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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 73

October 26, 2006 at 6:57 PM

In the “how could I have missed this?” category, the Guardian (UK) is reporting that a Swiss orchestra conductor went on trial for the second time on 10/24 for his alleged role in a doomsday cult which lost dozens of members in ritual killings in Canada and Europe in the mid-1990s.

Michel Tabachnik, 61, a composer who has led major orchestras in Canada, Portugal and France, is accused of criminal association and contributing to the deaths of members of the Order of the Solar Temple - 14 of whom were found burnt and lying in a star formation in a clearing in the French Alps in 1995….Mr. Tabachnik is accused of writing and distributed esoteric texts intended to incite members to believe their death would lead to redemption, so creating ‘a dynamic towards murder’.” Read the entire story here:

Musician News

10/26/06 – Israeli-born, classically trained violinist Mir Ben-Ari has made her mark on the hip-hop world. Not only has she been featured in the cover story of the American Federation of Musicians’ monthly International Musician for October 2006, she was just profiled in the Independent (UK). Read the Independent’s profile here:

10/25/06 – According to the Associated Press, BET co-founder and violinist Sheila Johnson played courier this week. When her alma mater, the University of Illinois, ran into a snag while trying to arrange transport of four rare Stradivarius string instruments for its American Music Month Celebration, Johnson stepped in. “The Smithsonian had agreed to lend the 17th-century instruments - including a viola, cello and two violins - but they were too fragile for cargo. Also, the museum required a flight without layovers, which is hard to do from Washington, D.C., to Urbana-Champaign [Ill.].So Johnson offered up her jet, which left Dulles International Airport with two curators and her former violin teacher, Susan Starrett.” Johnson will also fly the instruments back to the Smithsonian in December.

10/25/06 - Barry Bowers, who plays a sixing electric violin and specializes in Christian music, has released a new album, "Think On These Things."

10/24/06 - Nigel Kennedy is reported to have broken his arm in a bicycle accident in London, reports Musical “His press representatives would confirm only that he had ‘suffered injury to his left arm in an accident’ and would be unable to concertize in the immediate future. Doctors have told him not to use ‘the damaged limb for six weeks -- at which point there will be a progress assessment’.” Kennedy has cancelled all his November performances, which included stops in Ireland, Germany, Japan, Wales, London and Paris.

10/24/06 – According to the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger, the conductor and concertmaster of the Imperial Symphony—both violinists—were to have switched places for a performance this week. Conductor Mark Thielen is the group’s former concertmaster; the current concertmaster is Art Pranno. Thielen and Pranno switched places when Thielen’s Hollingsworth Trio played Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. Pranno retained the podium for Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Read the entire article here:

10/23/06 – Elisa Barston, acting principal second violinist of the Seattle Symphony, performed the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Cascade Symphony.

10/22/06 – According the San Antonio Express-News, Nancy Zhou, the only American who competed in the 13th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznan, Poland, was eliminated in the second stage of the four-stage competition. “Zhou, in an e-mail sent from Poland on Sunday, said she felt extremely nervous before starting the second stage and rushed through her playing. However, she's not giving up. She now hopes to prepare for the International Paganini Violin Competition in Genoa, Italy.”

10/22/06 - The Buffalo News included a profile of Michael Ludwig, concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Ansgarius Aylward, the BPO's assistant concertmaster, describes Ludwig's playing as "not over-the-top showy, not look-at-me ... It drew you in." BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta says: "Michael said so many times, 'I want to be part of building this whole region. I want to make the BPO a national presence.' He understands how critical the Philharmonic is to Buffalo and Western New York. He wants to be part of bringing us to the next level." Ludwig notes that his first teacher was his father, Irving Ludwig, a violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, remarking: "He was a very tough teacher. He was so meticulous and detail-oriented, not letting things slide, not sloppy, understanding of technical aspects. My dad was always careful to explain why I had to do things in a certain way."

Orchestra News

The Spokane Symphony has hired a bevy of new string players, including Esther Olson, assistant concertmaster; Matthew Olson, section violin; Thomas Bandar, viola; and Louise Butler and Roberta Morton Botelli, cello.

The Toronto Symphony has announced auditions for assistant concertmaster. Auditions will be held in January 2007; application deadline is December 8.

The New Jersey Symphony will hold auditions for a section violin candidate on December 4-5. Resumes are due November 15.

The Houston Symphony is also holding section violin auditions. Resumes are due November 15; auditions will be held in January 2007.

10/25/06 – The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the Columbus Bach Ensemble will cease operations after two concerts in December. "The ensemble, which specializes in vocal and instrumental music from the baroque era, will present two performances of its holiday program, A Baroque Christmas, as scheduled Dec. 2-3. It will cease operations at the end of the year. Concerts slated for Feb. 3 and May 5-6 have been canceled." Christine Mortine, founder and artistic director of CBE, comments: "We had to do the right thing, the fiscally responsible thing ... The organization was not able to match its artistic success with sustainable funding."

10/25/06 – The Kitchener Record (Ontario), contains an update on the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, which is trying to avoid bankruptcy by raising $2.5 million by Oct. 31: "So far, corporate donations are absent from the more than $1.5 million raised by the Save Our Symphony campaign.” The money raised to date includes $782,680 donated by about 900 individuals. It also includes $250,000 from Waterloo Region, $170,000 from Kitchener, $85,000 from Waterloo and $230,000 pledged by 18 symphony board members ... Asked why local corporations have not yet given cash to save the orchestra, [the orchestra representative] said the lack of donations doesn't reflect a lack of support. The corporate process is more complicated than an individual decision to donate, he said ... Potential corporate donors recognize the symphony is an important part of Waterloo Region's fabric, he said."

10/24/06 - Radio orchestras, which continue to play an important role in the musical life of Europe and Asia, were once crucial organizations in the U.S. and Canada. According to the LA Times, the CBC Radio Orchestra is the last of its breed in North America: “Supported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., this is the only surviving radio orchestra on the continent." Read the entire story here:

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