Interview with Violin Maker Andrew Carruthers: Inspiration and the Turtle Fiddle border=0 align=

Interview with Violin Maker Andrew Carruthers: Inspiration and the Turtle Fiddle

October 1, 2020, 2:00 PM · Longtime violin-maker Andrew Carruthers has struck on an idea: that perhaps new violins can be inspired by something other than old violins.

Not that the San Francisco Bay-area luthier has any problem with old violins -- he's studied the great masters and reveres their work. In fact, he's made hundreds of stringed instruments based on Guarneri del Gesùs, Stradivaris, Montaganas and more.

But these days he also has been looking to nature, geometry, architecture for inspiration in his instrument-making.

Specifically, during these pandemic times his creativity was spurred by the Eastern Box Turtle - after which he patterned his most recent creation, the Turtle Fiddle.

I first met Andrew at the 2014 Violin Society of America Convention in Indianapolis, then again several years later when one his violins was part of a modern violin "taste test" at Metzler Violin Shop in Glendale, Calif. Last week Andrew and I spoke about the ideas and technical considerations that went into the Turtle Fiddle, as well as his life as a luthier. Keep reading...

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Violinist Timothy Chooi: Reaching Immigrant Communities with The VISION Collective

September 30, 2020, 3:02 PM · Telling the stories and sharing the music of refugee and immigrant communities -- this is the passion that led violinist Timothy Chooi, cellist Drake Driscoll and violist Sarah Sung to create a project called The VISION Collective.

"The three of us met through the Chamber Music Community Engagement class at The Juilliard School," Chooi said. "Drake, Sarah, and I immediately clicked when we began talking about immigration. It has been a very sensitive political climate in recent years, and it has affected all of us personally. All three of us have some sort of a history of immigration to the U.S.; for me, it is that I moved to the U.S. to pursue my musical education. Music has been the most meaningful way for me to share my own personal story of coming to the States, and it has given me purpose in my life. In VISION concerts and workshops, we bring migrant stories to life through music while forming relationships with people from all over the world. This project holds a very special place in my heart. Our work is important, now more than ever."

Tonight the three founders will receive The Robert Sherman Award for Music Education and Community Outreach, given annually to students and alumni of The Juilliard School's Music Division. Normally $10,000, the award was doubled to $20,000 this year, in acknowledgment of the pandemic's economic consequences. The award ceremony, which will also feature the group in performance, will air tonight at 9 ET on WQXR - click here to see it. Keep reading...

Week in Review: Inspiring Performances and Videos, Op. 3: Noah Bendix-Balgley, TwoSet Violin, Nathan Meltzer

September 29, 2020, 4:06 PM · This week brought inspiration from the Jewish observation of Yom Kippur, with cellist Alan Stepansky and 15 Peabody Institute cellists posting an arrangement of Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, as well as Heifetz Institute cellist Manou Magdalena Chakravorty performing selections from Ernest Bloch's "From Jewish Life." George Gershwin's birthday inspired violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley to post an excerpt from "Porgy and Bess," and violinist Nathan Meltzer was joined by his singing puppy to promote his upcoming Dreamstage concert. The TwoSet Violin guys expressed their ongoing astonishment over the accomplishments of the very young South Korean prodigy YoEun Seol. And finally, some words from the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Kennedy Center interview last year with Joyce DiDonato -- about women in music, justice and hope during difficult times.

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Think Carefully, Play Quickly - Reading and Retaining Fast Notes

September 28, 2020, 7:09 PM · No matter how familiar violinists become with reading music, sometimes it feels like there are too many fast notes with not enough long notes to give the mind a chance to reset. The time necessary to shift your concentration to the next group of notes never seems to be enough. A musical “rest stop” is something you can’t always count on. There is a method, though, to transition seamlessly from one part of the phrase to the next part. I call it “Framing the Mind”, and it works best if the notes are organized by musical ideas than by barlines.

As is often the case, things that happen more easily in other areas find difficulty in music. Maybe if we didn’t have to concern ourselves with intonation, sound, rhythm, articulation, and last but not least, musicality, it would be easier to read and retain long passages. I’d like to discuss how to hone in on the reading so that retention and continuity become easier. It’s all about concentration, which makes you alert and careful. Music teaches you that thoughts and actions happen in an orderly fashion. Keep reading...

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