My Story

I'm Harris Shilakowsky. I was born in Boston, so I'm a native New Englander. 
Violinists learn to traditional folk songs and 'classical' music.  I'm a child of the 60's, so my listening and hence My Music combines elements of rock and pop and jazz and classical, and a bit of contemporary stuff...electronica, rap, and a taste of country that I must have picked up when I was working in Nashville. I perform as a member of groups...small ensembles, large ensembles, orchestras, choruses, and as a soloist.

I do a lot of arranging for strings because I also play a ton of weddings and my brides and grooms ask me to play popular songs but on string instruments. I'm mostly known as a violinist. Conductors and critics have commented on my sweet tone, which is what I've always taken the most care producing. My teacher at Yale used to say, (he was concertmaster of the Boston Symphony) that the BSO 'never plays an ugly note'. Well...sometimes I need an angry sound, so I will admit that occasionally, in the interest of being real, I'll do something gritty and tough, but I do believe in creating sounds that you would want to listen to... 

I studied piano with my mother, Rina Shiller beginning at age 5. Then I began violin at age 9. I played organ in my teen years, mostly blues and rock, while performing with orchestras like Springfield Symphony and Portland Symphony in Maine. I sang in my Junior High chorus and tried acting in the school musical…While I worked on my undergrad degree at New England Conservatory of Music, I played violin with Wes Riley’s jazz band. Went to Yale University for a master’s degree, I spent a year off working as concertmaster of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. 

After I graduated from Yale, I got into the first violin section of the Buffalo Philharmonic & then the Nashville Symphony, where I also was a session musician, then skipped around from Grand Rapids, New Orleans, Charleston SC, and London Symphony orchestras. I heard that you could make good money playing for touring shows, so I played for a number of musical theater production companies, touring in Germany and the US and working in theaters in Boston, Providence and NYC. 

As a pro, I’ve backed up people that I listened to in my own childhood...Rod Stewart, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and touring & recording with other great singers and entertainers. I started composing in high school, but was inspired to compose more after playing in the Boston Pops under film composer John Williams. 

As a free-lancer, I backed up musicians like Rod Stewart, Pavarotti, Moody Blues, Charlotte Church, the Irish Tenors, Bobby Vinton, KD Lang, Johnny Mathis, Smoky Robinson, Sarah Brightman, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, a boat-load of opera singers and ballet dancers and jazz and rock musicians.As a pro, I've backed up people that I grew up listening to. My writing is flavored by my Jewish culture and the music of America... funk, rock, pop, rap, blues, bluegrass, country, honky tonk, classical music & jazz & R&B. So my influences are wide-ranging. They come from all the music I played in the rank n file and as an occasional soloist, chamber musician.

My lyrics reflect current events both external and internal... my life as a musician and as a husband, a father and a teacher and a concerned citizen of the world & my personal battle between the life of a 'classical' musician in a Rock n Roll World.musician and band member.

I'll continue to write more original pieces and songs and recording them... and arrange more songs for strings and voice and other instruments.

A Hard Learned Lesson

My latest project was hiring musicians as the Personnel Manager and Concertmaster of a new contemporary series of concerts in Newport, Rhode Island. I was very proud to have been selected by the music director, Paul Van Anglen, to help him make this festival a great new addition to the cultural scene in Rhode Island. I was also excited to be performing the beautiful, haunting Violin Concerto by Alban Berg as soloist for the series! However, during rehearsals with the top professional musicians of New England, who I carefully chose...each for their unique virtuosic talents and abilities, we, the professional performers, discovered that the director of the series wasn't trained as a conductor. The music he had chosen was particularly difficult, and so his lack of ability was transparent to all of the others on-stage. After stumbling through 2 concerts, the second of which needed to have a replacement conductor, as the director couldn't conduct the music correctly, being both un-educated and under-prepared, we came to rehearsal, only to find that the 'conductor' was missing. We found out that he was canceling the remaining 4 concerts of the series. Evidently, on top of a lack of professionalism, the 'president' and 'conductor' also hadn't raised and put aside the money necessary to pay everyone their professional fees. 

My own personal history includes 9 years of running a professional chamber orchestra, which was called the Bristol Chamber Orchestra. I founded that group, assembled a board of directors, endeavored to raise the money necessary to pay all of the concerts' expenses, programmed the repertoire, purchased and/or rented sheet music and built a library of music.

