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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 81

November 24, 2006 at 4:02 AM

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans, whether at home or overseas!

In the spirit of the holiday, be sure to read about ways in which Philadelphia Orchestra members give back to their community. The article, on, features violinist Philip Kates and cellists Robert Carfaro and Ohad ("Udi") Bar-David. Read the entire piece here:

11/20/06 – New England Conservatory has announced its Honors Ensembles for the 2006-07 school year. Groups audition for Honors every October before an outside panel of jurors. Winning groups receive special mentoring and the guarantee of a Jordan Hall recital. They also give three performances off campus and receive training in shaping programs for and speaking to specialized audiences. This year’s winners include:

Tesla Trio
Ethan Wood, violin
Loewi Lin, cello
Natalie Erlich, piano

Ariel Quartet
Gershon Gerchikov, violin
Alexandra Kazovsky, violin

Sergey Tarashchansky, viola
Amit Even-Tov, cello

Honors String Quartet
Annie Rabbat, violin
Ying Xue, violin

Sarah Darling, viola
Song-Ie Do, cello

Other Musician News

Violinist Michelle Witt has been appointed associate director of Stanford Lively Arts, a presenting organization based at Stanford University. She served most recently as director of the Arts & Lectures program at the University of California-Santa Cruz. A professional violinist and founder of the Mission Concert Series in Santa Cruz, Witt has taught at the University of North Carolina and the Duke University String School.

11/27/06 – Joshua Bell will perform and sign copies of his new CD, Voice of the Violin, at the Barnes and Noble (Broadway and 66th Street location) at 7pm.

11/20/06 - Katie Lee, a 21 year-old biochemistry major and amateur violinist at the University of Minnesota, has been named a 2007 Rhodes Scholar. She'll enter Oxford University in England next fall to study for a doctorate in biochemistry, focusing on cancer research, and to enter the physician's scientist training program. She's also an accomplished violinist and concertmaster of University of Minnesota Campus Orchestra. "Growing up, I was debating between a musical career and medicine, but medicine really captured my heart and mind," Lee said. "The violin is part of me and will always be there." Read the article here:

11/20/06 - Alice Huang, a 13-year-old in Madison, Wis., plays both piano and violin very well. So well, in fact that she has won her local concerto competition for two consecutive years—on different instruments. This year, she won on violin; last year, on piano. Alice is the first student to accomplish such a feat in Madison. Read the article here:

11/20/06 - John Gruen, a former violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, has died at age 90, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Mr. Gruen was 19 when he auditioned for the symphony on a lark, taking time off from his studies at the then-Carnegie Institute of Technology.” Gruen was a member of the orchestra from 1936-1943, when he served in World War II. “Dad was discharged in 1946 and returned home," said his daughter. "He wanted to return to the symphony, but they paid very little, and he had a family to support.” Instead, Gruen joined the Family Services Department at Jefferson Memorial Park, where he worked for 32 years, counseling family members and assisting with funeral procedures. Read the obituary here:

Orchestra News

11/22/06 – According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's management and players' union have reached a new four-year agreement "nine months ahead of schedule. The new contract calls for incremental pay raises over the next four years. The current 52-week minimum salary for rank-and-file ASO musicians is $79,300. That figure will rise to $88,400 by the 2010-11 season."Daniel Laufer, ASO cellist and president of the player's union, said, "The new agreement demonstrates the continuing commitment of the musicians by taking into account current financial realities facing the arts in America." In the ASO's last collective bargaining agreement with its musicians, in 2004, the players agreed to an 18-month pay freeze through the end of the 2004-05 season.

11/19/06 – The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, noting that "the family of board chairman Richard P. Simmons is donating $29.5 million to the financially struggling orchestra. The donation will help the orchestra balance its budget, but Simmons also structured the gift to spur the Pittsburgh Symphony to increase its income, while at the same time holding the line on expenses." Simmons comments: "This gift increases the endowment by $50 million, it allows us to pay down all our debt and/or increase our reserves, and it allows us to do $10 million in deferred maintenance, acoustic, electric and structural problems with this wonderful building, Heinz Hall." The paper adds: "The $29.5 million donation is the fifth-largest gift ever made to an American orchestra, according to the American Symphony Orchestra League." Read the article here:

11/17/06 – Correction: The Brooklyn Philharmonic has received a $200,000 challenge gift, not the $20,000 I previously reported. My source material was incorrect.

Other Music News

11/22/06 – WFMT-FM (98.7) in Chicago has just completed its largest fundraising drive ever. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the drive netted $552,000 from some 3,400 listeners. “One reason for the increase was the offering of a unique premium: For a pledge of $3,650 (or $10 a day), contributors would receive an iPod loaded with a basic library of classical music in the form of 100 CDs. Response exceeded all expectations, with 25 calls for the premium, according to Steve Robinson, WFMT's senior vice president and general manager, who conceived of the idea with the Naxos classical label. 'At a time when there seems to be gloom and doom in the world of classical music radio, WFMT is still a shining light,' he boasted." The paper notes that Gramophone magazine's 2006 awards issue "singled out WFMT as 'a beacon for classical music' and a station that is 'rightly renowned' for its programming."

11/20/06 – However, the fortunes of recorded classical music may have just taken a nosedive. According to Musical America, "Late last week, Sony BMG Music Entertainment underwent a major downsizing. Among the casualties were the key staffers in what has come to be called Sony BMG Masterworks—encompassing Sony Classical, Columbia Masterworks, BMG Classics, RCA Red Seal, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi and pretty much every other classical or classical-related label under the legendary companies once known as CBS Records and RCA Records." Read the article here:

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