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September 2011

The Violinist.com CD contest is back

September 28, 2011 22:05

It's been a while since we've had a CD contest on Violinist.com, but now that it's fall, we're back to it! CDs are old-fashioned, but I like providing them to you because they have liner notes, and you can hold them in your hand. We hope these CD contests keep you in the loop about what kinds of projects today's violinists are doing, and if you win, that you receive a little something tangible to connect you with our community of violinists. If we are running a contest, it can always be found in the upper righthand corner of each Violinist.com page, and the link is always the same, http://www.violinist.com/contest.

This week we are giving away three copies of Vadim Gluzman's recording of works by Bruch: Violin Concerto, Romance and Quintet, which was released in the spring.

Did you know that Max Bruch wrote more than a violin concerto? Of course you do, but it's possible you've rarely heard any of his other compositions -- because that violin concerto dwarfed his every achievement. In his latest recording, violinist Vadim Gluzman has paired the famous Violin Concerto No. 1, premiered when the composer was 30, with Bruch's String Quintet in A minor, written when the composer was 80 and published after his death. He also includes the Romance in F major, played with the Bergen Philharmonic, Andrew Litton conducting, as is the concerto. The quintet, written for two violins, two violas and cello, has that romantic and melodious quality that people love in Bruch's violin concerto -- and Gluzman, violinist Sandis Steinbergs, violists Maxim Rysanov and Ilze Klava and cellist Reinis Birznieks give it an impeccable reading. It sounds downright fun to play -- definitely worth considering to play as a late Romantic quintet. And of course, there is a reason why Bruch's Violin Concerto stood out so prominently; it is a piece that truly showcases the most beautiful qualities of the violin, in this case, Vadim's 1690 ex-Auer Stradivarius, on loan from the Stradivari Society. Incidentally, the CD comes with thorough liner notes about Bruch, his life and works, written by Horst A. Scholz.

Our first CD went to Steven Wetstein of Miami, who correctly answered that Gluzman's 1690 fiddle was once played by the pedagogue Leopold Auer.

We still have two more CDs to give away this week, with new a question posted today, and one to come on Friday. To enter to win this recording go to this page:

http://www.violinist.com/contest

...and answer the question!

2 replies


Violin Community News 2011, Op. 6

September 28, 2011 12:48

Last week the Minnesota Orchestra announced the appointment of Erin Keefe, 31, as concertmaster of the orchestra, after a two-year search. She'll dive right in, starting with concerts this weekend. She replaces Jorja Fleezanis, who left at the end of the 2008-09 season.

Erin Keefe

A native of Northampton, Massachusetts, Erin Keefe is the winner of a 2006 Avery Fisher Career Grant who also was a violinist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center during the 2010-2011 season. She has been featured on Live from Lincoln Center with the Society and performs regularly with both the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society and Boston Chamber Music Society. She studied at Curtis and Juilliard and currently lives in St. Paul with her husband, cellist Andrey Tchekmazov.

Here is more about Erin: http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/music/130353533.html

* * *

The first annual Contemporary Violin Makers Exhibition will take place 9 a.m.. to 7 p.m., Oct. 1 – 3, at 1776 Broadway in New York City on the 24th floor, formerly the studios of Fred Astaire and Billie Holiday, with 42 violin makers exhibiting more than 70 of their instruments. The exhibition is presented by Reed Yeboah Fine Violins. For a list of participating violin makers, please go to http://www.reedyeboahviolins.com/

* * *

It's been a tough week in Denver (btw my hometown), where two-thirds of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's Board of Directors quit last week in the midst of tough contract negotiations. The Denver Post reporter Kyle MacMillan quoted one of the remaining board members, Young Cho: "Board members are sick and tired of the musicians' complaining," he said. Then again, it's hard not to complain about a five percent cut in pay, coming on the heels of a 24 percent overall drop in pay just two years ago.

