Internationally renowned violinist Jacques Israelievitch has enjoyed an exciting and varied career as concertmaster, soloist, chamber musician, teacher, and conductor. As one of North America's most distinguished performing artists, he appears regularly throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.
Born in France, Mr. Israelievitch made his solo debut on French National Radio at the age of eleven, graduated from the Paris Conservatory with three first prizes at just sixteen and was subsequently a prizewinner at the International Paganini Competition. Mr. Israelievitch has studied under such acclaimed teachers as Henryk Szeryng, Janos Starker, William Primrose and Josef Gingold, with whom he later served as Teaching Assistant at Indiana University.
At age 23, Sir Georg Solti appointed Jacques Israelievitch to Assistant Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, making him the youngest musician in the orchestra. In 1978, after six seasons in Chicago, he became Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for ten years.
From 1988 to 2008, Mr. Israelievitch served as Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra—the longest tenure for a leader in the ensemble’s history. His time with the TSO was highlighted by annual appearances as both soloist and conductor.
Appearing frequently with orchestras from around the world, Mr. Israelievitch has collaborated with Sir Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Leonard Slatkin, Raymond Leppard, Sir Andrew Davis, Günther Herbig, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Thomas Dausgaard, and Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos, among many others. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, CBC Radio Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Lithuania, and the China National Symphony Orchestra of Beijing.
An avid performer of contemporary music, Mr. Israelievitch has premiered and recorded several new pieces such as R. Murray Schafer’s The Darkly Splendid Earth: The Lonely Traveler, commissioned for him by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and recorded for CBC Records. In 2004, he performed Jeffrey Ryan’s violin concerto, The Chalice of Becoming, with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. This work was also commissioned for Jacques and premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Israelievitch is an accomplished chamber musician, performing with such distinguished artists as Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman and Yo-Yo Ma. He is a founding member of the Toronto Symphony Quartet and is also violinist of the twice Naumburg Award recipient New Arts Trio, the trio-in-residence each summer at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. While at Chautauqua, Mr. Israelievitch teaches an international class of violinists, and coaches chamber music groups. He has also served as chair of the string department.
Since the fall of 2008, Mr. Israelievitch is a full-time professor on the fine arts faculty at York University in Toronto. He has also taught for many years at the University of Toronto and Royal Conservatory of Music. Mr. Israelievitch has taught and given master classes at the New World Symphony, Manhattan School of Music, Eastman School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Michigan, McGill University, Central Conservatory in Beijing, and the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, among others.
In growing demand as a conductor, Mr. Israelievitch has led the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre du Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris, and other ensembles in North America, France, and Japan. Since 2005, he has been Music Director and Conductor of the Koffler Chamber Orchestra, the ensemble-in-residence at the Koffler Centre of the Arts.
Mr. Israelievitch’s discography includes the Juno Award nominated Suite Hebraique, Bruch's Second Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Lithuania, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with the CBC Radio Orchestra, Beethoven’s Romances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the albums Suite Française, Suite Enfantine, Suite Fantaisie, Solo Suite, and Hammer and Bow with his son, percussionist Michael Israelievitch. He is the featured violin soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Ballet with Leonard Slatkin for RCA Red Seal and can be heard on recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Decca, Sony/BMG, Naxos, Telarc, Finlandia, Analekta, Fleur de Son, and CBC Records.
In 2006, Mr. Israelievitch released the first-ever complete recording of Kreutzer’s 42 studies for solo violin. Since becoming commercially available, the project has garnered worldwide recognition. Other recent releases include an all-French album with the Mirage Quintet for Naxos Records and a brand new recording by the New Arts Trio, called New Arts Trio at Chautauqua: 30th Anniversary Recital.
In 1995, Jacques Israelievitch received a knighthood by the French government into the Order of Arts and Letters. In 2004, he was promoted to the honorable status of Officer, one of France’s highest cultural honors. In 2008, the Toronto Musicians’ Association presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his distinguished contribution to the performing arts in Canada.