November 27, 2006 at 2:49 AM
On Friday night, I had the pleasure of hearing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Mahler Symphony No. 7 under Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez. It was an exhilarating performance laced with exceptional playing from all sections, particularly the famous Chicago brass section. And sitting just six rows back on Stage Right, I had ample opportunities to observe the viola section, as Boulez typically seats the cellos next to the second violins.
But one of the evening’s highlights occurred before the performance. President Deborah Card and Maestro Boulez bestowed upon violinist Tom Hall the Theodore Thomas Medallion of Distinguished Service.
Hall retired from the orchestra last spring, capping a CSO career that began in 1970, at the dawn of the Sir Georg Solti era. In fact, Hall has the distinction of being Sir Georg’s first hire for the orchestra.
Hall was an active member of the orchestra, serving on numerous committees, including the Members, Audition, and—until last spring--the Music Director Search Committees. He is also an accomplished lecturer, writer and editor about classical music.
When Hall walked onstage in a business suit, he waved to his friends and former colleagues, perhaps seeming a bit wistful at no longer sitting on that stage himself, dressed in tails, violin in hand. He spoke eloquently, sharing the obligatory funny story about beginning with the orchestra as a young man and feeling musically overwhelmed at first. Yet, clearly, he adapted well. And he closed by offering his heartiest thanks to the audience for supporting the orchestra for so long and so well and, in the process, making the music come alive for all.
11/25/06 – The Star-Ledger reports that 16-year-old violinist Betty Zhou was to perform with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as the latest winner of its annual Young Artist Auditions. "’Every year, I'd go to the finals and watch the big kids and wonder: Could I do this? To me, it was legendary’, says Betty Zhou, who discovered the competition after enrolling in Juilliard's pre-college division when she was 8.” Zhou played Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. Read more about her here: http://www.nj.com
11/23/06 – The Kansas City Star called out Jennifer Bryan, a professional violinist and special education aide, for her volunteer work as a transporter with Operation Wildlife. Once a week, she transports injured wildlife from a receiving center to a rehabilitation center.
11/23/06 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an interesting profile of Austrian violinist, violist and conductor Manfred Honeck, who is in town to conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony. One of his early jobs was filling a temporary first violin vacancy in the Vienna Philharmonic, followed by earning a permanent slot in the orchestra’s viola section. Read the profile here: http://www.post-gazette.com
11/21/06 – Violinist.com member Kerah Williams, second violinist in the Fourte String Quartet, was written up in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. It turns out that the father of one of her quartet-mates writes for the paper. He proudly captured the group’s exploits during a layover in Atlanta during a trip to play for a group of lawyers in Washington, DC. It seems that the enterprising high schoolers performed spontaneously in the airport, passing the cap as they did so. The teens earned $66 on the outbound leg, $42 on the inbound. They performed at a meeting of the National Center for State Courts and were suitably wined and dined in the capital, even posing for a photo with John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
11/19/06 – The great British violinist Emanuel “Manny” Hurwitz has died at 87. He and violist Cecil Aronowitz were famed for their performances of the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante in the 1960s, before Aronowitz’ untimely death. Hurwitz was the longtime concertmaster of both the English Chamber Orchestra and the New Philharmonia Orchestra under Otto Klemperer. Hurwitz later founded the Hurwitz Chamber Orchestra, which later became the Serenata of London. Read his obituary here: http://www.theherald.co.uk
11/18/06 - Violinist Arturo Delmoni, concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the New Philharmonic of New Jersey. Read an entertaining interview with him here: http://www.dailyrecord.com
11/18/06 – According to the Los Angeles Times, “Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen will become principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London beginning next year but remain at the helm here, the London-based Guardian newspaper reported Friday." Los Angeles Philharmonic spokesman Adam Crane comments: "He will continue to have an ongoing relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic ... We are announcing that he's extending the evergreen clause of his contract through 2009." The paper notes: "In London, Salonen will replace Christoph von Dohnányi, who has been in the post since 1997, the Guardian said. Salonen, who is composing, could not be reached, Crane said ... Salonen's contract with the Philharmonic was set to expire at the end of 2006, but in February 2005 it was extended through 2008 with the option of an 'evergreen clause' allowing further extensions."
12/5/06 - The third recording from the West-East Divan Orchestra will be released on the Warner Classics label. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was captured live in Berlin and features soloists Angele Denoke, Waltraud Meier, Burkhard Fritz, and René Pape. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of young Arab and Israeli musicians, was founded by Daniel Barenboim, who conducts the orchestra, and the late Palestinian-born writer and intellectual Edward Said. The orchestra will make its Carnegie Hall debut on December 19, following a special concert at the United Nations.
Other Music News
12/10/06 – According to the Daily Yomiuri, Japan’s classical music television show Daimei no Nai Ongakukai 21 will commemorate its 2,000th broadcast. “Daimei no Nai Ongakukai 21 debuted in 1964 as Daimei no Nai Ongakukai. It usually features classical concerts organized for the show and taped at concert halls, inviting viewers to experience live performances.”
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