Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, MARK KASHPER started taking violin lessons at the age of five. In addition to being a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, where he was one of the last and favorite pupils of the legendary David Oistrakh, Kashper also graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory. As a student, he was a recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. As the assistant concertmaster and soloist with the Moscow Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, he concertized extensively throughout the former Soviet Union, Europe, and Latin America.
Kashper emigrated from the Soviet Union in October 1977, arriving in the United States as a refugee in February 1978; three months later, he won an audition to become a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been the Associate Principal Second Violin for the LA Phil since 1986.
An active recitalist and avid chamber music player, Kashper performs extensively in the Los Angeles area and throughout the United States.
With the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony
Since the creation of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in the Spring of 1994, Kashper has also been busy as the orchestra’s Founding Concertmaster and frequent featured soloist, performing throughout Southern California and touring in New York and Israel.
“When the LA Jewish Symphony was created and I started playing with this orchestra, almost the entire repertoire was new to me,” Kashper reflected in an interview in 2010. “I had never played that music, or any kind of similar music. I had heard, for example, Korngold’s Violin Concerto, but I never got to play it until I was with the Symphony.”
Kashper performed Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D for the first time at one of the LAJS’s earliest concerts, “The Curtain Rises on Classical Jewish Composers,” back in 1994. In February 2000, Kashper was the featured soloist in performances of the Violin Concerto with the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra conducted by its then-Music Director, Gisèle Ben-Dor.
One of the Symphony’s most treasured featured soloists, Kashper has headlined many of its most noteworthy and acclaimed performances, including the world premieres of Russell Steinberg’s Canopy of Peace and Eric Zeisl’s To The Promised Land, and the US premieres of Tsippi Fleischer’s Strings – Bow and Arrow and Mariano Dugatkin’s Klezmer Suite. In 1998, he performed the featured solo for the world premiere of Simon Sargon’s orchestrated version of the Reb Mendele suite; Sargon later asked Kashper to record the piece.
Kashper was the featured soloist on three recordings with the LAJS, beginning with Sarah Stanton’s Ora e Sempre in 2011 and continuing with Andrea Clearfield’s Women of Valor in 2017. In 2019, in conjunction with the Symphony’s 25th anniversary, Kashper was the featured violin soloist on their second professional album, The Music of Eric Zeisl, released by Albany Records. Kashper’s performance, and the recording as a whole, received positive acclaim, with Fanfare Magazine calling his “beautifully played” violin solo a “highlight of the disc.” At the Symphony’s 25th Anniversary Gala, Kashper was presented with the Founders Award in recognition of his 25 years of dedication to the Symphony’s mission.
Other Notable Work
In March of 1987, Kashper won high praise for his performance of Luciano Berio’s Corale in its West Coast premiere with the LA Philharmonic under the direction of Pierre Boulez. He has also appeared as soloist with the LA Phil at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Hollywood Bowl, as well as at the Ojai Festival and in many Green Umbrella and Chamber Music programs, collaborating with such distinguished musicians as Heinz Holliger, André Previn, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman. Between 2007 and 2011, Kashper led the LA Phil’s second violin section as its Acting Principal.
In September 2001, in Japan, Kashper participated in the concerts of the Super World Orchestra – an ensemble made up of principal players from most of the world’s greatest orchestras – under the direction of Lorin Maazel. In June 2006, in France, he proudly represented the United States in the concerts of the World Philharmonic Orchestra – a unique ensemble that included principal players of the leading symphony orchestras from 80 countries.
“I had several family and friends who attended the [LAJS] performances and they all knew my dad very well and had heard him play in concert countless times. They all made it a point to come up to me afterwards to rave not only about [my father’s] magnificent piece, the ‘Symphony of the Holocaust,‘ and Noreen’s incredible talent as a conductor, but also to rave about [Mark] and how beautifully [he] played it… What an honor it was to hear his violin ‘sing’ and “chirp’ again.”
Mark has been making beautiful music with the Symphony since its debut in 1994 — enjoy this look back on his legacy as our Founding Concertmaster.