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A violinist's life in counterpoints

May 01, 2008|Michael Rydzynski

CONTRAST. That's what makes classical music live and breathe. That also aptly describes Leila Josefowicz.

The Canadian-born, Grammy-nominated violinist, a former child prodigy who spent the better part of her training at the Curtis Institute of Music while living in Philadelphia and who now resides in New York, grew up in Southern California.

"California's a great place to grow up in, especially the suburbs [Westlake Village], which is a huge contrast to my now living in the heart of Manhattan," says Josefowicz (pronounced joe-SEH-foh-wits), 30. She returns to California to give a recital Tuesday as part of the Ventura Music Festival: Appassionata!, which features a Sunday show by Pink Martini and which runs through May 10. "When I was in California, I attended public schools, even though I had this work going on as a classical musician -- unusual for a public-school kid."

Another contrast.

"Although I've been studying the violin and performing all over, I've never once entered a competition," says Josefowicz, who balances a demanding performing schedule with being a single mother (of 8-year-old Lukas). "And while a part of the Hollywood scene, I was discovered by [talent agency] IMG and signed to a contract, which officially got my career going."

After making her Carnegie Hall debut, signing her first major label (Philips), winning the Avery Fisher Career Grant and making solo appearances with many orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Josefowicz made another surprising move: She became a Chanel model at 20.

"That was a one-time portrait, not a career," she says about the time she was selected by Chanel to pose for its Allure perfume. "But it was fun."

Josefowicz, who recently performed Bartok's Second Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director-designate Gustavo Dudamel, also considers "fun" the program she and accompanist John Novacek will offer at the festival. She will perform works by Schubert, Brahms, Stravinsky and Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tuur on her 1724 Del Gesu violin.

"This is a group of pieces that have a lot of contrast in each of them and that contrast with one another," she says. "I enjoy contrasts in different ways."

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theguide@latimes.com

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VENTURA MUSIC FESTIVAL

WHERE/WHEN: Various venues through May 10

LEILA JOSEFOWICZ: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Community Presbyterian Church, Ventura. $30-$50

PINK MARTINI: 2 p.m. Sunday, Ventura College. $15-$45

INFO: www.vcmfa.org

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