But I was heartened by this editorial in the Denver Post, which is worth reading in full, despite the scary headline, "A Requiem for the Symphony?" It's clear the community doesn't want that: "Even if you've never been to a Colorado Symphony concert — and by the way, why haven't you? — you still should be rooting for the orchestra to pull itself out of its recent tailspin…a world-class city needs more than beautiful scenery, an attractive climate and a full complement of professional sports franchises. It needs cultural amenities, too, including an orchestra with first-rate professional musicians."

* * *

The Pablo Sarasate International Violin Competition announced winners last week in Pamplona, Spain:

First prize: Ana María Valderrama, 26, of Spain

Second Prize: Ji Yoon Lee, 19, of South Korea

Third prize: Stephen Gerard Waarts, 15, of the United States

Here is Ana Maria Valderrama, playing the first movement of Prokofiev Concerto No. 1:

* * *

Are you a student, or do you have a student, with an interest in composing, and an interest in exploring many genres of string-playing? Strings Without Boundaries is accepting applications through Feb. 1 for its 2012 Tune-Writing Contest in Eclectic Styles, in partnership with D'Addario Strings. The winner will received a full-tuition scholarship to Strings Without Boundaries 2012, a workshop focused on the teaching and performing of string music — in ensemble settings — from a wide range of styles including traditional and contemporary fiddling, jazz, rock, blues, and world string ensemble. Next June at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Also, the winning tune will be arranged by Grammy-nominated Richard Greene (fiddle style); improvising violinist and author Julie Lyonn Lieberman (blues and world styles); author and jazz violinist Martin Norgaard (jazz); and improvising cellist/composer Matt Turner (rock) and performed at the workshop next summer.

For more information, go to: http://stringswithoutboundaries.com/TuneContest.htm

1 reply


Fish Bowl

September 25, 2011 11:52

 

I loved this!

3 replies


Violin Community News 2011, Op. 5

September 21, 2011 13:31

Congratulations to Rachel Barton Pine and her husband, Greg, on the arrival of their daughter, Sylvia Michelle, who was born on September 16. "Sylvia means 'of the woods' - for the child of a violinist and a Pine," Rachel said in an announcement on Facebook and Twitter.

In the next few weeks on Violinist.com we'll have an interview with Rachel about her new edition of the Wohlfahrt etudes, and we'll also be giving out her latest album of solo violin works, Capricho Latino.

* * *

Keith Conant Keith Abbott Conant, 49, principal violist with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, died unexpectedly of a heart attack last Thursday. Here is an obituary from the Chicago Tribune. He had been playing with the Lyric Opera Orchestra since 1987 and had served as principal violist since 1997. He also was a founding member of the Rembrandt Chamber Players Conant was a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, and an adjunct professor at Valparaiso University.

* * *

And I thought class sizes were getting a little too big in the United States…on Sept. 17, 4,645 violinists, ages three to 18, broke a world record by playing simultaneously (along with a rather loud synthesizer) in Taiwan. Actually they were from 172 schools, according to the Taiwan Today, and you can hear them here. They played three tunes, one of them being "Ode to Changhua." Though a number of sources said this was a purely an educational endeavor, not a ploy to break the world record, this account reports that Daves Gareth, an executive from the Britain-based Guinness World Records, attended the event and that all the kids will get a Guinness World Record certificate for participating. Apparently the previous record was 4,000 violinists playing together in London in 1925.

Could it be true that Shinichi Suzuki never assembled more kids than this? This concert looks pretty big, and so does this one!

* * *

I enjoyed the teacher training seminar that I took in spring 2010 for the Mark O'Connor Method (here were my impressions), so I wanted to let you know that there are a number of these seminars coming up around the U.S. this fall. The new O'Connor Method uses American music in much the same way as the Suzuki method books use German folk music to introduce students to the violin. Longtime Suzuki teacher Pam Wiley, who helped in the conception of Mark's books, will be the instructor, and Mark O'Connor will make a presentations at each seminar.

