Dylana Jenson

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Dylana Jenson (born May 14, 1961,[1] in Los Angeles, California[2]) is an American concert violinist and violin teacher. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, conductor-cellist David Lockington, music director laureate of the Grand Rapids Symphony.[1] They have four children.[3] Jenson is the sister of Vicky Jenson, an animated film story board artist and director.[4]

Child prodigy[edit]

Dylana Jenson was a child prodigy. She studied violin with her mother beginning at age two and ten months. 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.[5] 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.,[5] including the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts), 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[edit]

Jenson made her Carnegie Hall concert debut on December 9, 1980, playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Eugene Ormandy.[6] The performance was received with great acclaim.[6] In 1981, she recorded the Sibelius Violin Concerto and the Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra for RCA Red Seal. That performance is still regarded as one of the finest recordings of the Sibelius Concerto. Music critic Edward Downes characterized her work as "unsurpassed since Heifetz."[7]

Before her marriage, Jenson had the long-term loan from a wealthy violin collector of a 1743 Guarnerius del Gesu violin,[3] 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.[3] Eventually, however, Yo Yo Ma, the preeminent cellist of his era, referred her to Samuel Zygmuntowicz, a contemporary master violin maker in Brooklyn who has made sound-alike copies of great antique Stradivarius and Guarnerius violins for such violin superstars as Isaac Stern and Joshua Bell.,[3] In 1995 Jenson commissioned a violin from Zygmuntowicz based on a Guarnerius del Gesu model.[3] This was the instrument used in the recorded Carnegie Hall concert[8] and the Shostakovitch/Barber CD recording.[3]

In 2000, she was named Distinguished Professor of Music at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[5] As of 2014, she is no longer listed as a faculty member.[9]

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 Baltimore Symphony, the Santa Barbara Symphony, Indian Hill Orchestra (Littleton, MA), the Louisiana Philharmonic, the New Mexico Symphony, and at the Berkshire, Eastern, and other famous music festivals. She has made tours of Australia and Japan and was made an Honorary Citizen at the age of 12 for her contributions to music in Costa Rica. Jenson plays recitals as well as concerts.


Following her 1978 Tchaikovsky Competition medal, a live performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto was released on the Soviet Melodiya label. Jenson's 1981 recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra was among the first of RCA Red Seal's first major classical music production recorded in digital sound. This recording received a Grammy nomination in 1982.[10] The album was later reissued on the RCA Victrola label and has been reissued on a customer order basis by Arkivmusic.com as part of its historical reissue series. Jenson in 1982 recorded the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 1 and 3 in with pianist Samuel Sanders for RCA Red Seal. The 2005 Carnegie Hall performance was recorded in its entirety and published by the Grand Rapids Symphony; it includes Jenson performing the Goldmark Violin Concerto No. 1. In 2008 Jenson recorded the Shostakovich 1st Violin Concerto and the Samuel Barber Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra, played on the Zygmuntowicz violin.


  1. ^ a b "Interview record, Dylana Jenson". Living Music. University of Michigan School of Music. March 3, 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  2. ^ Rice, Bill (August 20, 1983). "Violinist Dylana Jenson Impressive in SPAC Concert". Schenectady Gazette. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Rosenberg, Donald (March 13, 2011). "Violinist Dylana Jenson, who lost her prized Guarneri and her artistic way, finds her voice with new instrument". Plain Dealer. Cleveland. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  4. ^ Biography for Vicky Jenson on IMDb . Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Jenson offers Master Class". Grand Valley State University. November 21, 2006. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Barr, Robert (January 16, 1981). "Music Makers: Violinist finds talent isn't enough". The Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  7. ^ "Bach Around the Clock Gala Concert". Grand Rapids Bach Festival. Archived from the original on May 23, 2005. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  8. ^ Hambrick, Jennifer. "Meet Dylana Jenson, Violinist with a Voice". Classical 101. Instant Encore. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  9. ^ "Faculty & Staff". Grand Valley State University, Music Department. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  10. ^ "Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist(s) With Orchestra". Grammy Awards 1982. Award Shows. Retrieved April 10, 2014.

Other sources[edit]

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 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=19810116&id=-2YQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yIsDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5197,1916679, visited September 24, 2009. See also, Modesto Symphony Orchestra program 2009-10, viewed at http://www.modestosymphony.org/apr910-abio.sj, visited September 25, 2009.

As to date of Brahms recording, see Amazon customer review at, https://www.amazon.com/Johannes-Brahms-Symphony-Violin-Sonata/dp/B000003F4P/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1253894487&sr=1-1, viewed September 25, 2009.

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 http://articles.latimes.com/1988-11-20/entertainment/ca-218_1_sibelius-violin-concerto?pg=1, visited September 25, 2009. See also, Meltzer, "Jenson's Fire, Beauty Are Back," Baltimore Sun, May 23, 1994, summarized at https://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/baltsun/access/111824860.html?dids=111824860:111824860&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=May+23%2C+1994&author=Kenneth+Meltzer&pub=The+Sun&desc=Violinist+Jenson%27s+fire%2C+beauty+are+back&pqatl=google, visited September 25, 2009.

As to the Melodiya recording, the regard in which her RCA Sibelius recording is held, and Jenson'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 http://www.vqronline.org/articles/1982/winter/smith-recordings/, visited September 25, 2009.

As to the length of the hiatus in her performing career, see Weekly Alibi. Music Review, https://web.archive.org/web/20030719234711/http://alibi.com/alibi/02-26-97/blue.htm . February 26 - March 4, 1997, as summarized at http://www.geometry.net/detail/violinists/jenson_dylana.html, viewed September 25, 2009. also Interview 2010 for Violinist.com: http://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20102/10956/

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 https://web.archive.org/web/20081228022836/http://stradivarisociety.com/the_strad.php, viewed September 25, 2009

As to the 2005 Carnegie Hall performance of the Goldmark Violin Concerto, see Harris Goldsmith review in Strad magazine, quoted in Kalliope.us review of music teachers at http://kalliope.us/teachers.php, viewed September 25, 2009, and Jenson biography on the Holland Symphony website, http://www.hollandsymphony.org/Default.aspx?tabid=5399, viewed September 25, 2008.

For a good general biographical sketch, see "The Artist Series,2005-2006 Season," Calvin College website, http://www.calvin.edu/artistseries/2005-2006/, visited September 25, 2009.

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