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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 32

June 1, 2006 at 11:33 PM

The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a $5 million increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, reports the ASOL. “For the second consecutive year, the amendment to increase NEA funding was approved by a simple vocal ‘yes’ and ‘no’ vote. Voice votes are usually reserved for non-controversial amendments, an important sign of the growing Congressional confidence in NEA funding. The bipartisan amendment included a $5 million increase for the National Endowment for the Arts and a $5 million increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

In honor of the 125th anniversary of the birth of Bela Bartok, Bard College will host a conference this weekend exploring his life and career, particularly his contributions to the study of folk music. On Saturday, June 3rd, the program includes a concert that will juxtapose Bartok’s music with the folk music that inspired it. Several violinists will perform, including:

Bela Bartok, from Forty-four Duos (1931)
Jennifer Chun, violin
Angela Chun, violin

Roberto Sierra (b. 1953), Trio No. 2 (2002)
Calvin Wiersma, violin
Sophie Shao, cello
Frederic Lacroix, piano

Bright Sheng (b. 1955), String Quartet No. 3 (1993)
Daedalus Quartet

Bright Sheng, Four Movements for Piano Trio (1990)
Min-Young Kim, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Bright Sheng, piano

Musician News

Violinist and conductor Tito Muñoz will join the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as an assistant conductor, effective August 25. He will also serve as associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. The 22-year-old Muñoz, a native of New York City, studied violin and composition in the Preparatory Division of the Manhattan School of Music and continued his violin studies under Daniel Phillips at Queens College.

5/26/06 - Violinist Raymond Kobler and pianist Gloria Cheng played "committed, exuberant performances" of Lou Harrison’s Suite for Violin, Piano and Small Orchestra with the Pacific Symphony, reports the Los Angeles Times.

5/24/06 - Violinist and conductor James Hannon, director of orchestral activities at Iowa State University, has been named the 10th music director of the Greater Grand Forks Symphony, according to the Grand Forks Herald (ND). "Hannon conducts the ISU Symphony Orchestra and teaches instrumental conducting at the university in Ames. Hannon has served as orchestra director and violin professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, as well as assistant professor of music and director of orchestras at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he also taught violin and viola.”

Orchestra News

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has received a multi-year grant from the Lincoln Financial Group Foundation, in support of the orchestra's new Cabaret Pops Series, according to the ASOL. The $160,000 grant will support the series during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra has received a $500,000 fund-raising challenge from long-time supports Anne and Noel Melvin. The Melvins will match new or increased financial contributions made before August 31. In addition, they have also made a gift of $250,000 to the organization.

5/25/06 - Cleveland's Contemporary Youth Orchestra performed with the rock band Styx at Blossom Music Center, reports the Plain Dealer. Orchestra Music Director Liza Grossman, who organizes the orchestra's annual "Rock the Orchestra" concerts, tells the paper, "I was thinking of rock groups whose sound I consider to be orchestral, and because I went to high school in the '80s, Styx came to mind." Styx has “welcomed the young musicians fully into its territory, hiring professional arrangers to transcribe 21 songs into scores for the 115-piece orchestra and 40-member chorus… They now plan to record a DVD and Internet broadcast of the concert, as well as two singles for possible release next Christmas." Grossman comments: "Styx has been taking this project so seriously ... They treat the kids at the level of professionals." Styx vocalist Tommy Shaw comments: "To see them playing our music so seriously and realize they're doing this on top of everything else in their lives, it's beautiful."

5/19-20/06 - The Tucson Symphony Orchestra hosted two Young Composers Project Reading Sessions. “Fifteen works by composers ranging in age from nine to eighteen were selected for the project. Eight were performed by the TSO Chamber Orchestra on Friday evening and seven additional works were performed Saturday evening by the TSO String Quintet. From the advance press: “The composers and musicians will then discuss the works and the composer will be invited to make changes. A second performance will be recorded and a copy given to the composer.”

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