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Top BlogsBy The Weekend Vote
May 17, 2013 22:09
What do you use to tune your fiddle, when you have no orchestral oboist around?
May 16, 2013 12:45
To reiterate, the winners of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition were named on Wednesday night, and they are:
Marc Bouchkov, 22, of Belgium, first prize of $30,000 CAD, and a "Sartory" model bow by Sandrine Raffin, valued at $3,700 CAD.
You can listen to performances from both nights of finals on the CBC website. A Gala Performance will take place Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, featuring the winners playing with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and guest conductor Maxim Vengerov. Winners of the special awards will be announced at the official awards ceremony, preceding the gala concert.
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Here are a few highlights Wednesday's performances, as well as some thoughts to follow.
Wednesday's performances featured Zeyu Victor Li; Fédor Roudine, 20, of France; and Stephen Waarts.
Zeyu Victor Li played the Tchaikovsky Concerto with tidy technique, and a nice buoyant quality to his sound. He took some very fast turns with the tempo, which is the soloist's prerogative; yet, one must be aware of how fast a large organism such an orchestra can respond, even under the best circumstances. Music takes place in real time and requires give-and-take -- not-together is not-together, whatever one's ideals. That said, this was a very fine performance, with uncomplicated sound, good projection and great technique in the cadenza. In a concerto that can be an avalanche of notes, every note was clear, even in the fastest and most technical passages.
Photo: Gunther Gamper
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The Tchaikovsky concerto remains that infamous piece whose dedicatee pronounced it "unplayable," and on Wednesday, Fédor Roudine didn't quite have the kind of control over intonation and consistency of tone quality that puts an audience at ease. He does have a nice deep sound and some incredible chops, taking the third movement at quite a fast clip.
Photo: Gunther Gamper
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Stephen Waarts had a beautiful grace in his playing from the first note of the Brahms Concerto -- and then he warmed up and got even better! His impeccable intonation soothed the soul, and his concept of the piece was a cohesive whole -- he made it look easy. I stopped worrying, relaxed and enjoyed the beauty that is Brahms: the soaring melodies, the quirky rhythms that pop out of a cluster of notes well-played, the warmth of emotion.
Photo: Gunther Gamper
FINAL THOUGHTS + scroll down for COMPETITION ART!
I will confess to you a certain kind of wariness, when I learned that I'd be listening to four Tchaik concertos and two Brahms during this final round of the Montreal competition, but I found all the performances so very individual.
Isn't that the complaint, that high-level music schools stamp out musicians who all play the same? That there's nothing new left to do with the classics? It's not a legitimate complaint. I saw very distinct personalities and enjoyed their musical revelations.
Hats off to Maxim Vengerov, who had the task of conducting the Tchaikovsky four different times, with four different sets of tempi, four different personalities and all the possible pitfalls that come with accompanying pre-professional soloists. He impressed me as a solid and steady leader, displaying an attitude of support toward each soloist.
For me, Stephen Waarts was a very close second in this competition, with his mature and refined Brahms, and I fully expect to see him winning a major competition in the next few years. That said, Bouchkov seems so clearly ready for the concert stage; he has that special kind of charisma and awareness of both orchestra and audience that draws a listener in, makes one want more. I enjoyed listening to all six of these fine young musicians and only regret I was not here to hear the other rounds! Fortunately we can all listen to them, and here is the website for that.
I love that music inspires people in different ways. It inspires some people simply to look at the world in different way, but it can also fan our creative urges, inspiring some to make more music, or to write. Last night inspired my friend, Los Angeles artist Lark Larisa Pilinsky, to draw! Here are her sketches of the evening's three performers; I feel like she really captured something of their playing.
Left to right: Stephen Waarts, Fédor Roudine and Zeyu Victor Li.
By Terez Mertes
May 16, 2013 10:21
An extended version of this article can be found at The Classical Girl
Call me sentimental, but when I hear a story about a talented performer in the arts world who suffers adversity and triumphs against tremendous odds, well, it steals my heart. It gets me rallying around that person. That I should be won over by the performer’s talent, musicality, peerless technique, before learning his backstory, well, that makes it all the more sweeter. One performance by German violinist Augustin Hadelich (live Internet streaming of the finals of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in 2006) and I was smitten.