My past experience founding and operating organizations has taught me much. Good lessons in how to manage and coordinate resources and people. Result: performances and educational experiences for young people who will continue to perpetuate these traditions. I learned this summer everything to avoid.  And most importantly, to include the professionals in decision-making and the process of creation. After all, this is what we are trained to do. This is why its no coincidence that at least half of the people that I determined to be qualified to performance challenging contemporary music hold Phd's and Doctorate degrees in music. 

Together with a team of legal, marketing, and administrative specialists, we musicians will create a new collaborative that will inspire audiences and students as we tour the New England States. 

I love my work teaching students of all ages. Each of my students has different interests and needs, so I figure out what they need and what they like and assign the music and studies that will help them reach their personal musical goals. 

Sheet Music for Gigs & Original Compositions

For gigging musicians...especially string players, You can check out my arrangements on this website or at the Sheetmusicplus.com website. I'll be publishing more arrangements (sheet music) and recordings to this website. Sign up for my mailing list and I'll let you know as things become available! You'll be the first to know, actually! In fact, I'll give you a free download when you sign up to the mailing list for my newsletter (and don't worry...I won't ever send out a newsletter more than every 2 weeks...and more likely just once a month).
 

Harris Shilakowsky
composer

Harris Shilakowsky composer composing since high school. First piece performed at Thelma Yellin School of the Arts in Israel in 1971. Bachelor cum laude from New England Conservatory of Music, and Masters in Music from Yale University Graduate Professional School of Music. Played in rock, blues, jazz, electronic and classical groups and composed and improvised many pieces for these and other combinations of instruments. Inspired by many great composers from all periods and styles of music studied and enjoyed over the years including classical, baroque, romantic, rock, pop, jazz, Movie music. Played in the Boston Pops under John Williams and was very inspired by his music and work. Stravinsky, Ravel, Beethoven, Satie, Debussy, the Beatles and many others. Studied the theories and methodologies of the ages from Palestrina to Schoenberg and beyond. Versatile with many media including electronic equipment, traditional instruments. And still developing new ideas and styles from contacts with the recording business as engineer, producer and performer. Music production: trained and on staff at Saucersound Studio.

 

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arranger

Bach Air on a G String arranged for Bass Quintet
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Bach Air on a G String arranged for Bass quintet; violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello and bass by Harris Shilakowsky. Quick pdf file download. No limit to number of times you may print. Arranger is a former concertmaster of the New Orleans and London Symphony Orchestras and first violinist of the Shilakowsky String Quartet.

Use this arrangement as a quintet, or your cellist may play the bass line and delete the existing cello part to use as a string quartet arrangement.

Set includes 5 parts.

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The Arranger
What does the arranger do for other artists or performers?
for wedding clients

The Producer
What does a producer do?

  • recordings
  • performances

For examples of arrangements and/or compositions that I've written or created, please check out the Sheet Music Store.

The Arranger takes an existing piece of music and adds things like accompaniment, such as rhythm instruments, back-up vocal lines, counter-melodies that enhance the main melody, etc. Some arrangers simply take an existing song and add a small band back-up. On a larger scale, arrangers might add orchestrations, with numerous instruments such as those found in traditional orchestras, concert bands, choruses, and even sound effects.


The role of the arranger may cross over into that of a composer, when the arranger adds new material, such as counter melodies to enhance the words and original music.


Singers who focus their attention on the song-writing and performance use their arranger to fashion the special sounds that listeners come to identify with that singer. A hip hop artist will use a producer or arranger who creates strong, unique rhythm tracks that incorporate samples, midi instruments, live instruments and effects. Country or romantic pop singers, like Linda Ronstadt have used composer/arrangers who create symphonic back-ground tracks...the classic example being the use of Nelson Riddle's string section writing.


Your arranger can help you cut the length of your song to fit a specific audition, or demo. The shortened version might highlight the stronger parts of your voice. Intros might be lengthened or shortened as needed. Bridge sections can be composed to add more unique material. Arrangers can simplify the music, or add complexity. A good arranger will be one who can do either with equal ease.


Your arranger can help you put songs together into medleys, adapt a song as a duet or tranpose the song to a different key that will project better given your vocal range. When you play your songs with different bands or musicians backing you up, which happens frequently, your arranger should provide you with written out parts with either notated notes and/or chords and explanatory notes for the band members, so you can re-create the original sound of your cd or 'home' performance 'on the road'.


It is well worth the investment to hire an arranger or a producer who also composes and/or arranges, so your sound will sound unique, and thus stand out in peoples' minds...be memorable, and become loved by your fans.


