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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 75

November 2, 2006 at 2:39 AM

In keeping with the ghostly spirit of Halloween fun, on 10/31, the Houston Chronicle ran a fun ghost story. It seems the Houston Public Library's Julia Ideson building is said to be haunted by a violin-playing ghost. “In its early years, the Ideson, named in honor of the city's first librarian, was home to Jacob Frank Cramer, an elderly man of uncertain past who worked as night watchman, gardener and handyman. In his leisure hours, he played the violin…” Read the story here:


10/26/06 – Several violinists were featured, um, prominently in a Vancouver alt-weekly, Georgia Straigh, about the pressure some classical artists feel to glam it up as part of marketing their music. Nicola Benedetti is the issue’s cover girl. “Robin Lynn Braun is a 27-year-old blond, blue-eyed classically trained musician. If you frequent the Orpheum, you might have noticed her in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s first violin section: she’s the one wearing the black leather pants. Like any other aspiring pro musician, she regularly gets new head shots taken, wears eye-catching ensembles on-stage, and generally works it when she has to. Talent will get you so far, she knows. But today, more than ever in the classical world, marketing will get you farther….

It was only a matter of time before the PR excesses of the pop world crept into the more staid realm of classical music. Okay, so we haven’t seen anything quite approximating Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty video, but London, Ontario–born violinist Lara St. John sure got tongues wagging—and, in some cases, drooling—when, at age 25, she released her 1995 debut CD, Bach Works for Solo Violin. The album’s cover depicted an adolescent-looking St. John, nude from the waist up, her long hair slightly dishevelled, her violin held to coyly cover her breasts. It was enough to send one local scribe sputtering that St. John looked like a “bedraggled nymphet”. It seems St. John and her management took note. For the cover of her second album, Gypsy, St. John covered up just slightly; she donned a black leather jacket—and very little else.

Which isn’t to say that image hasn’t always played a part in filling concert halls—hard to believe it, but Anne-Sophie Mutter sparked whispers of disapproval way back in the ’80s, when she began playing her Stradivarius in gravity-defying strapless gowns and discussed her passion for fast cars. It’s just that, according to Alan Gove, marketing director for the VSO, slick, sexy marketing is being used to drive classical musicians at earlier and earlier stages in their careers…. Read the article here:

Other Musician News

Daniel Szasz has been named concertmaster of the Lake Placid (N.Y.) Sinfonietta beginning with the 2007 summer season. He has been concertmaster of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra since 1997.

11/07/06 - The Los Angeles Piano Quartet will perform at the Eastman School of Music. Its newest member, is Eastman faculty cellist Steven Doane. The rest of the quartet consists of violinist Michi Wiancko, violist Katherine Murdock and Xak Bjerken, piano.

10/31/06 –The Gulf Coast Symphony has a new concertmaster, Jenny Gregoire of Tuscaloosa, Ala., who will make her public debut playing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The Sun-Herald of southern Mississippi ran this biography of her: “The violinist and new concertmaster is also concertmaster with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, a position she has held for about four years, and with the Meridian Symphony Orchestra…Gregoire was born in Quebec, Canada, and studied at the Quebec Music Conservatoire with Jean Angers and Liliane Granier-Le Sage, where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in violin performance. She later earned a master's degree in violin performance and pedagogy at Northwestern University in Chicago, where she also played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. In September 2000, she joined the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas and the next year was appointed to her current position with the Mobile Symphony. Gregoire is an adjunct violin instructor at the University of Alabama and performs regularly with the Alabama Symphony and the Pensacola Symphony. During summer months, she performs and teaches at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, N.C

10/30/06 – The American Chronicle ran a profile of Pavel Farkas, concertmaster of the California Philharmonic. Read it here:

10/29/06 – After 35 years, Elliott Golub played his last concert as concertmaster of the Chicago-based Music of the Baroque. On the program was Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, which he played with Li-Kuo Chang, assistant principal viola of the Chicago Symphony.

Orchestra News

10/31/06 – The Record (Kitchener, Ont.) shares the happy news that the community has bailed out the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, saving it from looming bankruptcy and closure. “In less than a month, more than 1,400 people pledged a total of $2.3 million to the struggling orchestra. It's enough money to ensure the symphony will not be forced to shut down at the end of this month. ... On Oct. 4, the symphony announced it needed $2.5 million by the end of the month or it wouldn't be able to carry on. As the symphony works on a sustainability plan, musicians and staff have taken pay cuts.”

10/28/06 – The Detroit News ran an article speculating that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, two years into a music director search, could possibly snag Sir Andrew Davis. Read it here:

From Amanda Southern
Posted on November 2, 2006 at 7:28 AM
Wow... two people I know in one update. Creepy.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on November 3, 2006 at 3:18 AM
That's a good ghost story. I'm inclined as not to believe ones like that. Waverly Hills TB hospital is interesting to google if you like that sort of thing.

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