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Homegrown talent: violinist Peter Zazofsky

Posted by David Dahl, Regional Editor November 19, 2008 07:30 AM

When it comes to violinist and Newton native Peter Zazofsky, conductor Ronald Knudsen has every right to say ‘‘I knew him when.’’

After Knudsen joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra 44 years ago, assistant concertmaster George Zazofsky was quick to befriend him and gain his awe. Soon Knudsen would meet George’s son, Peter, and his respect for the young violinist’s talent would grow, too.

‘‘At a young age, you don’t quite know which way a person will go, but Peter was surrounded by classical music and he seemed very talented,’’ said Knudsen. ‘‘And in the end, he did stay with it and has done extremely well.’’

It’s true. Zazofsky went on to solo with many of the world’s top orchestras, to perform in the best halls, and win numerous honors, prizes, including in the grand prize at the Montreal International Competition, which no other American has done. won. Currently, he performs with the Muir Quartet and teaches at Boston University.

On Saturday and Sunday, he’ll join his old family friend in his hometown for a Scottish-themed classics concert, ‘‘Scotch Plaid,’’ with Knudsen’s current ensemble, the New Philharmonia Orchestra, in Newton.

‘‘I’ve wanted him to perform with us for years,’’ said Knudsen. ‘‘He’s very expressive both physically and musically. He obviously loves what he does, which engages an audience as well as produces very good music.’’

The program features Zazofsky performing Bruch’s tuneful, rhythmic, and seldom-heard ‘‘Scottish Fantasy,’’ as well as Mendelssohn’s ‘‘Scottish’’ Symphony (No. 3 in A minor).

The New Philharmonia Orchestra performs ‘‘Scotch Plaid’’ at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church, 848 Beacon St., Newton Centre. Tickets $25; seniors $22; students $8; families $60. 617-527-9717. Website: www.newphil.org.

-- Denise Taylor

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