Isaac Pastor-Chermak leads a diverse and active musical life at home in Northern California and around the United States. A quintessential 21st-century artist, he engages deeply as a cellist, teacher, conductor, and administrator, motivated by an abiding love of sharing great music with friends and collaborators.
Though he is active in nearly every facet of today’s classical music profession, Mr. Pastor-Chermak is a career orchestral player. In any given weekend of the season, he can be found performing as Principal Cellist of Vallejo Symphony and Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony; Assistant Principal Cellist of Opera San Jose, Fresno Philharmonic, and Stockton Symphony; and as a member of Berkeley Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, and Reno Philharmonic. During the summer season, he is Principal Cellist at the Eisenstadt Classical Music Festival in Austria, and was Principal Cellist of the now-defunct Lake Tahoe Music Festival.
In the world of chamber music, Mr. Pastor-Chermak partners regularly with pianists Alison Lee and Miles Graber in sonata programs, in addition to myriad one-off creative projects and recordings. Recent duo highlights include the complete sonatas of Beethoven (2020) and Brahms (2022) with Ms. Lee, and an upcoming recording of Elliott Carter’s Cello Sonata with Mr. Graber, on Carter’s piano. His CD catalog includes The Shadow Dancer with the Auriga String Quartet; Backlash Bach with Red Cedar Chamber Music; and Preludes and Prologues with Ms. Lee. Preludes and Prologues was entirely crowdfunded and self-produced. A CD release of the complete Bach Cello Suites is planned for Fall 2024.
During the pandemic, Mr. Pastor-Chermak and Ms. Lee performed roughly 25 online concerts, as a duo and with guests, reaching audiences from Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between. They also got engaged, and tied the knot in July 2022 in Glacier National Park, Montana.
A community leader in the arts, Mr. Pastor-Chermak sits on the Board of Directors of two worthwhile organizations: the East Bay Music Foundation, which presents competitions and showcase concerts for young musicians; and Calliope East Bay Music and Arts, a performing-arts presenter.
As an educator, Mr. Pastor-Chermak teaches an award-winning studio of cello students. In addition, he is Adjunct Professor of Music History at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is founder and Music Director Emeritus of Solano Youth Chamber Orchestra, a highly selective youth orchestra he founded in 2013 and conducted for five seasons.
Mr. Pastor-Chermak earned degrees from UC Berkeley (BA, with honors) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (MM, with honors). Isaac and Alison live in a 100-year-old house in the Berkeley Hills with their cat, Waffle.