March 15, 2007 at 1:27 AM3/13/07 – The Denver Post reported on “the explosion of a new group of top-level female” violinists, citing Hilary Hahn, Nicola Benedetti, Julia Fischer, Janine Jansen, Leila Josefowicz, and Jennifer Koh. “ ‘We're probably just reaping the benefits of the changing society,’ said violinist YuMi Hwang-Williams, concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. ‘The old-boys club, so to speak, of classical music and that image is fallen with this sort of new age.’ ”
The article continues: “Women have made up at least half of the violin students in music schools for at least 15 years, and the ratio has even reached 80/20 in certain classes, said [Aspen Music Festival and School Chief Executive Officer Alan] Fletcher, former head of the school of music and professor of music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.” Fletcher comments: “It's still more men that jump to mind as major stars in the age range 40-60, but in 10 or 15 years, that's not going to be true. …More recently, violinists such as Kyung-Wha Chung, who was born in Korea in 1948, and younger artists such as Anne Sophie Mutter, 43, and Midori, 35, have served as trailblazers for this new generation of performers.”
Although Midori seems to have been onstage forever, I’m just unused to hearing her NOT classified as a leading “young” performer.
3/13/07 – The Baltimore Sun reports: “Funeral plans are being made for Theophanis ‘Phanos’ Dymiotis, a violinist, composer and adjunct music professor at McDaniel College who died in a Delaware car crash Saturday night. Mr. Dymiotis was returning from Wilmington after a performance with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra when he was killed, officials at the college in Westminster said yesterday ... The 41-year-old Lutherville resident had taught violin at McDaniel since 2004 and was a faculty member in the college's Summer Orchestra Camp. A member of the Annapolis-based Mariner String Quartet since 2002, Mr. Dymiotis also was co-concertmaster and composer-in-residence with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. ‘He was just a consummate artist,’ said Adam Gonzalez, the quartet's cellist. ‘He was always well-rehearsed for everything we did.’ "
3/12/07 – According to the Associated Press, French police have recovered two rare violins, together worth about $250,000, that were stolen from an Los Angeles Philharmonic musician in December. “French police say a burglar stole the violins in December from the West Hollywood home of violinist Mark Kashper. One was crafted in the 18th century, the other made in the 19th century. Word of the theft spread among American and European violin dealers and the owner of a Paris violin shop alerted police when an American man tried to sell them recently for just $65,000. Police recovered the instruments on Thursday. Paris police say the seller is an American who lives in Amsterdam and that he may be extradited. Officials say he has denied breaking into Kashper's house and that he bought the instruments from someone he did not know.” One was an 18th-century Carlo Tononi, while the other was a 19th-century Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.
3/9/07 – Two young violinists, Derrick Wu and Sunhee Han—are the winners of the first concerto competition sponsored by a group that is itself new, the Fishers (IN) Chamber Players. According to the
Indianapolis Star, “Michael Vaughn, the Chamber Players' artistic director, chose five finalists who then competed in a live final round in November. Wu won the grand prize, and the judges recommended that Han also be allowed to perform as the junior division winner.”
3/3/07 – Violinist Leonidas Kavakos received a very positive review from the Boston Globe for his recent performance of Bartók's Second Violin Concerto: “It's hard to see why Kavakos doesn't have the big-name recognition that some other soloists do. His technique is immaculate: He navigated all of the concerto's virtuoso hurdles without much apparent effort. Even more impressive were the lucid, singing tone of his playing and his elegant phrasing. In the rare moments when he wasn't playing, he turned to watch the orchestra, seemingly enjoying what his musical partners were up to.”
3/2/07 – The
Times of London recently profiled violinist Maxim Vengerov: “Brought up in a tiny basement apartment, he had a miniature fiddle thrust into his hands at the age of 4, displayed astounding aptitude, and was rewarded (as is still the case in Russia) with a prescription of seven hours’ practice a day, every day, for the rest of his boyhood. Playmates and playtimes were relegated to a very distant second place in his life. Yet he expresses few regrets and no resentment. ‘I believe you don’t succeed at the highest level if your life is just pleasant’, he told me. ‘Life was hard in Siberia, and my musical education was just as tough. But the result was that I learnt the whole language of violin playing in just over a year’.”
