“Many people play their instrument in an extraordinary way. However, music is something else. That gift, that grace, Leonardo Gell has it. He is able of transmitting that impalpable mystery of music.”
Ibero-American Prize of Music Tomas Luis de Victoria
“To listen to Leonardo Gell interpreting my music is like listen to myself.”
National Prize on Composition Aquileo Echeverria (Costa Rica)
“Leonardo Gell offered the rerelease of the Gran Sonata for piano by Alfredo Diez Nieto. The score had been kept for years without listening live and met on Leonardo Gell the ideal interpreter. And when I speak about ideal o ideals, I don’t mean just to the resounding text or the virtuosity displayed on a work that is fundamental in the historic creation on the instrument on Cuba. Leonardo Gell, with creativity and precise sense of equilibrium, made the presents discover the greatness of the author. His recital was the act of an artist who, very firmly, will always surprise us.”
University of the Arts (Cuba)
"The intensity and complexity of the proposal incarnated in the interpretation of Leonardo Gell and the National Symphony Orchestra, directed by maestro Enrique Pérez Mesa. Gell has stood out for the passion with which he deciphers and communicates the codes of the authors of our time and, in a very particular way, the work of Camacho."
Pedro de la Hoz
Granma Newspaper (Cuba)
“His sonority is magnificently beautiful.”
Julliard School of Music
“It seems like Mozart wrote that Sonata (Kv. 280) to be played by Leonardo Gell.”
Westminster Choir College of Rider University
"Leonardo Gell returned to his beloved concert hall of the Minor Basilica of the Historic Center of Havana, to present the Piano Ritual album, and a kind of sonorous procession took place where he elevated the krónos to the stature of the kairos. The pianist overturned the time in a ritual that could not happen at a more opportune moment: Leonardo Gell exhibited himself as a solid and conceptual interpreter, sensitive and vibrant."
"The very difficult interpretation of a work with so impressive development (Sonata dall’ Inferno by Marvin Camacho) received one of the ovations of the night, so comminatory, that a single gesture from Gell was enough to reveal the audience an encore. And again he amazed with his pertinent choice, it was Aldo López-Gavilán’s “A mi hermanito lindo”, a soft piece, delicate and melodic, which introduces an intimate and subjective retreat that fades the overjoyed passion awaken by Camacho’s work. And the young cuban pianist left the stage in the middle of applauses that were of the highest recognition.”
"Leonardo Gell is the relay of Cuban pedagogy in Latin America."
University of the Arts (Cuba)
"Excellent performance and a great balance between the pianist and the José White Quartet, there was understanding and good communication between a quartet that has been working together for many years, […] which is noticeable on stage, but their understanding with maestro Gell at piano was very interesting and of enormous consistency."
The Cuban-Costa Rican pianist Leonardo Gell has achieved more of fifteen interpretation prizes among: Great Prize and Prize Chamber Music on Cubadisco Fair (2016), Golden Prize on April Spring Festival (Korea, 2009), First Prize on Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba National Chamber Music Competition (2008), Great Prize and Prize Concert Soloist on Cubadisco Fair (2008), Third Prize on Ciutat de Vinaròs International Chamber Music Competition (Spain, 2008), First Prize on Amadeo Roldán National Piano Competition (Cuba, 2004), First Prize on Musicalia National Chamber Music Competition (Cuba, 2007 and 2008), First Prize on Musicalia National Piano Competition (Cuba, 2002) and Third Prize on María Clara Cullell International Piano Competition (Costa Rica, 2002).
Since 2005, Leonardo has been developing an active career as a concertist, performing on scenarios and festivals in America, Europe and Asia: April Spring Festival (Korea); The Music of The Century International Festival (Lithuania); Festival de Clàssica Acadèmia 1830 (Spain); Festival Internacional de Piano y Canción Latinoamericana and Festival de Música de Cámara de Aguascalientes (Mexico); Festival Internacional de Música Contemporánea de La Habana, Festival Leo Brouwer de Música de Cámara and Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (Cuba); Festival Internacional de Música Clásica Sonata (El Salvador); Costa Rica Piano Festival, Encuentro de Pianistas Costa Rica, Sax Fest Costa Rica Internacional, Festival Internacional de Clarinete de Costa Rica and Seminario de Composición Musical (Costa Rica); Encuentro del Colegio de Compositores Latinoamericanos de Música de Arte (Cuba and Costa Rica); Festival de Música Académica Latinoamericana and Festival Internacional Música Clásica por los Caminos del Vino (Argentina); Festival de Piano de Panamá; among others. He has also perfomed in Switzerland and United States.
