Violinist Jorja Fleezanis grew up in Detroit. The daughter of Greek immigrants, Fleezanis received her initial music training at the Cleveland Institute of Music. After further study at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, she became the concertmaster of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in 1976. Fleezanis also served as the associate concertmaster for the San Francisco Orchestra before taking the concertmaster position with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1989.
With the Minnesota Orchestra she played an important role in performing the works of contemporary composers. In 1994, she premiered John Adams’s Violin Concerto, which was commissioned for her by the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as lesser-known violin concertos by Barber, Britten, Ligeti, Sessions, Weill, and Gubaidulina. Fleezanis also introduced John Tavener’s violin concerto, Ikon of Bros, and was the featured soloist on the Minnesota Orchestra’s recording of that work.
Fleezanis has recorded Beethoven’s complete sonatas for piano and violin with Cyril Huvé on the fortepiano; Brilliant Sky, Infinite Sky by Aaron Jay Kernis with Sanford Sylvan, Daniel Druckman, and Robert Helps; Richard Strauss’ A Hero’s Life with the Minnesota Orchestra; and Stefan Wolpe’s violin sonata with Garrick Ohlsson.
A devoted teacher, in 1990 Fleezanis became an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s School of Music. She has maintained teaching roles with other organizations as teacher and artist at the Round Top International Festival Institute in Texas; artist-in-residence at the University of California, Davis; guest artist and teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory, where she served on the faculty from 1981 to 1989; artist and mentor at the Music@Menlo Festival; teacher and coach at the New World Symphony, and a visiting teacher to the Boston Conservatory, the Juilliard School, and Interlochen Academy and Summer Camp.
WFIU will feature music performed by Jorja Fleezanis throughout the month of May.