Shanghai Competition 2018: Semi-Finals Day 1 with Shanghai String Quartet border=0 align=

Shanghai Competition 2018: Semi-Finals Day 1 with Shanghai String Quartet

August 18, 2018, 8:26 AM · Today was my first day in Shanghai, and I arrived just in time to miss the monsoon that blew through earlier in the week but to catch quite a lot of Haydn quartet-playing for the first day of the semi-finals at the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition! I'll writing a diary from China for the next two weeks, until the winner of the competition (who will receive that record-breaking $100,000 prize) is announced on Sept. 1.

For today's performances, each of the 12 semi-finalists served as the first violinist in a performance of the first movement of Haydn's Quartet No. 2 in D minor, Op. 76 with members of the New-York based Shanghai Quartet, including violinist Yi-Wen Jiang, violist Honggong Li and cellist Nicholas Tzavaras. (The usual first violinist for group is Weigang Li, who is serving as a member of the jury for the competition. Li also was featured in the 1980 documentary film From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China.)

To watch the video feed from the semi-finals, you can find them on our Facebook page. (Click here for the first session, and click here for the second session.)

The quartet took great pains to allow each of the 12 violinists to put their own stamp on his or her performance, even creating 12 separate versions of the sheet music. I spoke to them about that afterwards.

"Everyone had different stylistic interpretations, so we had the idea that we would ask the competition to print music for each player, for each part for us, so each of us had 12 parts," cellist Tzavaras said. "That way we could be more precise with following their desires." Keep reading...

This Fiddler's Fear of the Fourth Finger border=0 align=

This Fiddler's Fear of the Fourth Finger

August 16, 2018, 7:38 PM · The best advice I was ever given by a violin teacher about the dreaded pinkie, the little fourth finger that rarely reached far enough, was “Don’t give it a second thought. It’s too late to think after the finger goes down.” Reading between the lines, what the teacher was saying was to take as much time as needed to get the hand ready. If the “first thought” is thorough, the hand is in the right spot, and the fourth finger simply needs to drop and lift, like a flipper in a pinball machine.

Three things need to happen to get the left hand into position: know how far the fourth finger has to reach, have the hand balanced over the string’s plane, and don’t skimp on the hand’s trajectory. Keep reading...

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Cleveland Orchestra to Investigate William Preucil Sexual Misconduct Allegations border=0 align=

Cleveland Orchestra to Investigate William Preucil Sexual Misconduct Allegations

August 16, 2018, 12:03 PM · The Cleveland Orchestra's Board of Trustees announced today that it has formed a special committee to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by violinist William Preucil, who has served as the orchestra's concertmaster since 1995. They have also selected a law firm to conduct an investigation into Preucil's tenure with the orchestra.

"We take the recent report of sexual misconduct allegations against concertmaster William Preucil very seriously. As previously indicated, we have suspended Mr. Preucil as of July 27, 2018," said a statement issued Thursday by the Cleveland Orchestra. Keep reading...

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