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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 55

August 20, 2006 at 8:20 PM

The 8/21 issue of BusinessWeek includes an article about the famed Meadowmount summer music program under the revealing subhead: “The Meadowmount School of Music, with alums like Itzhak Perlman, proves that hard work can be more important than raw talent.”

Here are the article’s opening paragraphs: “Instructor Hans Jorgen Jensen bounds up the steps of a beat-up cabin filled with 12 cellists warming up, and suddenly there's silence. ‘It's showtime!’ he proclaims, and technique class begins. The teenage musicians race through scales and shift exercises as Jensen, 56, calls out orders. With a shock of white hair ringing his head and a thick Danish accent, he's an unholy pairing of Larry David and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- a grinning drill sergeant. He singles out 16-year-old Alina Lim and tells her to do octave scales. The exercise requires her to play two notes at once, using the side of her thumb for the lower note. As Lim plays, Jensen twists a knob on her cello below the bridge, untuning her instrument -- and making the exercise all the harder. ‘You should be practicing the feeling of knowing how to adjust,’ he says, as she tries to keep up with the fast-sliding pitch. ‘You should be trusting your instincts, not memorized positions.’

Welcome to Meadowmount, Saturday, 9 a.m. Part summer camp, part music school, and part boot camp, the Meadowmount School of Music is strict, austere, and responsible for creating some of the top string players in the world. Though little known outside of music circles, the small, rundown camp in the Adirondacks has trained such luminaries as Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, and Yo-Yo Ma. Many more alums are players in top U.S. orchestras or chamber groups. Every summer 220 young violinists, violists, cellists, and pianists head into the woods with dreams of such acclaim…”

Violinists mentioned in the article include: Ivan Galamian (of course!), current student Elly Suh, and former Galamian students Ronald Copes and Ronald Lantz.

Read the article here:

Musician News

8/22-23/06 - Lisa Batiashvili will perform the world premiere of a violin concerto by Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg at the Mostly Mozart Festival.

8/18/06 – Violinist Samuel Thompson was interviewed on the National Public Radio Program Day to Day as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches. Thompson had gained international recognition for his impromptu concerts for refugees in New Orleans in the storm’s immediate aftermath. Listen to the interview here:

8/17/06 - Charles Barr, the 31-year old Cleveland Orchestra bass player who was killed last week when his bicycle was struck by a truck, was memorialized Wednesday by friends and colleagues, reports The Plain Dealer (Cleveland). "Barr, with a mop of honey hair and intense, inquisitive eyes that seemed to burn through his glasses, joined the orchestra in 2002 and fast became a favorite of musicians and stagehands alike. Those who saw him perform were drawn into his kinetic, charismatic orbit." Barr was also well-known to musicians throughout the U.S. - more than 500 people attended the service.

8/17/06 – New Zealand violinist Clare Galambos-Winter is mentioned prominently in an opinion column on the website examining the appeal of neo-Nazism to certain narrow-minded youths. The column refers to her as “the 82-year-old Jewish violinist who just endowed Victoria University with two annual violin scholarships, having already donated valuable violins. Mrs Galambos-Winter is Hungarian. She emigrated here in l948, and played the violin professionally for 50 years, 33 of them in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. She is a survivor of Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp. Most of her family was murdered in concentration camps. ‘New Zealand gave me a reason for living,’ she said the other day, explaining that the scholarships were a way of showing her appreciation to her adopted country.
Read the column here:

8/15/06 - The Sofia News Agency reports that Vasko Vassilev, “a violin virtuoso of universal calibre,” became the sixth Bulgarian to receive a star on the Walk of Fame in Sofia. “Vassilev was born in Sofia in 1970. By the age of eight, he was already a star prodigy violinist and the star actor in an international award-winning film. In his teens, he won top prizes in three major international violin competitions (Jacques Thibault; Carl Flesch and Paganini) and embarked on a worldwide solo performing career. Since becoming the youngest-ever concertmaster at the Royal Opera House, Vassilev has continued to widen his artistic horizons. Aside from the classical arena, he has also enjoyed artistic collaborations in various capacities, not limited to violin playing, with many musical names from other sectors such as Vanessa-Mae, Ronnie Wood, Sting, Paco Pena, Erasure, to name but a few.”

8/15/06 – According to a Boston Globe review of a Boston Symphony performance at Tanglewood, “concertmaster Tamara Smirnova dispatched the fast violin solos with unshakable equilibrium” in Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite. Then, “the Canadian violinist Corey Cerovsek, familiar from many appearances at the Gardner Museum, made his BSO debut in Bach's Second Violin Concerto. Cerovsek--who turns 34 this year, although he still looks 17 -- was on secure musical footing, if not always stylistically attuned to [conductor Harry] Bicket's way with Bach. His fresh, natural playing was welcome after a summer full of violinists congealed in the grease of their own celebrity.”

8/15/06 – The Southern Illinois Business Journal included the news that grade-schoolers from John Thomas School in Carbondale, Ill. played at the Illinois State Fair at the request of Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who made the John Thomas Strings Program a statewide model. “John Thomas Strings will introduce the 2006 Illinois Violin Initiative to thousands who parade past the lieutenant governor's tent Tuesday. The violin initiative - which aims to provide musical instruction for young people of all levels and backgrounds - was directly inspired by the local program developed by Paula Allison, director of the SIUC Egyptian Suzuki School, and Linda Flowers, principal of Thomas School. At the fair, Flowers and Allison will discuss the two-year-old partnership that puts a violin in the hand of all Carbondale second-graders. The children's state fair performance was in memory of fallen soldier and avid violinist, Maj. Paul Syverson III of Lake Zurich, Ill. Syverson, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, lost his life in an Iraq mortar attack on June 16, 2004.”

