Sara Su Jones, violin
"The apex of Thursday night's concert was CBASO concertmaster Sara Su Jones' deeply engaging performance of the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1. Ms. Jones is a violinist of enviable gifts, and her account of this repertory standard was at once invigorating, lyrical and dramatic. Who knew so much theater existed in a broad stroke of the bow? From her rich, burnished tone in the Adagio to the flexibility of the festive Finale, Ms. Jones pulled her audience in and kept them there."
— Bryant Manning, contributing classical-music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Classical Review, and Entertainment Weekly (writing in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, 12/14/2009)
Hailed as a “violinist of enviable gifts” by a Chicago Sun-Times music critic, Sara Su Jones is an award-winning violinist who has performed as a soloist throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Sara Su, whose solo recitals have been recommended by the Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein, appears regularly in her native Chicago in such venues as Preston Bradley Hall (Chicago Cultural Center), WFMT’s Levin Performance Studio, Fourth Presbyterian Church (Artists in Recital Series), PianoForte, Ganz Hall, St. James Cathedral, Quigley Chapel (Second Saturday Concert Series), and International House (University of Chicago). She regularly performs with pianist Tatyana Stepanova on "Live from WFMT," the signature live recital broadcast series of Chicago's classical-music radio station. Sara Su has also been heard live on WBEZ, Chicago's public-radio station. The 2019-20 season will include recitals under the auspices of professional concert series in Washington, DC, and Andover, Massachusetts.
In 2013, Sara Su was named one of Chicago’s best female musicians by CBS Chicago. Sara Su's recent engagements have included performances in Lisbon (at the Aula Magna), Reykjavík, and London (at the historic Temple Church). Her Icelandic concerts include a recital on the main stage at Harpa, the home of the Iceland Symphony, for an audience of over 500, as well as recitals for ambassadors and cultural leaders, including former Icelandic president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, at the Residence of the US Ambassador to Iceland, with additional recitals at the historic Culture House and at the US Embassy in Reykjavík. She has also given recitals in Washington, DC; Massachusetts; California; Wisconsin; and Indiana. In the Chicago area, she has performed for the Lyric Opera’s Flossmoor and Far West Chapters, the Musicians Club of Women (at the Union League Club), the Cliff Dwellers Club, the Nineteenth Century Club, and the University Club.
At age 17, Sara Su received an A.R.C.M. certificate in violin performance from the Royal College of Music in London, England. That year, she was named the “Most Promising Young Musician of the Year” at the Bristol Proms Festival in Bristol, England, and her winning performance was broadcast on BBC Radio. Sara Su served for three years as assistant concertmaster of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra (HRO), Harvard’s symphony orchestra, and since 2006 has served as concertmaster of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra (CBASO), Chicago's orchestra of lawyers, with which she has performed as a concerto soloist, most recently at Orchestra Hall (Symphony Center) in Chicago in June 2019. (Sara Su holds an A.B. in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and a J.D., cum laude, both from Harvard.) As featured soloist with the CBASO, she performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in March 2007, the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Violins in A minor with former Lyric Opera concertmaster Henry Criz in October 2007, the Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor in November 2009, the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor in March 2013, and the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K 216, in March 2018 at St. James Cathedral. (See the review of her Bruch Concerto performance above.)
A top prizewinner in various music competitions in both the U.S. and England, including that of the Harvard Musical Association, Sara Su has performed in Symphony Hall (Boston) and Orchestra Hall (Chicago) and as a soloist in major international concert halls, such as Harpa (Reykjavik, Iceland—home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra), Grieg Hall (Bergen, Norway—home of the Bergen Philharmonic), Vienna International Centre (Vienna, Austria), and venues in England, Germany, Japan, and Canada, among others. Sara Su was a Violin Fellow at the Waterloo Festival School of Music in Princeton, New Jersey, where she played in the Waterloo Festival Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz and performed in the Young Artist Chamber Music Series. Earlier, as a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, she performed on numerous occasions as concertmaster and soloist with the Phillips Academy Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. Sara Su, who started playing the violin at age 2, studied with the late Mark Zinger (a former student and colleague of David Oistrakh) for most of her life; additional teachers include Roman Totenberg and Almita Vamos, and she currently studies with Gerardo Ribeiro. Sara Su performs on a 2017 violin made for her by the Icelandic luthier Hans Johannsson.
Sara Su is also an accomplished singer. As a soprano in the Cathedral Choir and Chamber Choir of St. James Cathedral in downtown Chicago, she performed live on 98.7 WFMT. The Cathedral Choir’s CD (“Arise, Shine!”—MSR Classics MS-1376), released on a national label in November 2010, was selected by 98.7 WFMT as one of the top 12 holiday recordings of 2010, and the Cathedral Choir's March 2012 performance of the Brahms Requiem was broadcast by 98.7 WFMT. The American Record Guide has called the St. James Cathedral Choir "a paragon among American church choirs."
From ages 9 to 12, Sara Su was a member of the Children’s Chorus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She sang in Carmen and Otello (both with Placido Domingo); Die Frau ohne Schatten; La Boheme; and La Gioconda. (View the full-page Chicago Tribune article on Sara Su and her role in Carmen.) Sara Su also performed as a supernumerary in the Chicago Opera Theater’s production of The Pearl Fishers. At Phillips Academy, she was selected to join the Cantata Choir, in which she sang for four years, with concert tours throughout Italy and the U.S. At Westonbirt School in England, Sara Su sang in the Chapel Choir and Senior Choir and passed the Grade 8 (highest grade) Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music examination in singing, in her first year of private voice lessons.
Sara Su also has a strong background in dance, having started ballet lessons at age 3. When she was 5, she danced in a Danish Royal Ballet production at the Civic Opera House in Chicago. She continued advanced ballet studies throughout her years at Andover.