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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 72

October 23, 2006 at 1:38 AM

According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, San Francisco State University Instruments auctioned off a collection of musical instruments at Christie’s in New York on October 13. Bids included a world record for an instrument by Tomaso Balestrieri; the 1774 Mantua viola was auctioned for $486,400. The total take, $711,000, will benefit the university's scholarship fund.


Violinist Megumi Stohs has been touring with rock flutist and Jethro Tull band originator Ian Anderson, with music from the 2005 CD Ian Anderson Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull. This is the first time Anderson has actually toured with a stable group of musicians, rather than using pickup orchestras in each venue.

I hear Stohs has posted a blog about the tour on MySpace…

Musician News

Violinist Lynnette Seah has been awarded Singapore’s Cultural Medallion Award for 2006. The award, Singapore’s highest arts honor, was presented by President S.R. Nathan. Seah is co-concertmaster of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. A news release announcing the award notes that, since beginning violin at the age of 5, the 48-year-old Seah has “since clocked some one hundred thousand hours of practice and performances.” Of all the possible ways to measure one’s musical accomplishments, surely this is one of the oddest?

11/5/06 – Violinist Calvin Dyck will release a new CD, The Dancing Violin, in Vancouver on this date. The CD promises an eclectic mix of dance tunes from 14 countries.

10/29/06 – Violinist Ida Kavafian will lead a masterclass at New England Conservatory.

10/21/06 – The National Symphony has announced that violinist Pinchas Zukerman will step in to conduct for for his ailing friend, Mstislav Rostropovich, the National Symphony Orchestra's music director emeritus, on Nov. 2-4. Rostropovich has for health reasons canceled two weeks of upcoming concerts with the NSO -- an eagerly anticipated all-Shostakovich festival that was to have run Nov. 2-11, in honor of the composer's centenary, reports the orchestra. Rostropovich, 79, will be undergoing medical tests and evaluations and has been ordered by his doctors not to fly to the United States from Russia. "Slava has sent word that he is very disappointed not to be with us next month," the statement said, referring to the conductor by his Russian nickname. No further details about the conductor's health were released. Zukerman will conduct a program that includes Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with himself as soloist.

10/20/06 – Robert Uchida has been appointed concertmaster of Symphony Nova Scotia, starting next season. The 27-year-old Uchida currently has teaching commitments until then at the Manhattan School of Music. A native Canadian, he has served as guest concertmaster with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

10/19/06 - cellist Truls Mørk announced his withdrawal from all appearances in the next month so as to remain in Norway near his father, who is seriously ill, reports

10/18/06 - David Aaron Carpenter, a 20-year-old violist, has won the 2006 Naumburg Foundation viola competition. Carpenter, a native of Great Neck, New York, was awarded a $7,500 cash prize; two fully subsidized New York recitals, and other recital and orchestral performances. He is currently a junior at Princeton University and studies viola privately with Roberto Díaz, new president of the Curtis Institute and former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Eric Nowlin, 26, a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Juilliard School, where he received both his master's and bachelor's degrees studying with Samuel Rhodes received the second prize of $5,000. Jonah Sirota, 30, was named third prizewinner and awarded $2,500. Sirota, a founding member of the Chiara String Quartet, is currently artist-in-residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received his bachelor of music degree from Rice University and his master's from Juilliard. David Kim, 25, received honorable mention. He is currently a student at New England Conservatory, where he studies with Kim Kashkashian and Carol Rodland. The jury included Robert Mann, Misha Amory, Toby Appel, Earl Carlyss, Lawrence Dutton, John Kochanowski, Nicholas Mann, Paul Neubauer, Michael Ouzounian and Mark Sokol.

10/14/06 – According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Joseph Primavera, 80, music director of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra for 51 years, has died of lung cancer. The obituary notes that after a year playing viola with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Primavera became in 1950 "the youngest first violist in the history of the Philadelphia Orchestra. While playing with the orchestra, he became music director and conductor of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra in 1954. His mammoth schedule also included conducting four orchestras, giving private lessons, and teaching at several music and public schools. He received a bachelor's of music in conducting in 1967 from Combs College of Music in Philadelphia. In 1968, he retired from the Philadelphia Orchestra to teach the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra full time.

Orchestra News

The New York Philharmonic will become the first visiting American orchestra to perform at the new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Orange County when the orchestra makes two appearances there on October 31 and November 1. The concerts, led by Music Director Lorin Maazel, will mark the orchestra's first appearance in California since 1999 and will be a prelude to the Philharmonic's 10-concert tour of Japan and Korea.

10/20/06 - Conductor Christoph Eschenbach announced today that he will step down as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the end of the 2007-08 season. itemized his achievements during his three years in the post so far: the appointment of nine players, including four principals and an associate concertmaster; four praised concert tours, including two to Europe and one to Asia; and “perhaps most importantly, Eschenbach was instrumental in securing a recording contract for the Philadelphia Orchestra after a ten-year hiatus; three well-received CDs — of Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra (with music by Martinu and Klein), Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and Mahler's Symphony No. 6 — have been issued so far, with more planned.
All those achievements notwithstanding, today's news won't come as a surprise to everyone: there have long been rumors, within the classical music community and periodically surfacing in the press, that the relationship between Eschenbach and the Philadelphia musicians has not been entirely happy. His personal, spontaneous, sometimes mercurial style of music-making reportedly bothers some players who preferred Sawallisch's reliability in performance; his taste in modern music, which leans toward the spiky and expressionistic, seems not to sit well with the musicians or with the famously conservative Philadelphia audience. There is even, purportedly, lingering resentment among some orchestra members over the precipitous manner of Eschenbach's appointment in 2001 — he hadn't guest-conducted in Philadelphia in more than four years — at a time when several top-tier US orchestras were searching for music directors among a very small pool of available first-rank maestros.”

10/18/06 – The San Francisco Symphony almost had to cancel a rehearsal this week: The area around Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco was cleared for about two hours today while the city police department's bomb squad investigated an odd- and suspicious-looking device on the sidewalk outside the building, reports “The device — a yellow plastic tub about three feet long and one foot tall, with some clear liquid at the bottom and what appeared to be a bottle of bleach inside with a wire attached to a red blinking light — was determined to be harmless. There were no injuries or property damage….While the morning's rehearsals at the hall were delayed, that night’s concert by the San Francisco Symphony was not affected.”

From Gregory Zinkl
Posted on October 23, 2006 at 12:27 PM
Too bad about Eschenbach. Swallisch was reliable, a solid musician, but he rarely seems to have brought true magic. Eschenbach, while sporadic, has given the world some performances that are outstanding, characterful, and unique. The legendary conservatism of the Philly orchestra--and I don't care how beautiful they play (which is pretty damn beautiful)--has bit them in the tush, IMHO. There just aren't that many great maestros running around right now--not like in Ormandy's time, when he was practically forced out of the limelight from the competition (hard to believe that such genius could be mentioned in a second breath).

Oh well, maybe Eschenbach will be considered for Chicago. God knows the CSO needs a swift kick in the pants, and I've heard him conduct gorgeous, moving performances here. Philly's loss--someone else's gain.

From Scott 68
Posted on October 23, 2006 at 1:18 PM
today i will say a prayer for mr rostropovich, he has touche my live in many ways
From Ihnsouk Guim
Posted on October 23, 2006 at 3:05 PM
I agree completely with Gregory Zinkl about Eschenbach. I have been enjoying Eschenbach's programnming and his new appointments. I was hoping that more changes will come.
From Christian Vachon
Posted on October 25, 2006 at 2:02 PM
Congratulations to Robert Uchida!!! Great guy and excellent fiddle player too!


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