Violinist, Conductor, Teacher

Violinist & Conductor & Teacher

Currently: Harris Shilakowsky is the founder and first violinist of the Shilakowsky String Quartet. Shilakowsky is also an active free-lance violinist and contractor of musicians.  He is equally comfortable performing as a soloist as he is in a group.

Mr. Shilakowsky is currently an adjunct professor at the Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. He was formerly director of the Orchestral Instrumental program at Foxborough Regional Charter School where he directed bands and orchestras and taught various courses including musical composition.

Past Performances: In 1994, Mr. Shilakowsky, performed as a guest leader (a position leading the violin section) of the London Symphony Orchestra performing recording sessions, tours and performances under music director Michael Tilson Thomas and Sir George Solti, Sir Colin Davis and André Previn in performances with Jessye Norman, Yuri Bashmet, Peter Zimmerman, and Kiri Tekanawa, among others. Upon returning to the USA, Shilakowsky was called to serve as concertmaster for the Bocksch Concerts Production of My Fair Lady, the European Tour with Maximillian Schell.

Harris Shilakowsky is a former concertmaster of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra which was directed by David Stahl, the New Orleans Symphony under Maxim Shostakovich, the Omaha Symphony directed by Bruce Hangen, the Grand Rapids Symphony, directed by Semyon Bychkov, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Las Palmas and the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra.

He has also worked with the Boston, Chautauqua and Nashville Symphonies, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Handel-Haydn Society of Boston, and the Opera Company of Boston. Other recent U.S. free-lance work includes guest-concertmaster work with Vermont Symphony, the Granite State Symphony and the Nashua Symphony. 

As solo violinist, Shilakowsky has appeared with the New Orleans, Omaha and Charleston Symphony Orchestras, the New England Conservatory and Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestras performing Mozart, Bach and Dvorak Violin Concertos, Vaughan-Williams' "Lark Ascending" and Ravel's "Tzigane", the Brahms Concerto and Chausson "Poeme" and in live recitals on NPR Stations in Boston, Omaha and Nashville. He performed recitals in 1999 in Brockton, MA at Temple Beth Emunah, in 1998 at the Newton Free Public Library & Jewish Community Center in Newton, MA, and in Johannesburg & Pietersburg, South Africa.
He also performs with the Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Pops, the Boston Ballet, Pro Arté Chamber Orchestra, and the American Symphony. He was a first violinist and on-stage solo musician for the Really Useful Group 'Frankfurt-1995' production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard. In 1995, he completed a three month contract of West Side Story performing at the Schiller Theater in Berlin, Germany. 


Shilakowsky is the Orchestra Director at the Foxborough Regional Charter School in Massachusetts. He also founded, directed & performed as violin soloist of the Bristol Chamber Orchestra, a professional ensemble dedicated to performing music of all periods in diverse settings, educational concerts & special events including choral concerts. He founded and directed the Sharon Community Chamber Orchestra and has also directed rehearsals with youth orchestras in Burlington, VT and at New England Conservatory of Music. In 2002, Shilakowsky was guest conductor of the Rocky Ridge Music Festival Orchestra (YAS program). He has conducted chamber orchestra concerts in Grand Rapids and Baroque readings in Germany with international musical colleagues. He was also the Founder & Director of the Strauss Orchestra of Boston and conductor of fund-raising concerts for Pro Arté Chamber Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic.

educational background 

Shilakowsky earned his Bachelor of Music cum laudé from New England Conservatory of Music and a Master's Degree from Yale University. His teachers include Joseph Silverstein, Koichiro Harada, Nancy Cirillo, and Leo Panasevich of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, David Cerone, Vali Bluttner and Yair Kless, chamber music with Joseph Gingold, Louis Krasner, Rudolph Kolisch, Eugene Lehner, master classes and chamber music with Oscar Shumsky and members of the Tokyo Quartet at Yale. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1955. He is a Tanglewood alumnus, and is an active composer. He has been listed in 'Who's Who in Musical America'. He has taught at several schools, including the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, the Thayer Conservatory @ Atlantic Union College, and The South Shore Conservatory, where he was the head of the string department, and as an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston.


