Dr. Ruben Palma | Violoncello

photo: keith saunders


Australian-Salvadoran cellist Dr. Ruben Palma is a freelance musician living and working on unceded Gadigal land. Ruben began to play the cello aged six, and spent nine years studying with Lindy Reksten at the Canberra School of Music. He later studied with Julian Smiles, Howard Penny (at the Australian National Academy of Music), and Nicolas Altstaedt (at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln), and also undertook masterclasses and lessons with Steven Isserlis, David Geringas, Johannes Moser, Alban Gergardt, Uzi Wiesel, Maria Kliegel, Gabriel Schwabe, Pieter Wispelwey, Daniel Yeadon, and Gary Hoffman.

Ruben is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, the HfMT Köln, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (where he graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a dissertation on ornamentation in J.S. Bach's Six Cello Suites, as well as a recording of the complete Bach Cello Suites). He regularly performs both Australia-wide and abroad, including concerts at the Adelaide International Cello Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Canberra International Music Festival, the Crossroads Chamber Music Festival, and the 2014 G20 Brisbane summit, where he performed for president Barack Obama as a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra String Quartet. As soloist, Ruben has performed concerti by Schumann, Elgar, and Haydn, as well as Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations.

Ruben's performances  have been broadcast by Australian Digital Concert Hall, ABC Classic FM, 702 ABC Sydney, 3MBS, and FM 102.5 Sydney Fine Music. He plays on a 2017 Yanbing Chen cello.

"Ruben Palma plays with great clarity and precision. He is a cellist whose playing comes from the soul and speaks to the soul, especially in the works of Bach, and his love for the cello is truly evident in the sincereity of his performances".

– Catherine Hewgill, principal cellist Sydney Symphony Orchestra

"I have known Ruben for many years, and from our first encounter have enjoyed his exquisite playing and inquisitive mind. His dedication to his music is exemplary and always an inspiration".

– Johannes Moser, soloist

"... Palma negotiated the shifts and turns of this music persuasively, moving between cabaret music and contemporary techniques with consummate ease. For me, this will remain one of the stand-out solo performances of the 2022 Canberra International Music Festival" 

Limelight magazine, 5/5/22


Postgraduate Research Support Scheme, Sydney University

Research Training Program Scholarship (formerly Australian Postgraduate Awards)

Sydney Symphony Orchestra Felllow

ACO Emerging Artist

Finalist Australian Cello Awards

ROSL ARTS Scholarship

MOST® Travel Grant

Willoughby Symphony Orchestra Prize 

Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now Scholarship 

Kölner Tanz und Theater Preis (SK Stiftung Kultur) 

Australia Council Skills and Arts Development grant 

Gwen Nisbet Music Scholarship

Ian Potter Foundation Cultural Trust Grant 

NSW finalist: Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards 

ANU / CSO National Orchestral Scholarship 

Ruth Pfanner Undergraduate Scholarship 

1st prize: New York American String Teachers Association Solo Competition 

photo: Christian Faustus


• Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) – Sydney Conservatorium of Music

• Master of Music Violoncello Solo (MMus) – Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (class: Nicolas Altstaedt)

• Bachelor of Music Performance (Honours) (BMus(Hons)) – Victorian College of the Arts

• Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum

• Australian National Academy of Music

• Meadowmount School of Music

• Sydney Conservatorium High School