Ever since his debut as a soloist at 19 years old with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba, he has also been invited by the National Symphonic Orchestra of Costa Rica, Heredia Symphonic Orchestra, Havana Chamber Orchestra, Santiago de Cuba Symphonic Orchestra, Camagüey Symphonic Orchestra, Nuestro Tiempo Chamber Orchestra, Música Eterna Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Romeu, Vila-seca Chamber Orchestra, Acadèmia 1830 Orchestra, Cartago Symphonic Orchestra, and University of Costa Rica´s Symphonic Orchestra and Band; with conductors as Paolo Bortolameolli, Guido López-Gavilán, Iván del Prado, Enrique Pérez Mesa, Joan Pagès, Roberto Valera, Fernando Marina, Zenaida Romeu, Eddie Mora, Alejandro Gutiérrez, Guillermo Villarreal, and Cossette Justo, among others. He recently made his first appearance as a soloist/conductor at the Classical Festival organized by the Acadèmia 1830 Orchestra of Palma de Mallorca, performing the chamber version of Beethoven's Piano Concerto Nr. 3 Op. 37.
Leonardo’s repertoire counts with more than 55 absolute premiers, many of which have been dedicated by Leo Brouwer, Juan Piñera, Marvin Camacho, Alfredo Diez Nieto, Yalil Guerra, Susan Campos, Julián de la Chica and others composers. Worth to emphasize Concierto No.1 Iniciático for piano and symphonic orchestra and Concierto para piano, cuerdas y percusión, both by Marvin Camacho and premiered in Costa Rica’s National Theater (2012); De profundis - Concert for trio and orchestra, by Marvin Camacho, premiered with Symphonic Orchestra of Heredia on Costa Rican’s National Auditorium (2011); Variantes, coral y leyenda for trio and string orchestra, by Guido López-Gavilán, premiered with Música Eterna Chamber Orchestra (2011;) the Complete works for violin, clarinet and piano trio, by Juan Piñera (2011); and Paisaje cubano con historia for violin, clarinet and piano, by Leo Brouwer, with the composer conducting (2010).
He has also made several national premieres, including: Nocturnos de la Antequeruela for piano and string orchestra, by Antón García Abril (Vila-seca Chamber Orchestra, Catalonia, 2011); Suite Caribeña for piano and string orchestra, by Roberto Valera; RinoSONoronte for piano and string orchestra, by Alejandro Cardona; Fantasía No. 1 for piano and symphony orchestra, by Marvin Camacho; Concierto para piano y orquesta de cámara, by Alberto Villalpando; Concerto for piano and strings orchestra Op. 40 by Henryk Gorecki (Heredia Symphonic Orchestra, Costa Rica, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2022); Concierto No. 1 Iniciático for piano and symphonic orchestra, by Marvin Camacho (Cuba National Symphony Orchestra, 2013); and Rapsodia Negra for piano and band, by Ernesto Lecuona (University of Costa Rica Symphonic Band, 2014).
In chamber music, his duos stand out with clarinetist Dianelys Castillo (recitals in Cuba, Costa Rica, Argentina and Mexico), violinist Evelio Tieles (recitals in Cuba, Spain and Costa Rica), saxophonist Sofía Zumbado (recitals in Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico) and the violinist Erasmo Solerti (recitals in El Salvador and Costa Rica, with whom he performed the Complete Sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven, in 2015). In 2007 he founded the Trío Concertante with clarinetist Dianelys Castillo and violinist Fernando Muñoz, recognized among the best Cuban ensembles. The Trío Concertante marked a precedent in Cuban chamber music based on its international awards. Composers from several countries formed a catalog of almost 30 works written especially for the group. Between 2018 and 2020 he joined the Ensamble Eco, dedicated to the exploration and diffusion of contemporary music.
Leonardo has also collaborated with other musicians such as Antón García Abril, Tania León, Michel Arrignon, Philippe Cuper, Andrés Posada, Ivette Cepeda, Eliane Reyes, Jose White String Quartet, Aldebaran String Quartet, Antonio Saiote, Alejandro Cardona, Gabriel Campos, Milagros de los Ángeles, Carlos Céspedes, Cuauhtémoc Rivera, Darío Martín, Manuel Matarrita, Ana Catalina Ramírez and Alejandro Martínez.
His discography with Colibrí label includes the DVD Mozart en La Habana (presented in the Mozart's House in Salzburgo during the Mozarteum Festival 2008 and achieved the Great Prize and other three prices by categories on the Cubadisco Fair 2008); 2 CD's Capricho Cubano (acknowledge by the Juventud Rebelde Journal among the most relevant musical events of 2012 in Cuba and gave to Alfredo Diez Nieto the Cubadisco Prize 2012 to Best Composer of the Year); CD-DVD Piñera-Concertante (Cubadisco Award 2013 nominee on Chamber Music category); CD-DVD Caribe Nostrum (La Ceiba-Colibrí | Great Prize and Chamber Music Prize on Cubadisco Fair 2016); CD Piano Ritual with music by Marvin Camacho (Cubadisco Award 2017 nominee and ACAM Costa Rica Award 2018 nominee); CD Havana (Alegna Music Productions, Miami) with music by Leonardo Curbelo; and CD Nueva Música Latinoamericana Vol. I with the Ensamble Eco. Gell has been part of CD’s Presagios, Caminos, Historias propias and Nosotros (UCR), Rituales y Leyendas, Salmos cotidianos and Estrenos en Concierto (RYCY Productions), Desde las entrañas de mi tierra (ACAM), Abstracto, Fuego and Brujos (Heredia Symphonic Asociation, the last album was nominated for the Latin Grammy Award 2022 in Best Classical Music Album category), Plegaria (music by Eddie Mora), and Cascada de Melodías (music by Pilar Aguilar).
