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St. Paul Chamber Orchestra violinist Leslie Shank to join School of Music

The School of Music welcomes violinist Leslie Shank as visiting assistant professor of violin next fall, replacing Felicia Moye who has taken a position at McGill University in Montreal. Shank is a longtime member of the 55-year-old Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, one of the world’s most renowned chamber ensembles, known for its adventurous programming, commissions and world premieres. This week, the orchestra will premiere a new viola concerto composed by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis.

Leslie Shank

Leslie Shank

Leslie is well-known to the musicians of Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet, who recommended her appointment. “I couldn’t be happier to welcome Leslie Shank to the UW School of Music this coming fall,” says David Perry, Pro Arte violinist. “Her performance and master classes in recent years have been inspirational, and it will be great for our students to benefit from her broad range of experience on a more regular basis.” Pro Arte violist Sally Chisholm praises Shank’s “wonderful and boundless energy.”

For her part, Shank is thrilled to have the opportunity to work at UW-Madison. “Phenomenal musicians come out of UW,” says Shank, which is not true of all universities, she adds. “I’m honored to be invited to join such amazing faculty. People would give their eyeteeth to be able to work in that department.” Hear Leslie perform in this audio clip from Minnesota Public Radio.

Shank will commute to Madison while maintaining her role as a violinist in St. Paul. She hopes to bring UW’s violinists to the Twin Cities for concerts, she adds.

Ms.Shank has been a member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra since 1984 and was assistant concertmaster for 24 years. She gave her New York recital debut at Carnegie’s Weill Hall as a winner of the Artists International Competition, and was twice re-engaged to perform on its Special Presentation Series. Shank has also performed as soloist with many orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony, the National Orchestral Association (also serving as concertmaster), and the Racine Symphony. Her recital at the celebrated Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago was broadcast on WFMT radio. She has also appeared with the Baltimore Symphony as guest associate concertmaster, and with the Indianapolis Symphony as guest concertmaster.

Ms. Shank currently serves as concertmaster of the “Music in the Mountains” Festival in Colorado, and has performed at numerous other festivals including Aspen, Grand Teton, Mainly Mozart, Marlboro, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Orcas Island Festival, and the Britt Festival, where she served as concertmaster of the festival orchestra. As a member of the prestigious Musicians from Marlboro, she performed several concerts throughout the East Coast. Additionally, she plays both violin and viola as a member of the Hot Dish Trio with pianist, Susan Billmeyer, and clarinetist, Karrin Meffert-Nelson.

On disc, Leslie can be heard on two Centaur releases, Recital for Violin & Guitar, with her husband, classical guitarist Joseph Hagedorn, and the Bartok Violin Sonatas with pianist Heather MacLaughlin. Ms. Shank’s interest in Bartok’s Violin Sonatas resulted in a trip to Hungary with pianist Heather MacLaughlin to study those works and was supported by a grant from the General Mills, Dayton Hudson and Jerome Foundations. The Shank-MacLaughlin Duo also received the prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians.

Leslie received bachelor and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School. Her teachers were Shirley Givens, Felix Galimir, and Dorothy Delay.