Jorja Fleezanis was concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1989 to 2009—the longest-tenured concertmaster in the orchestra's history and only the second woman in the U.S. to hold the title of concertmaster in a major orchestra. She has also been guest concertmaster for the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, and the Louisiana Philharmonic. Prior to her Minnesota Orchestra post, she was associate concertmaster with the San Francisco Symphony for eight years and a member of the Chicago Symphony at age twenty-three. In the fall of 2009, she was appointed Professor of Violin and the Henry Upper Chair in Orchestral Studies at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she taught until 2021.
She continues to work in education, offering projects that can enhance the learning of classical music, and appears as a guest speaker on the arts and for women in professional music. In 2009 she created a commissioning organization, the Steinberg Fleezanis Fund, in memory of her late husband, Michael Steinberg.
Ms. Fleezanis has had a number of works commissioned for her: two works commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, the John Adams Violin Concerto and Ikon of Eros by John Tavener, the latter recorded on Reference Records; Nicholas Maw’s Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, commissioned by American Public Media in St. Paul, MN, and Aaron Jay Kernis’ Brilliant Sky, Infinite Sky, commissioned by the Schubert Club in St. Paul, MN, and recorded by CRI. Her recording of the complete violin sonatas of Beethoven with the French fortepianist Cyril Huvé was released in 2003 on the Cyprés label. Other recordings include Stefan Wolpe's Violin Sonata with Garrick Ohlsson for Koch International.
In collaboration with the French pianist, Cyril Huvé, she has performed numerous chamber music concerts in France as a mentor/artist with emerging young artists and gifted students of the Paris Conservatoire. Together, Huvé and Fleezanis have also toured France and the United States presenting the
Ten Sonatas of Beethoven with fortepiano and violin. In 1984 she became a member of the FOG Trio based in San Francisco with Garrick Ohlsson (piano) and Michael Grebanier (cello). She was one of the founding members of Chamber Music Sundaes, a series begun by members of the San Francisco Symphony in 1981 still active today, and also a founding member and concertmaster of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, now in its 40th season.
A devoted teacher, Ms. Fleezanis became an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota's School of Music in 1990 until her departure from the Minnesota Orchestra. Since the summer of 2015 she has taught and performed at the Music Academy of the West, with other affiliations that include: the Round Top International Festival Institute in Texas (1990-2007); artist-in-residence at the University of
California, Davis; guest artist and teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory, where she served on the faculty from 1981 to 1989; artist and mentor at the Music@Menlo Festival (2002 to 2013); teacher and coach at the New World Symphony, and master classes at the Boston Conservatory, The Juilliard School, Madeline Island Chamber Music Camp, and Interlochen Academy and Center for the Arts. In the last several years the Benjamin Britten Center at Snape Maltings created a professional musician reboot workshop to be led by Ms. Fleezanis.
Ms. Fleezanis studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She plays a 1700 violin by the Venetian maker Matteo Gofriller.