For teachers in the Seattle area: O'Connor Method Teacher Training for Books 1 and 2 will take place starting tomorrow through Sunday at Music Works Northwest in Bellevue. Contact Scott Ketron at saketron@musicworksnw.org if you'd like to register.

In the Fairfield County area in Connecticut: O'Connor Method Teacher Training will take place Oct 14-16 at the Talent Education Suzuki School in Norwalk, Connecticut. To register, contact Becki Christopherson, admin@musicattess.com or 203-956-6708.

In Tennessee: Nov. 4-6 at th eFold School of Chattanooga in Chattanooga. To register, contact Christie Burns, christie@chattanoogafolk.com or 423-779-6581.

I came away from Mark and Pamela's course with a lot of great ideas about working with kids and incorporating American music and music history in my teaching -- as well as positive energy, a commodity I'm always seeking!

4 replies


Questions? Answers? Check out our new Violin FAQ page!

September 20, 2011 13:29

If there's anything I've learned in 14 years of running this website, it's that between you, me and the other 30,000 registered members of Violinist.com, we basically know everything there is to know about everything. Or at least we think we do!

Thus Robert and I have revised our Frequently Asked Questions about the Violin section on Violinist.com, so that people who are interested in the violin can learn from our collective wisdom, with answers to basic questions about how to get started, how the instrument works and how to make the most of your experience playing the violin.

So please check out our new FAQ page and feel free to e-mail me with suggestions for more FAQ articles and/or nominations for articles that are already on V.com and should be included. Also, we are no longer using a wiki format for these articles, so if you find a correction that needs to be made, or a link that doesn't work, please feel free to e-mail me about it.

Members of Violinist.com have many different areas of expertise, and I also invite you to write a blog about your own knowledge, experiences and observations. Maybe your blog will take up residence on our FAQ page!

Archive link


You can play in tune without a chromatic tuner: Ringing tones explained

September 15, 2011 23:22

Don't fret, you can play in tune without a chromatic tuner.

Actually I'm not going to tell you whether or not to use a chromatic tuner to help you, any more than I'm going to tell you whether or not to use a shoulder rest. I'm beginning to suspect, based on a current Violinist.com discussion about chromatic tuners, that V.commies are as passionate about the use or non-use of chromatic tuners as they are about the use or non-use of shoulder rests -- Egads! Here's my advice on both fronts: use anything that ultimately helps you to play better.

Nonetheless, I advise my students to use a chromatic tuner to tune the strings on their instruments, and when it comes to finger placement, I direct them to other references.

So if you have been using a chromatic tuner to help you place your fingers, how do you learn intonation, if you take it away? The advice, "Just use your ear!" -- said with frustration and a sense of moral superiority by a respected teacher -- probably will not help a student who just isn't hearing what's wrong.

 

Qwik Tune

Certainly, start by tuning your instrument with the tuner, and frankly, I think you're going to be fine if you tune all four strings with it -- it's certainly going to be better than guessing, before you have developed your sense of pitch. Because yes, there levels and refinements when it comes to hearing pitch. That's what Mendy Smith's blog was about a few days ago: she had realized that she had approached a level where she needed to refine her intonation without the use of a chromatic tuner because she truly was beginning to hear the subtleties of pitch in relation to other tones. You can't tune your violin by hearing a perfect fifth until you can hear a perfect fifth.

A good, basic place to start learning intonation is by becoming sensitive to the ringing tones, also called "resonant notes," on your violin (or viola). What I'd like to do in this blog is to give you an introduction to ringing tones, if you are a student who doesn't yet know about them, or give you some ideas for explaining them, if you are a teacher. I welcome everyone's thoughts on the subject, as well.

The most obvious ringing tones are the strings: E, A, D and G (If you are a violist, A, D, G, and C). As you may have noticed, the open strings ring in a louder, fuller, more obvious way than notes played with a finger placed down on the string. In fact, try playing an open string. Notice that, not only does it sound very full, but also the string vibrates quite a lot -- this is something you can see with your eyes. Notice also that the wood on the body of your fiddle also vibrates, and you can feel this vibration if you put your hand on the back of the violin while playing, or even if you hold the scroll of the violin (yours or someone else's).

