On March 18 my Australian teacher for 12 years, violinist Donald Scotts, celebrated his 90th birthday, so the previous day I made this video recording of three of his favourite Kreisler pieces in tribute to him, with Katya Apekisheva on piano:
In addition to his extraordinary gifts as a teacher, Don Scotts came to prominence as a musician of prodigious natural talent - a player of effortless charm with a warm, golden sound, and a performer of artfully understated elegance and nobility. For several years Don lead the Melbourne String Quartet and was Associate Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
But I've known him best as a teacher and mentor - a true gentleman, a man of limitless warmth and humour, an inspiring love for his art and genuine care for his students.
I know there will be many other former colleagues and students who'll want to wish him a very happy birthday!
The three pieces recorded are Tempo di Minuetto, Serenade Espangole (Chaminade/Kreisler) and Caprice Viennois. The violin is by Shan Jiang (2011, New York). For those who would like to learn more about Scotts, his recording of quartets and violin sonata by Moeran is also available on iTunes: Moeran: String Quartet No. 1, Fantasy Quartet & Violin Sonata In E Minor by John Talbot, Melbourne Quartet & Sarah Francis. Keep reading...Tweet
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With so much talk over the years about shoulder rests, something that seems to get less attention is chin rests. It shouldn't be so!
Often, it's the chin rest that can make a big difference in our comfort, arguably even more so than the shoulder rests. When we raise the chin rest, it does not raise the level of the violin on the shoulder. Also, the chin rest is a factor in how far forward or backward the violin sits on the shoulder, horizontally, and that affects our entire position. The chin rest needs to be correct for your jaw shape, neck height, so that you don't have to strain your neck, contort your body, etc. and that you can achieve a healthy posture.
I can remember in my early days, going to a violin store and trying many different shoulder rests, in an attempt to find one that fit correctly. It's something that is certainly as important as getting the right shoulder rest. In some cases, particularly in the world of period-performance, violinists and violists use no chin rest at all!
I've had a number of chin rests over the years, but the one that currently is working for me has the chin cup on the side, but is bracketed in the middle.
What kind of chin rest do you use, and are you happy with it? Did you simply stick with the one that the violin came with, or did you go on a chin rest search? Why do you feel that your current one is (or isn't) working for you? What kind is it? And can anyone offer expert advice about fitting for chin rests?
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I've been in Chicago over the past few days to check out the violin scene and enjoy this great city where I once went to school. I've had wonderful time, culminating Wednesday in a great recital that Kristóf Baráti gave for the Stradivari Society.
Arriving Tuesday, my first priority was to visit my alma mater, Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, where a magnificent new music facility was built several years ago, called the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. I'd seen it only in the alumni magazine, and when saw it Tuesday, it was every bit as grand as described. Here is a side-by-side of the old building, on the left (it was derelict 30 years ago; now it stands empty because no one wants to inhabit it!) and the gleaming new edifice by Lake Michigan, on the right.
Views from this new building are jaw-droppingly beautiful, I can only imagine practicing or having a class in a room with this view:
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