Sudden, Unexpected, & Close to Home: RIP Jess Levin


With great sadness we pass along news from the NC Symphony of the Feb. 16 death of long-time violinist Jess Levin, a musician who, in photography, enjoyed a parallel second career by means of which he further enriched the lives of family, friends, and his many admirers throughout the region. The orchestra’s tribute follows below. We’ll run a proper obit with details of arrangements in due course.

Jess Isaiah Levin February 15, 1951, to February 16, 2015

A member of the North Carolina Symphony since 1974, Jess Levin held the J. Felix Arnold Chair in the First Violin section.

From an early age, Jess had designs on a career in science. He began serious study of physics while in elementary school and went on to major in that subject at the Bronx High School of Science. However, as the son of one of New York’s premier violinists, it was not surprising that the music bug would bite him eventually. Jess began studying violin while in junior high school and studied composition with Juilliard resident composer Hall Overton beginning at the age of 14.

During his teen years, the photography bug also took up permanent residence next to music, and Jess pursued both creative areas from then on. His explorations of visual arts can be seen at An undergraduate degree in violin performance (with unofficial minor in composition) and a graduate school major in composition (with unofficial minor in violin) helped prepare Jess for his place in the First Violin section of the North Carolina Symphony.

Highlights of his career with the North Carolina Symphony included four performances of his own violin concerto (premiered in 1976), performances of Mozart’s Concerto No. 5, and the orchestra’s performances of two of his compositions – “TAKI 183,” for string orchestra, and “Tessellation,” for full orchestra. His chamber works have been performed in Raleigh, Albuquerque, and several Wisconsin venues. (As a freelancer he was a prominent contributor to several of the Triangle’s community orchestras.)

A continued fascination with physics and the other sciences provided just one area among the many that occupied Jess’ voracious appetite for reading that also included music and the visual arts. His wife, Pam Halverson, also part of the North Carolina Symphony family, serves as Assistant Librarian.

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3 thoughts on “Sudden, Unexpected, & Close to Home: RIP Jess Levin

  1. BrendaBruce

    Mark and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Jess. He photographed our wedding which gave us a special connection. He was a quiet, gentle spirit with a wry sense of humor we all enjoyed. Our hearts go to Pam, a tremendous void.

  2. Eva Hill

    Without knowing who he is, I am sending thanks to John Lambert for posting “Sudden, Unexpected and Close to Home: RIP Jess Levin.”
    There are no words to express the sorrow of his family.
    Jess was the dearly-loved brother of Lewis Levin and me. He was the cherished husband of his lovely wife, Pam Halverson. Lew and I were in constant touch with Jess, always enjoying his insightful and witty comments, his recommendations for articles to be read, his brilliant musical compositions, his artistic photographs, his enlightened world view, but most of all, his beautiful and sweet character. A kinder person never lived on this earth. When our father passed away, Jess was there, playing the violin to him. My thanks to all of you, strangers to me, who were friends to him. Play him a beautiful melody.


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