Any note on the violin vibrates, but the open strings vibrate the most.

So here's the cool part: What happens when you play an E, A, D or G that is not an open string? For example, try playing the G that is located third finger on the D string. If you play it perfectly in tune -- and only if you play it perfectly in tune -- your violin will have a party and ring with joy. More specifically, the G string will vibrate in sympathy with the G note you are playing on the D string. If you play this note with very good, even tone and perfectly in tune, you can even see the G string vibrating. Certainly it will ring much, much more than an out-of-tune G or than a note such as an E flat, which does not have its own special string to ring with it.

As you can guess, your violin needs to be well-tuned for this to actually work. Where else is there a G on the fiddle? You can try the G that is located on the E string, low second finger. It will not make the earth shake in the same way as the G that was an octave closer, but it definitely will hit a groove when it's perfectly in tune, and the violin will respond by ringing in a very clear way.

You can try this also for all the D's on the fiddle (third finger on A string, third position fourth finger on E, etc.); all the A's (first finger on the G string, third finger on the E, etc.) and all the E's (first finger on the D, etc.) and for the viola, all the C's (third finger on G string, low second on A string, etc.) Yes, and it works if you are playing a fourth finger on the G, the D string will ring in sympathy with the exact same D. Just make sure you aren't touching the string that should be ringing, or it stops the physical vibrating.

Why does this work? It's because all of the A's (and D's and G's and E's) are an octave (or two) away from one another, and an octave is a perfect interval. If your A string is vibrating at 400 hz, the "A" above it -- the third-finger E string A -- is vibrating at twice that, or 800 hz. Their vibrations can mesh very easily, as long as the pitches match.

Guess what else is a perfect interval? A fifth. For example, your A string vibrates three times for every two times that the D string vibrates. The vibrations in those notes also mesh easily, but not quite as easily as octaves which vibrating two to one. Violins are tuned in fifths, therefore each string is a perfect fifth away from the next -- if it is perfectly in tune. This meshing of the fifths is what violinists learn to hear when they are tuning without the help of a chromatic tuner.

But take it a step at a time. Start by listening for the octaves, by really honing in on the natural ringing tones of your instrument. There is a reason why so much violin music -- and especially beginning violin music -- is written in the key of D or the key of A or G. Those keys contain many of the violin's natural ringing tones.

When I hear a student (or anyone!) play and they play slightly out of tune and fail to trigger the resonance of their violin, it makes me cringe. By the way, your violin is cringing, too. The more your violin rings and resonates, the more it "opens up." This is not some mysterious thing that violinists talk about, it's a real phenomenon. The more the wood vibrates, the more pliable it becomes to sound. Make it vibrate a lot by playing in tune, and it will "open up," and so will your ear!

23 replies


Violin Community News 2011, Op. 4

September 8, 2011 12:12

This weekend is the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and Medici.tv is broadcasting “Remember to Love," five choral concerts recorded live on Friday from downtown Manhattan’s Trinity Wall Street, with guests including violinist Gil Shaham. Here are the concert times, with direct links to the page where they'll be streamed for free. All times I'm listing are Eastern Standard, though if you go to the Medici site, it looks like they convert the information to reflect the time you would see it in your area.

