James Zabawa-Martinez ’09 was born in Austin, Texas and had a strong desire to play the violin since early childhood. He began his studies at the age of 11 in his middle school orchestra. When James was 14, he met violinist Jennifer Bourianoff from the Austin Symphony and began to study with her. Shortly after, he moved to Faribault, Minn. to attend Shattuck-St. Mary’s Pre-Conservatory Program, where he studied with Sally O’Reilly.
He continued his studies with her through earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. James has performed in various master classes for teachers including Joseph Silverstein, Pamela Frank, Ani Kavafian, Angie Fuller, Yair Kless, Jonathan Magness, Vijay Gupta, Bruce Coppock, and many more. James has performed throughout Europe and North America as a soloist and chamber musician, and has participated in national-level competitions such as the Sphinx Competition, Saint Paul Chamber Competition, Music Teachers National Association, and more. Currently, he is pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin with professor Brian Lewis, and maintains an active teaching studio at Orpheus Academy of Music.