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Assistant Concertmaster Passes Suddenly

December 28, 2011

Jennifer Bourianoff, violinist, educator and assistant concertmaster for the Austin Symphony Orchestra, died of pneumonia on Tuesday. She was 41.

For most of her life, the native Austinite was linked to the local symphony. The daughter of a Hyde Park Presbyterian Church minister and an Intel plasma physicist, she won the symphony’s young artist competition as a teenager and toured high schools with the ensemble.

Bourianoff joined the orchestra in 1991 and served as its assistant concertmaster since 1997. In American orchestras, the concertmaster is commonly the leader of the first violin section and plays solos unless a guest violinist stars during a concerto.

“She was a brilliant musician,” said Diana Eblen, the orchestra’s education director, on Wednesday. “She could play anything. And when she played, she would light up. She played with her soul.”

Bourianoff also served as CEO of Hyde Park Strings, which entertained at Austin social events. In 2005, she performed at the White House with Viva Trio. At other times, she could be heard with Chamber Soloists of Austin, A. Mozart Fest, Austin Lyric Opera or Austin Chamber Music Center.

A dedicated teacher, Bourianoff was named educator of the year in 2005 by the Austin Under 40 Awards. She also was named oustanding musician of the year by the Austin Critics Table. She had earned music degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Texas.

In 2010, she helped organize a musical benefit for the family of Andrew Joseph Stack III, who flew a plane into the offices of the Internal Revenue Service, killing an IRS employee and himself.

“I will miss her passion for music, her love of playing with the orchestra and her kind ways with students,” symphony music director Peter Bay said on Wednesday.

Besides her parents, Linda and George Bourianoff, the violinist leaves behind sister Michelle Bourianoff, a lawyer for AT&T who serves on the Zach Theatre board of directors.

Memorial arrangements haven not been finalized.