11 a.m.: Julian Wachner Conducts the Washington Chorus in Rachmaninov's Vespers

1 p.m.: Julian Wachner Conducts the Washington Chorus in a Fauré and Duruflé program

3 p.m.: Brian Jones and the Copley Singers

5 p.m.: The Bach Choir of Bethlehem Sings Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Duruflé

8:30pm: Remember to Love – Gil Shaham, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Angela Meade, and Luca Pisaroni

* * *

Joshua Bell has been lending his talents to help the cause of music education in the public schools -- a cause that is very close to my heart. “I notice a big difference walking into a school that has a music program versus one that doesn’t; in the children’s self-esteem and how they work together,” said Joshua Bell to an audience of supporters of Education Through Music -- Los Angeles, a program that helps support music programs in inner-city Los Angeles elementary schools. "Music helps the children on so many different levels.” Bell had visited one of the program's schools in Chinatown and was giving a concert in early August to benefit the program, for which Bell serves on the Advisory Board. ETM-LA was founded in 2006, modeled after ETM-New York City, which began in 1991.

And speaking of Josh, here's a fun interview he gave from his dressing room last summer at Verbier Festival, for which Matthieu Escande of Medici.tv slung all kinds of crazy questions his way. As usual, he handled it with grace. When asked "Can you make a face?" Joshua laughs, "Just watch my video when I'm playing, I make all kinds of terrible faces!"

* * *

For those who may have missed this story, the BBC Proms, the annual eight-week ClassicalMusicPalooza that takes place in Great Britain and is currently underway, were interrupted last Thursday by protests from a pro-Palestinian group. The group disrupted a concert by the Israel Philharmonic, just as Gil Shaham was about to play the Bruch Violin Concerto, with Zubin Mehta conducting. Here is more on that story from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14756736

* * *

I enjoyed this story from Juneau, about a new program for young students, who begin violin lessons at school as kindergarteners, starting with paper violins. It reminded me of the two years that I taught my own such program in the Pasadena Public Schools. What drew my attention, though, was that Youth Orchestra at Los Angeles (YOLA) has come up with a whole online library of resources for school music teachers, including a Paper Orchestra Cookbook and videos of beginning songs to do with very young kids. I can say from personal experience, it's difficult to do this kind of program without curriculum support, and so I'm glad to see this kind of sharing happening. Also, it shows how people are beginning to use the Internet, in conjunction with classroom teaching, to help kids learn more thoroughly. It's still evolving, but I believe the Internet can serve as good reinforcement for kids practicing at home after a class lesson. Start making your videos, teachers, and let's keep sharing ideas.

2 replies


Happy 170th birthday, Antonín Dvorák!

September 8, 2011 10:41

One of my favorite pieces, to help us celebrate!

1 reply


Six ways to put your students at ease during their lessons

September 6, 2011 10:12

How can violin teachers ease their students' anxiety during lessons?

A V.com member recently posed this question to me in an e-mail. She said she struggles with her anxiety over the fact that she knows that her teacher is going to jump in and point out mistakes. "I try to remember that I am there to make mistakes!" she wrote. Indeed, as a student, you are progressing, with a teacher's help. If you were perfect, you wouldn't need a teacher!

I've taught for more than 20 years, and you'd have to ask my students if I have any success, putting them at ease! But I do have some ideas on the matter, and I welcome yours. Here are six ways to put your students at ease during their lessons:

1. LISTEN. Your job is not just to correct, it's also to listen with a thoughtful ear. Allow your student to play through their piece/etude/scale at least once without interruption, even if it's "wrong." You might want to change your mindset about "wrong," too. However your student is playing something, it's likely they played it that way all week. "Meet your student where they are at," said Shinichi Suzuki. You can only know "where they are at" if you listen to the way they are really playing something and think about why they are playing it that way -- the good and the bad. So they mis-read the rhythm. Why? They have certain notes out of tune. Why? And how will you give them the tools to read it correctly, play it in tune, practice it correctly, in the future? If it's something you told them before, why is it still a problem? Do you need a different approach?

2. OFFER SPECIFIC PRAISE. It's easy to take everything good for granted and focus completely on what needs fixing. It's human nature. But students need positive feedback as much as they need correction. It has to be TRUE positive feedback, though. "Great job," rings empty because it's too general. "I noticed that F sharp we worked on is totally in tune now, nice!" or, "You really nailed that fifth-position part," or, "I'm so glad you are using your vibrato, the more you use it the better it's getting." Praise those things that you'd like to continue hearing from your student's playing.

