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Dylana Jenson: Wikis


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Dylana Jenson is an eminent American concert violinist and violin teacher who was born May 14, 1961, in Los Angeles, California. She is known for the fluidity, strength and unaffected style of her playing. She was, until recently, Distinguished Professor of Music at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and lives in that city with her husband, the conductor-cellist David Lockington, conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony. They have four children. Jenson is the sister of Vicki Jenson, a well-known animated film story board artist and director.


Child Prodigy

Dylana Jenson was a child prodigy. She studied violin with her mother beginning at age two. She then studied with the prominent violin teacher Manuel Compinsky, the internationally renowned concert violinist Nathan Milstein and the preeminent violin pedagogue Josef Gingold. She made her debut at age eight, playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. At age eleven, she performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. By age thirteen, she had performed with many of the leading orchestras in the U.S., including the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts), the Cleveland Symphony and the Los Angeles Symphony. She toured Europe, Latin America and the Soviet Union. In 1978, at age seventeen and already a seasoned concert performer, she shared the silver medal in the International Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow.

Later career

Jenson made her Carnegie Hall concert debut playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Eugene Ormandy. The performance was received with great acclaim. In 1981, she recorded the Sibelius Violin Concerto and the Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. That recording is still regarded as one of the finest on disc. The venerable music critic Edward Downes stated in an interview on New York City classical music station WQXR that Jenson was a "mature master" and that the recording " unsurpassed since Heifetz".

Before her marriage, Jenson had the long-term loan from a wealthy violin collector of a 1743 Guarnerius del Gesu violin, the instrument with which she made the Sibelius recording. When she announced to her benefactor that she was to marry, she was given a short time in which to return the instrument because, he told her, if she was to marry she was not serious about a career as a concert performer. This left her for ten years without an adequate instrument for concertizing. During that time, she did not play in public. When she played again, it was on borrowed instruments. Eventually, however, Yo Yo Ma, the preeminent cellist of his era, referred her to Samuel Zygmuntowicz, a contemporary master violin maker in Brooklyn, NY, who has made sound-alike copies of great antique Stradivarius and Guarnerius violins for such violin superstars as Isaac Stern and Joshua Bell. In 1995, he made Jenson’s two current violins, one a copy of a Stradivarius, the other a copy of a Guarnerius del Gesu. The del Gesu copy was the instrument used in the recorded Carnegie Hall concert (see Discography).

In addition to her teaching career, Jenson has continued her performance career, albeit with a less heavy schedule than the most famous concert artists and usually with regional rather than top-ranked orchestras. She often performs with the Grand Rapids Symphony under the direction of her husband. These performances have included, in 2005, a triumphant return to Carnegie Hall. One critic, Harris Goldsmith of the New York Concert Review, said of this performance: "In Jenson’s hands, even lyrical passages had an intense, tremulous quality... a sizzling performance. I can give no higher praise than to say that her excellent performance brought to mind, and was a loving tribute to, the great Nathan Milstein... who was one of Jenson’s mentors."

Jenson has also appeared in the past few years with the Boston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Yale Philharmonia, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Albany Symphony the Indian Hill Orchestra (Littleton, MA), the American Symphony Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Colorado Symphony, the New Mexico Symphony, and at the Berkshire, Eastern, Brevard, Aspen and other famous music festivals. She has made tours of Australia and Japan and was awarded a medal for her contributions to music in Costa Rica. Jenson plays recitals as well as concerts.


Following her 1978 Tchaikovsky Competition medal, she recorded the Sibelius Violin Concerto for the Soviet Melodiya label. The 1981 recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto was RCA's first major classical music production recorded in digital sound and issued in CD format. This recording received a Grammy nomination for 1982. It has been reissued on a customer order basis by as part of its historical reissue series. Jensen in 1982 recorded the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor with pianist Samuel Sanders on the RCA label. The 2005 Carnegie Hall performance was recorded in its entirety and published on two CDs by the Grand Rapids Symphony; it includes Jenson performing the Goldmark Violin Concerto No. 1.


As to date of birth, Hall, Chronology of Western Classical Music, p. 996 viewed online at, visited September 25, 2009.

As to place of birth, see Brevard Music Center '82 Festival program "Overture", viewed online September 24, 2009.

As to relationship to Vicki Jenson, see, viewed September 25, 2009.

As to debut, see "Jenson Offers Master Class," Grand Valley State website announcement,, viewed September 25, 2009.

As to Jenson's early career, see Barr, "Music Makers: Violinist Finds Talent Isn't Enough," Associated Press 1981, reproduction of the Frederick, VA, Free-Lance-Star, January 16, 1981, p. 10, at,1916679, visited September 24, 2009. See also, Modesto Symphony Orchestra program 2009-10, viewed at, visited September 25, 2009.

As to date of Brahms recording, see Amazon customer review at,, viewed September 25, 2009.

As to the Yo Yo Ma connection to Janson's contact with Zygmuntowicz, see "Interview With Dylana Jenson, p. 5",, visited September 27, 2009.

As to the Downes comparison of the Janson Sibelius recording to that of Heifetz, see, visited September 25, 2009. See also, "Interview with violinist Dylana Jenson,", visited September 25, 2009. Apparently, Downes was comparing the two recordings of the Sibelius, not the two violinists in general, as implied in some of Jenson's biographical materials.

As to other reviews demonstrating high regard for the RCA Sibelius recording, see Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20 1988 "Fiddlers,Fiddlers, Fiddlers," Herbert Glass, viewed at, visited September 25, 2009. See also, Meltzer, "Jenson's Fire, Beauty Are Back," Baltimore Sun, May 23, 1994, summarized at, visited September 25, 2009.

As to the Grammy nomination, see, viewed September 25, 2009.

As to the Melodiya recording, the regard in which her RCA Sibelius recording is held, and Janson's celebrity as a child prodigy, see "Recording Device Aids Sound," Boris Nelson, Toledo Blade, July 26, 1981. See also, Smith, Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter, 1982, pp. 29-33, viewed at, visited September 25, 2009.

A lengthy interview with Jenson which, among other things, confirmed the story of her losing use of her original del Gesu performance instrument was once to be found at The Ormandy website no longer exists.

As to the length of the hiatus in her performing career, see Weekly Alibi. Music Review . February 26 - March 4, 1997, as summarized at, viewed September 25, 2009.

As to borrowing concert quality instruments, see "Laurinel Owens Talks to Its Founders," Strad magazine, April 2001, transcript of a talk given to the Stradivarius Foundation, reproduced at, viewed September 25, 2009

As to the reference to Samuel Zygmuntowicz, see "Making Masterpieces," NPR feature report, February 19, 2001, reproduced at, visited September 23, 2009.

As to the 2005 Carnegie Hall performance of the Goldmark Violin Concerto, see Harris Goldsmith review in Strad magazine, quoted in review of music teachers at, viewed September 25, 2009, and Jenson biography on the Holland Symphony website,, viewed September 25, 2008.

As to the statement "She was, until recently, ...", a September 25, 2009, search of the Grand Valley State University website no longer provides a listing of Jenson as a faculty member.

For a good general biographical sketch, see "The Artist Series,2005-2006 Season," Calvin College website,, visited September 25, 2009.

External links



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