V.com weekend vote: Do you compose? border=0 align=

V.com weekend vote: Do you compose?

September 30, 2016, 11:29 AM · The face of music composition is changing rapidly these days, as technology makes it much easier for people without training in music theory or in playing instruments to create their own music.

The good news is that for those who do have instrumental skills and knowledge of theory, the world is even better. One can take pencil to manuscript, one can type something into Sibelius. Or, one can play a musical idea, via keyboard or other instrument, into a computer and manipulate the music in more ways than my brain can fathom, with the help of programs like Garage Band and others.

One of my students has been composing for some time, arranging popular pieces for her middle and high school orchestras, more the traditional way, but also using technology. In encouraging her to get set up with an electric violin, pedal and expanded setup on the computer, I'm getting a little jealous. I would have loved this, when I was young! I love the idea of being able to create music as both a digital native and a trained musician. What power!

As it is, I'm a trained musician, but I speak digital with a foreign accent, if you know what I mean. I'm slower than, say, my 16-year-old son! But I'm certainly interested. So this week's vote is about composing. Do you compose? Do you do it in a traditional way, or more digitally? And if you are digitally well-versed, what are the programs that violinists would have fun exploring?

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15th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition

15th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, Poznań, 8-23 October 2016: Outstanding young virtuosos from across the world compete in Poznań for the title of the laureate of the oldest violin competition in the world. The jury is headed by the world-famous violin player Maxim Vengerov, while Krzysztof Penderecki, the outstanding Polish composer is the Honorary Chairman of the body. Watch online or download an app on your smartphone. http://www.wieniawski-competition.com/ (Ad)

Interview with Chinese violinist Vera Tsu Weiling: From the Cultural Revolution to Now border=0 align=

Interview with Chinese violinist Vera Tsu Weiling: From the Cultural Revolution to Now

September 29, 2016, 3:07 PM · As a child learning to play the violin in Shanghai during China's Cultural Revolution, Vera Tsu Weiling hid in a dark basement to practice, using sheets of music copied out in pencil, always with the fear of being discovered and gravely punished.

She never could have imagined where she would be a half-century later: back home in Shanghai, sitting among some of the most distinguished violinists in the world - now her colleagues - in a new hall built for the Shanghai Symphony (conducted by her husband Long Yu), serving on the jury of the first-ever Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition. Though she has represented China on juries for many of the most prestigious violin competitions in the world, this one had particular meaning for her.

"Before, I couldn't even dream of all these people in my own city, and also being a judge in an international-level competition," she said. "We were so isolated in China: no music, no recordings, no live performance, no idea what real music is. And now, we have our own competition, bringing so many great musicians together in this city. This changes things tremendously."

Weiling's musical journey took her around the world, to study with Dorothy DeLay and Rafael Bronstein, to play as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, and to be associate concertmaster for the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Now she is one of the most sought-after violin teachers in China, teaching at both the Central Conservatory in Beijing and the Shanghai Conservatory.

While in Shanghai, I spoke with Weiling about what it was like to learn to play the violin during the Cultural Revolution, being one of the first students to be admitted to China's Central Conservatory afterward, Isaac Stern's 1979 visit and the state of Western classical music in China today. Keep reading...

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Etudes for All! Violin Etudes as Viola Etudes border=0 align=

Etudes for All! Violin Etudes as Viola Etudes

September 29, 2016, 10:38 AM · This is my first post at violinist.com. I've been happy to see a strong viola presence on violinist.com, as I think there is more that unites us than divides us!

One such area I'd like to focus on in this post is etudes. Though there are very fine viola-specific etudes by Campagnoli, Fuchs, etc., they are often used in conjunction with the core etude repertoire: Wohlfahrt, Kayser, Kreutzer, Rode, Gavinies, Paganini etc., which is the exact same repertoire violinists use.

I would argue that these are not even transcriptions when played on the viola. In the more than five hundred years the viola has been around, it has only been possible to get a degree in viola performance in the past one hundred. The standard route was to learn first the violin and then switch later. Certain well-known viola teachers in the 20th century wouldn't accept students who didn't have solid training on the violin first.

In recent times there are many examples of successful violists who have started on the viola, of course, but the violin technical repertoire is still used, just a fifth lower. Paganini used his caprices as etudes; other violinists would take hotel rooms next to his, and they could hear him quietly playing through them. Keep reading...

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