Since her solo orchestral debut at age 15 with the Amarillo Symphony, Ilana Setapen has been flourishing as a violinist with a powerful and original voice. She is hailed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a violinist with "a sparkling sound" and "the kind of control that puts an audience completely at ease." She is currently the Associate Concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
In recent seasons Setapen has had solo performances with the Milwaukee Symphony, the Festival City Symphony, the Boca Raton Symphonia, and the Sheboygan Symphony, among others. She held the Assistant Concertmaster position of the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra in Chicago for 6 years. Since winning her job in the Milwaukee Symphony, she has been offered a solo every season. In the summers she has made guest appearances at the Olympic Music Festival on Bainbridge Island, and she is also a frequent performer on the Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago. In 2015 she joined the faculty of the Luzerne Music Center summer festival in Lake Luzerne, New York.
Setapen has won top prizes in many competitions including the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, the Pasadena Showcase Competition, and the Kingsville International Competition. At the age of 21, she became concertmaster of the Riverside Philharmonic in Los Angeles. She has also held concertmaster positions with the Juilliard Orchestra, the Colburn Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the USC Thornton Symphony.
Also a passionate chamber musician, Setapen is a frequent guest on the Frankly Music Series and Chamber Music Milwaukee. She and her colleague Margot Schwartz wanted to broaden the horizons of their repertoire and performance venues, so in 2012 they formed their duo, Bowing Rogue. Ilana is also a favorite guest with the Rembrandt Chamber Players of Chicago. Her talent has led her to collaborations with such distinguished artists as Ron Leonard, Lynn Harrell, Toby Appel, Cynthia Phelps, Joseph Kalichstein, Peter Stumpf, Paul Coletti, the Fine Arts Quartet, Stefan Hersh, David Geber, and Joan Tower. Solo and chamber music performances have brought her abroad to China, France, Brazil, Holland, England, Monaco, and Italy.
Setapen grew up in Amarillo, Texas. She studied with Robert Lipsett both at the University of Southern California and at the Colburn Conservatory. She received her Master of Music Degree from the Juilliard School as a student of Donald Weilerstein and Ronald Copes. She also loves to teach and has a blossoming studio in Milwaukee. Ilana plays on a 1624 Brothers Amati on loan from Frank Almond.
In her spare time Setapen enjoys training for triathlons, cooking, and swing dancing.