San Francisco Conservatory of Music welcomes two members of the San Francisco Symphony, principal violist Jonathan Vinocour and associate principal Yun Jie (Jay) Liu, to its viola faculty

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Media Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 22, 2014


SAN FRANCISCO CONSERVATORY APPOINTS San Francisco Symphony violists to performance FACULTY

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music welcomes two members of the San Francisco Symphony, principal violist Jonathan Vinocour and associate principal Yun Jie (Jay) Liu, to its viola faculty. The appointment enhances viola instruction at the Conservatory and deepens the already close relationship between SFCM and its Civic Center neighbor, bringing the total number of Symphony members on its faculty to 29 including 18 principal, associate or assistant principal players.
Conservatory Viola Department Chair Jodi Levitz says, “It’s my pleasure to welcome Jonathan and Jay to our faculty. Their inspired teaching brings to the Conservatory a wealth of orchestral and ensemble experience, and will no doubt reinforce our reputation as the premier conservatory for the transformation and education of the next generation of innovative and exciting violists.”
SFCM offers a highly focused and intensive program in viola. Fewer than 20 students work with a faculty of five studio teachers including Levitz, Liu and Vinocour as well as
Paul Hersh and Madeline Prager. In addition, San Francisco Symphony assistant principal violist Katie Kadarauch teaches a course on repertoire excerpts that prepares students for orchestral auditions. Students enjoy myriad performance opportunities with the Conservatory’s orchestral, baroque, new music and chamber ensembles and compete in an annual concerto competition for the honor of winning a solo appearance with the Conservatory Orchestra. Another regular event, the Viola Project, features premier performances of works written specifically for the instrument by student composers. Recent master classes have included internationally-known artists including Grammy Award-winning violist Kim Kashkashian and Roberto Díaz, president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Jonathan Vinocour joined the San Francisco Symphony as principal violist in 2009, having previously served as principal violist of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and guest principal violist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. A native of Rochester, New York, Vinocour graduated from Princeton University in 2001 with a degree in chemistry. He was awarded the university’s Sudler Prize in the Arts. He completed his master’s degree in 2003 at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Kim Kashkashian. As a soloist, Vinocour has appeared with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra under maestros Hans Graf and Nicholas McGegan and with the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. His first solo album, featuring works of Britten and Shostakovich, was recorded with the support of the Holland America Music Society after he won a society competition prior to joining the San Francisco Symphony. Vinocour was also a featured recitalist at the 2012 International Viola Congress and enjoys recital opportunities around the San Francisco Bay Area each season.

Jay Liu has served as associate principal violist of the San Francisco Symphony since 1993. He previously held positions as guest principal violist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and principal violist of the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 1999, he has worked with the most talented young musicians from countries throughout Asia as viola coach of the Asian Youth Orchestra. As a soloist, Liu has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, San Diego Symphony and Shanghai Symphony orchestras. He regularly appears in solo recitals and chamber music concerts throughout United States and Asia, and has shared the stage with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Julia Fischer, Yefim Bronfman, Yuja Wang and Michael Tilson Thomas. A native of Shanghai, Liu began his violin studies with his father when he was 5, graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music and studied with Donald McInnes and Alan de Veritch at the University of Southern California. In 2012, he was chosen to hold a three-week residency at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music under the Fulbright Specialist Program sponsored by the US Department of State.



About The San Francisco Conservatory of Music:

Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Aaron Jay Kernis and Robin Sutherland, among others. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. Its Pre-College Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to more than 580 younger students. The Conservatory’s faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 11,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by The New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting” in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit

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