In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.
Paul Huang performed the Barber Violin Concerto with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Violinist.com Interviews, Volume 2: Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles' second book features exclusive, one-on-one interviews conducted over the last six years with 26 of today's best-known violinists, including Midori, Gil Shaham, Hilary Hahn, James Ehnes, Rachel Barton Pine, Augustin Hadelich, Ray Chen, Daniel Heifetz, Jennifer Koh and Lindsey Stirling. Amazon.com (Ad)
The 1734 "Ames" Stradivari violin once owned by Roman Totenberg -- stolen in 1980 and recovered in 2015 -- is now in the hands of Nathan Meltzer, 18, a student of Itzhak Perlman at The Juilliard School.
It's a new chapter for an instrument with a messy past. Totenberg, who was a pedagogue, performer and father of the well-known NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg, had played that violin for 38 years, all over the world. After it was stolen from his office by a violinist named Philip Johnson, Totenberg never again saw his violin in his 101-year lifetime. When Johnson died in 2011 at age 58, he left the violin to his ex-wife. Several years later, in 2015, she came across it while doing some spring cleaning at her Los Angeles-area home and decided to have it appraised. That's when she discovered it was a stolen Stradivari and turned it over to the FBI.
The Strad was returned to Totenberg's three daughters, Nina, Amy and Jill Totenberg.
"When we three Totenberg sisters got the violin back, we were intent on just one thing," Nina reported last week on NPR. "That the instrument, now known as the 'Totenberg-Ames' Stradivarius, would be played in concert halls everywhere and not be closeted away in some collector's vault." Keep reading...Comments (15)
One complaint that occasionally arises about classical music is that the musicians onstage look "bored," or that they don't smile enough.
And generally we musicians take some exception to this; after all, it does take keen concentration to play in a symphony orchestra! Of course orchestra musicians will look like we are concentrating, and we may not be smiling. Producing this kind of music is not a circus act, after all!
But somewhere in between these extremes I think there is a point to be made. I must confess that at times I have noticed orchestral musicians behaving as if they were completely unaware that they were on stage, giving a performance. Sloppy dress, poor posture, scowling, failing to acknowledge the audience, 'mailing it in,' looking bored -- I've seen this, and it's a problem when it happens. I don't think it's a matter of needing to smile constantly, but orchestral musicians need to be engaged and aware that they are making an appearance and trying to connect with an audience.
When I was in college I was in an orchestra at Disney World, and before even the first performance, they absolutely drilled into us the idea that we were "on stage," from the minute we walked out of the break room and into the park, and certainly when we were actually standing on the stage. They demanded that we make an effort to deport ourselves well, look alive, "bring it," be aware of what other musicians were doing, be aware of everything going on onstage, smile when appropriate, clap when appropriate, play our best, look our best. Yes, you are performing the whole entire time you are on stage!
A colleague of mine, speaking of this issue, recalled the conductor of a student choir telling his students that when they weren't singing, it was their responsibility to model the type of behavior that they wanted from the audience, that they should look engaged with the music.
These seem like good starting points.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Is this even an issue, or not? How much should musicians be expected to "perform," beyond playing the music required? Please participate in the vote, and then in the comments please share your thoughts on how orchestral musicians can best engage with an audience, what you feel musicians are doing right and any specific ways we can improve. Feel free to offer examples of orchestras who are making it work and what they are doing!Comments (21)
Violinist.com is made possible by...