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Violin News& Gossip, Op. 2, No. 71

October 20, 2006 at 1:03 AM’s own Gennady Filimonov sent me a note publicizing an unusual concert his group, Odeaonquartet, will play tomorrow night at Earshot Jazz in Seattle.

Jazz great Wayne Horvitz composed a work for string quartet, These Hills Of Glory, plus a soloist. In addition to Gennady, the Odeonquartet is composed of Jennifer Caine (violin), Heather Bentley (viola) and Page Smith (cello).


The Curtis Institute of Music has introduced a new course this year called “The Development of the Violin.” Taught by Philip J. Kass, the course examines the history of the violin, focusing on major violin makers from Italy, Germany, France and England. It also surveys the most influential performers through their recordings. Kass undoubtedly brings an interesting perspective to the course: Until 2002, he worked at William Moennig & Son, Ltd. in Philadelphia, where he handled many of the world’s finest violins.

Musician News

Violinist Aaron Rosand is celebrating his 25th anniversary as a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music. Violinist Pamela Frank and cellist Peter Wiley are celebrating their 10th anniversaries at the famed school.

Violinist and conductor Olivia Tsui has been appointed music director of California's Glendale Symphony Orchestra.

The Cedar Rapids Symphony has announced several musician appointments, effective this season. Courtney Cameron has joined the violin section, while Julia Immel, a member of the viola section in 2005-06, has been appointed associate principal viola. New to the orchestra are violists Amanda Wilton and Samuel Gold.

Meanwhile, the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra has also announced new musician appointments, and, yes, there are some familiar names. Courtney Cameron is the new principal second violin. Amber Dolphin has joined the first violin section. Julia Immel is principal viola; the section also welcomes Amanda Wilton and Hannah Bridgeland. Emma Davis Oeth is the new assistant principal violoncello.

Three retiring members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been awarded the Theodore Thomas Medallion for Distinguished Service, named after the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's founder and first music director to honor retiring members of the orchestra. This year’s honorees are violinist Eric Wicks, who joined the orchestra in 1968; Richard Ferrin, who joined in 1967 and played in both the viola and first violin sections; and Donald Moline, a cellist who joined in 1967 and now lives in Tokyo.

Violist Jesse Levine, music director of the Purchase Symphony at the State University of New York-Purchase, has been named to an additional post as music director and conductor of the New Britain (Conn.) Symphony Orchestra, effective this season. Levine conducted Connecticut's Norwalk Symphony Orchestra from 1980 to 2001. He continues to serve on the Yale School of Music faculty as professor of viola and chamber music and as chair of the String Department.

10/18/06 – According to the Cape Times (South Africa), violinist Michael Duffett has “walked off” with the Gold Medal for Overall Winner, as well as Overall Winner of the Classical section, at the Absa National Youth Music Competition earlier this month. He is 14 years old.

10/17/06 – The San Jose Mercury News raved about the local debut of violinist Scott St. John as new second violinist of the St. Lawrence String Quartet: “The quartet performed with refinement and fire, and, if anything, showed off a new finish to its sound.” St. John replaces Barry Shiffman, a cornerstone of the quartet for 17 seasons. “St. John and Geoff Nuttall, the group's first violinist, met as 10-year-olds in London, Ontario. Shiffman (now music director of the Banff Centre, a world-famous cultural nexus in the Canadian Rockies) remembers St. John beating him in summer camp music competitions when they were teenagers.”

10/17/06 - The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel profiled violinist Hilary Hahn, focusing on the role of classical music in society. Responding to the question, "As a young classical musician, do you feel misunderstood or isolated amid mass pop culture?" Hahn commented: "It's bizarre. In the business, you're told that you have to do outreach because people don't get the music. But when you actually start talking to non-classical musicians, you find out that they know a lot about classical music. Do you know (And You Will Know Us By The) Trail of Dead, an Austin band, sort of an alt-rock group? Their frontman came to one of my concerts in Texas. He came backstage and started to introduce himself, and I said 'I know! You're Conrad!' He said, 'How do you know about us?' I said, 'How do you know about me?' People are getting tired of being told what to listen to by a few radio stations. They're finding their own ways to their music. As I see it, classical music is just another underground movement."