3. FOCUS ON HOW TO DO IT RIGHT, RATHER THAN HOW THEY DID IT WRONG. Rather than nagging, "That G was too low, in fact, all your G's were too low," get in the habit of framing things in terms of how to do it right, "Let's hear that G a little higher." Even better, show your student how to do it right, and why it works: "Make that G higher, do you hear how it rings now? Great!"

4. KNOW YOUR STUDENT. What works with one student may not work with another. One student might enjoy a little humorous ribbing, but another student would burst into tears. One student can stand 10 straight minutes of drilling a passage and another might get flustered and start making mistakes. Be sensitive to your student's personality, abilities and feelings.

5. MAKE IT ABOUT THE MUSIC, NOT ABOUT THE STUDENT. "You always play out of tune," or "You have no sense of rhythm," or "You can't hold the violin straight," … Just banish that kind of criticism from your teaching altogether. You also should banish that kind of praise as well. "You are my best student," is a pretty big burden to put on someone. Separate the person from their playing, and respect both for what they are.

6. TAKE THE OCCASIONAL LESSON YOURSELF. It's easy to forget how much you put yourself on the line during a music lesson. When you play a new piece for someone whose opinion you respect very much, you put yourself at their mercy. It's a good idea to put yourself in that situation on occasion, to remember how it feels!

 

12 replies


Yellow fiddle case: a new Tonarelli case and Coda bow

September 1, 2011 11:58

A yellow fiddle case, how cute is that?

 

Standing

It arrived yesterday, along with a Coda Diamond GX bow, which I purchased to be a spare bow but that I may just wind up using pretty often. It's niiiiice!

But first, the case: it's made by Tonarelli and looks just like those nifty cello hard cases. It also comes in quite a few different colors. A few people asked me what the inside looks like, so here goes:

 

Inside

Things are quite suspended, and the bow is held by velcro. I have not quite decided how much I trust it, but I would like to get a silk bag for the fiddle, as the blanket that comes with the case covers only the body of the violin, not the neck and scroll. I absolutely love the handle and the backpack straps, and it's a very light case. I'm a bit concerned about the black plastic edging, which can get folded over if you force the case shut. If it gets folded, it's a bit hard to un-fold, though it's possible. You just have to watch for that when closing the case.

Now, on to my Coda bow, which is a carbon fiber bow. I finally decided to get one of these for myself after recommending them time and again for my students. One of my students has had one for about three years, and every time I demonstrate with her bow, I think, "This is really a nice bow!"

When I had a group of students get into the full-size violin range, I encouraged them to get these bows. They are perhaps more expensive than a "student" bow, but in my opinion, this bow allows them to learn any bow technique they want to learn, without the bow getting in the way. It does cost less than a professional pernambuco bow.

Personally, I had to fight very hard to learn spiccato (and that ricochet bariolage in the Mendelssohn) on my $125 student bow as a kid, and no, that fight doesn't help you once you get a "real" bow. It only keeps you from being able to go very deep into certain techniques.

These high-end Codas go for about $700, and you can get them at Shar or Southwest Strings or through a local dealer or other Internet dealers. For this price range, I find them to be fantastic: nimble, smooth, good with spiccato and ricochet, the right weight, etc.

I've no doubt there are other great bows out there and I welcome your discussion and recommendations. I'm just letting you know my personal experience.

Also, after getting this bow yesterday, I received a notice in my e-mail box about a Coda giveaway, in which they are giving two Diamond GX's (which happen to be the model I just got). The winner gets one for himself/herself and one to designate to an educational program of their choice. You have to be 18 or older, and enter online before Oct. 17. Here is the entry form.

16 replies


Violin Community News 2011, Op. 3

September 1, 2011 10:59

Music certainly helps us move through difficult and emotional events. A number of news items this week relate to the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, a week from Sunday:

* * *

In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the New York Philharmonic and conductor Alan Gilbert will present "A Concert for New York," a free performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” at 7:30 Saturday, Sept. 10 at Avery Fischer Hall.

