Ilana Zaks, Violinist

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PC: Robert Torres photography

“fearless, refreshing, and commanding…she has all the requisites of technique, confidence, and sensibility for a major career.”

-Boston Music Intelligencer

Ilana Zaks and dancer Laura Coe in Lera Auerbach’s “Lonely Suite” 2019

Top image: Ilana Zaks and composer Jennifer Higdon, following an interview for the documentary, FLYING FORWARD (March 2020-)


Jewish-American violinist Ilana Zaks has been described as “fearless, refreshing and commanding…she has all the requisites of technique, confidence, and sensibility for a major career.” (Boston Music Intelligencer) and “captivating and delightful”(Worcester Telegram). She has performed as a soloist with the Boston Civic Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, New England Philharmonic, Pioneer Valley Symphony, Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Nashua Chamber Orchestra, Wellesley Symphony, Brockton Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony, Arlington Philharmonic, Cape Cod Symphony, Symphony Pro Musica, and Thayer Symphony Orchestra.

At the age of eleven, Ilana had her symphonic debut with the Boston Civic Symphony under the conductorship of Maestro Max Hobart. In October of 2013, Ilana had the privilege to be a featured soloist with Boston Civic at the Jordan Hall in Boston and in the summer of 2012, at the Boston Hatch Shell. 

Ilana’s many honors include top prizes at concerto competitions such as the 2020 BMOP Concerto Competition, New England Philharmonic Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, James R. Powers Concerto, Leonard Wood Award of the Young Artist Competition from the Philharmonic Society of Arlington, the “Young Promise” International Competition, and the Bay State Contest of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Eastern Division and National Competition for MTNA. In March of 2014, Ilana was selected as one of seven finalists in the International Menuhin Competition. In June of 2014, Ilana was the featured performer on the National Public Radio Program “From the Top”.  In fall 2019, Ilana was a featured performer for Celebrity Series’ Concert for One, as well as a Concert Artists Guild Competition Semi-finalist.

As an entrepreneur, Ilana’s passion resides in creating theatrical multidisciplinary collaboration, breaking the stereotypes of modern musical experiences through the inclusion of contemporary works by women, popular recital works, and works she commissions. Her Jewish identity inspires her to advance Tikkun Olam through creating community within a diverse group of people through educational accessibility and the advancement of gender equality and representation of women in leadership roles. Ilana loves contemporary music as well as premiering new works in unusual instrumentation and presenting the music through multidisciplinary means. In Spring 2019, she commissioned four composers (three from NEC, one from Berklee) to write pieces for Violin and Percussion. The album, Persistence of Memory, was awarded an EM grant from the New England Conservatory and was self-released on CDbaby to great acclaim in November 2019, with the Visual Album Film of the same title distributed on Amazon Prime. 

Since the summer of 2013, Ilana is a member of the Perlman Music Program, where she studies with the legendary Itzhak Perlman. With the program, Ilana traveled and performed in Sarasota, FL, Stanford, CA, New York City, and Israel. Ilana has participated in masterclasses with Augustin Hadelich, Kim Kashkashian, Michael Stern, Alon Goldstein, Hagai Shaham, Soovin Kim, Benjamin Zander, Joel Krosnick, Vivian Weilerstein, Peter Salaff, Nicholas Kitchen, David Stern, and Katharina Wolff. She studied with Donald Weilerstein for 12 years at New England Conservatory, where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in violin performance and liberal arts minor in creative arts in 2020.

Currently pursuing her Master’s degree at Yale, where she is also a contributing writer at the Yale Daily News, she was an artist fellow at Yale’s Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM). In this fellowship, she recorded the music for her third film, The Intermedial Performer, available on YouTube. In the summer of 2021, in addition to being a featured artist at the Boston Public Library’s Concerts in the Courtyard series, Ilana was a Presidential Public Service Fellow at Yale where she worked in community outreach, education, and social justice/arts and cultural programming. In 2021-2022, she was a Young Concert Artists Semifinalist, a Blended Reality fellow at Yale’s CCAM, violin teacher for secondary lessons and the Music in Schools Program at YSM, Good Life Center intern, and a media and public art coordinator for the New Haven Department of Arts and Culture. Ilana also holds a private studio of both virtual and in-person students in Boston.