10/16/06 – the Chronicle Herald of Halifax, Nova Scotia, recently profiled violinist Gina Burgess, a young professional violinist in the Maritimes. Read the profile here:

10/16/06 – According to the Dallas Star-Telegram, violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed together for the first time last weekend. “The gala fundraiser for the DSO's education programs had all the possible pomp and ceremony to go with the exclusive occasion: The string virtuosos had never shared a stage before. Tickets for the event, which included a post-concert dinner, started at $1,000. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst were among those making opening remarks. Yet for all the evening's hype and hoopla, Bell and Ma didn't disappoint. Whereas some superstar musicians might coast on autopilot, both men imbued familiar pieces with interpretive insight and contagious enthusiasm. The audience hung on every note.” The program consisted of overtures and single movements, including the finale of the Brahms Double Concerto.

10/16/06 – Violinist Maxim Vengerov received an interesting shoutout from soprano Measha Brueggergosman in an online diary published in Canada’s National Post: "I opened the new Carnival Center with Maxim Vengerov tonight. "Ohhhh, Maxim. That man is hardcore smokin'! He took a year off from violin to learn to dance the tango. Anyone who does that gets my admiration.” Among other things, she is known for performing barefoot.

10/15/06 – Fresh from being awarded Vermont’s highest honor in the arts, violinist Jaime Laredo was profiled by the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus. Read the article here:

10/15/06 – According to the Hagerstown (Md.) Herald-Mail, violinist Nicolas Kendall gave a performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto that was so well-received, he was called back for an encore. “Kendall returned to the stage and played a crowd-pleasing encore that included blues and jazz riffs - even a wolf whistle. He took his violin out from under his chin and played it like a guitar - picking and strumming with a bit of country flavor.”

10/11/06 - The Juilliard String Quartet celebrated its 60th anniversary with a day of nationwide public radio programming devoted to interviews with the musicians and recordings by the ensemble. The Juilliard also released a new, two-CD set including the Shostakovich Quartets Nos. 3, 14, and 15 on the Sony BMG Masterworks label and a newly updated catalogue will be featured on iTunes. The group is also beginning a yearlong celebration that will include the performance of seven complete Bartók cycles (The Juilliard Quartet played the first Bartók cycle in America at Tanglewood in 1948) in cities across the U.S. and in Japan.

Orchestra News

10/15/06 - The Seattle Times reports that the year-long controversy over Gerard Schwarz's reappointment as music director of the Seattle Symphony is taking a nasty turn. "Vandalism, mail tampering, a razor blade, anonymous threats — it all sounds like something out of a `Sopranos' episode," writes music critic Melinda Bargreen. Calling harassment against him "orchestral terrorism," the charges have been made by the orchestra's principal horn, John Cerminaro. He is a longtime friend of Schwarz and an outspoken advocate of the conductor, who had hired him. Security at the orchestra's Benaroya Hall home is working on the matter, while management advised the musicians that "this behavior is not tolerated." The orchestra union denounced "the unfortunate actions of a very small group.... We are respectful, civil people." Read the entire story here:

10/14/06 - The New York Times reports that the London Symphony is putting its time spent during New York residencies to very good use. Musicians on Call is a London Symphony Orchestra program that "takes music to the homebound" that is currently undergoing a six-concert trial run in New York. "Promoted by WNYC-FM to coincide with the orchestra's ninth annual residency at Lincoln Center, Musicians on Call asked listeners to explain in a brief essay why a friend or family member deserved a house concert by one of three duos from the orchestra ... Since 2004, Musicians on Call has regularly serenaded those in Britain unable to attend concerts and, according to its mission statement, draws on scientific research that suggests that listening to live music lowers blood pressure, anxiety and depression." Matthew Gibson, double bassist and vice chairman of the LSO's board of directors, comments: "Today players are coming out of conservatories with the idea that working in a community is actually part of the musicians' life, rather than just playing in the orchestra." Performers are paid about $150 for one of these appearances, slightly more than a rehearsal fee. Read the article here:

From Maura Gerety
Posted on October 20, 2006 at 3:32 AM
I like that "Ohhhh, Maxim. The man is hardcore smokin'!" LOL!
Reminds me of late-night gossip at Encore, Fischoff etc.....good times, good times.
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on October 21, 2006 at 6:49 PM
I am interested in the class, "the development of the violin." By the time I get to college I hope that class is offered where I go..

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