Leila Josefowicz is a world class violinist who was born in Canada and grew up in the United States. She received an early start on the violin by learning from the Suzuki music method at the age of three and a half and then private lessons by the age of five. As her musical studies progressed, she would attend the Colburn school in Los Angeles to study with Robert Lipsett. After moving to Philadelphia with her family at the age of 13, Leila enrolled in the Julia R. Masterman School as well as the Curtis Institute of music. She received her high school diploma and Bachelor of Music within the same year. By this time she had already performed at Carnegie Hall and appeared with many major orchestra's throughout the United States and the world. The transition into her professional career was seamless with this fine education and experience. A sampling of orchestra's Leila that she has worked with in her career up to this point include: London, Munich and Czech Philharmonics... Chicago, St. Louis, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's... New York City Ballet Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and many others. Although Leila has performed many of the classical music standards, she prides herself on presenting new and current compositions from today's finest composers. Violin concertos have been written for Leila by contemporary composers such as John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Colin Matthews and Steven Mackey. Leila has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Philips/Universal and Warner Classics. I recently had the opportunity to ask Leila a few questions.
R.V.B. - Can you tell me some fond memories of learning music in your school years? Did you feel you were missing out on basic teenager activities by graduating college and high school at the same time? In your career following your schooling you were still very young. You went right into traveling and performing around the United States and the world with various orchestras. How did you adjust to this kind of schedule as a young adult?
L.J. - These are very big psychological questions, but I can say some basic words about them. My youth was certainly dominated by violin training and practice. And my entire family's life was also revolving around my training and my lessons. The schedule was very rigorous as well as rigid in that I had a weekly schedule: early-morning practice and then afternoon and evening practice after school, while doing homework when I could. I certainly was learning how to practice even from the earliest age and learning the skills that I am using for my lifetime. There wasn't a lot of socializing with anyone my age outside of school time. Only now in my 30s am I really comprehending how different my life was, very different than most very young people or teenagers. But I also am grateful that I put the work in early so I can enjoy the results. There were some really gratifying moments of performances that went extremely well and I felt very gratified even at a very young age. I learned about discipline and hard work and if you persist your goals can be achieved. But of course there is much that I missed in terms of socialization and play, as well as a balanced family life when I was young. These are things that I continue to learn about and live with as I get older.
R.V.B. - Why do you find yourself drawn to performing current music from composers of today? Are there any pieces from the great composers of the Baroque, classical or romantic period that you enjoy playing?
L.J. - I very much appreciate the works of the Baroque classical and romantic periods ...But I realize that my true strengths lie in the contemporary music. I feel best and most free when I play it and I know I can do things with it that perhaps other colleagues can't. I understand the workings of a career enough to know that we all have to focus on our strengths.
L.J. - I've had the privilege to perform with so many great composer conductors including Oliver Knussen, John Adams and Thomas Adès. I have become very, very close to some of them and it has been the most rewarding thing to know them and perform with them.
R.V.B. - What are you proud of about your place in music?
L.J. - I've always said to myself that if I can commission 10 great new works for violin I will be very proud because I will be contributing to the violin repertoire. I think it's the least that I can do considering that I love this kind of music. When you think that we are still performing works that are written so long in the past it is obvious that we need to keep this art form current and of today.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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For more information on Leila Josefowicz visit her website. www.leilajosefowicz.com
Thanks to David Hooson
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