Jodi Levitz is an active performer of international reputation and a passionate advocate of new music for viola. She was principal viola and soloist with the Italian chamber group I Solisti Venetifor 12 years, a position she won while still a student at The Juilliard School. She has performed as soloist throughout Europe, South America, North America and Asia, and recorded works for the Concerto, Dynamic, Naxos and Erato labels. A passionate pedagogue, she served on the faculties of the Ars Musica Academy at Imola, Progetto Orchestra and numerous European summer festivals, and presently serves as co-artistic director of the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Courmayeur, Italy. Her former students hold positions in orchestras, teaching institutions and are musical activists throughout the world.
More about Jodi Levitz
Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Jodi Levitz was principal viola and soloist with the Italian chamber group “I Solisti Veneti” for twelve years, a position she was offered while still a student at the Juilliard School. She has performed as soloist throughout Europe, South America, the USA and the Far East, and recorded works of Cambini, Giuliani, Hummel, Mendelssohn, Rolla, Schoenberg and Schubert on the Concerto, Dynamic, and Erato labels. She was the principal violist of the Chamber Orchestra of Mantova and the Orchestra Città di Ferrara, and collaborated as guest principal viola with the National RAI Orchestra, the Orchestra Toscanini of Parma, and the Chamber Orchestra of Tuscany.
She has served on the faculties of the Ars Musica Academy at Imola, Progetto Orchestra, numerous European summer festivals, and is the co- founder of the Italian summer music festival “Musica Lozzo”. Ms. Levitz attended the Juilliard School, Pre-College Division from the age of twelve, and also received her Bachelor and Master of Musical Arts degrees from Juilliard. Her principal teachers include Margaret Pardee, Paul Doktor, William Lincer and Dorothy DeLay. She serves on the board of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music.
“When I was six I desperately wanted to play a musical instrument. The band teacher at my elementary school said I was too young. The string instrumental teacher was less picky. He asked me what I wanted to play, and I named the violin, the only string instrument I knew. He said to me “what about the viola?” I naively asked “what’s that?” He assured me it was way more fun than a violin, because it’s bigger and has a prettier sound. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still right.
Growing up on Long Island, I my first teacher, Eugene Kahn, was excellent. Then I entered Juilliard prep at the age of twelve. My whole life at the time pretty much centered on those five years of Saturdays at Lincoln Center. My mom was thrilled with my progress, because it meant I would have a shot at getting into a good Ivy League school with a hefty scholarship. She was right, because I did receive hefty scholarships to Juilliard and Yale. It wasn’t the happiest day of her life when I turned down Yale for the big J. I told her not to worry, it’s always best to do what you love just as long as you’re not afraid to fail. I’m so glad I had the courage to make that decision. I’ve been able to have a wonderful and varied life as a professional violist because of my training at Juilliard. I’ve played as Principal and performed as soloist with “I Solisti Veneti” all over the world, played opera for the toughest opera audience in the world in Parma, played principal in orchestras large and small all over Europe, played in a duo, a string trio, and various other groups including a memorable formation called FSV “finalmente senza violini!” (Finally without violins!), not to mention the overriding passion of my professional life, teaching in both Europe and the US.
The one thing I didn’t do was perform in a professional quartet. I’ve coached innumerable quartets, yet this is my first experience as part of a permanent established quartet. I’m very excited about this, partly due to my conceit that one can approach the quartet literature with an entirely different mindset after having played for years in excellent orchestras and chamber orchestras with outstanding conductors. Music is music, and the marked separation found in the classical music community between the orchestral, chamber music, studio and soloist worlds seems so wrong to me.
Beside teaching and playing, my other passions are cooking, and “do it yourself” home improvement projects. Bettina and I did a major restoration on our home in Italy, and we did a lot of the work ourselves. I learned so much from that project, including the fact that it’s not a good idea to lay wood floors and hand finish them without kneepads. Take it from me, don’t try it- my knees had reverse dimples for about three years. Now we’re slowly trying to bring our little San Francisco Victorian back to its original splendor. Fun!
As for cooking, Bettina and I, along with an Italian friend, had a great time giving cooking classes while we were living in Italy for visiting Americans. I’m not one of those cooks who like to stand back and watch other people eat my creations, I love to eat what I cook…I guess I’ll never open a restaurant. I think a good meal is as wonderful as a good performance, and I hope to spend a lot of quality time doing both. ”
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