Flashback to 1999. At age fifteen, child prodigy violinist Augustin Hadelich was badly burned in an accident at the family farm in Tuscany. He was hospitalized with extensive burns to his upper body, face and right hand, putting his career, not to mention his life, at risk. The next two years included months in the hospital, twenty surgeries, slow rehabilitation, pushing past pain, doubt, skepticism that he’d ever play the violin again, much less perform professionally. But he persevered, made his way back, and in 2006 he won first place in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
This season Augustin Hadelich made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony, with the Beethoven Violin Concerto, a replacement for originally scheduled Julia Fischer, an already acclaimed violinist with an ever-growing reputation. It was a thrill to go to the concert and watch the sublime be replaced by the equally sublime.
The first movement, all twenty-five minutes of it, is wonderful, ever a treat to listen to, but what makes this concerto so powerful to me is its second movement. Its majesty stirs me, transports me. It’s so much more about interpretation than flash. Here the violin part is so exposed, like a solitaire diamond. No hiding a flaw. From my first tier corner seat (read: economically distant) I could almost feel Hadelich’s concentration, his intention. He is a thoughtful musician whose intelligence and reverence for the piece shine through. The audience was utterly engrossed, almost leaning in so as to catch every nuance. One of my favorite moments is when a talented soloist pauses, allows for a split second of silence, and here you are in this 2000 seat concert hall, all of you, listening. That night you could hear a pin drop as the last of the violin’s silvery tones, the sympathetic vibrations from Hadelich’s 1723 Stradivarius, rose into the air and dissipated.
In the jaunty third movement, Hadelich switched moods, producing a blazingly fast, sharply articulated cadenza midway that seemed infectious, propelling the orchestra behind him to redouble their energy as well. The momentum built so high that the instant Hadelich and the orchestra played the last note, the audience was on their feet, roaring with approval.
What a glorious coup for Hadelich and Beethoven alike. And yet Beethoven likely went to his grave thinking he’d gotten it wrong. Composed in 1806, a violin concerto ahead of its time, the premiere was not deemed a success, and the concerto was dropped from performance repertoire for nearly forty years, revived only after his death, by twelve-year old prodigy Joseph Joachim with Felix Mendelssohn conducting. That Beethoven never received the acclaim he deserved for this masterpiece is heartbreaking. It’s as heartbreaking as what might have been, had Augustin Hadelich believed the doctors who told him his chances of playing the violin again, performing again, were slim.
You know, there’s something rather Zen and philosophical about that all. Into the fire. Amid the ashes of what you’d been, in Hadelich’s case, a child prodigy, and the truth is, a lot of child prodigies don’t make it over that hurdle into adulthood. But this, a two year period, regenerating, rebuilding, quite literally, letting go of what you’d been, what you’d once achieved. Breaking your psyche down to its core—what can you not live without? What one thing will you fight with your life for? The answer for Augustin Hadelich was this: to play the violin. He didn’t want a life compromised by its absence. He therefore struggled, fought, persevered in his goal to get back to what he’d been. Twenty surgeries later, having surely suffered setbacks, limitations, relearning, re-doing, he returned to the stage, brilliant and triumphant, fiery in his artistry.
Well done, Augustin Hadelich. May this be first of many performances with the San Francisco Symphony for you.
I couldn’t find him playing the Beethoven, but here’s Augustin Hadelich playing Schumann, the Sonata for Piano and Violin no. 1, in a gorgeous, equally impressive black-and-white filming. Hadelich plays Schumann
And here’s a link to Laurie Niles’ October 2012 interview with him. www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/201210/14052/
By Cheyne Winterthieme
May 16, 2013 08:34
In March last year, I was laying in a hospital bed listening to the steady sound of the IV. I'd caught a cold, but it turned into pneumonia. With 50% breathing capacity and severe asthma, it hadn't taken long to land me in the hospital. But this was the third day of my stay and I was feeling better. Of course, I was sure longing to get a-hold of my violin to play but IV's don't lend very well to bowing. I was starting to feel impatient, but then I realized that this was the whole reason I play violin instead of something else.
By Bram Heemskerk
May 16, 2013 01:50
A lot composers wrote a violin concerto. Here the one of the German composer Carl Reinecke(1824-1910) who also wrote a harp concerto:
By Laurie Niles
May 15, 2013 20:46
MONTREAL -- Winners of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition were just announced!
1st: Marc Bouchkov of Belgium,
2nd Stephen Waarts of US and
3rd Zeyu Victor Li of China
Photo: Gunther Gamper
More to come in the morning.
By Andrew Sords
May 15, 2013 18:52
Walking onstage to play Brahms concerto in front of a full auditorium? Replacing a soloist on a recital series on one day's notice? Having a string break in concert? All sound nightmarish--and indeed, the above are the subject of my nightmares. Having endured each, I thought I had been through it all. Enter this month's dance competition...and a concert horror doesn't register on the Richter scale.
