Biography

Pedro Carneiro

© Patrícia Andrade

“(…) It is a masterly touch to round off Carneiro’s dazzling performance.” – The Guardian

“(…) a formidable reading of these major works (…) extremely precious for its quality of interpretation.” – Le Monde

“Marimba player Pedro Carneiro, who performed as a soloist (…) appeared to be a superman from another galaxy.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Pedro Carneiro was born in the southern bank of Lisbon in 1975. The son of the principal trumpeter of the Radio Symphony Orchestra and an amateur actress, Pedro was brought up around concerts, rehearsals and performances.

He started learning piano as a small child, but quickly switched to cello and trumpet. He was seduced by percussion: the wealth of sounds, timbres, instruments and sonic invention – and has always been immersed in music, also composing and conducting. Carneiro entered the percussion class at the National Conservatoire in Lisbon when he was 12. He moved to London on a scholarship from the Gulbenkian Foundation and studied percussion with David Corkhill and conducting with Alan Hazeldine, at the Guidhall School of Music and Drama. Later on, he studied conducting with Emilio Pomàrico at the Scuola Civica in Milan.

Today, Pedro Carneiro is acclaimed internationally as one of the world’s foremost solo classical percussionists and equally active as a conductor and composer. Pedro’s virtuosity, passion, explosive energy and emotional spontaneity have inspired several of today’s leading composers to write works specially for him. He performs and records with many orchestras around the globe, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, São Paulo State Symphony, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Leipzig Radio Symphony, to name a few. He also appears regularly as a soloist/director, conducting from the marimba keyboard.

He has performed the world première of over 100 new works and collaborates regularly with a wide range of acclaimed musicians. An enthusiastic chamber musician, Carneiro has commissioned, performed and recorded over a dozen new quintets for marimba and string quartet, in the company of the Tokyo, Arditti, Shanghai, Latinoamericano, New Zealand and Chilingirian string quartets.

Deeply committed to the musical development of his home country and fostering the work of fellow professional young musicians, he co-founded the Portuguese Chamber Orchestra (OCP) in 2007, which he serves as Music Director. In a very short period of time, the Portuguese Chamber Orchestra – an exciting group of some of the nation’s top young professional musicians – became the “Orchestra in Residence” at the Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon), performing their own concert series to sell-out audiences as well as touring nationally and internationally to impressive critical acclaim. In 2013, he co-founded the Portuguese Youth Orchestra (JOP), a member of the European Federation of National Youth Orchestras, performing their international debut in Kassel (Germany) in 2014. Under Carneiro’s leadership, JOP toured Germany and Romania (2015 and 2016) which included their Berlin debut, at the Young Euro Classic Festival, hosted at the Konzerthaus Berlin. The Portuguese Youth Orchestra returned to Berlin in September 2017, with Carneiro as soloist/director, and in 2019, with a groundbreaking new piece for inclusive ensemble (Notas de Contacto – a OCPsolidária na CerciOeiras) and orchestra, by João Godinho.

Pedro is also a passionate inventor: he has created many new mallets, sticks and accessories, including a marimba damper pedal – some of which are now entering the repertoire and being used by percussionists around the world; and is a keen improviser, performing in many experimental performances, often using live electronics and cutting-edge technology.

Although Pedro has written concert music, his main focus in recent years has been the interaction with other forms: theatre, dance and film: for which he as produced a considerable body of work.
His extensive discography includes several prize-winning recordings and features solo recitals, chamber music and concerti – on the ECM, Zig-Zag Territoires, Rattle, Stradivarius and various other labels.

Pedro Carneiro lives in Lisbon with his wife Teresa Simas (dancer, choreographer, academic and artistic administrator) and their two daughters: Carolina and Inês.