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Gerald Elias, violinist, teacher, conductor, and composer, has been Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, Boston Symphony violinist, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet, Adjunct Professor of Music the University of Utah, and Music Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight Concert series.
A native New Yorker, Gerald Elias began violin lessons at the age of eight with William Liva, and after nine months was awarded a full scholarship to the Interlochen Summer Music Camp. From 1966-70 Elias studied with the world-renowned pedagogue, Ivan Galamian. During his college years at Oberlin College and Yale University, where his violin teacher was famed violinist Joseph Silverstein, Elias was also a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and was coached by the Guarneri String Quartet at the Norfolk Summer Music Festival. He later also audited the famed Tanglewood Fellowship Conducting program. Completing his studies at Yale in 1975, receiving Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with Honors, Elias joined the Boston Symphony at the age of twenty-two as a member of the violin section and a teacher at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. In 1986-87, Elias spent a sabbatical year as a performer, conductor, and guest professor at conservatories and universities in Japan, New Zealand, and Australia before becoming Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony in 1988. As a private teacher and faculty member of the University of Utah since 1989, Elias has seen many of his students go on to programs at major conservatories and careers as professional musicians. In 2005, Elias was named ‘Studio Teacher of the Year’ by the Utah chapter of the American String Teachers’ Association.
In May of 2005 Elias conducted the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru in a gala celebrating the 20th anniversary of the (Peru) International Flute Festival. In 2006 he has been invited to return to conduct both the National Symphony and the Lima Conservatory Orchestra, for which he will also be the soloist in the 4th and 5th Bach Brandenburg Concertos. While in Peru he also performed recitals and gave master classes in Cuzco and Arequipa at the invitation of the American Embassy. In 2004, Gerald Elias became Music Director of Salt Lake’s long-standing “Vivaldi By Candlelight” series which annually raises money for the Utah Council of Citizen Diplomacy. This year, Elias will conduct the ensemble, comprising members, of the Utah Symphony in an all-Baroque program.
The Abramyan String Quartet, which Elias helped found, celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2003 and toured Japan six times. The Quartet, with its commitment to education and outreach programs was hailed “as consummate artists, who capture the spirit of the music...Their performances are marked with an awe-inspiring intensity and dedication.” The Quartet presented master classes and workshops throughout their tours of Utah and Japan, playing everywhere from major concert halls to senior citizen homes, prisons, and children’s hospitals. The Abramyan String Quartet can be heard on CRI, Centaur, Tantarus, and Off The Record labels. Elias as soloist can be heard performing Partita Intrecciata for violin and tape, composed for him by Morris Rosenzweig on a recently released CD from Albany Records. In February 2005, Elias conducted the premiere of his Overture in the Classical Style with the Utah Philharmonia Orchestra. “Elias was on the podium and deftly led the chamber ensemble through his delightfully witty and appealing score. The piece is urbane, stylish and highly entertaining.” (Deseret News). In April, 2006 he will premiere his V’adoro Variations on a theme from an aria from Handel’s Julius Caesar in collaboration with Elias’s daughter, Kate, who will choreograph and dance to the solo violin piece.
In 2004, the Utah Symphony premiered his Concerto Grosso in B-flat for Violin and Chamber Orchestra on the Symphony’s Connoisseur Series, in which Elias was also the guest artist. The Deseret News wrote of the performance, “While the rest of the concert was excellent, Elias’ Concerto Grosso in B-flat for Violin and Chamber Orchestra was the crowning jewel of the evening. Elias gave a brilliant performance, and the work was very well-received--the audience gave a standing ovation at intermission.” The Concerto Grosso received an August, 2005 performance by Elias at the Sun River Music Festival, with Lawrence Leighton Smith conducting, and will be performed in New York City with North/South Consonance in January, 2006.
Conversations With Essie, his work for female narrator and chamber ensemble, was premiered at the Moab Music Festival on September 11, 2002, at a concert in commemoration of the anniversary of the tragic events of the World Trade Center and received its New York City debut on February 15, 2004 by North/South Consonance. In March 2004, in collaboration with the other three concertmasters of the Utah Symphony, Elias premiered Second Round of the Goblins, his parody arrangement of Bazzini’s virtuoso showpiece “Round of the Goblins.”
Mr. Elias’s compositions have been performed by chamber ensembles and major orchestras. His first string quartet, When Mr. Mozart Came Home from the Ball, includes narrative and a set of variations, and serves as an introduction to string playing for young audiences. Recently recorded by the Abramyan String Quartet, 5,000 copies of the CD were donated to public schools throughout Utah. With the Second String Quartet Elias was a finalist in the 2002 International Contemporary Music Contest of Udine, Italy. Elias’s 1990 orchestration of the Aaron Copland’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, published by Boosey and Hawkes, has received performances throughout the United States, including 2000-2001 Copland centennial celebration performances by the Hartford Symphony with Elias as the soloist, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Of a performance with the Utah Symphony, the Salt Lake Tribune wrote: “Bravo to Elias for providing the repertoire with a superb orchestration that can easily stand along side the orchestrations of Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov.” The Utah Symphony has also performed his monodrama for baritone and orchestra, The Raven, based upon the poem of Edgar Allen Poe.
Elias’s wife, Cecily, at one time both former professional violist and licensed carpenter has been a 6th grade teacher in ‘at-risk’ schools for fourteen years and teaches the violin to her entire class every day. Their daughter, Kate, is a modern dance major at Middlebury College in Vermont, and their son, Jake, an art major at the University of Oregon. They all enjoy the outdoors, the arts, cooking, and gardening in their time away from their professional and academic pursuits.