Miriam Shames earned a BA in Literature from Yale University and a Masters degree in Cello Performance from Juilliard. After Juilliard, she spent 12 years in arts administration, as a classical music publicist for Shuman Associates and Young Concert Artists, and then for five years as Executive Director of the Piatigorsky Foundation, a non-profit organization that makes live classical performances part of everyday life for underserved communities. She moved to Seattle in 2000 with plans to return to the cello full-time, with the German instrument she had played since age 11. As it became clear that she needed a better instrument, a good friend introduced her to Ray Carlsen, and she soon had a cello on loan that sounded beautiful. Over the next few months, Miriam learned more about Dr. Carlsen’s Foundation and offered to help, using the experience she had gained back in Manhattan. Since 2013, Miriam has been director of the Foundation, working with Dr. Carlsen to expand the number of cellos available and to make the organization self-sustaining for many decades to come.
Miriam continues her teaching and performing in the Seattle area. She works with students of all ages and levels in her Seattle studio on Queen Anne, and as a chamber music coach for the Puget Sound Chamber Music Workshop and Chamber Music Madness. As a freelance performer, she served as Principal cellist of Philharmonia Northwest in 2011-12, Assistant Principal of the Tacoma Symphony for three years, has played with Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Northwest Sinfonietta, Seattle Choral Company, in various ensembles at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, and as soloist with the Cascadian Chorale. Solo appearances in 2012-13 include Kol Nidrei with Philharmonia Northwest, and two solo recitals at the UW Law School as part of their Diversity Week. One of her favorite projects is playing as a member of the Scottish acoustic ensemble, Iona Abbey, with bagpiper-extraordinaire Tyrone Heade.
Miriam lives on top of Queen Anne with her husband, photographer Michael Cole and their cat, Jemma. On their honeymoon in the summer of 2012, they traveled 4,500 miles across the United States on Michael’s BMW motorcycle following the historic Lincoln Highway.
She plays a French cello, c. 1865.