The Toronto News -
Toronto Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch To Retire After Distinguished 20-year Career
Arts & Entertainment

Press releases and information on Toronto's arts, culture and entertainment.

By Arts & Entertainment
Published on 09/14/2007
Toronto - Andrew R. Shaw, President & C.E.O. of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), announced that after a distinguished 20 year career as the TSO’s Concertmaster, violinist Jacques Israelievitch will step down from his post at the conclusion of the 07/08 season.

Toronto - Andrew R. Shaw , President & C.E.O. of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), announced today that after a distinguished twenty-year career as the TSO’s Concertmaster, violinist Jacques Israelievitch will step down from his post at the conclusion of the 2007.2008 season.

“Jacques has made a remarkable contribution to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra throughout his tenure,” remarked Mr. Shaw in his announcement today regarding Mr. Israelievitch’s retirement. “His leadership, both from the Concertmaster’s chair and off the stage, has enriched the orchestra and the community in general. Jacques’s dedication has been an invaluable source of strength through many changes in the organization and in music directorship.”

“It has been a privilege to have Jacques at my side,” remarked TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian. “I have enjoyed the benefit of his exemplary musicianship, his knowledge of the repertoire, and his musical leadership of our fine string section.”

Born in France, Jacques Israelievitch made his solo debut on French National Radio at the age of eleven, and graduated from the Paris National Conservatory at just sixteen! His acclaimed teachers included Henryk Szeryng, Janos Starker, William Primrose and Josef Gingold, with whom he later served as Teaching Assistant at Indiana University.

At only 23, the pre-eminent Sir Georg Solti appointed Israelievitch as Assistant Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony, making him the youngest musician in the orchestra. In 1978, after six seasons, he became Concertmaster in St. Louis, a position he held until assuming his post with the TSO in 1988.

Since that time, Israelievitch has established himself as one of Canada’s most popular and active musicians in demand as a soloist, conductor and chamber musician. As a soloist, he has collaborated with Sir Georg Solti, Sir Andrew Davis, Gunther Herbig, Carlo Maria Giulini, Leonard Slatkin, Raymond Leppard, and Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos, among others. He has also been the featured soloist for many TSO commissions including R. Murray Schafer’s The Darkly Splendid Earth; The Lonely Traveller, commissioned for him in 1991, and Jeffrey Ryan’s The Chalice of Becoming.

As a conductor, Israelievitch has led the TSO, the St. Louis Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Windsor Symphony, and orchestras in Europe and Asia. An accomplished chamber musician, he has performed with such distinguished artists as Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman and Yo-Yo Ma. He formed and leads the TSO’s own string quartet and is a member of the acclaimed New Arts Trio, the trio-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute in New York.

"Israelievitch gives excellent performances – muscular and dramatic, with precise intonation and a strong sense of direction." – Wholenote Magazine

Nominated for a Juno Award for Suite Hébraique, Israelievitch’s discography also includes works by Beethoven, Grieg and Mozart with the TSO, and the albums Suite Francaise, Suite Enfantine, Suite Fantasie, Solo Suite, and Hammer and Bow marking his first CD with his son, percussionist Michael Israelievitch. In 2006, Israelievitch released the world’s first-ever complete recording of Kreutzer's 42 études for solo violin, to international acclaim.

Israelievitch currently serves on the faculties of the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music, and is Music Director and Conductor of Toronto’s Koffler Chamber Orchestra. In 1995, Israelievitch was knighted by the French Government into the Order of Arts and Letters, and in 2004, was promoted to the honourable status of Officer.

On June 7 and 8, 2008, the TSO will salute Israelievitch with a celebratory concert featuring the honouree as soloist and conductor. The programme includes Israelievitch and longtime stand partner Associate Concertmaster Mark Skazinetsky in Bach’s Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor; Israelievitch as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D; and the world premiere of a TSO commission by Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, Double Concerto for Violin and Percussion , where Israelievitch will be joined on stage by his son Michael.

In tribute to Jacques Israelievitch's 20-year TSO career, CBC Radio 2 (94.1 FM) will broadcast the world premiere of this commission! Israelievitch will also be the subject of a special broadcast on CBC Radio 2’s new Sunday afternoon classical music programme, SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN CONCERT, hosted by Bill Richardson where listeners will have a chance to hear Israelievitch reflect on his years in Toronto at the helm of the TSO.