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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 33

June 4, 2006 at 1:37 AM

I had the pleasure Friday night of attending one of Daniel Barenboim’s farewell appearances with the Chicago Symphony. The program contained the world premiere of Astral Chronicle by outgoing CSO composer-in-residence Augusta Read Thomas. Astral Canticle is scored for solo violin, solo flute and small orchestra. Concertmaster Robert Chen and principal flute Mathieu Dufour did the honors. “Astral Canticle’s two solo parts were designed not so much as leading roles for flute and violin, but as music tailor-made for Mathieu Dufour and Robert Chen,” the program notes tell us. Fittingly, the dedicatee is Daniel Barenboim, while Chen and Dufour are two of the outgoing music director’s most notable hires in his 15-year tenure.

The Tribune’s John von Rhein opines: “Astral Canticle is one of Thomas’ more immediately accessible pieces, and there is something interesting taking place at any given moment…the strength of Thomas’ new work was undeniable in this first performance. There’s no doubt Astral Canticle will make its way through the orchestral world.” So, this fine piece may be coming to a concert hall near you… And be sure to keep an eye out for Thomas’ new violin concerto, due for a 2008 premiere.


At my husband’s request and out of deference to his many fellow Curtis string alumni, I am reporting that Curtis solfege teacher and pianist Edward Aldwell has died.

The 5/31 Philadelphia Inquirer summarized his life eloquently: "Though among the greatest Bach pianists of our time, Edward Aldwell, who died Sunday at age 68 as the result of an automotive accident, was also among the least known. While a fixture in Philadelphia concert life, thanks to his faculty position at the Curtis Institute of Music and his frequent recitals presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, he was known to a larger public only through a half-dozen prestigious recordings and occasional concerts in other major music capitals, such as New York and San Francisco." A native of Portland, Ore. who held bachelor's and master's degrees from The Juilliard School, Aldwell "played other composers, such as Hindemith, Schubert and Fauré, but friends and associates say that Bach was so central to his life that they never thought to ask why. 'It was a given,' said pianist Cynthia Raim, who first knew him at Curtis theory classes." Stearns reports that Aldwell "is survived by his wife, Jean; daughter, Elisabeth; and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at Curtis at a date to be announced."

Musican News

6/11/06 - Yuri Temirkanov will lead his final concert as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has released a limited-edition recording to honor his seven-season tenure as music director. Recorded live in September 2004, this is the only recording released during the Temirkanov era.

5/27/06 – favorite Julia Fischer received a glowing review from the Baltimore Sun for a performance with the Baltimore Symphony under Temirkanov. "In the most sensational BSO debut since Chinese pianist Lang Lang's six years ago, the German-born [Julia] Fischer delivered an incandescent account of Beethoven's Violin Concerto ... Matters of intonation and articulation were so thoroughly under control that the violinist was free to focus on the innermost details of phrasing."

5/26/06 - Sylvia Nadien Rosenthal, former assistant principal cellist for the Rhode Island Philharmonic, died May 26 in Providence, reports the Providence Journal. "With her sister, the late Florence (Nadien) Weintraub, she toured the Allied bases in Korea, Japan, and throughout the Pacific Theatre, entertaining the troops at the liberations and at the beginning of the occupation presence. Upon her return, she attended The Juilliard School in New York, studying with Willem Wilike and Gregor Piatigorsky. Her son, Perry Rosenthal, who performed with her at the Philharmonic, sat as principal cellist until his recent death. For twelve years, as mother and son, they occupied the first stand of the Philharmonic cello section, which was unique in an American orchestra. Sylvia retired from the Philharmonic with Florence in 1998, ending a 50-year career for both women."

5/25/06 – Cellist Matt Haimowitz was named a 2006 ASCAP Concert Music honoree in New York City for “taking his performances and compositions to audiences in non-traditional venues.” Philip Glass, James DePreist, and the group Alarm Will Sound also received awards.

5/7/06 - Gisèle Ben-Dor conducted her final appearance as music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony.

Orchestra News

6/8/06 - The New York Philharmonic will begin a seven-city, eleven-concert tour of Italy that will wrap up on June 20. This tour marks the orchestra's first return in 20 years to Rome, Florence, and Milan. The orchestra will also visit Parma, Ravenna, Ljubljana in Slovenia, and Trieste.

According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has received a $1 million gift from the Irving Harris Foundation in support of the MusicNOW new music concert series and new music activities of the orchestra. MusicNOW, which will enter its ninth season in 2006-07, provides concert programs completely dedicated to new music and works by some of today's most prominent composers.

The Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra will receive $13,000 in funding for its 2006 Summer Festival Program, which will provide activities for 80 youth ages 8 to 19, reports the ASOL. “The funding represents a portion of $760,000 provided to summer camps, child- and youth-focused agencies, libraries and arts centers in the greater New Orleans area by a coalition including the international aid organization Save the Children, the United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area, Mercy Corps, and the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.”

The Canton Symphony Orchestra has established a new composer program in partnership with the Cleveland Institute of Music. “The program, to start in September, will allow a student composer to work with the CSO's Education Department throughout a given season, and includes the commission of a short piece for the orchestra's spring Kinder Koncerts. Evan Fein of Cleveland won the fellowship over a field of CIM composition students and will serve the program’s first composer-in-residence.”

5/27/06 - reports that the Cleveland Orchestra and National Public Radio have struck a deal. “NPR will broadcast 13 Cleveland Orchestra concerts from the last three years through its Performance Today, SymphonyCast, and World of Opera programs ... The broadcasts will begin on June 9 with the broadcast on SymphonyCast of a concert featuring Messiaen's 'Turangalîla-symphonie' and Stravinsky's 'Requiem Canticles' and conducted by [Music Director Franz] Welser-Möst." The Cleveland Orchestra "has been heard nationally through a series of different networks since 1922, but it has not previously been heard on NPR's syndicated classical programs. NPR signed a similar deal with the Philadelphia Orchestra last month."

From Richard Conviser
Posted on June 4, 2006 at 1:33 PM
Julia Fischer impressed not only the Sun's critic, but the audience, which rose as one at the conclusion of her performance and called her back onstage repeatedly until she played a movement from an unaccompanied Bach sonata as an encore. Her command of all the music she played, both technically and emotionally, was luminous. Her Beethoven cadenzas went farther than the usual ones in both presenting technical challenges and showcasing the concerto's thematic materials. She is a star of the greatest magnitude.
From Ryan Meehan
Posted on June 4, 2006 at 11:25 PM
I couldn't more heartily agree concerning Julia Fischer. She is positively one of the greatest artists on the stage today. Her performances are captivating. Her technique is so perfect and her musical ideas are utterly profound.

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