Shilakowsky has been teaching violin since he accepted his first student while completing his Bachelor of Music degree. 
benefits of studying with Shilakowsky 

increase coordination 
improve posture 
increase self-confidence and self-image 
improve your state of mind 
get you thinking in another dimension 

see my teaching page for more detail

Here's the Shilakowsky Teaching Philosophy

Being in the center of the orchestra is like being in the center of the cosmos. Everything meaningful is arrayed in an amazing order around one. The sound; perfectly balanced and complete. The experience is complete. To be in the middle of all of this and have the responsibility of mentoring the participants is an enviable position. The greatest conductors have a sharply heightened sense of hearing and sight combined with a strong sense of where they must focus their attention. These qualities are just as important in educational ensembles. In fact, the job of the conductor is that of a super-educator. 

My students love me because they can trust me to be fair and creative in my efforts to always keep them engaged in learning. I am patient, but I also try to get my students to reach for high standards of performance, after teaching them the basics of music including theory, history & all the necessary performance techniques. 

My commitment to public school arts and education is unwavering. 
I care for young peoples' minds and psyches. This is why I use a friendly but serious approach that encourages positive, well-informed growth and development, our goal being to help them become productive people and good citizens. I draw upon my wide-ranging experience to create well-informed and enriched programs. 

I am always interested in improving my own abilities and learning new techniques of learning and teaching; to make sure students receive the best possible musical arts education in my specialties of strings, keyboard instruments, music, and music-related technologies.  Whenever appropriate, I utilize my knowledge and skills in technology to enable students' learning and project completion. We live in a wonderful time, having an array of new media versions of learning materials & tools. 

My goal is to enrich my students' lives, to help them understand their place in history, vis a vis the Arts, and to prepare them for the challenges of a real future in a rapidly changing world. 

My past teaching and coaching experience includes coaching chamber music at NEC Preparatory Department & Walnut Hill School, running an ensemble program at South Shore Conservatory of Music, conducting the string orchestras at Worcester Public Schools in my long-term sub position there, conducting the Youth Festival Orchestra at Rocky Ridge in Colorado, founding and conducting the Sharon Community Chamber Orchestra (student & amateur), founding and conducting the Bristol Chamber Orchestra (professional).  Students know me as a substitute teacher in the Easton Schools having worked in classrooms from 3rd through 12th grade. They also know me as the violin teacher. They also know me as a volunteer, having a daughter in the school system. 

My greatest love in music is the orchestral music experience. I enjoy taking part as performer, conductor, and audience member. I enjoy studying and teaching about all aspects of the repertoire and exploring the beauty and creative genius of the great chamber music and orchestral composers and arrangers of all periods. 

My goal in teaching is to always help students reach their own personal best. I do not follow the path of least resistance regarding the choice of repertoire. Although I do believe that students need to have the satisfaction of completely learning a composition and performing it well, I also feel that there need to be long-term goals that requires more sustained learning over a longer period of time. To be able to determine and re-set the level of challenge, I occasionally add 'test' pieces to see if students are ready and able to hop to a higher level, or need more basic skills preparation work first. This might be called a usage of the spiraling curriculum concept, though I believe that a fairly graduated growth of difficulties and concepts is the over-arching norm. 

My second goal, though not necessarily any more or less important than the first, is to instill my own love & excitement about music, and especially orchestral music in my students. To accomplish this, learning how to perform in an orchestra needs to be exciting and fun. My approach always includes good humor, fun and reward, in parallel with the development of a disciplined approach. The hope is that the cooperative team spirit that we engender in the musical organization will 'rub off' in other places in the school and out, thus accomplishing my previously stated goal of helping to create good citizens.

 Please email me to talk about music, discuss the violin, to talk about music and education, performance, the Arts in America, or anything else that you think is relevant!


electric-violin-wedding-vvo.mp4 Video Download-From the Baroque Classic bride's processional piece, Pachelbel's Canon in G to Royals and the Beatles, the Electric Violin of Shilakowsky thrills. 150 MB