Ashley Walters has been praised for her "imposing talents" (Sequenza 21) and "impressive" (Pitchfork) and "beautiful playing" (All About Jazz). Ashley maintains a uniquely diverse career specializing in the performance of microtonal works and repertoire with extended techniques, alternate tunings, and improvisation.
As a solo artist, Ashley has been the dedicatee of numerous works by composers such as Nicholas Deyoe, Andrew McIntosh, Lewis Nielson, Daniel Rothman, Wadada Leo Smith, and Andrew Tholl. She is also known for her performances of Sequenza XIV by Luciano Berio, Plainsound-Litany by Wolfgang von Schweinitz, and Invisibility by Liza Lim. Ashley has appeared as a soloist on concert series such as Green Umbrella, sfSalonSeries, wasteLAnd music, San Diego New Music, Beyond Baroque, nief-norf Summer Music Festival, Santa Fe Creative Dialogue, at the Hammer Museum, Spectrum, Barrett Hall, the Wulf, and for dance performances in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. Soon to be released on Populist Records, her debut solo album features four works dedicated to her in addition to works by Berio and Schweinitz. In May of 2016, Ashley premiered a cello concerto by long-time collaborator Nicholas Deyoe and will record the piece in 2017. Following the premiere performance, Paul Muller of Sequenza 21 wrote, “the swirling texture and often agitated phrasing was accurately and confidently played, a showcase for the virtuosity that Ms. Walters dependably brings to all her performances.” This season, she will perform Liza Lim’s Invisibility at Disney Hall as well as solo recitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.
A frequent collaborator with legendary trumpeter, improviser, and composer Wadada Leo Smith, Ashley joined his Golden Quintet in 2016 and recorded his America's National Parks the same year. "The band Wadada enlisted for this project was an expansion of his dream-team of veterans known as the Golden Quartet (Anthony Davis on piano, John Lindberg on bass, Pheeroan akLaff on drums), with the acquisition of the young cellist Ashley Walters, who adds chamberesque texture and diversified colors to the organic divagations" (Jazz Trail). Dan McClenaghan of All About Jazz wrote "Ashley Walters' cello paints the rich, beautiful hues that subtly enhance the entire proceeding — the most auspicious addition to a jazz ensemble since Chico Hamilton brought the instrument into his chamber groups in the late 1950s." Ashley has toured Smith's Pulitzer Prize-nominated Ten Freedom Summers to Austria, Brazil, Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York. She has also twice appeared as a guest with Smith's Golden Quartet performing in Istanbul and Paris and she has performed with Smith’s Silver Orchestra, for which Robert Bush of All About Jazz said,“cellist Ashley Walters contributions were consistently compelling.”
Ashley is a founding member of the “superb” and “fabulous” (LA Times) Formalist Quartet, which has premiered a vast repertoire of works and is known for its audacious programming. The quartet was born on the 100th birthday of Dmitri Shostakovich (September 25th, 2006) and has played frequently across the United States in concert halls, festivals, art galleries, cafes, and homes, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall; REDCAT; UC San Diego; Stanford University; University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Oberlin Conservatory; the Flatfile Galleries, Chicago; University of Nevada, Reno; MOSA Concert Series, New York; Princeton University; the Villa Aurora, Pacific Palisades; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; LISTEN/SPACE, New York; Hamiltonian Gallery, Washington D.C.; and ArtSpace Herndon, Virginia. Internationally, the quartet has appeared at the Reykjavik Arts Festival,Die Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik, Austria; Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Italy; and Universität der Künste and BKA Theater, Germany. Their recordings include the epic 100 Cadences of Arthur Jarvinen, music for several small films and pop records, and Kristian Ireland’s "Clearing" on the <541> series through Innova records. Soon, the quartet will release a recording of Christian Wolff's string quartets, recorded in collaboration with the composer.
In the summer of 2013, Ashley joined the faculty of the nief-norf Summer Festival, part of a multi-faceted contemporary music organization devoted to fostering creative collaboration among musical performers, composers, and scholars. Each summer, she joins colleagues from throughout the U.S. to perform, teach chamber music, and conduct ensembles at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In November 2014, she appeared with the nief-norf project at a multi-day festival at Northern Illinois University.
Ashley can be heard on Cold Blue Records, Darla Records, Populist Records, Tzadik Records, Cuneiform, Music from Stanford: <541>, Atlantic Records, Universal Motown, and as the cellist on the DVD documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.
Ashley currently serves as faculty at Moorpark College and Ventura College. She has served on the faculty of the California State Summer School, the Academy of Creative Education, the Oakwood School, the Harmony Project, and as an Associate-in-Music at UCSD. She has presented guest lectures at CalArts, UC San Diego, Ventura College, and Northern Illinois University.
A native of Oak Hill, VA, Dr. Walters holds degrees from the University of California, San Diego (where she was twice awarded for excellence in teaching for her work with undergraduate students), the California Institute of the Arts, and Vanderbilt University (Magna Cum Laude).