Repertoire with orchestra

J.S Bach                Concerto No. 2, Major S. 1042

                               Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043

Barber                                    Violin Concerto

Bartok               Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, 

Beethoven              Violin Concerto, Op. 61

                            Romance No. 2 in F Major, Op. 50

Bernstein: Serenade after Plato’s Symposium

Bruch                   Violin Concerto #2 in D minor, Op. 44

Brahms                Violin Concerto, Op. 77

                           Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102

Britten.              Violin Concerto, Op. 15

Beriot                  Violin Concerto No. 9 in A Major, Op. 104

Chausson              Poeme, Op. 25

Dvorak.                  Romance in F minor, Op. 11


Higdon                    Violin Concerto

Hubay                  Carmen Fantasie 

Kreisler              Liebesleid


                           Schön Rosmarin

                Preludium and Allegro

Korngold Violin Concerto D Major

Lalo                    Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21

Mendelssohn         Concerto in E minor, Op. 64


Concerto #3 in G Major, K. 217 Concerto #4 in D Major K. 218 Concerto #5 in A Major, K. 219 Sinfonia Concertante in Eb Major K. 364

Prokofiev             Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major Op. 19

                            Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 63

Ravel                  Tzigane, Rhapsodie de Concert 

Rosenblatt Carmen Fantasy

Saint-Saens.             Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61

                           Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso  


Sarasate.                Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25

                               Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20

Sibelius               Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47

Schwantner Angelfire

Schumann Violin Concerto in d minor

Shostakovich          Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Opus 77

Stravinsky Violin Concerto in D major

Szymanowski Violin Concerto #1

Tchaikovsky             Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

                                   Valse Scherzo in C Major, Op. 34

Vivaldi                     Four Seasons

Waxman                Carmen Fantasie 

Wieniawski.             Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 22

                     Polonaise de Concert No. 1 in D Major, Op.4

                   Fantasie Brillante on themes from Gounod’s “Faust”

Upcoming events:

April 14th Thursday, 4:30pm: Master’s Recital at Sudler Hall in Yale University. Featuring music by Mozart, Brahms, Perlman, Frolov and Paganini.

April 20th and 21st 9:30pm, Jonathan Edwards Theater: Comedy show with Zoe Larkin and Ella Goldblum from Yale’s comedy Troupe,”Just add Water

April 29th Thursday, 3pm: Performance for Yale Schwartzman Good Life Center, supported by the Office of the Vice President at Yale University.

May 8th, time TBD, Leeds studio at CCAM (149 York Street, New Haven, CT). Featuring Olympic rhythmic gymnast Laura Zeng, jazz vocalist Teddy Horangic, composer Caroline Ho, projection designer Camilla Tassi, and more.

Multimedia Works:

The Persistence of Memory (2019): 

Album review:

Love Triangle from The Persistence of Memory (2019)

The Persistence of Memory (2020), was the first-ever classical music visual album and was released on Amazon Prime worldwide. This album featured three commissions for violin and percussion and three solo violin works in collaboration with dance, digital art, spoken word, animation, fashion, and film. The visual album’s central theme is the equality of art forms, expression, and ultimately, the equality of all human beings. I was inspired by thinking of the interdisciplinary art forms as a ‘family’ and therefore a community—the community of the arts. With this film, a new community is formed, and essentially, the viewer is taken through the journey towards that realization.

Recital at New England Conservatory (2019)

Solo recital featuring works by Schubert, Lera Auerbach (collaboration with dancer Laura Coe), Austin Smith (premiere of violin and percussion work, Ruminations (2019), Lila Quillin Love Triangle alongside the animation, and more.

The Intermedial Performer (2021):

The Intermedial Performer (2021), was completed entirely remotely as the conclusion of my Yale Center Collaborative Arts and Media fellowship for the remote 2020-2021 semester of my Master’s degree in music at the Yale School of Music. This 20-minute film, included a collaboration with composition Professor Patrick Long from Susquehanna University (“Shadow Steps”), non-binary dancer and Yale Divinity student Haven Herrin (“Red Hands”), architect and animator Rishab Jain Arch ‘22 who created the virtual reality video alongside my self composed a solo piece based on “Fiddler on The Roof” in celebration of the anniversary of the musical, and a work celebrating the fiddle tradition, bringing forth montage footage of forgotten and oppressed fiddler’s voices to John Corigliano’s “STOMP”. The film explored the remote and technological capabilities of bringing audiences together in live time, and allowing for audiences to interact with the film in live time, from the comfort in their own home, in addition to the exploration between music, technology, and the editing process.

“Imagination is greater than knowledge, for imagination embraces the entire world”.

-Albert Einstein

Copyright Ilana Zaks, All rights reserved 2022

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