Earlier in May, I danced in a charity competition called "Dancing With The Celebrities of Pittsburgh", a regional spinoff of the ABC hit show "Dancing With The Stars". Each week this spring, I performed a different concerto, recital program, or chamber music - and each paled next to preparing a 3 minute "Paso Doble" routine: a traditional Spanish Toreador (bullfighter) double step. When I met my partner, Sandra, things weren't looking good. My busy tour schedule, possessing two left feet, and the difficulty of the routine paralyzed me with fear during each of the rehearsals. I don't have stage fright when it comes to the Franck sonata or Tchaikovsky concerto, but a myriad of fears consumed me: will I look goofy? Will I let Sandra down? Could a dancing injury sideline my concerts? Fast forward to May. Several grueling rehearsals, a spray tan, and one paisley vest later, it was time for the competition. Faced with opening the competition (a position I dreaded), I commenced the routine with a bit of Hubay's "Carmen Fantasie", and then settled into the Zorro-type rhythms. After the exciting choreography, and overwhelmed with gratitude for the beautiful Sandra, I realized I had run towards something that had once terrified me...and didn't fall flat on my face. Who knows - maybe the routine could one day be on the ABC network...but besides that pipe dream, I have a feeling of accomplishment - a feeling that is remarkably different from preparing a concerto.
On a different note, the 12/13 concert season is winding down, and I'm looking forward to this summer's plans. Concerts this spring in Mississippi, New York City, DC, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Maarten, San Jose, Los Angeles, and others give way to summer festival in PA (The Renova Festival), the Fairbanks Music Festival, the Lakes Area Chamber Music Festival, trips to Chicago and northern Ontario, and perhaps a couple of surprises. On an eclectic note, the new-age CD that I recorded with Sean Dockery (Oprah Winfrey Network music producer) will be available on amazon.com and iTunes by June 1st. Exciting!
Stay cool, attend local symphony concerts this summer, and don't forget to practice!
By Laurie Niles
May 15, 2013 09:03
The sun appeared in Montreal Tuesday; it was actually setting as I walked over to the Place des Artes for the Montreal International Musical Competition finals, in which six young violinists will play their final concerto with orchestra, over the course of two days.
Tuesday performances featured Chi Li, 19, of Taiwan; Ji Young Lim, 18, of South Korea; and Marc Bouchkov, 22, of Belgium. You can listen to those performances on the CBC website, where tonight's performances also will be webcast, beginning at 7:30 ET. Tonight's performances will include Zeyu Victor Li, 16, of China; Fédor Roudine, 20, of France; and Stephen Waarts, 16, of the United States. All the candidates will play with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, with guest conductor Maxim Vengerov.
Here are some highlights from Tuesday's performances, which took place at Montreal's Maison symphonique ("Symphony House") against the backdrop of 13 flags, representing the countries of the 24 candidates who participated in the Montreal International Musical Competition:
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Next, Ji Young Lim, 18, of South Korea played the Brahms Violin Concerto, her performance picking up energy and momentum as she went along. The first movement ended with beautiful poignance, and if I could personally give her a prize for "string-crossing technique," I would. Also, hats off to the Orchestre symphonique's oboist, whose beautiful solo opened the second movement.
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As happens in competitions, we will be hearing a lot of the same concerto: four Tchaikovsky concertos and two Brahms! Tonight was a two-Tchaikovsky night: Marc Bouchkov, 22, of Belgium closed the evening with a playful and competent performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. His awareness of and involvement in the orchestra part gave off a feeling of happy camaraderie and music-making, as he channeled the drama by nodding to this section or that, showing how the violin was answering the cellos section's question, or playing along in parts of the orchestral tuttis.
Again, here are all those performances on the CBC website. Happy listening!
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And on a different note, I'm really enjoying Montreal, and I'm attempting to speak more French. Here are a few pictures from my adventures. First, Les tulipes:
And many thanks to longtime V.com member Christian Vachon, for leading me to perhaps the best coffee in North America, at Pikolo Café. I'm holding a ristretto latte, they call it a "Pikolo latte." Très bien!
By Kelsey Zachary
May 14, 2013 18:35
Its been far too long since I've blogged but I have been hovering around. I have always enjoyed being able to blog about my musical success and the wonderful experiences I've had as a result of my musical life. Initially I told myself that I had stopped blogging because I was too busy being a university student which I suppose is partly true, but in reality, I think it was more so because suddenly my experiences were no longer just good ones that were part of the road to my dream of a perfect education and a perfect life after school. I guess by default though, no journey is perfect and without its ups and downs and it's ultimately up to the journeyman to learn from the challenges and bask in the successes along the way. There's no true reward without at least a little hard work along the way.
