Zukerman playing violin
Pinchas Zukerman (Photo/Cheryl Mazak)

Israeli virtuoso Pinchas Zukerman to present local concerts

Decades of traveling the globe as a performer and conductor have not dulled Pinchas Zukerman’s devotion to the essential task that has been an ever-demanding commitment since childhood — practicing his violin.

Zukerman, 68, who will visit the Bay Area for a series of concerts starting on Feb. 24, said in an email interview that he usually picks up his violin — rather than his viola, on which he also performs — when he has free time between concerts.

“I am more often with violin,” the Israeli-born virtuoso said. “For me practice is fun — I practice every day and I actually feel better after!”

Born in 1948 in Tel Aviv, Zukerman started playing violin at the age of 8 (after first trying recorder and clarinet) and came to the United States in 1962 to study at the Juilliard School in New York. He has gone on to collect 21 Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards while performing as a soloist with the world’s major orchestras.

He launched his conducting career in 1970 with the English Chamber Orchestra and now is in his eighth season as principal guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. He also has focused on teaching in recent years, founding the Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music.

“It seems as I’ve grown older each aspect takes on a relevance and is more important in differing ways,” he said. “I find that there are so many relationships between scores, chamber music and composers that become more and more apparent with study, practice, and performing. I always try to explain this to my students.”

Pinchas Zukerman performs at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at Weill Hall, Sonoma State University; 8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Herbst Theatre, S.F.; 3 p.m. Feb. 26 at Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek. Concerts in Palo Alto and Sacramento are sold out.

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Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster is J.'s senior writer. He can be reached at rob@jweekly.com.