Violinist extraordinaire and visionary, Atis Bankas is a soloist, leader and chamber musician. He is the leader of the Ensemble CamerAtis, first violinist of the Gould String Quartet and founder and Artistic Director of Music Niagara, the international summer festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Mr. Bankas shares his musical talents and experience by teaching a large violin studio at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto and as a first violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
The highlights of 2013/2014 concert season include highly acclaimed solo recitals in Potsdam, Germany, premiering Concerto for Violin and Symphony Orchestra No. 3 (dedicated to A. Bankas) by a Lithuanian composer V. Bartulis at the contemporary music festival “Is Arti” in Kaunas, Lithuania, chamber music appearances in the Chamber Music Gallery concert series in Toronto and Transept Series in Niagara-on-the-Lake, adjudicating the Kocian International Violin Competition in Czech Republic, as well as returning solo recitals in Germany and Lithuania and Japan.
First-prize winner of the International Violin Competition in Tallin, Estonia, Atis Bankas performed as a soloist in the former Soviet Union, Europe, the United States, and Canada and with orchestras under the direction of Nejme Jarvi, Iona Brown and Andrew Davis, among many others.
After graduating from the Lithuanian State Conservatory with a summa cum laude Masters degree in solo violin performance, chamber music, pedagogy, and orchestral performance, Mr. Bankas continued his post-graduate work in violin performance at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory where he studied in David Oistrakh’s violin department. His principal teachers were Victor Radovich (in Vilnius, Lithuania) and Semyon Snitkovsky, (in Moscow, Russia), both students of David Oistrakh.
Mr. Bankas has served on faculties at the University of Toronto, Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY, the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and the Moscow Gnessin Pedagogical Institute in Moscow.
He has adjudicated competitions and conducted master classes in Japan, Korea, Europe, the United States and Canada. Many of Mr. Bankas’ students have been prizewinners of international and national competitions, such as the Paganini International Violin Competition, Stradivarius International Violin Competition, J. Heifetz International Violin Competition, the Toronto Symphony and Montreal Symphony competitions, Edward Johnson Music Competition, Kiwanis Festivals and the Canadian Music Competitions. These students have gone on to study at prestigious institutions such as Juilliard, New England Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute, Peabody Conservatory, Curtis Institute, Colborne School, the Royal Northern College of Music and have obtained positions with Canada’s major symphony orchestras including the Toronto Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Vancouver Symphony.
His solo and chamber music performances have received high critical acclaim:
“Atis Bankas’s phenomenal technique allowed him to portray the original flavour of the traditional classical repertoire, creating a profound impact for this concert; in the Haydn concerto Atis Bankas’ technical mastery was very impressive. Though his wonderful technical abilities he was able to present the beauty of the classical genre employing his musical mastery and warmth of his sound…” KOREAN CULTURE MAGAZINE
“I just want to point out that we have one of the greatest living violinists with us every summer here in Niagara-on-the-Lake —Atis Bankas. He has it all, intonation, beautiful tone in all registers, phrasing, and great musicianship. Having such an exceptional talent here is something we should celebrate.” PETER HALL, WNED RADIO, BUFFALO, NY
“A brilliant technique and profound musicianship are combined in the artistry of the Lithuanian born violinist, Atis Bankas” ESTONIAN DAILY
“Atis Bankas excelled in brilliant solo passages, but was first among equals in a seasoned ensemble…” KITCHENER-WATERLOO RECORD
“The mellow tone he elicits from his instrument is responsible for the warmth of the ensemble. Its pitch approaches that of the viola but in capable hands of Mr. Bankas it soars the heights into sweetness. Quite remarkable!” FINANCIAL POST
“…a driven melting sound of the violin in Sergei Prokofiev’s sonata for violin and piano Nr. 2 in D major…” POTSDAMER NEUESTE NACHRICHTEN, GERMANY
“…Bankas’ ever-dependable brilliance (aided by a magical bow arm) in Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat as he filled the hall with unerring style and engaging verve…” JAMESWEGGREVIEW
In recognition of his musical contributions to the community, Atis Bankas was inducted into the International Knightly Order of St. George, and for his contribution to the musical culture of Azerbaijan and the development of cultural relations between Azerbaijan and Canada, Atis Bankas was honoured as an Honorary Doctor of Arts by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education and the Academy of Fine Arts.