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) annd “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 conductorship of Maestro Max Hobart. In October of 2013, Ilana had a privilege to be a featured soloist with Boston Civic at 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 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.
Ms. Zaks is an enthusiastic recitalist and a frequent chamber music player and loves to perform for different audiences. In March 2012 she performed chamber music at the International Young Musicians festival, “Passion of Music 2012” at Carnegie Hall, New York City. Currently the first violinist in Quartet Credos, they frequently perform Groupmuse recitals and community events in the Boston area.
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 which will be performed in a full recital with dancers, digital artists and animation in 2020. 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.
Ilana is an avid experimenter and entrepreneur. She regularly performs in hospitals, retirement communities, and schools, with multi-disciplinary collaboration presentations to engage a larger audience. Her 3-hour self-produced Junior Recital at NEC was a great success and included two premieres by Boston composers.
Ilana is currently finishing her Bachelor's degree at the New England Conservatory with Donald Weilerstein with whom she has been studying with for the past 11 years. Since 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 in Israel.
Along with studying violin performance at the New England Conservatory, she is pursuing a liberal arts minor in multidisciplinary collaboration. On April 14, 2020, Zaks will conclude her studies with a performance of Jennifer Higdon's violin Concerto with an all female orchestra, Kairos Dance Theater, and digital artist Fen Rotstein. This performance will be preceded by the documentary film (she co-directed) screening of the process of the project coming together, as well as interviews with Jennifer Higdon, Cheryl Lawson, Toby and Itzhak Perlman, Marin Alsop, Twyla Tharp, Hilary Hahn, Miriam Fried, BSO's Cathy Basrak and Rachel Childers, Kim Kashkashian, Merry Peckham, Lera Auerbach, Erica Washburn, Eden McAdam Somer, Anabella Lenzu, Judy Braha, Boston Ballet's Lia Cirio, and members of the production team.