Longtime School of Music violin chair Israelievitch returns for Saturday recital


MICHAEL KANAAR | File Photo
Jacques Israelievich, former violin chair with the School of Music, will play a special recital of all Mozart selections 2 p.m. Saturday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.

Gabrielle Israelievitch still calls him her boyfriend.

Thirty years of marriage, three kids and stage IV lung cancer hasn’t hindered Jacques’ and Gabrielle’s love in any way. If anything, it’s been refreshed.

“Tenderness between Jacques and me has never been more alive. And when he’s been sick, it’s been heightened, in a sense,” Gabrielle said. “It’s sort of down to basics, in the best possible way. We’ve just been full of joy and no fear — just very much holding the moment.”

Jacques Israelievitch, a former violin faculty member in the School of Music of 16 years, will be returning this weekend to perform an all-Mozart recital. Jacques’ recital will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. The performance benefits the Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship Fund.

“Sixteen summers, and they were wonderful summers,” Jacques said. “I enjoyed the interaction with the students, teaching chamber music as well, and being there on the beautiful grounds with all the Chautauqua has to offer.”

Jacques’ recital features pianist Christina Quilico, and the program consists of the Mozart pieces Sonata No. 22 K.380 in E flat major, Sonata No. 23 K.454 in B flat major, Sonata No. 24 K.481 in E flat major and Sonata No. 25 K.526 in A major.

“I have not done an all-Mozart concert before, so I guess that makes it different,” Jacques said. “But otherwise, I have played many concerts at Chautauqua, and it will be a most enjoyable one as well. It’s really quite a unique and wonderful thing.”

Jacques’ resume is packed — at 23, he was the youngest musician in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when he was appointed to assistant concertmaster, and later served as concertmaster in the St. Louis Symphony. He held the concertmaster position with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, the longest tenure in the ensemble’s history. In addition, during his time with the TSO, he acted as a soloist and conductor annually, and he was awarded the Order of Canada this year.

“He’s pretty independent. But on the other hand, he can’t do a lot. It’s just hard to explain because he’s in a lot of pain, but it’s pretty well-managed,” Gabrielle said.

He’s a determined man, she said — he practices his repertoire over Skype so his mother in Paris can hear, he walks the block to stay fit and he manages an independent life the best he can.

While Jacques said he could not manage the demands of his former schedule in Chautauqua, Gabrielle said she is thankful for the years they spent at the Institution.

“It’s such an inclusive place. There was something about the drive in and the first look at the lake and the gasp of familiarity, ‘Oh yes, this wonderful peace,’ ” Gabrielle said. “It was a very important chapter — I mean, it was half our marriage. We feel happy for the years that we were able to be there, and we feel happy that we have a new chapter. It’s all good.”