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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 68

October 4, 2006 at 9:46 PM

10/3/06 – The American Symphony Orchestra League is reporting that Congress has made an important recognition of the value of the arts in coping with future disasters like Hurricane Katrina. “Congress has address[ed] a significant inequity in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster relief policy. One of a scant handful of bills completed last week before Congress left for the mid-term elections - the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill - includes a provision adding nonprofit performing arts facilities to the list of organizations eligible for future FEMA disaster relief.

Under current FEMA policy, the definition of an eligible "private nonprofit facility" specifically excludes performing arts organizations. … When it became clear that overall FEMA reform would not be completed this year, Congress deemed the performing arts provision important enough to lift from the reform bill and add to the must-pass DHS funding bill, along with several other FEMA reform provisions.

FEMA eligibility enables organizations that are located in a Presidentially declared disaster area and own their facilities to seek reimbursement for the costs to repair facilities to their pre-disaster condition, as well as for costs associated with debris removal and emergency protective measures. Each FEMA application is considered on a case-by-case basis. While the new performing arts eligibility does not guarantee that each future application will be approved, it allows requests to be fairly considered.”

Musician News

10/1/06 – According to, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter has announced that she is quitting the stage: “’Yes, yes, I said it. It is my plan to stop when I reach my 45th birthday’, the German-born violin virtuoso declared Sunday evening in an interview with the French-German television channel Arte. “ Mutter will turn 45 in June 2008. ‘Nevertheless, it is not the precise date which counts’, she added, giving herself some leeway, ‘but rather a certain period of time at the end of which I will leave the scene before, behind my back, people dream of my retirement’. …It’s worth noting that Mutter has been a top-ranking, Grammy-winning soloist now for 30 years, now, despite her relative youth. Additionally, she has had her share of personal difficulties. Her first husband, Detlef Wunderlich, whom she married in 1989, died of cancer in 1995. She had two children by that marriage, Arabella (1990) and Richard (1994). In 2002 she married conductor Sir Andre Previn, 31 years her senior. A divorce was quietly announced last month. …Asked what she would do after retiring she remarked: ‘Good Question. Music will be irreplaceable. It is life that will give me the answer. I did not plan to meet Karajan so early. My children are a gift of God. I had not planned to lose my husband after six years of marriage or live as a widow... I plan some small sonatas and the rest will come. I will try to remain faithful to my artistic ideals. We will see’.”

10/1/06 - The Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, ran a profile of Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, in conjunction with a local appearance. Regarding Music Director Lorin Maazel, Dicterow comments: "He's extremely clear and economical with his rehearsal technique. He gets to the point; he doesn't dilly-dally. He has a great efficiency in preparing programs. We're going on tour next year with 10 and 11 programs in Asia, and there are very few maestros who could prepare that amount of repertoire in a small amount of time. He's very attentive, and he has amazing concentration." Regarding the New York Philharmonic's deal with iTunes, Dicterow responded: "CDs, especially classical CDs, are just not selling, and more and more orchestras are offering downloads. It's just the way it has to go. Either that, or we won't be in the market, because people love the convenience of sitting down and just downloading."

10/1/06 – The Anchorage Daily News profiled Art and Eleanor Braendel, cellist and violist, respectively, with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. The pair retired last month after 60 years with the orchestra. "They and 15 other musicians, most of them amateurs, started the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra by practicing in church basements and performing in school auditoriums. Now the symphony has bloomed into a municipal institution with 1,200 season ticket holders, 62 tenured musicians and more than 10 concerts this season." The paper adds that the Braendels are focusing on providing a permanent home for the Alaska Fine Arts Academy, which they began under the name the Eagle River Arts Academy in 1984.

9/28/06 – The Philadelphia Inquirer reviewed violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Clarice Assad's new Violin Concerto. "This first major concert work by the 28-year-old jazz-steeped Assad is high on lyricism and charm, not so high on the kind of thematic development that could explore more aspects of her melodic inspiration ... True to form, Salerno-Sonnenberg was an emotional live wire, which meant everything to the Assad concerto (a great showcase for her temperament) and gave a particular conceptual cast to Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2."