Leonardo also recorded the soundtracks for the movies El premio flaco (Cubadisco Prize 2012 for Best Soundtrack) and Chamaco, both from director Juan Carlos Cremata. He has been on documentaries as well: Contar la música: Alfredo Diez Nieto, Juan Piñera-Trío Concertante, Tres mitos para una noche: Alicia Alonso, Rudolf Nureyev and Victoria de los Ángeles, Salmos cotidianos, and Sinfonía Cubana (Cubadisco Special Prize 2018). In 2011 he made the world premiere of the version for two pianos of the film Metropolis by Fritz Lang, at the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, together with his colleague Darío Martín.
As a music producer, Leonardo has been involved in the albums Retratos, Rompiendo moldes, Abstracto and Fuego (Symphonic Orchestra of Heredia), Salmos cotidianos, Las memorias de Sibö and Piano Ritual (music by Marvin Camacho), Havana (music by Leonardo Curbelo), Doce Musas (music by Andres Soto), Música para Piano Vol. I (music by Carlos Escalante), Benjamín Gutiérrez: su música and Música de Compositores Costarricenses Vol. I (Costa Rica´s National Symphonic), the last album was nominated for the Latin Grammy Award 2014 in Best Classical Music Album category.
He is the author of the book Tres Sonatas Dantescas para piano de Marvin Camacho (University of Costa Rica Press, 2020), in which he proposes a critical and interpretive edition of that cycle of works, in addition to the record of it. Other research of his have been published in academic articles by indexed journals from Costa Rica, Cuba and Chile.
As a teacher he has worked at the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory (Havana, 2005-2009), Manuel Saumell Conservatory (Havana, 2005-2008) and the University of Costa Rica (from 2013 to present), where he served as Coordinator of Piano Section (2015-2019), Coordinador of History, Research and Transdisciplinary Studies Section (2020), Coordinator of the Final Graduation Projects Commission (2021-2023), and Director of the Theoretical and Composition Department (2021-2022) at the School of Musical Arts. His students have obtained numerous laureates in Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, United States and Lithuania. He has offered master classes and conferences at the Lyceum Mozartiano de La Habana, Manuel Saumell, Esteban Salas, José White Conservatories and Raúl Gómez García Vocational Art School (Cuba), National Autonomous University of Mexico, University of the Arts of Aguascalientes and Autonomous University of Zacatecas (Mexico), El Salvador Arts National Center, University of Panama, Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), National M. K. Ciurlionis School of Art (Lithuania), University of the Arts (Ecuador), Federal University of Santa Maria (Brazil), National Conservatory of Music of Ecuador, Costa Rica National University and University of Costa Rica. It has served as guest teacher of the IX Palmares Piano Camp (Costa Rica) and VI Musicalia International Piano Festival (Cuba); resident teacher of the XIII Aguascalientes Chamber Music Festival (Mexico); and professor of the Master in Piano Technique and Miomechanics, organized by High Performance Music School and Musikeon (Spain). He has also been a member of the jury in competitions held in Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Spain and Lithuania.
Born in Havana on March 1st, 1986, Leonardo Gell received the top honors by concluding his studies on the Manuel Saumell Conservatory (Best Graduated, 2001), Amadeo Roldán Conservatory (Golden Degree, 2005) and Havana's University of Arts (Golden Degree, 2010), in which he studied piano with Faina Braginskaya, Hortensia Upmann, Teresita Junco and Ulises Hernández. He completed his Master's Degree at the University of Costa Rica (Honor Graduation, 2017), an institution where he is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Studies of Society and Culture. During his postgraduate studies, the University of Costa Rica has awarded him the Diploma of Academic Excellence as the Best Average for the Postgraduate Degree in Arts (2015), Best Average for Professional Master's Degrees in the Arts and Letters Area (2015) and Best Average for the Doctorate in Studies of Society and Culture (2019).
He has received master class with Jerome Lowenthal, Salomon Mikowski, Jorge Luis Prats, Frank Fernández, Cecilio Tieles, Yleana Bautista, Ninowska Fernández-Britto, Antonio Carbonell, Roberto Urbay and Aldo López-Gavilán.