Yesterday’s Beyond the Notes session was joined by violinist Stefan Jackiw. At just 35, Jackiw has performed with major orchestras around the world. He joined PYSO Music Director Earl Lee to discuss the life of a musician as a college student and beyond. To start the session, Jackiw performed Bach’s Gavotte en Rondeau from Partita No. 3 in E major.

Stefan received his first violin at age 4 as a gift from his parent’s friends. His parents then signed him up for Suzuki lessons at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge Massachusetts.

At 14, Jackiw attended Meadowmount School of Music summer camp, where for the first time he met people as passionate about music as he was. He then auditioned for New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic, which he was part of all through highschool. He noted some of his happiest memories from this time, saying, “I associated music with belonging and friendship, joy and happiness… If it hadn’t been for that, and realizing I would find my family through music, I’m not sure I’d be a musician today.”

When applying for college, he was torn between attending a conservatory or a liberal arts college. He knew he wanted to stay in the Boston area to continue to study with his mentor Donald Wilerstien, and applied to Harvard, and was accepted. And it seemed like a perfect fit, he could continue to seriously pursue music with his mentor, while still being in a traditional liberal arts  environment. After graduation he moved to New York, where he felt like he was finally living a life fully immersed in music.

When asked for words of wisdom to current students thinking about being a musician in college and beyond, he said, “Surround yourself with people who inspire curiosity in you… whether it be professors or fellow students.. That will rub off on you and expand your knowledge. If you want music to be part of your life…look for as many opportunities as you can to play with other people.”

After playing another movement of Bach’s, the Largo from Sonata No. 3 in C major, Jackiw  discussed his experiences working with different musicians while touring, and how to navigate playing with new people. He noted that playing with musicians with differing ideas or interpretations of a certain piece can help diversify you as a musician and that keeping an open mind and “tinkering” keeps it fascinating for the musician, and fresh for the audience.

To end the session, Jackiw and his fiance Yuna, performed a duet by Mozart, originally for violin and viola, but arranged for violin and clarinet by Yuna.

Many thanks to Stefan for taking the time to share his wisdom and wonderful playing!

There is one more Beyond the Notes sessions coming up tomorrow, June 19th at 4PM. Percussionist, composer, and educator Pius Cheung will discuss the life of a performer and composer. For more information, visit

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