Globetrotting Violin Prodigy Takes Time out for Harvard

Virtuoso Violinist
Elizabeth M. Mcmillen

Stefan P. Jackiw '07 balances performing with the rigors of a Harvard education.

Stefan P. Jackiw ’07, who has been described as “one of the most significant artists of his generation” and has showcased his talent around the world, started playing the violin after cutting a deal when he was four years old.

“When I was four, I saw a miniature violin at a friend’s house and wanted to keep it. I was allowed to with the condition that I take violin lessons,” said the Hollis resident and violin prodigy.

Jackiw has received rave reviews for his excellent technical skills and perhaps more impressively for his age, his mature and emotional interpretive skills.

Despite an impressive touring resume that has taken him to Japan, London, Pittsburgh and Houston, Jackiw opted to stay close to his hometown—Boston—for college.

More surprisingly, Jackiw chose not to attend a conservatory to foster his music talent.

“I’ve been going to regular [non-conservatory] school all my life, why change now?” he reasons.

In fact, his high school, Roxbury Latin School, doesn’t even have an orchestra. Jackiw said he wanted to lead a “normal life,” go to a non-music focused school and have non-musician friends. Attending Harvard allowed him the opportunity to settle into one niche without trying out other experiences.

Considering his busy touring schedule, it can be a challenge to not get completely caught up in music. Besides practicing about four hours per day, he plays in 25 to 30 concerts per year, something he did all throughout high school. Generally, concerts last a couple of days, with rehearsals a few days before hand, which means about a week on the road per trip.

“My high school was very supportive of my touring,” Jackiw said. “I just took school work on the road and tried to cram things in when I had time. Somehow, things got done.”

“I never get as much done on the road as I plan to though,” he added.

In anticipation of his first semester at college, he decided to reduce his touring schedule to allow for adjusting to college life. Next semester, however, he’ll start giving concerts in earnest again.

A full course load and touring all over the world aside, Jackiw also plays with the Brattle Street Chamber Players.

“It’s really great. And the time requirement is less than many Harvard orchestras, so I won’t have to miss too many rehearsals because of touring,” Jackiw explained.

When asked whether he likes performing, Jackiw answered enthusiastically “Yes, I love performing, especially in Boston! People always ask me if I get nervous, and yes I do get butterflies in my stomach, but that just helps me perform even better.” Instead of “clamming up,” Jackiw uses his nervousness to sharpen his awareness and uses it to give even more expression to his playing.

Jackiw’s love of performance cinched his decision to continue his career as a professional violinist after college. But for now, Jackiw is still deciding on his concentration, but he is considering concentrating in Psychology.

“I never took any psychology classes in high school but I took Psych 1 here and it’s an awesome class,” he said.

Despite his travels, Jackiw feels a very deep connection to Boston, where he has lived all his life. His professional debut was with the Boston Pops and the Boston Philharmonic continues to be the orchestra he enjoys performing with most.

“I went to their concerts when I was little and it’s a great experience to play with them to a hometown crowd,” he said.

Today, Jackiw will give a concert with the Bach Society Orchestra at 8 p.m. in Paine Concert Hall. He will be playing Violin Concerto Opus 14 by Samuel Barber.