Henry Shapard is the Principal Cello of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, appointed by VSO Music Director Otto Tausk in 2020 when he was just 21 years old. Highlights of his tenure in British Columbia have included concerto performances with the VSO in each of his first three seasons: the Gulda concerto in 2020, the Lalo concerto in 2021, and the concert premiere of Marcus Goddard’s Antarctica: Life Emerging—a work originally conceived for Yo-Yo Ma— in 2022. In March 2024, he will perform the titular role in Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote alongside Leonard Slatkin and the VSO.
As a concerto soloist, Henry is in demand across North America; the 22-23 season has included solo appearances in New York City (Parlando Ensemble), and with the Prince George and Lima symphony orchestras. He opens the PRISMA Festival Orchestra’s summer 2023 program with the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Furthermore, recent chamber music appearances have included the Beethoven Septet with violinist James Ehnes and principal players of the VSO, and a concert tour on the Vetta Chamber Music series throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
In May 2020, Henry graduated with distinction from Yale University with a degree in History,
where he was named Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded the Bach Society Prize, the Sharp Prize, the Selden Memorial Award, and the Berkeley College Arts Prize. At Yale, he was a student of Ole Akahoshi and served as Principal Cello of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, where William Boughton became another important mentor. Henry served as the assistant conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Berkeley College Orchestra and the Saybrook College Orchestra. He led Low Strung, an all-cello rock group at Yale, on tours to China, Singapore, and across the USA.
Henry was a two-time fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where he received the Karl Zeise Memorial Cello Award. He has also performed across Germany and Denmark as a member of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra. Before joining the VSO, he briefly held the position of Principal Cello of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was appointed by the RIPO’s late Artistic Adviser—and former Music Director Emeritus of the VSO—Bramwell Tovey.
Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was an enthusiastic student of Richard Weiss, Henry holds a deep commitment to both education and stewardship. In addition to serving as a pedagogue, chamber music, and orchestral coach throughout North America, Henry frequently conducts workshops for incarcerated individuals, using the cello to facilitate conversation, reflection, and healthy self-expression among marginalized communities.
He begins his role as Professor of Cello at the Vancouver Academy of Music during the 2023-24 academic year.