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 6, and spent nine years studying with Lindy Reksten at the Canberra School of Music. Ruben 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 Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (graduating with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a doctoral thesis on ornamentation in J.S. Bach's Six Cello Suites). He regularly performs both Australia-wide and abroad, including performances in Germany, the U.S.A., the U.K., China, and El Salvador, and at festivals such as the Adelaide International Cello Fesitval, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the Canberra International Music Festival. As soloist, Ruben has performed concerti by Schumann, Elgar, and Haydn, as well as Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations.

Ruben was a state finalist in the 2008 Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards, a finalist and prizewinner in the 2014 Australian Cello Awards, the 2015 Australian Chamber Orchestra Emerging Artist, and partook in the 2017 Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship program. His solo and chamber music performances have been broadcast by Australian Digital Concert Hall, ABC Classic FM, 702 ABC Sydney, 3MBS, and FM 102.5 Sydney Fine Music. Ruben's cello was made in 2017 by Yanbing Chen.

"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 CIMF"

Limelight magazine


Postgraduate Research Support Scheme, Sydney University (2017; 2018)

Research Training Program Scholarship (formerly Australian Postgraduate Awards) (2015–2018)

Finalist Australian Cello Awards (2014)

ROSL ARTS Scholarship (2014)

MOST® Travel Grant (2014)

Willoughby Symphony Orchestra Prize (2014)

Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now Scholarship (with Odette Quartet) (2013)

Kölner Tanz und Theater Preis (SK Stiftung Kultur) (2013)

Australia Council Skills and Arts Development grant (2012)

Gwen Nisbet Music Scholarship (2010)

John Gaitskell Mensa Award (2010)

Peg Oldfield Prize (2010)

Lady Tumer Exhibition (2010)

Gwen Prockter Prize (2010)

Ian Potter Foundation Cultural Trust Grant (2009)

Australia Council Buzz Grant (2009)

NSW finalist: Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards (2008)

Ruth Pfanner Undergraduate Scholarship (2007)

ANU / CSO National Orchestral Scholarship (2007)

1st prize: New York American String Teachers Association Solo Competition (2006)

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 (2009)

Australian National Academy of Music (2008 – 2010)

Meadowmount School of Music (2006)