British-born violist Helen Callus has achieved international prominence as a concerto soloist, chamber music player, and, in her adopted country of the U.S., educator, arts administrator, and journalist. Callus was born in Orpington in Britain's county Kent outside London. She began studying music at age six and enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Ian Jewel. After graduating, she was designated an Associate and then a Fellow of the RAM, while also moving on for graduate study at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Callus made her recording debut in 2002 with the recital Portrait of the Viola on the ASV label, and a major breakthrough came the following year when she performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in front of a live audience of 4,000 as well as viewers of 2,000 television stations worldwide. The year 2005 also saw Callus triumph in a less public vein: for the innovative and audiophile label ECM she recorded Giya Kancheli's Piano Quartet, a recording that earned a BBC Best Choice for Chamber Music Recording nod. Callus has continued to record for ASV (her 2006 recording Walton won special critical acclaim), for Canada's Analekta label (Bach's Suites for solo cello, transcribed for viola, in 2011), Dutton Laboratories (the complete music for viola and orchestra of Gordon Jacob), and, in 2018, Naxos, for which she released the collection British Music for Viola and Orchestra. Callus has performed and recorded with such renowned chamber groups as the Juilliard and Tokyo String Quartets.
In the U.S., Callus has been especially influential as a teacher. After teaching posts at the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Barbara, she was appointed to the music faculty at Northwestern University. Callus was the first woman elected president of the American Viola Society, and she has written for the magazines Strings and The Strad. Callus has also served as artistic director of the Centrum Chamber Music Festival in Port Townsend, Washington, and has made frequent festival appearances on the U.S. West Coast. ~ James Manheim~ Rovi