The Lighter Side with violinist and CRC member Hava Polinsky

Hava Polinsky earned her bachelor’s degree in music from the Juilliard School in 2021 and is now in its graduate music program.


Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

After you finish Juilliard with your master’s in 2023, what is your next goal?

In the near future, I will start taking orchestra auditions wherever there are seats that are open. If it’s the St. Louis Symphony, that’s my dream to start there.


You were a senior at Clayton High School on New Year’s Eve 2017 when you played with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for the first time. You just performed with orchestra the first week of 2022—five years later. How did that come about?

I got an email from the symphony saying, “Hey, this is super last-minute, but we need a substitute violinist for this week for a subscription concert playing Brahms Symphony No. 1. Is there any chance you would be available?” I dropped everything and the next morning at 6 a.m. I flew to St. Louis and was in my seat at Powell Hall by 9:45 a.m.


And on Jan. 29, you’ll take the stage here again?

It’s a crazy story. At the end of the last semester John Adams conducted the Juilliard Orchestra. I had the privilege of being concertmaster and developed a wonderful relationship with John Adams, who is so kind and so brilliant. And he’ll be conducting the St. Louis Symphony, so he put the St. Louis connection together and he said, “You should come play.”


When you started playing violin back when you were 8 years old, did you have any role models who you’ve met during your musical journey?

The violinist that really inspired me to do this with my life was Itzhak Perlman. He conquered a massive adversity of having polio and become one of the greatest of all time and I was really inspired by his story. When I auditioned at Juilliard, he was actually on the panel of faculty judging my audition, which was kind of terrifying.


Has sheltering in place during COVID been made more tolerable by your strict practice regimen?

I’m really grateful that practicing is safe during COVID. As someone who is dedicated to the orchestral path, I practice six hours a day by myself, but then you need to be in the room with other people, like a quartet, and those things just can’t safely happen, which is tough.


Have you enjoyed living in New York?

It’s been amazing, I love the energy and the hustle and bustle, and it matches my energy. With COVID it’s been hard. Before, every two weeks we’d to the New York Philharmonic or the Met or Broadway. We can’t do any of those things anymore.


When you performed with the SLSO in January did your dad (neurologist Michael Polinsky) continue his old tradition of visiting you backstage to wish you luck?

No, I think he’s come to terms with the fact that I sort of know what I’m doing at this point.