3/2/07 – The Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY) ran a mini-profile of violinist Elmar Oliviera in conjunction with an appearance at Binghamton University. My favorite line: “You know you've made it when your violin has its own name: Oliveira performs exclusively on an instrument known as the ‘Stretton’, made ca. 1729-31 by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, and on an exact copy of that violin made by Curtin and Alf in 1993.”
3/1/07 – The Jewish Exponent reports that Eduard Schmieder has recently assumed the position of the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Violin at Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University. “Schmieder comes to Boyer after occupying academic chairs at numerous universities in Texas and Los Angeles. He is also the founding music director and conductor of iPalpiti (Italian for ‘Heartbeat’), a chamber orchestra of 26 professional international string musicians, aged 18 to 30, many of whom are his former students.”
3/13/07 - An Associated Press item notes: “The venerable Ravinia Festival has revised its summer concert schedule because of the buzz created by a certain red-eyed bug. Cicadas, known for their loud hum and unique 17-year life cycle, are expected to make a debut this June. So officials from the almost 103-year-old music festival will move several outdoor concerts indoors. They also pushed the date of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's annual summer concerts back to July 6, later in the season than usual. By then, the chirping critters should cease. The subtleties of the music ‘would get completely lost and drowned out,’ said Welz Kauffman Ravinia Festival president and CEO.”
3/13/07 – According to The Californian, “The Monterey Symphony wants a larger portion of the Salinas community to enjoy its music, and for this Saturday only, it's willing to share it for free. In a coordinated effort with the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts, the Carmel-based orchestra will offer 1,000 tickets to its final rehearsal of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony and other compositions available -- at no charge -- to the city’s elementary and middle school students and their families. Through the giveaway, organizers hope to expose more city youth to orchestral music, said Orlando Castro, executive director of the Alisal Center. ‘Right now, they don't have a taste for classical music,’ Castro said. ‘We need to start building it up.’”
3/11/07 – The Columbus Dispatch ran a feature on female principals in American orchestras: “At the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, for instance, only two women are principal players ... out of 16 posts. The CSO is not dissimilar to other U.S. orchestras, which usually have two to five female principals…..During the past 10 years, women have made up 45 percent to 48 percent of the positions in U.S. orchestras, according to Julia Kirchhausen of the American Symphony Orchestra League.”
Other Music News
3/13/07 - The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the San Francisco Opera will broadcast its performances once a month beginning April 1 on classical radio station KDFC (102.1 FM) -- the first time in 25 years that the company's offerings will be heard regularly on the air. “In addition to the KDFC deal, the Opera has joined a coalition of opera companies whose performances will be broadcast nationally and internationally by the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago."
3/1/07 – In the Telegraph (UK), cellist Julian Lloyd Webber wrote an entertaining riff on a certain survey: “The UK music magazine Muso recently commissioned a study on the sex lives of classical musicians, and while musicians themselves were all too willing to participate, the usual array of pretentious classical critics has lined up to take shots. But really, who cares about them? What everyone wants to know is, in which section of the orchestra will you find the most promiscuous sorts? (It's the viola section, of course.)”
I can already feel the flames for what I will say, but... I think that the change in society also comes with a change of the image people want to project or see. The beautiful woman soloist instead of the middle-aged bald guy.
I am glad to see more women violinists on the circuit, please don't get me wrong. And every person listed above is a terrific violinist. However, I see many great male players, who, as they don't fit the standards of looks for the current trend are passed over. That's not better either.
There is a sort of anti-male and male-related qualities in our society right now. Many men choose not to go into music because they just can't cope with having to 'leave their balls out' and find their innate personalities atrophied.
Whenever these things come up it is important for us to remember that all of these people, regardless of race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, etc., have been working on their craft and performing for years.
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