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Biber Mystery Sonatas

Elicia Silverstein, violin
Francesco Cera, harpsichord & portative organ


H.I.F. Biber: Mystery Sonata I – The Annunciation

H.I.F. Biber: Mystery Sonata III – The Nativity

J.C. Kerll: Passacaglia for solo keyboard

H.I.F. Biber: Mystery Sonata IV – The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

H.I.F. Biber: Mystery Sonata IX – The Carrying of the Cross

G. Muffat: Passacaglia for solo keyboard

H.I.F. Biber: Mystery Sonata X – The Crucifixion

H.I.F. Biber: Mystery Sonata XI – The Resurrection

Silverstein and her esteemed musical collaborator, harpsichordist and organist Francesco Cera, explore the highly spiritual world of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas (also known as the “Rosary Sonatas”), some of the most fascinating music ever composed for the violin. Rich with symbolism, each sonata depicts one of the fifteen Mysteries of the Cross described in the Catholic liturgical tradition. With unusual scordatura tunings and symbolically charged harmonic and rhythmic devices, Biber brings each Mystery of the Cross vividly to life. The fourteen different scordatura tunings help establish the unique character of each sonata by varying the tension on the violin and thereby eliciting from the instrument a distinctive resonance, color, and affect matched to the Mystery depicted. In order to equip themselves to recreate for both themselves and modern listeners the scenery, action, and emotions of each Mystery, Silverstein and Cera have delved deeply into the liturgical texts associated with each. Their aim is nothing less than the fully immersive meditative experience they believe Biber envisioned when he composed the sonatas in the seventeenth century.

Francesco Cera

The Italian harpsichordist, organist and conductor Francesco Cera, is internationally recognized for his performances of 17th and 18th century keyboard music, and as a leading specialist of Frescobaldi’s keyboard works. A student of L. Ferdinando Tagliavini and the famed Gustav Leonhardt, Cera received his diploma from the Amsterdam Conservatory in 1991, the same year in which he became the harpsichordist of the ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, with whom he made various recordings for Teldec and performed concerts throughout Europe. In 1996, Cera founded the Ensemble Arte Musica, specializing in Italian vocal music from Gesualdo and Monteverdi, to the cantatas of the 18th century. Cera has performed, both solo recitals and as the director of Ensemble Arte Musica, in such venues as the Utrecht Early Music Festival, the Festival of Flanders, Resonanzen in Vienna, Baroktage Melk, Philarmonie Köln, Tage Alter Musik in Herne, Lådegard in Oslo, Festival in Maguelone, Abbaye de Saint-Michel en Thiérache, Les Sommets Musicaux in Gstaad, Musica e poesia a San Maurizio in Milan, Accademia Filarmonica in Rome, Festival Monteverdi in Cremona, Bologna Festival, Sagra musicale Malatestiana in Rimini. He has also performed recitals on historical organs throughout Europe, Scandinavia, and the United States. From 1995 until 2005, Cera collaborated regularly with Diego Fasolis and I Barocchisti in Lugano, recording with the ensemble for Arts, Virgin and Decca. He has also collaborated with singers Guillemette Laurens and Letizia Calandra, violinists Enrico Onofri, Marco Serino and Elicia Silverstein, the lutenist Francesco Romano. His vast solo discography on both organ and harpsichord includes repertoire ranging from sixteenth and seventeenth century Italian music to the sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, the French Suites, harpsichord concertos and the Well-Tempered Clavier of J.S. Bach, works by D’Anglebert and Correa de Arauxo. His most recent discography includes an album of works by Girolamo Frescobaldi, interpreted on nine rare historical instruments, published by Arcana. Cera has held masterclasses and seminars at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Yale University, Oberlin Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, Smarano Organ Academy, Piccola Accademia Montisi, Academia de Organo J. echevarria and at the Frescobaldi Akademiet a Grimstad. He is active as a consultant for the restoration of historical organs in Italy. Cera holds the chair of harpsichord professor at the Conservatorio “E.R. Duni” in Matera.

Other projects

Leipzig Metamorphosis

Elicia Silverstein, violin
Accademia dell’Annunciata
Riccardo Doni, harpsichord, chamber organ & conductor

In this program, Elicia Silverstein, Riccardo Doni and his Accademia dell’Annunciata offer the listener a window into a dialogue between the musical world of J.S. Bach and that of his Leipzig compatriot, the young Felix Mendelssohn, who, through his knowledge of the music of Bach is able to “remember the future,” as Luciano Berio later put it, forging a new musical language, informed, colored and perfumed by the past.

Harmonia Artificiosa


Elicia Silverstein & Marco Bianchi, violins
Francesco Cera, harpsichord & chamber organ

Created by Elicia Silverstein for the Ravenna Festival 2023, Heinrich  Ignaz Franz von Biber’s remarkable Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa for two violins in various scordatura tunings and basso continuo, six of Luciano Berio’s 32 Duetti for two violins, and seven new duets for two violins by Berio’s longtime friend and collaborator Marcello Panni, written on commission from Ravenna Festival for this project, make up this program’s fascinating mosaic of sounds past, present and future explored by Silverstein and her most extraordinary travel companions, violinist Marco Bianchi and harpsichordist/organist Francesco Cera.

E se sei solo?


Elicia Silverstein, violin

Revered as the “holy grail” of the violin repertoire, the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, which Silverstein explores in this project, highlight her personal, nuanced, historically informed approach to music making. From both the concert stage and the classroom, Silverstein shares her participation in, what she describes as, the “wonderfully rich living history of the infinite source of inspiration, invention, beauty, humanity and Music,” that these works embody, in an ongoing masterclass-recital tour dedicated to curious, aspiring, music-loving “students” at all stages of the journey.


Elicia Silverstein, violino
Atalanta Fugiens
Vanni Moretto, conductor
Elicia Silverstein, conductor Vanni Moretto and his phenomenal period-instrument orchestra Atalanta Fugiens celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of J.B. Viotti, a musical figure of immeasurable impact on the critical transition that took place in music history at the turn of the nineteenth century. Though undervalued today, Viotti had a profound influence, both as violinist and composer on the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, and his lifelong friend Cherubini, as well as François Xavier Tourte, with whom he developed the modern violin bow. This program seeks to create a sort of sound “photograph” of the musical world in the years that directly surrounded the French Revolution, with Viotti as the protagonist at the center of one of the most important transformations of the western European musical language in modern history.

The Dreams & Fables I Fashion


Elicia Silverstein, violin

This highly personal program, which Silverstein recorded to critical acclaim for Rubicon Classics in 2018 and which won her the BBC Music Magazine’s “Best Newcomer” Award in 2020, takes its title from a 1733 sonnet by Pietro Metastasio, which poignantly expresses the emotionally-charged, sometimes inevitably solitary nature of creating art. Moving seamlessly between works that span from the 17th to the 20th centuries by Biber, Sciarrino, Montanari, Berio and Bach, Silverstein ‘traces the mental circuits that capture and link points distant from each other in place and time’ (Italo Calvino), and aims to highlight the universal nature of the inner human experience, connecting us in ways that transcend the boundaries of time and place.