‘Zaks’ technical command certainly shines through this work and throughout the entire album, but she blossoms in her pathos and commitment to this new sound world of delicious contrasts.’ -The Classical Post on the 2020 visual album, The Persistence of Memory
Jewish-American violinist and Boston native Ilana Zaks has been described as “fearless, refreshing and commanding” (Boston Music Intelligencer) and “captivating and delightful”(Worcester Telegram). She has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and 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 the 2022 Broadus Earle Prize for Outstanding Violinists (Yale University) and 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. In 2021, she was a SEMIFINALIST at Young Concert Artists. She was also a top prize winner at the 2022 Ravel competition in Fontainebleau, France, performing Ravel’s Sonate Posthume.
As an entrepreneur, Ilana’s passion resides in creating theatrical performances featuring multidisciplinary collaborations, breaking the stereotypes of modern musical experiences through the inclusion of works by underrepresented people, popular recital works, and works she commissions. 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 in 2020.
In addition to collaborating with individual artists of all disciplines, she also enjoys and seeks collaborations with cultural centers, dance companies (ballet, tap, hip hop, modern, dance theater, tango, swing, ballroom, contemporary); comedy groups (sketch, stand up, improvisation); theater companies (experimental, Shakespearean, jazz ensembles, fashion designers; visual artists (photographers, painters, collage, mixed media artists, digital, projection designers, lighting designers); athletes (artistic and rhythmic gymnasts, ice dancers); chefs and vineyards, educational farms; writers (spoken word, poets, novelists, memoirists, journalists, academics); medical professionals (research, public health outreach projects) and more.
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, Raphael Merlin, 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. In May 2022, she completed her Master’s Degree at Yale University.
At Yale, she was awarded the Broadus Erle Prize, for Outstanding Violinists, and was a contributing writer at the Yale Daily News Arts Desk, a violin teacher for secondary lessons and the Music in Schools Program at YSM, Presidential Public Service Fellow, and a Studio Fellow at the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM). As a studio fellow at the CCAM, she recorded the music and directed her third film, The Inter-medial Performer, available on YouTube. In 2021-2022, she was a Blended Reality fellow at Yale’s CCAM which culminated in a multidisciplinary performance, PLAY, win collaboration with a 2 time Olympic rhythmic gymnast, jazz vocalist, live visual artist, lighting designer and filmmaker.