major festivals and venues, including Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Beauvois Cello Festival, Trondheim Arts Festival, and have recorded four albums (WCM).

Alfia regularly gives cello master classes and coaches chamber groups. From 2006 to 2012 she was a resident tutor and performer at the Felcino Bianco Chamber Music Festival and Summer Course, and in 2012 she was invited to participate as a member of a jury in the 8th Schubert and Modern Music Competition for Piano Trios at Graz Academy, Austria.

Among her recent performances are recitals at the Trinity Russian Festival, Leeds, IFAI, Leeds College of Music, Deleuze Performance Project at Papay Giro Nights Festival and Symposium (Hong Kong) and various performances and presentations of Nomos alpha by Iannis Xenakis for solo cello.

With her new chamber group Trio Sonore dedicated to exploring new music by living composers, formed with Karin de Fleyt (flute) and Jakob Fichert (piano), Alfia will be performing in the UK and Europe and recording new works commissioned by the ensemble.

Alfia Nakipbekova (MMus, BMus, BA (Hon) French Studies) is the Principal Lecturer in Cello at Leeds College of Music where she also teaches chamber music. As well as having a busy performance and recording schedule, Alfia is currently researching for her PhD thesis exploring 20th century cello technique and performance practice.

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