I'd like to think that I have been accepting and content and appreciative of all the things that have shaped my late teens and early twenties but the truth is that it has not always been easy to find that "learn" element .I'd even go so far as to say some things made me feel bitter toward whatever or whoever be at blame for my circumstances because, of course, it has to be someone or somethings fault. It can never just be or be a fault of my own. For me personally, the hardest part above everything else that has happened has been acceptance. Acceptance of myself, acceptance of my abilities, acceptance of the people around me.
This entry might be a bit long and drawn out but if for no other reason than to just verbalize (or typealize ?) for my own self what my journey has been so that I may have an even better understanding of what has happened and what I've lost and what I've gained as a result. Our lives are shaped by so many different little things and even the most insignificant act can have a massive impact on your life whether you realize it or not.
When I chose to study music where I did, I followed my heart and who I wanted to study with rather than what the bank account said, after all, student loans are basically free money, right? Well maybe not... but I feel luck to live in a country where education is made accessible to all levels of income. My first few months of university were in many ways blissful and in other ways very challenging but by the end of first year, I was feeling like I had gotten into the swing of things and mastered that nearly sleepless life that is common amongst many music students. I'd made friends, I was loving performing all the time and I had completely fallen in love with the city!
Towards the end of my first year at university, I started to become increasingly aware of a numbness that was taking over first one, and then both my hands. It was only for maybe a few minutes at first, but the time began to increase and within half a year, I had lost practically all the feeling in my hands. As a musician this is a really horrifying thing to experience. I was devastated but somehow managed to continue playing despite it all. The numbness began creeping up my arms. I sought medical advice and the first neurologist I saw could have cared less and told me that I was "a stressed out student and just need to deal with your emotions". Cause that's totally a good way to fix hands you haven't been able to feel for 6 months... I fought and saw another neurologist, I had nerve studies done, I had three MRI's, scans through the roof... blood tests... etc etc.. I was being told that I might have MS or a brain tumor or that it's possible I had some sort of a stroke. Yet the tests returned nothing and the constant numbness remained only now I was becoming increasingly aware of the chronic fatigue and pain in my joints, my inability to recall things and my trouble with balance and jumbled speech. I also grew more depressed as my dream of playing full time...... Something I had done since my early teens.....began to slip further away and the frequency of visits to the doctor and hospital increased. All while this was going on, I maintained a full course load and tried to put on a brave face and hide the fact that I was falling apart inside but eventually the stress and fatigue got the better of me and I crashed. I cut my course load by a large amount and even that wasn't enough. I had to cancel my grad recital just days before it was scheduled. Now it was time to stop trying to be a superhuman and instead to focus on getting answers as to why I was struggling so much. Armed with a fresh approach, the results of many tests and scans and a new specialist, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I know some of you out there are dealing with the same and I feel fortunate to have those ears and words of advice and encouragement to fall on. You have been so good to me!
Finally, three years after my symptoms started, I had an answer. Not a great answer but not a death sentence either, and for that, I was thankful. I could finally live my life to the best of my ability within the parameters that were given to me. This wasn't without learning curves and speed bumps, let me assure you. Six months had gone by and I was gradually starting to play again. Things were good! I was becoming more aware of what made me feel worse and ways of coping with the pain. It was Christmastime and I had a painful shock of pain on the left side of my face. It went away quickly so I didn't make much of it. A week later, it happened again. And again and again. Suddenly these shocks were turning into prolonged pain unlike any I had ever experience. Pain so bad that it would sometimes make me throw up, that I'd be bed bound, that I couldn't eat, drink or do anything but lay on my bed .For the short term, the doctor gave me tylenol 3's which did nothing for the pain and but the fatigue from the pain and the drowsiness of the drugs would help put me into a sleep. When I finally saw a neurologist I was referred for an MRI. I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. Yay, at least my diseases rhyme! myalgia...neuralgia....
