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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 29

May 22, 2006 at 1:49 AM

From the “just when you think you’ve heard it all” file, a Chicago company plans to fabricate diamonds using strands of Ludwig van Beethoven's hair, according to "LifeGem Memorials has been creating diamonds incorporating the remains of human beings since 2002, usually for family members ... The company has acquired several strands of Beethoven's hair from John Reznikoff, a Connecticut-based collector of celebrity hair. They will be turned into three diamonds of under a carat. The diamonds will then be sold at auction, with the proceeds going to military families. The company plans to make diamonds from more hair in Reznikoff's collection -- which also includes hair from Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, and Charles Dickens.”

Musician News

5/17/06 - Violinist David Yonan and pianist Sergiy Komirenko performed as part of the 2006 New Music Marathon at Northwestern University School of Music. The duo performed works of Augusta Read Thomas, Arvo Part and John Adams.

5/15/06 - Composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain performed his 2002 "Voodoo" Concerto with the Chicago Sinfonietta, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The work, "scored for tiny ensemble including synthesizer and amplified guitar as well as standard orchestral instruments like violin and woodwinds ... [is] mostly full of perky rhythms and repetitious melodic fragments." The paper called Roumain "an entrancing performer, confident and polished, able to make his richly amplified violin sing, shriek or seduce."

5/16/06 – The San Francisco Symphony has announced that two members of the second violin section are retiring at the end of this season. Both Michael Gerling and Enrique Bocedi have played with the orchestra since 1961.

5/13/06 - Jesse Ceci, former concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra as well as the now-defunct Denver Symphony and Denver Chamber Orchestra, has died of leukemia, reports the Rocky Mountain News. He was 82. "Born in Philadelphia, where he studied music at the Curtis Institute, Mr. Ceci played in orchestras led by numerous legendary conductors, before arriving in Denver in 1974 to serve with the Denver Symphony. He played in the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch, the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Lorin Maazel." The paper adds, "In 1992, Mr. Ceci was fired by the player-run Colorado Symphony due to 'musical deficiencies,' in a much-publicized case that drew a public outcry. Mr. Ceci appealed the decision, gaining support from orchestra players around the country and from locally circulated petitions signed by more than 1,000 concertgoers. An arbitrator ordered his reinstatement, and he played in the Colorado Symphony until his retirement in 1994."

5/9/06 - The Linda and Isaac Stern Foundation has commissioned Richard Danielpour to write a new piece in honor of Isaac Stern, the foundation announced. Violinist Sarah Chang will debut the work for violin and piano next spring on a tour ending at Carnegie Hall. The premiere of the work is tentatively scheduled for March 18, 2007, at the beginning of Chang's spring tour of the United States. The tour reaches Carnegie Hall, which Stern helped save from demolition, on April 10. Later, Chang will perform the work on a European tour.

5/3/06 - Rachel Taylor, a 16-year-old violinist from the San Domenico School Virtuoso Program in San Anselmo, Calif., played at the Strings Magazine gala concert. She also won the $10,000 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, which will enable Taylor to buy her own violin.

4/28/06 - Violinist Helen Armstrong died of natural causes at age 63, reports the Danbury, Conn., News Times. According to, “she was the artistic director of Armstrong Chamber Concerts, a non-profit organization she founded to bring musical education to public and private schools. More than 100,000 students participated in the program in Connecticut's Litchfield and Fairfield counties, Harlem, and the Bronx. Over the past few decades, Armstrong performed on her 1760 Guadagnini in private homes in Greenwich and in other venues in Washington and New Milford, as well as at Carnegie Hall. She also built a reputation as a teacher. Armstrong was a graduate of Juilliard, where she studied with Dorothy DeLay and Ivan Galamian. She made her Lincoln Center debut in 1976 and performed with orchestras including the Boston Pops and the Indianapolis Symphony, and with the Martha Graham Dance Company. Armstrong recorded on the Musical Heritage, Elysium and CRS labels.”

Orchestra News

5/16/06 – According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the Honolulu Symphony “received a financial boost from the state with a $4 million appropriation to its permanent endowment and a $150,000 grant to support music education programs ... The Symphony will be expected to raise matching funds, as required by the state in its allocation." The paper notes: "The Symphony's endowment now stands at about $6 million, and it can use up to 5 percent, or roughly $300,000, to meet annual costs ... The state allocation and matching gifts would raise the Symphony's endowment to $14 million."

5/13/06 – The Ottawa Citizen newspaper buzzed with reports that National Arts Centre employees—including National Arts Centre Chamber Orchestra players—had been asked to sign a document that would prohibit them from revealing any confidential information about the organization as long as they live. Two days later, amid heavy criticism from the paper and musicians union, the NAC agreed to review the policy. Speculation raged that the policy was being implemented in response to the allegedly stormy relationship between NACO music director Pinchas Zukerman and the orchestra. But on 5/16, the paper published the news that the NAC had agreed to waive the requirement that musicians return a sign-off confidentiality form. “We understand that there is a body of information that is properly kept confidential, and the NACO musicians have no issue with that,” said Francine Schutzman, president of the local musicians' union.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on May 22, 2006 at 4:12 AM
If LifeGem Memorials is going to produce three diamonds from a few locks of Beethoven's hair, the diamonds will be much, much less than 1 carat.
From Linda Lerskier
Posted on May 22, 2006 at 8:08 PM
The Linda and Isaac Stern Foundation? :P

Ha, I was planning to buy tickets for the SC recital too! Now all I need to do is convince my parents to take me.

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