His resumé as a child performer is equally impressive, having given his first public concert at six and his first with an orchestra, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, when he was 10. Three years later, he gave a recital at Carnegie Hall. By the mid-1960s, Zukofsky had become well known in both solo and chamber repertory. In the latter genre, he would team up with Gilbert Kalish for many concert appearances and recordings over the years.
He also began conducting orchestras, often chamber-sized ensembles and usually in modern repertory. He served as music director for one season (1978-1979) of the Colonial Symphony Orchestra, a Madison, NJ, based ensemble. In this post, however, he also conducted works by Beethoven, Mozart, and other mainstream composers. Zukofsky has also led the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble since the 1970s, becoming its conductor in 1984.
Beginning in the 1970s, Zukofsky developed a relationship with the Reykjavik College of Music in Iceland, regularly appearing in concerts and conducting seminars there. He also appeared in many concerts as conductor at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in the last two decades of the twentieth century, often leading the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble and the Juilliard Orchestra. Zukofsky became a close friend of composer Philip Glass in the early 1970s and even appeared as Einstein in his opera Einstein on the Beach (1976). The character Zukofsky portrayed, of course, does not sing, but plays the violin instead.
Zukofsky inspired Glass to write his Violin Concerto (1986-87) and gave the work's premiere on April 5, 1987, with the American Composers Orchestra under the direction of Dennis Russell Davies. From 1992-96, Zukofsky was director of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California. As both a conductor and violinist, he remains active in the new century and has made over 60 recordings for a number of labels, including Sony, Camerata, CRI, and one of his own, CP2, of whose parent company, Musical Observations, Inc., he is president. He has extensively recorded for this label since the early 1990s, issuing performances of works, often in premiere issues, by Cage, Feldman, Xenakis, Glass, and several other modern composers.
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