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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 18

March 4, 2007 at 4:52 PM

3/1/07 – According to the Dallas Morning News, “Twenty-one years after disappearing in a robbery, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's circa-1727 Stradivarius violin is back in town, newly reconditioned and ready for a new solo debut. In concerts tonight through Sunday, Gary Levinson, the DSO's senior associate concertmaster, will play the instrument in the Violin Concerto of Alexander Glazunov.”

The article explains that the orchestra bought the Strad in 1978 for then-concertmaster Eliot Chapo to use. “When [Emanuel] Borok took over the job in 1985, he got use of the violin. But three months later, while Mr. Borok was Europe, it was stolen from his apartment, along with a television and stereo equipment. Two decades went by with no news of the lost violin. The insurance company paid the $250,000 valuation on the instrument. But then in 2005 a retired DSO violinist, who doesn't want to be identified, spotted a violin that looked suspiciously like the DSO's pictured in an ad in the string magazine The Strad. The ad announced an upcoming auction by the London instrument dealer Bonhams,” and the orchestra began negotiations that eventually brought the instrument back to the DSO.

Here is a piece that summarizes the Morning News’s story.

Musician News

Boriovoj Martinic-Jercic, concertmaster of the Phoenix Symphony, will step down from that post to assume full-time duties with I Solisti di Zagreb in his native Croatia, announced the orchestra. He will be recognized at his final Phoenix Symphony concerts May 25 and 26. In addition to becoming concertmaster and music director of I Solisti next fall, Martinic-Jercic will join the music faculty at the Zagreb Conservatory of Music. He has been concertmaster in Phoenix since 1998, having earlier held the title of acting concertmaster for six years and associate concertmaster for one season.

3/11/07 - The crossover string group Time for Three will perform an International Violin Competition of Indianapolis-sponsored concert in Indianapolis. From the press release: “Formed in 2001, Time for Three is made up of two violinists and a bass player, all graduates of the famed Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Violinist Nick Kendall was a participant in the 1998 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis and has been performing as a soloist and chamber musician since graduating from Curtis. Zach DePue is a violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when not on stage with Time for Three. Bass player Ranaan Meyer writes much of the original material for the group and is an accomplished jazz musician. Time for Three will also perform at a $150-per-person IVCI benefit the night before.

2/28/07 – The Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Miss. ran an interesting Q&A with Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari, focusing on her food preferences as much as music. My favorite question: “If you packed your violin case with snacks instead of your instrument, what would you fill it up with? A: Chocolates, chai lattes and halva. It would be the Mediterranean halva, based on tahini, which is sesame paste. It's what I enjoyed eating while growing up in Israel.” Ben-Ari’s recipe for tahini follows.

2/23/07 - Violinist and composer Leroy Jenkins, a dominant force in the 1970s' free jazz movement, died in New York of complications of lung cancer at the age of 74, reports UPI. “Jenkins, who began playing violin at age 7, blended the lines between jazz and classical music, The New York Times said. In 1964, he joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a co-op of jazz musicians who followed the structural advances of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and others who expanded traditional jazz. He took the organization's philosophy to Europe, founding the Creative Construction Company with jazz musicians Anthony Braxton, Steve McCall and Leo Smith. In the mid-1970s, Jenkins became a bandleader wrote music for classical ensembles, the Times said. He led the group Sting, making a series of his own records for the Italian label Black Saint. He also began to work in more classical situations, both in performing and composing. Eventually Jenkins collaborated with choreographers, writers and video artists.”

Orchestra News

The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra has raised $3,000 to benefit the New Orleans String Project, a program formed by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra that provides music lessons for inner-city New Orleans children. The money was raised at SSO concerts February 8-11 that featured the Dukes of Dixieland, a New Orleans-based group. Allan Kolsky, SSO principal clarinet and a former New Orleans resident who has played with the LPO, suggested the idea of raising money to connect the two groups.