I've learned so much these past few years. I've learned that I still love music, more than anything, and that I want music to be part of my life and career in some capacity. I've learned that a piece of paper from an institution is just that. A piece of paper. The letters after my name might open the door to different opportunities, but ultimately, it's what I learned all those years at university and what I gained from my experience that will help me to succeed in my chosen field, not the fact that I haven't - at this point at least - completed my degree. I've learned that I'm a stronger and braver person than I ever thought I was or could be. I've learned that it is so important to surround yourself with positive people. I've learned to not ignore your inner voice but to instead embrace it and endeavor to listen to and understand and to accept what you are feeling. No one expects you to be invincable. Cry, laugh, get frustrated, be happy, be angry - it's healthy to experience emotions, just don't let yourself only feel one thing and nothing else. I've learned how to be a better person and a better friend and I've learned how to find balance in my life. I'm not saying that every day is a walk in the park, far from it, but every day, I strive to find the silver lining. Right now, it's back to finding work (hopefully music related!) since the boys I nanny two days a week are moving overseas this summer and I'll need to find another way to pay the bills!
Thanks to all who took the time to read, and if you suffer from a chronic illness and are in need of some words of encouragement or an ear to vent to, please feel free to send me a message! I'll leave you now with a photo reminding us West Coast dwellers that spring is here and summer is just around the corner.
By Laurie Niles
May 14, 2013 14:05
I'd never seen Maxim Vengerov play live, then for the four years when he stopped playing, it looked like I never would.
But never say never! On Monday night, Vengerov played the Beethoven "Triple Concerto" for violin, cello and piano in a "Concert Prestige" to benefit the Montreal International Musical Competition Foundation. I was happy to be in attendance, among 1,200 people in the new Maison symphonique de Montréal ("Montreal Symphony House"), an impressive concert hall that is not yet two years old. It's a lovely hall with some modern aesthetic touches, such as organ pipes that dangle like silver stalagtites along the back wall, and three decks of wooden balconies that surround the floor.
Credit : Jacques Robert
I was immediately caught by Vengerov's presence and sound, playing the 1727 “Ex-Kreutzer” violin, and also the young cellist Tetreault, who played on the 1707 "Countess of Stainlein, ex-Paganini" Strad.
While these two were quite dramatic, pianist Salov simply nailed everything with quiet competence and little fuss. I wondered about the stage placement that had his back to the others (is this standard in this piece?) -- but nonetheless he was spot-on. Though clearly Salov's background points to a lot of solo piano playing, he seemed a natural collaborator.
The Triple Concerto is full of virtuosity of a non-flashy nature for the cello and violin, like fast, awkward passages that nonetheless require impeccable intonation. Even in places where the soloists play accompaniment to the orchestra, Beethoven doesn't settle for an easy, restful, "I'm not the melody here" pattern; he makes them grab crazy notes from the sky and flutter conspicuously over the orchestra. Would you like to walk a tightrope, wearing a bathing suit? While juggling knives?
I thought our heroes gave a generous and heartfelt performance. The cello solo at the beginning of the second movement was captivating, and the third movement featured some nice high-speed tandem coordination among the three soloists.
For an encore, Vengerov played a favorite, "Meditation from Thais," accompanied by all. My only regret was that I'd have loved to have heard the cellist play an encore as well!
But the Meditation brought goosebumps to all, myself included, and I've heard it more than a few times. It's an oldie, it's a goodie, but I'm still impressed when a performer can get 1,200 people to all stop breathing at once, and Vengerov absolutely did. (Geek note, he played that harmonic at the end way up the fingerboard, not as an artificial harmonic. Nice, I like it.)
The concert opened with Orchestre de chambre I Musici de Montréal and conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, a frequently played piece that is dear to orchestral musicians' hearts everywhere (that's right, if you don't like it, you are a tiny-hearted Scrooge, in my estimation). But it's not a piece to take for granted -- I worried a bit during the (very exposed) introduction, when members of the string section had different takes on the tempo offered, but the orchestra warmed up nicely in the "Vivace." In fact, I was still out of breath when they segued straight into the second movement -- how can one land in the second movement with such a calm heartbeat, after riding at such a breathtaking gallop in the first?
The first and seconds sat opposite one another, a nice choice in a symphony that has so much back-and-forth, question-and-answer. In the third movement, the chamber orchestra showed that it is indeed a fast-driving car, and I think I enjoyed them most when they played fast -- very exhilarating! By the fourth movement I was jumping out of my skin. It is almost too much to ask, to listen to this piece live, without playing it! But being outside the orchestra does give one a larger perspective. I never noticed how the fourth movement is so triumphant, but with a strange limp! A joy to hear this symphony.
A joy to be in Montreal!
Violinist Frank Almond tells the life story of the 1715 Lipinski Strad in his new recording, "A Violin's Life."
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Confessions of a Former Suzuki Teacher by Pamela Wiley - May 2013
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