According to the American Orchestra Symphony League, American conductor David Handel has been reappointed music director of the Orquesta Sinfonica UNCuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. He is also music director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia and principal conductor of American Voices.

Glenn Quader has been appointed assistant conductor at the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (Va.). Quader received his training at the Peabody Conservatory and the universities of Indiana, Illinois, and Miami, and received a performance diploma in 2003 from the Catania International Conducting Institute in Sicily. He was appointed music director of the Piedmont Regional Orchestra in 2005.

Orchestra News

8/18/06 - A posting on reports: "The public has been invited to take part in what has been described as the first virtual orchestra. Plastic cubes, attached to a light and a speaker, have been laid out on a full size orchestra stage outside the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank. Sitting on a cube activates a musical note and as more people sit down, more of the score is revealed. Owners of Bluetooth phones will also be able to receive a free ring tone of the Philharmonia Orchestra playing. People can also record their own sound and then send it to the orchestra using this technology. These sounds will then be added to the online sample library and some will be used as part of a new piece of music being composed for the culmination of the project."

8/17/06 – In Plymouth, Mich., the Plymouth Symphony has changed its name to the Plymouth Canton Symphony Society, reports the Detroit Free Press. The new name reflects the organization's reach and focus …and signals a restructuring for the society, too. Now, a vice president oversees each division -- Orchestra Canton, the Plymouth Symphony and the Celebration Youth Orchestra. [I played in the Plymouth Symphony in the late 1980s and remember it fondly.]

8/18/06 - The Chicago Tribune reviewed the Deutsche Grammophon release of Beethoven's Symphony Nos. 5 and 7 by the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. "It is an astonishingly responsive group of musicians, many slum kids rescued from a miasma of drugs and crime and brought up, like Dudamel himself, through a superb national training system that takes music education seriously." The review adds: "They perform both symphonies with tremendous intensity and commitment ... Beethoven's music clearly means the world to these players, and they embrace it as a shining symbol of their own optimism ... Dudamel steers them through a lean and mean Fifth Symphony, single-minded in its rhythmic drive, ending in blazing triumph. If anything, their Seventh is even finer: a take-no-prisoners, full-metal jacket reading, pure distilled musical energy from start to finish."

8/17/06 – The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) reports that Miami's new concert hall is almost ready to open its doors, and while the city doesn't have a professional symphony orchestra of its own at the moment, it has engaged the very best ensemble it could find to help fine-tune the acoustics of the chamber. The Cleveland Orchestra, which will play a 3-week residency in Miami this winter, will be on hand later this week to give acousticians Russell Johnson and Tateo Nakajima their first taste of the hall's full sound. The Miami Herald elaborates: "On Friday, the Cleveland Orchestra begins three days of private rehearsals, playing while Artec's experts fine-tune the hall. The process will continue after the orchestra finishes on Sunday, right up to the hall's October opening and beyond, using jazz groups, Latin ensembles, the Master Chorale of South Florida, the South Beach Chamber Ensemble and others ... In Miami's adjustable system, the reverberation doors open onto a vast, empty chamber stretching two-thirds around the room. With a full orchestra playing, the doors are open to let the sound waves enter the chamber, reverberate inside and come back out." Artec acoustician Tateo Nakajima comments: "Even when the music stops, everybody's holding their breath, and you still hear the reverberation in the air."

8/16/06 - The Oregon Symphony cut 10 positions from its administrative staff of 55, reports The Oregonian. “The layoffs, the largest in the orchestra's history, affected employees in the orchestra's marketing, development and education departments, but did not affect the musicians or conducting staff." The cuts are expected to save $500,000.

8/16/06 – According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is adding staff in preparation for a full 36-week season in 2006-07. The group has filled six key administrative positions, including artistic administrator and personnel manager.

From Luis Pernalete
Posted on August 20, 2006 at 9:14 PM
Wow. Congartulations to my friend Gustavo Dudamel, violinist too, and to my Simon Bolivar Orchestra´s friends, you go kids. Son los mejores.
From Luis Pernalete
Posted on August 20, 2006 at 9:28 PM
This CD was recorded in February 2006 in Aula Magna Hall, in Caracas-Venezuela. The Aula Magna is one of the best acoustic hall in the world and was design for Carlos Raul Villanueva one of the most talented latinoamerican architech. In this hall was played violinist as Mintz, Hasson, Charlier etc. In (search Dudamel) all details.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 21, 2006 at 7:24 AM
Itzhak Perlman is a product of hard work but not talent? Business Week should stick to evaluating business.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 21, 2006 at 7:14 PM
"Artec acoustician Tateo Nakajima comments: "Even when the music stops, everybody's holding their breath, and you still hear the reverberation in the air." I hate listening to an orchestra in that kind of hall. I think they try to duplicate the sound of bad hi-fi without realizing what they're doing.
From Darcy Lewis
Posted on August 21, 2006 at 11:23 PM
You might be right, Jim. I know that pipe organ fans often focus on and mention the reverb at the end of recordings.


From Christian Vachon
Posted on August 22, 2006 at 8:44 PM

I am glad to hear the good news and review about Corey's concert with the BSO at Tanglewood. Great! He's such a wonderful violinist, musician and person!


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