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Renowned violinist, concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis to join the IU Jacobs School of Music

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 16, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Adding to a growing list of renowned instrumentalists who have wide experience in orchestral performance, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music announced Sept. 16 that concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, Jorja Fleezanis, will join its faculty as Professor of Music (Orchestral Studies: Violin) and the Henry A. Upper Chair in Orchestral Studies, in the fall of 2009.

Fleezanis, Jorja
Jorja Fleezanis
Print-Quality Photo

Through her 20-year tenure as concertmaster with the Minnesota Orchestra -- the longest-tenured concertmaster in the orchestra's history -- Fleezanis has played a pivotal role in the ensemble and the world of orchestral music. When appointed in 1989, she was only the second woman in the U.S. to hold the title of concertmaster in a major orchestra.

"At a moment in our cultural history, when a combination of interests and skills best prepare the young musician for the profession, it is timely for Jorja Fleezanis to join the faculty of the Jacobs School." said Gwyn Richards, dean of the IU Jacobs School of Music. "Her knowledge base, experience, and her passion for the orchestral realm are a perfect match to the needs of today's aspiring musicians. They will come to cherish the standards she has set and the model she represents."

"In accepting this position, I launch myself into a new career of training the next generation of orchestral players," said Fleezanis. "I am excited and eager to join the faculty of this prestigious institution and to focus my leadership experience and my life-long love of the orchestral repertoire in teaching and inspiring young people to learn from my life as a professional musician."

"That Jorja Fleezanis will soon be joining our faculty full time is a great moment that is extremely anticipated by the Jacobs School of Music and its string faculty," said Lawrence Hurst, chair of the Jacobs School's String Department. "Her vast experience in orchestral repertoire and her connections with many of the world's great conductors and soloists bring musical richness to all our students, particularly our violin students, who will undoubtedly benefit from her infinite knowledge of orchestral skills and artistry. Along with all this, she is an extraordinary soloist, chamber musician and teacher. We are delighted to welcome her to Bloomington and to the Jacobs School of Music."

David Effron, chair of the Conducting Department in the Jacobs School, is keen to have Fleezanis on board. "I join the faculty in welcoming this outstanding violinist, concertmaster and teacher," Effron said. "We in the orchestral field are so fortunate to have Jorja with us, to help instill the importance of quality orchestral playing in our very talented student body."

Fleezanis will join a number of distinguished violinists at the Jacobs School of Music, including Alexander Kerr who, before joining the faculty in 2006, was concertmaster of both the royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. "I'm thrilled to know that Jorja will join us at the Jacobs School," Kerr said. "She is a great player with decades of experience leading one of the top orchestras in the country. I cannot think of anyone better to help with our orchestral program."

Looking back on her 30 years in the field of orchestral performance, Fleezanis is grateful for the community she has worked with.

Said Fleezanis, "I am indebted to the artistry, camaraderie and dedication of my Minnesota Orchestra colleagues, the loving support of our audiences, the spirit and hard work of our staff and volunteers, and the devotion of a board who understands the cultural gift they have and want to share it widely at home, nationally and internationally. A special thanks to Edo de Waart, Eiji Oue and Osmo Vänskä, the three music directors whom I served as concertmaster; each set high standards I will always refer to and hold in high regard."

About Jorja Fleezanis

Across two decades with the Minnesota Orchestra and collaborations with three music directors, Fleezanis has earned great respect as a leader, helping to develop "vibrant, confident strings" (The Financial Times) and a "finely-honed string ensemble" (The Times, London).

In 1994, she made headlines by premiering John Adams' Violin Concerto -- a work commissioned for her by the Minnesota Orchestra -- with then-music director Edo de Waart leading the orchestra.The concerto has since secured a place for itself in the world's violin repertoire, and Fleezanis gave acclaimed encore performances of it on Minnesota Orchestra subscription concerts 10 years after its premiere. In November 2002, Fleezanis again introduced a new violin concerto that had been penned for her and commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra -- Sir John Tavener's Ikon of Eros. She was later featured in the Minnesota Orchestra's recording of the same work.

As an annual soloist with the orchestra, Fleezanis is known for her sense of musical adventure, and she has introduced many relatively unknown concertos to the orchestra's seasonal offerings. These include concertos by Barber, Britten, Ligeti, Sessions and Weill, as well as Gubaidulina's Offertorium, Hartmann's Concerto Funebre, Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 4, Martin's Polyptich and the Tippett Triple Concerto with Principal Viola Thomas Turner and Principal Cello Anthony Ross. With Thomas Turner, she also gave the American premiere of Britten's Double Concerto for Violin and Viola. In her final solo appearance as concertmaster later this year, Fleezanis will perform Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1, April 2-4, 2009.

A devoted teacher, Fleezanis became an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota's School of Music in 1990, a role which she continues to this day. She has also maintained teaching roles with other organizations as teacher and artist at the Round Top International Festival Institute in Texas (1990-2007); artist in residence at the University of California, Davis; guest artist and teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory, where she served on the faculty from 1981 to 1989; artist and mentor at the Music@Menlo Festival (2003-2008); teacher and coach at the New World Symphony (1988-2008) and a visiting teacher to the Boston Conservatory, the Juilliard School, and Interlochen Academy and Summer Camp.

Fleezanis grew up in Detroit, Mich., the daughter of Greek immigrants. She studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cincinnati Conservatory and later won a spot in the Chicago Symphony. She left Chicago to serve as concertmaster of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and, ultimately, associate concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony. In 1989, she accepted Edo de Waart's invitation to serve as concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, and a new era began. Fleezanis is married to musicologist, lecturer and writer Michael Steinberg.