Alum/Lecturer Zakarias Grafilo: Song in His Heart, Twinkle in His Eye

Thursday, September 18, 2014
Photo of Zakarias Grafilo
STOCKTON RECORD -- First-violinist Grafilo is the youngest member — by 14 years — of a “significantly older” group: Frederick Lifsitz (second violin), Paul Yarbrough (viola) and Sandy Wilson (cello). They’re artists-in-residence at San Francisco State University. Grafilo’s musical outfitting started early and occurred naturally. Mom Nelia, who worked at San Francisco State for 25 years, enrolled him in Suzuki violin lessons at 4. She was his piano accompanist — during practice and performance — through his teen years. He attended UCLA briefly before resettling at San Francisco State, where he was tutored by the Alexander String Quartet. His Chamberlain String Quartet became “kind of their assistants” — though Grafilo majored in Liberal Studies. Trained in a symphony setting, Grafilo negotiated “kind of a left turn” into chamber music, where individual expression is more pronounced. “Once bitten by the chamber-music bug, you never forget,” he said. “I crave chamber music.”