Sharon Leventhal shares her musical talents with GV
Sharan Leventhal is a classical violinist, but wasn’t born into a musical family – her father is a psychologist, and her mother has a doctorate and Master of Business Administration in the genetics field.
As one of the showcased guest artists during a Feb. 3 concert at Grand Valley State University, Leventhal showed off her violin talents, which she took a liking to at a very young age.
Her love of music started as an infant.
“The story goes that in my cradle I would hum along with the record player and the radio,” Leventhal said. “My mom tells me she didn’t know what was going on and then she realized that I was tracking the sound of the music, so obviously music attracted me the very moment that I was aware of my surroundings.”
And it didn’t take her long to know she wanted a violin.
“I started begging for a violin when I was four years old because I loved the sound of it,” she said. “I’d never seen one, I don’t think, but I certainly knew what it sounded like.”
Her older sister played the piano, but Leventhal was never able to play it very well, so she stuck to the violin and began taking lessons at 6 years old. There was an immediate connection between her and the instrument.
“I was shown how to hold it, I came home and just went in my room, locked myself in there and about an hour (was) later playing ‘Hot Cross Buns,’” Leventhal said.
Her passion for performing started early too, when she played with her first orchestra at 11 years old. Since then, she’s founded three groups that she travels with, The Gramercy Trio, The Kepler Quartet and Marimolin, and has premiered more than 200 pieces from composers of varying genres.
She has taught music in Hong Kong and traveled to Chile to work with Paolina Zamora, a pianist, colleague and friend who she performed with during the GVSU concert.
Currently, she is a violin and chamber music professor at the Boston Conservatory and steps in at Brandeis University when needed. Along with her teaching and performances, Leventhal also created the Play On foundation, which provides money for schools in her hometown.
“I started it for a couple of reasons, first of all when I would go on the road and then play concertos with my chamber group, I would do outreach concerts at public schools,” Leventhal said. “I do these outreach concerts and come in contact with these wonderful music educators who have an enormous number of responsibilities and are really over-worked, and yet also have a vision of other things that they would like to do, so I decided that if I could start a nonprofit, that would provide them with grants.”
Zamora works with Leventhal at the Boston Conservatory, and admires many things about her colleague.
“She has a great sense of humor, she’s really easy to be with, she’s super intelligent, a (wonderful) musician, wonderful to play with,” Zamora said. “She plays the violin incredibly well.”
Leventhal believes any student who wants to pursue a music career, should, just as she did.
“If you want to study music, then you owe it to yourself to study music,” she said. “It enriches your life and changes who you are. It also will really change your perspective, you know, no matter what field you end up entering professionally.”