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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 74

October 30, 2006 at 2:50 AM

Though not violin-related, competition-watchers of all kinds will be interested to see how officials at the San Antonio International Piano Competition resolved a dispute over which contestants should be awarded prizes.

According to the San Antonio Express News, Alexey Koltakov, a Ukraine native now studying at Texas Christian University, has won the top prize and $15,000 cash.

“The panel decided not to award the $10,000 second prize and silver medal but to divide the third prize between American pianists Michael Mizrahi and Grace Fong. Each will be awarded $5,000 and a bronze medal.

Contention arose between the board and the judges concerning the panel's decision not to award prizes for fourth and fifth place, worth $2,500 and $2,000, respectively. This meant that the Svetlana Smolina of Russia and the United States and Vicky Chow of Canada, the two remaining finalists, received no prize money, even though the five semifinalists who had not advanced to the final round received $700 each, according to the paper. To resolve the discrepancy, the board then voted to give an honorarium of $2,000 to each unranked finalist in recognition of their having reached the finals.”

The competition concluded on October 20.

Musician News

The Indiana University String Academy is reporting that three of its students have just returned from Hungary, where they won honors in the International Popper Cello Competition. James Kim won First Place in Category II (age 12-14); Nathan Vickery won First Place in Category III (age 15 -17); and Shannon Hayden won Second Place in Category III (age 15 -17).

10/31/06 – Baroque violinist John Holloway concludes a U.S. tour in Oberlin, Ohio. His recital repertoire consists of Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, which he has just recorded for the ECM New Series Label.

10/28/06 - Violinist David Gale played a recital at the Danbury Music Centre in Danbury, CT. Now a student at the Manhattan School of Music, Gale will be a participant next month in the 4th Paganini Foundation International Violin Competition in Moscow, Russia.

10/27/06 – Violinist Tai Murray performed at Carnegie Hall as part of the Sphinx Organization's gala concert. The event included the presentation of Sphinx's Lifetime Achievement Award to the violinist W. Sanford Allen, who was the first black member of the New York Philharmonic (1962-77).

10/26/06 – Joshua Bell is playing in Los Angeles for the next week, mid-way through a brief residency. The LA Daily News recently ran a brief profile of him:

10/26/06 – According to the CBC, Canadian violinist and pianist Angela Park is among the semifinalists for the Honens International Piano Competition, “Park, 28, a native of London, Ont., who now lives in Montreal, was one of 12 musicians chosen to move on to the semifinals in the competition in Calgary. She is a frequent performer on both violin and piano on CBC Radio's classical music series.”

10/26/06 – Radio Polonia is reporting that customs officers at the airport in Poznań confiscated an 18th-century violin from one of the participants of the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, 16-year-old South Korean Mari Lee. “The instrument, a Gagliano, on loan from the Yehudi Menuhin School in Britain, had not been declared at the border when the violinist, also a student at the school, arrived in Poland for the competition. The violin was held waiting for documents to be sent in from the school in order for it to be cleared through customs and released. A representative of the Poznań border guard said that it was an unpleasant incident which sometimes happened because travellers to Poland did not know Polish law. The organizers of the Wieniawski competition have now asked all of the participants to check if they have the necessary import-export documents and vowed help if any problems arose. They also said it was the first time in the history of the competition that something like this had happened.”

Orchestra News

Musicians of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra have ratified a new, three-year contract. The agreement will increase the musician's salary 2 percent in the first year, 5.6 percent in year two and 4 percent in the final year. It also calls for improvements in working conditions, changes to healthcare insurance, and a signing bonus for all members of the orchestra. In addition, the SSO management has agreed to form a joint task force with the union to address issues related to the musician's pension fund.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra will receive a $1.1 million challenge grant from The Wallace Foundation.

10/27/06 – According to The Australian, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra proudly announced it had snared Edo de Waart as its next music director, announced programs and printed brochures featuring him prominently. Only one problem - they hadn't signed him yet. Now de Waart has pulled out, and the orchestra is embarrassed: "We've tried desperately to get him down here, but the situation is he's not coming to Perth." Read the story here:

10/26/06 – Former Atlanta Ballet pit musicians will be marking the opening of the 2006-07 season with picket signs. The company disbanded the orchestra in August, preferring recorded music to the cost of maintaining a live orchestra. The musicians have filed an unfair labor practices claim, and plan to protest at the ballet's performances this week, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Read the story here:

10/26/06 – Dallas Opera musicians don’t have a contract and may picket the company’s premiere, reports the Dallas Morning News. “[One] bone of contention is the opera's proposal to reduce the core orchestra – players contracted for the whole season – from 57 to 48 musicians, by attrition. The opera company maintains that for smaller-scale operas like Mozart and Handel fewer musicians will be necessary in the presumably much-improved acoustics of the new opera house. Freelance musicians would be hired when operas need larger orchestras, as they are now.” Read the story here:

10/26/06 - The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony saga took a turn for the better yesterday, when the beleagured Ontario orchestra announced that it had raised enough money to make this week's musicians' payroll. The musicians also voted to agree to a 15 percent pay cut for the current season, and the symphony has less than a million dollars to go to meet its goal of bringing in CAN$2.5m by month's end, reports the Globe & Mail (Canada).

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