Remembering the talent and generosity of Austin Symphony Orchestra's JenniferBourianoff
On Tuesday, December 27, violinist Jennifer Bourianoff died after a virulent case of sudden pneumonia. Bourianoff, who played for the Austin Symphony Orchestra for more than 18 years, and acted as assistant concertmaster since 1997, is remembered fondly by many in Austin, where she will obviously be missed.
"The Austin Symphony sadly announces the passing of Assistant Concertmaster Jennifer Bourianoff," wrote Don Hill, Director of Public Relations for ASO, in a statement released on December 28. Diana Eblen, ASO's education director, said that Bourianoff was a brilliant musician. "She could play anything. And when she played, she would light up. She played with her soul."
Peter Bay, Music Director and Conductor of ASO, said, "It is difficult to adequately describe how profound her absence will be felt within the orchestra. I can say that we already miss her dedication, vibrancy, warmth, and comforting smile, as well as her musicianship and concern for our overall sound. Jennifer contributed so much personally and musically to the artistic profile of our city, and the awards she received for that gift were a small indication of what she accomplished."
The sudden case of pneumonia quickly shut down all of Bourianoff's major organs. Her mother Linda wrote on Facebook, "Jennifer put up a valiant fight to the end, but nothing — not the doctors' expertise or her desire to live — could overcome the infection. Jennifer was a joy as a child and continued to be a joy as an adult. She was kind and caring and had a wicked sense of humor. She was also a wonderful violinist who touched many people through her gift of music. Most of all she was a wonderful daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Our family covets your prayers at this most difficult time."
A native of Austin, Bourianoff was a former winner of the Austin Youth Awards as a teenager and played with the ASO during its High School Concert Tour. She was a student, and later a teacher, at Austin Chamber Music Center (ACMC). She earned a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Cleveland Institute of Music and went on to receive her Masters of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. Bourianoff was also Co-founder and CEO of Hyde Park Strings, which entertains at Austin social events and specializes in weddings.
Ora Shay of ACMC says, "I remember her rehearsing in my living room in the last year of high school, when she and my daughter were in the same chamber ensemble. That was a time full of hope, and it was with great pride that we watched her go off to Cleveland for her professional training. She also was an active and sensitive teacher in the Academy at ACMC, and her performances with colleagues were a pleasure to hear. She will be missed."
In 2010, Bourianoff helped organize a benefit for family friend Sheryl Stack after Stack's husband, Andrew Joseph Stack, flew a plane into the offices of the Internal Revenue Service in Austin after burning down their family home. Calling Bourianoff an "exquisite musician and outstanding human being," Sheryl Stack says that everyone who knew her is saddened by her death. "Her goodness helped see us through our time of great grief and loss in a very real way that has benefited us to this day," she says.
Bourianoff arrived at the Stack benefit concert with her own grief and loss; a close friend from church had committed suicide the night before. “It was her first suicide loss; mine had been my husband's less than three weeks earlier,” Stack recalls. “We embraced and cried, and then it was time: The show must go on. She played several pieces beautifully, in spite of her own personal grief that day."
Stack shares another memory that illustrates Bourianoff’s generosity: After the benefit concert, Bourianoff offered to loan her 12-year-old daughter Margaux a $20,000 violin to use after the young student lost her own violin in the fire.
"I am so grateful for everything she did for us in relation to that concert,” says Stack. "I will miss Jen and her sweet spirit."
Visitation will be held at Weed–Corley-Fish Funeral Home on North Lamar December 30 from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. The graveside service will be at 9:30 a.m. December 31 at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery, and the memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 31 at 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church. All are welcome to attend each of these events.
In addition, the ASO will honor Jennifer with music and words at the January 13 and 14 subscription concerts.