Described by Yehudi Menuhin as ’’A true violinist of the 21st century’’, Gilles is known for his virtuosity, unique approach to music and the skill to bring joy to every concert hall. He delivers distinctive performances of the standard classical repertoire combined with genres such as jazz and folk from around the world and the result is unique programming merging the borderlines between musical styles.
Born in Algeria to a French family, Gilles started playing music at an early age and began his studies in France. Later, he moved to America and continued his studies at the Curtis Institute, choosing to settle in California. Very early in his career he decided to move away from the constraints of the international music industry, looking for his own way beyond the conventions and expectations related to a commercial career.
As a soloist Gilles has performed with orchestras such as Leipzig Gewandhaus, San Francisco and Vancouver Symphony, Hamburg Philharmonic, Boston Philharmonic, Berliner Symphoniker, Russian National Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, often play directing as well as performing an extensive list of violin concertos.
With his quartet ‘The Colors of Invention’ (violin, accordion, double bass and cimbalom), Gilles presents chamber music with fusion of classical pieces from Vivaldi, Ravel and Bartok with traditional folk tunes. The Ethno Jazz band ‘Meduoteran’ (violin, accordion and saz) is one of the most recent projects in which Gilles is involved, performing in various Jazz and folk festivals around Europe. ‘The Transylvanian Mountain Boys’ is another highly successful crossover band formed by Gilles, together they perform across the globe and have released 3 CDs for Sony Classical. Gilles was taking the artistic leadership position at the Nordic Chamber Orchestra until the 2017/2018 season.
Gilles has also collaborated with the Celtic fiddler Kevin Burke, Indian violinist Dr. L. Subramanian, gypsy violinist Roby Lakatos, jazz violinist Didier Lockwood and contemporary flamenco dancer Belen Maya, amongst others.
Alongside performance, Gilles is very involved in education with his teaching philosophy connecting strongly with cultural diversity and the freedom of interpretation through improvisation which in August Ariana Todes, former editor of The Strad, reflected in an interview highlighting these eclectic aspects of his career
After participating in the International Menuhin Competition in 1985, Gilles established a lifelong relationship with Yehudi Menuhin. Together they worked on Gilles’ legendary cadenza of Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto, which was filmed and directed by Bruno Monsaingeon. Known for his documentaries about Gould, Richter and Oistrakh, Monsaingeon directed two further films about Gilles Apap and his approach to music, and declared that the violinist’s “art represents music in its greatest possible purity.”