Stefan Jackiw was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a Korean mother and a father of Ukrainian origin, both physicists. His mother, So-Young Pi, teaches at Boston University, and his father, Roman Jackiw, at MIT (emeritus as of 2013).
Jackiw started playing the violin at the age of four, when he was given a small instrument that a child of family friends had outgrown. As a young child he took Suzuki method lessons at the Longy School of Music. Subsequently, his teachers have included Zinaida Gilels, whom he credits with providing a secure technical foundation, the French violinist Michèle Auclair, with whom he began studying at age 12, and former Cleveland Quartet first violinist Donald Weilerstein.
Unlike many young musicians, who attend schools for the arts or are home-schooled, Jackiw went through the academic school system, attending The Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury. After high school he attended Harvard University, starting as a psychology major, then switching to a concentration in music. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007. The same year, he received an Artist Diploma at the New England Conservatory (NEC), which he had been attending concurrently.
Some of the great violinists who have especially influenced him are Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Arthur Grumiaux, and Nathan Milstein. But his musical role model is cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In a 2007 interview with The Harvard Crimson, Jackiw said of Ma, "He throws himself into every activity that he’s involved in. I’ve seen him perform countless times and he is always so involved, and gets the audience involved."
Jackiw made his professional debut at the age of 12, when Boston Pops director Keith Lockhart invited him to perform on Opening Night in 1997, playing the Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 2. Within a year came appearances with the Minnesota Orchestra. In 2000 he made his European debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, with Zander conducting. The critically acclaimed performance landed Jackiw's picture on the front page of The Times, while The Strad reported that "a fourteen-year-old violinist took the London music world by storm." The following year he performed with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and in recital at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.
More than once during his young career he has been called upon on short notice to fill in for other noted violinists: in 2002 for Pamela Frank with the Baltimore Symphony. The 2002 substitution with the Baltimore Symphony, under Yuri Temirkanov, led to a continuing relationship with that orchestra, which included a tour of Japan in 2002 and a performance at the Winter Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, a year later.
Among other American orchestras with which he has collaborated are the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (with which he debuted in the 2002 season under Roberto Abbado), the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Indianapolis, Nashville, Milwaukee, Seattle, and Utah Symphonies, and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Abroad, he has performed with the Seoul Philharmonic, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, l'Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Ulster Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and the Asian Youth Orchestra.
Among Jackiw's chamber music and recital activities have been appearances in the Rising Stars Series at the Ravinia and Caramoor Festivals, the Boston Celebrity Series, Rockport Chamber Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art's Accolades series, Louvre Recital Series in Paris, and Mostly Mozart Festival. He is a regular performer at the summer and winter festival concerts of the Seattle Chamber Music Society. He has been a member of the Korean chamber ensemble Ditto, and is a former member of the Tessara Quartet, founded in New York in 2007.
Violin and bow
Stefan Jackiw has received a number of honors, including:
- Avery Fisher Career Grant (2002)
- Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts
- Best debut of the year, 2004–2005 season, Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- One of the top two solo appearances of the year, Boston Globe (2002)
- Brahms Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano with Max Levinson (Sony Classical, 2009)
- Prodigies: Violin Masterpieces from the Greatest Talents (Classic FM, ASIN: B0015CXXD8)
- Richard Strauss - Ein Heldenleben, et al. Benjamin Zander, New England Conservatory (CPI Records, ASIN: B001LGIQKS)
- Oral History Transcript — Dr. Roman Jackiw, American Institute of Physics (5 August 2010)
- Richard Dyer, "Strings Prodigy: Violinist Stefan Jackiw mixed concert tours and college life", Harvard Magazine July–August 2007, accessed Mar. 9, 2009; Violinist.com, Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 63, Sep. 17, 2006, accessed Mar. 9, 2009; Kim Hyung-eun, "Chamber music chaps," JoongAng Daily, Jun. 12, 2008, accessed Mar. 14, 2009.
- Jacket notes for the audio CD, "Richard Strauss - Ein Heldenleben , et al. Benjamin Zander , New England Conservatory [ORIGINAL RECORDING]", NEC Youth Symphony Orchestra, Benjamin Zander (Conductor), Stefan Jackiw (Violin), 2001, ASIN: B001LGIQKS; Dyer, "Strings Prodigy: Violinist Stefan Jackiw mixed concert tours and college life."
- Rachel M. Green, "Stefan P. Jackiw '07", The Harvard Crimson, Arts,] May 2, 2007, accessed Mar. 9, 2009; Dyer, "Strings Prodigy: Violinist Stefan Jackiw mixed concert tours and college life"; Green, "Stefan P. Jackiw '07."
- Dyer, "Strings Prodigy: Violinist Stefan Jackiw mixed concert tours and college life"; Green, "Stefan P. Jackiw '07."
- Stefan Jackiw official site, accessed Mar. 9, 2009.
- Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Press Release, "Stefan Jackiw Performs Stravinsky's Violin Concerto in D major with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Hannu Lintu," Oct. 9, 2008, accessed Mar. 11, 2009.
- Jacket notes for the "Ein Heldenleben" audio CD.
- Opus 3 Artists - Stefan Jackiw; Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Press Release for Milwaukee Symphony performance.
- Opus 3 Artists, Stefan Jackiw; Keith Powers, "Rockport chamber fest poses challenges," The Boston Herald (Arts and Lifestyle), Jun. 10, 2002.
- Lee Hyo-won, "Ensemble Ditto Storms Across Korea," The Korea Times, June 15, 2008, accessed Mar. 14, 2009; Tessara Quartet Website; InstantEncore, Stefan Jackiw concert calendar, accessed Mar. 13, 2009.
- New England Conservatory, Notes for concert of Mar. 3, 2006, accessed Mar. 12, 2009; Opus 3 Artists - Stefan Jackiw; Green, "Stefan P. Jackiw '07."
- Stefan Jackiw Official Site.
- Website at Opus 3 Artists.
- "SPOTLIGHT: Stefan P. Jackiw '07," – article in The Harvard Crimson, Feb. 22, 2007.