3/1/07 – According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra announced its Pittsburgh 250 Ambassador Tour of Europe, “a three-week affair starting in January ... The orchestra will be accompanied by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to promote the Pittsburgh region to international corporations.” The orchestra will perform 13 concerts in six countries. Among the repertoire will be Brahms' Violin Concerto, performed by violinist Leonidas Kavakos.

3/1/07 – The other paper in town, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reports: “After a seven-year hiatus, the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are primed to begin commercial recording again, starting with this weekend's concerts featuring the music of Johannes Brahms. The concerts, featuring endowed guest conductor Marek Janowski with the orchestra will be recorded by the Dutch company PentaTone. The project, which will include Brahms' four symphonies, will continue the following weekend and will be concluded over two November weekends of concerts.” This weekend's concerts also included the Third Violin Concerto by Camille Saint-Saëns with Chee-Yun as soloist.”

3/1/07 - The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on subscriber reactions to the Seattle Symphony ticket price increases. “Although there were only modest price increases, from this season to next, for most of the seats in Benaroya Hall -- generally 10 percent and less -- the third tier (fourth level) was hit, in some cases, with increases of more than 300 percent. During the current season, there were two prices -- $279 and $387 -- for a subscription to third tier seats on Thursday and Saturday nights to the 18 concerts of the Masterpiece Series ... For next season, everything in the third tier will cost $999 for new subscribers ... Many of the 1,900 people who sit in those seats for various subscription series have objected strongly, with a surprising number directly contacting the Seattle P-I.” Mary Ann Champion, the symphony's interim executive director, comments: “The pricing structure for the new season was done after careful thought and analysis ... We are offering more seating options next year, so that in some instances, there are cheaper seats in the orchestra than on the third tier.”

2/28/07 – Meanwhile, across the country in Baltimore, the ticket situation looks considerably rosier, reports the Baltimore Sun. “The Baltimore Symphony is rolling out an unprecedented ticket discount to promote Marin Alsop's upcoming first season as music director. Thanks to a $1 million underwriting grant from the PNC Foundation, current and new subscribers will be offered $25 seats for all classical and pops performances -- any seat in the house, including the usually pricey boxes."

2/28/07 – According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, “the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra is canceling all of its upcoming performances this season and may not play next year, either, if new revenues don't emerge, its trustees say... The orchestra, an institution since 1974, has faced difficulties before. Financial woes forced cancellations in 2004, when some of the musicians' jobs appeared to be in jeopardy."

2/28/07 - The San Jose Mercury News reports that an arrest has been made in the theft of San Francisco Symphony ticket proceeds: “San Francisco police arrested a Hayward woman Tuesday morning on suspicion of skimming more than $17,000 from the San Francisco Symphony's box office proceeds. Linda Simwa, 29, turned herself in to authorities after a warrant was issued for her arrest, according to police Lt. Kenwade Lee with the department's fraud detail. Simwa was hired in June 2005 to account for the symphony's ticket receipts and incoming donations. She is suspected of replacing the cash stolen from ticket proceeds with money that came in from donors. The donations came in sporadically, and management had no way of tracking the checks as they arrived, according to Lee ... Simwa is currently on probation for another embezzlement case in Alameda County. Lee said it's possible that when the symphony hired her, that case was still moving through the system and might have gone undetected.”

2/27/07 – The Mankato (MN) Free Press reported that a special concert performed by the Mankato Symphony Orchestra at the Minnesota National Guard Training and Community Center was sent to U.S. troops in Iraq via a live television feed. “The soldiers watched the concert from the Freedom Call Center in Iraq, which allows troops video access to friends and family. ‘It’s so strange to see people clapping from halfway across the world’, [Music Director Kenneth] Freed said. ‘They were into it the whole time’. Freed said he was inspired to play a free concert for the soldiers’ families after listening to Minnesota Rep. John Kline, who has a son in Iraq, grill U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the toll war the war has taken on soldiers’ families.”

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on March 5, 2007 at 1:43 AM
And... 3/8/07 and 3/10/07-Pinchas Zukerman Plays Bach's Double concerto and conducts the Elgar Enigme Variations With the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra!!! Can't wait!

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