With many years of experience performing professionally, I have a great deal of experience in

  • listening skills...listening to music, and listening to the needs of others

 

  • I have a lot of experience in turning ideas into reality. I have created my own music, realized others' music, cd's, mp3's, played for others on their records and created my own. 

  • I've worked in studios and created my own. I've also created organizations.

  • I have taught and coached many student musicians and brought them to a high level of artistry. 

  • I have also in my leadership positions advised my own musical colleagues in ensembles that I have led.

  • I have a diverse stylistic background. I have experience and know the styles of many different kinds of music. I've backed up pop and country, classical and so forth. I'll study your musical style and match the arrangements and productions to your individual stylistic approach, so the results will always be true to your personality and self-image as projected in your music. Of course, this requires honesty on your own part! You must know yourself! I can help you find yourself, if you're not sure yet where you're heading exactly. if you're certain you have your course charted, I'll help you get there. Email me with the details of your project. Let me know if you need a producer and/or arranger. Tell me if you need a recording studio or have already contracted with a studio.


If you have a favorite song that was written for an orchestra, a rock group, or a jazz band, but you've hired a woodwind or string ensemble to play at your wedding ceremony, you'll need to get your favorite song arranged for your hired musicians to play it. Press this email link Shilakowsky Custom Arrangement to request your favorite song arranged for your ensemble of choice. Write in your email the group you've hired. (woodwind quintet/string quartet/solo instrument (which), singer/band, etc.). Write the date of your wedding. Do you want an extra introduction added, or for the song to be turned into a longer piece? Do you want it shorter (only the main melody, for instance)? Order early, so your songs will be ready for your wedding day.

The Producer?

Takes your ideas and turns helps you turn them into the professional quality sound that you want your fans, your audience to know you by.

I work hands-on with my own equipment. If we need to use other facilities, I'll work hand-in-hand with other engineers. I'll help you find and contract additional help; musicians, technicians and even help you get your music 'out there' if you need some managerial assistance. Which hats I wear depends on you and your needs and the details of the project.

The strongest thing I bring to your music is my sensitivity to music and my respect for your ideas. The other thing I bring you is the freeing up of your mind and/or voice and hands to 'do your thing'.

  • help you make your ideas become reality.

If you feel a CD or mp3 is what you need to do, I'll produce it with you.

If you need to prepare for concerts, tours, or other performances, I'll put my arranging, coaching and production skills to the task for you.


I'll help you identify other professionals that match your needs and work styles. Some of the work I'll be doing for you will be hands-on, and some will be in the form of consultation.

Christ The Lord Has Risen, Today
  • Christ The Lord Has Risen, Today
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Christ the Lord Has Risen, Today

suitable for Easter celebrations.

String Quartet with Optional Piano

includes lyric sheet to use as accompaniment for solo, choir or congregation.

download sheet music and print on your own computer.

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When Irish Eyes Are Smiling string quartet arrangement
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$14.95

String Quartet arrangement of the old chestnut, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. Not too hard, but not boring either. good work out for the violist. Published as a set including 4 parts; violin 1, 2, viola & cello and Score and including mp3 recording for rehearsal purposes. Instant download link sent out automatically means you can print your parts almost immediately and there are NO LIMITS to the number of times you may print your music.

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$12.99

Four Sacred Songs for Easter; A Great and Mighty Wonder Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed All creatures of our God and King All Glory, Laud, and Honour. Arranged for Strings, choir, piano or organ. Can be played as string quartet music, String Bass doubles cello. Includes separate lyric sheet. Can be played as instrumental music since choir doubles strings and/or piano. Rich arrangements. Download instant pdf files. No limit to number of times you can print these.

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Christ the Lord is Risen Today, arranged for String Quartet & optional
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Christ the Lord is Risen Today, arranged for string quartet with optional piano part. Arrangement by concertmaster & leader of the Shilakowsky String Quartet, Harris Shilakowsky. violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello & piano parts plus score all included. Instant pdf file download. No limit to number of times you may print the parts from your own computer.

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My Wild Irish Rose, String Quartet Arrangement with optional piano
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Old favorite song by Chauncy Olcott, My Wild Irish Rose. This arrangement by Harris Shilakowsky, former concertmaster of the New Orleans Symphony is for String Quartet with an optional Piano Part. The full set of parts and score are all included as downloadable pdf files. Instant download. No limitations on printing. Great for Valentine's Day or any time you want some romantic string music.

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