Alan Gilbert

The performance also will feature soprano Dorothea Röschmann, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, and the New York Choral Artists. The performance will be broadcast live on Classical WQXR 105.9 FM, and rebroadcast on Sunday, September 11 at 8:00 PM on WYNC 93.9 FM. It will also be telecast in the U.S. on PBS's Great Performances at 9:00 PM on September 11 (check local listings) and internationally as well.

Tickets for this special performance are first-come, first-serve, and will be distributed (one pair per person) beginning at 4:00 pm on the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center on Saturday, September 10, the day of the concert. There will be additional seating on the Plaza for the live projection of the concert. The Philharmonic is offering priority ticket access to the families of 9/11 victims, first responders and survivors; members of this community may request a pair of tickets in advance by e-mailing concertfornewyork@nyphil.org by September 1, 2011. Additional information is available at the New York Philharmonic website. A Concert for New York will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in October 2011 by ACCENTUS Music. The recording will be distributed in the U.S. by Naxos of America.

Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 will also open the Philharmonic’s 2011-12 season, with three subscription concerts on September 22, 24, and 27 with soloists Miah Persson, soprano; Lilli Paasikivi, mezzo-soprano; and the New York Choral Artists.

* * *

This week the Kronos Quartet released a live recording of "The Sad Park," a string quartet written by composer Michael Gordon as a personal commemoration of Sept. 11, 2001. "I live in downtown Manhattan near Ground Zero, and I was two blocks away from the North Towers, outside of P.S. 234 with my wife and two children that morning when the first plane flew directly over our heads. It was a personal event for me, and I wanted to capture the intensity of my experience in some way; to leave it here on earth as a commemoration," Gordon wrote in 2007 for the New York Times's Opinionator blog. When Gordon learned that the the teacher of his son's pre-kindergarten class was taping the spontaneous chatter of her students in the wake of 9/11, he decided to use these recordings as the basis of a new work. Along with sound designer Luke DuBois, Gordon electronically distorted the voices to build musical sections accompanied by a string quartet. The live version of "The Sad Park" now available on iTunes was recorded by NPR member station WUFT FM in Gainesville, Florida. As part of their program, "Awakening: A Musical Meditation on the Anniversary of 9/11" at BAM's 29th annual Next Wave Festival, The Kronos Quartet will perform excerpts from "The Sad Park" over four consecutive nights, September 21-24, 2011.

The Kronos recently drew some controversy over its album cover for Steve Reich's WTC 9/11. The cover depicts the burning towers against a smoky, acrid yellow sky, a plane poised to fly into them. Among other things, Reich's piece draws on the voices of first responders in those panicky hours after the attacks.

* * *

The Curtis Institute of Music is doubling the size of its campus with the opening of a new building, Lenfest Hall, on Sept. 6.

Lenfest Hall
Photo by Tom Crane, courtesy Curtis Institute of Music

The 105,000 square-foot building includes a 3,200-square-foot rehearsal hall; residences for more than 80 students; dining facilities to serve Curtis students, faculty, and staff; 32 additional rooms for practicing, teaching, and chamber music rehearsal; video and audio recording studios, and recording capabilities in all teaching studios; and importantly, building-wide Wifi, so that people can read Violinist.com instead of practicing. ;)

The hall, designed by Philadelphia architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, is the first major expansion of the Curtis campus in more than 20 years. Curtis Institute, located at 1700 block of Locust Street in Philadelphia, trains 165 music students from 26 states and 19 countries, all on full-tuition scholarships.

* * *

Bad news in Louisville, where the Louisville Orchestra was placed on the American Federation of Musicians (the musicians union) "unfair list" and concerts were canceled for September and October. Here are stories on those developments:

About the AFM "unfair list" designation

About the cancelled concerts

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