I’m Harris Shilakowsky. I was born in Boston, so I’m really a native New Englander.
My music combines elements of rock and pop and jazz and classical, and a bit of contemporary stuff…electronica, rap, even a taste of country that I must have picked up when I was working in Nashville.
I love my work teaching students of all ages. Each of my students has different interests and needs, so I figure out what they need and what they like and assign the music and studies that will help them reach their personal musical goals.
I do a lot of arranging for strings because I also play a ton of weddings and my brides and grooms ask me to play popular songs but on string instruments. I’m mostly known as a violinist. Conductors and critics have commented on my sweet tone, which is what I’ve always taken the most care producing. My teacher at Yale used to say, (he was concertmaster of the Boston Symphony) that the BSO ‘never plays an ugly note’. Well…sometimes I need an angry sound, so I will admit that occasionally, in the interest of being real, I’ll do something gritty and tough, but I do believe in creating sounds that you would want to listen to…
I studied piano with my mother, Rina Shiller beginning at age 5. Then I began violin at age 9. I played organ in my teen years, mostly blues and rock, while performing with orchestras like Springfield Symphony and Portland Symphony in Maine. I sang in my Junior High chorus and tried acting in the school musical…While I worked on my undergrad degree at New England Conservatory of Music, I played violin with Wes Riley’s jazz band. Went to Yale University for a master’s degree, I spent a year off working as concertmaster of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
After I graduated from Yale, I got into the first violin section of the Buffalo Philharmonic & then the Nashville Symphony, where I also was a session musician, then skipped around from Grand Rapids, New Orleans, Charleston SC, and London Symphony orchestras. I heard that you could make good money playing for touring shows, so I played for a number of musical theater production companies, touring in Germany and the US and working in theaters in Boston, Providence and NYC.
As a pro, I’ve backed up people that I listened to in my own childhood…Rod Stewart, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and touring & recording with other great singers and entertainers. I started composing in high school, but was inspired to compose more after playing in the Boston Pops under film composer John Williams.
As a free-lancer, I backed up musicians like Rod Stewart, Pavarotti, Moody Blues, Charlotte Church, the Irish Tenors, Bobby Vinton, KD Lang, Johnny Mathis, Smoky Robinson, Sarah Brightman, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, a boat-load of opera singers and ballet dancers and jazz and rock musicians. So my influences are wide-ranging. They come from all the music I played in the rank n file and as an occasional soloist, chamber musician and band member.
I will be continuing to write more original pieces and songs and recording them… and arrange more songs for strings and voice and other instruments.
My big project right now is getting the Newport Contemporary Music Series organized as the Personnel Manager and Concertmaster. I’m very proud to have been selected by the music director, Paul Van Anglen, to help him make this series a great new addition to the cultural scene in Rhode Island. Of course, I’m also excited to be performing the beautiful, haunting Violin Concerto by Alban Berg as soloist for the series!
You can check some of them out on by doing a search for Shilakowsky on the Sheetmusicplus.com website or on the Payloadz.com website. I’ll be putting more arrangements (sheet music) and recordings on this website asap, but sign up for my mailing list and I’ll let you know as things become available! You’ll be the first to know, actually! In fact, I’ll give you a free download when you sign up to the mailing list for my newsletter (and don’t worry…I won’t ever send out a newsletter more than every 2 weeks…and more likely just once a month).
For more information, please visit: https://www.shilakowskyarts.com/home