Equally comfortable on the stages of Carnegie Hall and the set of Saturday Night Live, Keats Dieffenbach (they/any) is a unique artist with infinitely varied interests and abilities. Lauded by the New York Times as an “impressive performer,” Keats’ dual specialization in contemporary and historical performance on both violin and viola keeps them in demand as concertmaster, chamber musician, and soloist with many leading ensembles.
As chamber musician Keats’ collaborators have ranged from Emanuel Ax and Christian Tetzlaff to baroque violinist Monica Huggett and indie rock sensation Vampire Weekend. Keats serves as violist of The Cramer Quartet and violinist of The Serenade Quartet, and they have toured as guest violinist with the JACK Quartet and Claremont Trio. A member of Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble, they are concertmaster of The Orchestra of the League of Composers and hold a violin chair in the iconic Radio City Christmas Spectacular Orchestra. Keats has been soloist with the North Carolina Symphony and has served as concertmaster under leading conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Roger Norrington, David Robertson, Andrew Litton, and Alfredo Bernardini. They have appeared frequently with The Knights orchestral collective, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect (formerly Ensemble ACJW) with whom they held a prestigious two-year fellowship position.
A passionate explorer of music both old and new, Keats recently spearheaded a major commissioning project for period instrument ensemble Juilliard415 inspired by Haydn’s Seven Last Words. The project juxtaposed newly commissioned works by Jessica Meyer, Colin Jacobsen, Nico Muhly, Tania León, Reena Esmail, Paola Prestini, and Caroline Shaw with Haydn’s timeless work via a visually-immersive spatialized performance at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Keats studied modern violin with Robert Mann at The Juilliard School and served as Donald Weilerstein’s teaching assistant at New England Conservatory. They recently completed Juilliard’s Historical Performance program as a baroque violin student of Cynthia Roberts and Elizabeth Blumenstock. Keats is based in New York City and Newfane, Vermont.