9/28/06 – The Bay Area Reporter is not a fan of Maxim Vengerov’s new recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Vengerov’s mentor Mstislav Rostropovich leads the London Symphony Orchestra on the new disc from EMI Classics. “In an apparent attempt to make clear for all eternity what a truly great concerto Beethoven wrote, the pair have come out with an inflated, grandiose interpretation of the piece that sinks under its own weight. A mere five minutes longer than the average reading of the work, it feels like it lasts an eternity, a syndrome common to performances that elicit listener resistance…. Vengerov follows his master's voice with an opening phrase that is so admiring of each of its own, disconnected sounds, so pearly in their beauty they're kept from touching lest they scratch one another, that the sense of dislocation is deepened.”

Orchestra News

10/3/06 – According to the Washington Post, "The National Symphony Orchestra has announced that Kansas will be the site of the ensemble's 2007 American Residency -- the NSO's 17th such extended visit since 1992. Between March 22 and 30, 2007, members of the orchestra will participate in more than 150 performances and education events throughout the state, including complete concerts led by Music Director Leonard Slatkin and Associate Conductor Emil de Cou, and individual coaching of young musicians by NSO members ... There will be a total of six orchestral concerts, including a concert for young people, in Kansas -- ranging from Topeka and Wichita, the largest cities in the state, to the university town of Lawrence ... In addition to concerts of orchestral and chamber music, the NSO will offer lectures, workshops for teachers, workshops for students with disabilities, pre-concert discussions, coaching sessions and music appreciation classes."

10/3/06 – Who are the hardest-working classical musicians? If you answered the folks who populate the major opera orchestras, you’d be correct, as an item in San Francisco Classical Voice shows. “This weekend, for example, [San Francisco Opera] orchestra musicians had to do a turnaround that would tax athletes in the finest condition. Saturday night's Rigoletto had 62 of the orchestra's 69 musicians play until close to 11 p.m., all of them — plus the ‘resting’ seven, and four extras — back in the pit at 1 p.m. on Sunday for a five-hour dress rehearsal of Tristan und Isolde. Can you imagine what it must be like for a violin player, for example, just to do the physical work (never mind the artistry) for eight hours within less than a 24-hour period? I cannot, but my admiration to all, especially considering the sterling quality heard at both events.” Amen, brother.

9/30/06 - The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is taking to the airwaves, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. “As part of the NJSO's production deal with New York's WQXR (96.3 FM), concerts with [Music Director Naeme] Järvi taped from the orchestra's 2005-2006 season will be syndicated by the WFMT Radio Network. The 13-week series will be picked up in 50 markets across the country, including six of the top 10. Some stations will air the concerts starting in October, others in January. The NJSO radio series is made possible by sponsorship from American International Group, a New York insurance and financial company." WFMT Radio Network Senior Vice President Steve Robinson comments: "We turn down things that are paid for all the time because we don't think they're up to snuff ... But the NJSO is a terrific orchestra." He estimates that the audience for the NJSO series could be about 250,000 people per week.

From Sydney Menees
Posted on October 5, 2006 at 2:44 AM
I am so glad I'm seeing ASM in Chicago!! It's really sad that she plans to retire at such a young age.
From Maura Gerety
Posted on October 5, 2006 at 3:00 AM
Hmph. I actually rather liked Vengerov's Beethoven--not all of it, and the first mvt was a bit slow, but WHAT a sound...and a cool cadenza. Excellently played in the 2nd and 3rd mvts.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 5, 2006 at 7:04 AM
Sydney, I hope you'll enjoy the NSO in Kansas.
From Ben Clapton
Posted on October 5, 2006 at 1:07 PM
"Can you imagine what it must be like for a violin player, for example, just to do the physical work (never mind the artistry) for eight hours within less than a 24-hour period?"

Speaking of the Artistry, having to switch from Verdi to Wagner would be no easy switch...

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