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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 76

November 6, 2006 at 1:12 AM

11/17/06 - Conductor Carlos Kalmar and members of Chicago's Grant Park Symphony Orchestra will perform a benefit concert to raise funds for a 26-year-old Romanian violinist with cancer.

Christina Purje was diagnosed last summer with adrenal cancer. She does not have health insurance or qualify for public assistance, reports All funds raised at the concert will help pay for Purje's treatment.

“In April, Purje began experiencing severe pain in her right arm. A biopsy showed that she had adrenal cancer which had metastasized to her arm; she had surgery to remove the affected area of her arm and lost the ability to play the violin. The cancer has also metastasized to her liver.”

In my mid-week column, I will post a mailing address should any readers wish to send financial and emotional support.


11/1/06 – The Seattle Times ran an interesting article discussing why there are so few black musicians in classical music. Violinist Quinton Morris, a member of the all-African-American string octet The Young Eight, is featured prominently. Read the article here:

Musician News

Radio Polska is running an undated press release announcing the winners of the recent 13th Henryk Wieniawski competition.

First place: Agata Szymczewska, Poland
Second place: Airi Suzuki, Japan
Third place: Anna Maria Staśkiewicz, Poland
Fourth place: Lev Solodovnikov, Russia
Fifth place: Jarosław Nadrzycki, Poland
Sixth place: Maria Machowska, Poland

“The jury decided to specially mention Russian Simeon Klimashevski…. The winner also received 25 thousand dollars and the gold medal od the Wieniawski Society, not to mention the collection of additional prizes, all of which numbered more than 30. Among them were offers of recordings for a selection of labels, starting with Polish Radio and Polish Television, the National Philharmonic in Warsaw to Agnieszka Duczmal’s chamber orchestra and the Bydgoszcz Philharmonic to Lahti in Finland. Kruk jewellers company presented the artist with a silver statue of a violin. All of the laureates were also funded violin cases from the Artonus company.”

11/4/06 – As reported in July, the great German chamber group Musica Antiqua Köln is disbanding due to the career-ending focal dystonia of its founder and leader, violinist Reinhard Goebel. The group is wrapping up its final American tour this week, with a run up the California coast. But here’s the unexpected twist from a New York Times review of the group’s Nov. 2 performance: “Mr. Goebel, once a virtuosic player, has been through a lot. A hand injury in 1990 forced him to relearn the violin left-handed, and he recovered much of his earlier form. More recently he switched back, but his problems worsened. In August he walked out of a rehearsal in frustration and did not return, leaving the ensemble to undertake its last tour on its own. It was a bit odd: imagine the Miles Davis Quintet playing a farewell tour without its namesake.”

11/4/06 – The Oregonian profiled Megan Carr LaPorte, a violinist who belongs to her high school's marching band. “But the 17-year-old senior never marches. She stands, near the sidelines. With an acoustic violin, modified for electronic use, planted under her chin. Fiddling away. ‘Every time I play, at least 40 or 50 people come up and say, “Wow, you play violin with the marching band,” LaPorte says. ‘It really shocks people’."

11/1/06 – ran a feature on violinist Nicolae Bica, who was selected to be photographed for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s season brochure. Bica has been a member of the second violin section since 1999 and “was something of a no-brainer in terms of being selected as a subject for the 2006-2007 season brochure. Charming, affable, with a marvelous sense of humor and generosity of spirit, Bica is also very photogenic. But no one had any idea what a terrific model he would be. After some three hours in the photo studio, Bica said he was just warming up. He struck a variety of poses and offered photographer Scott Ferguson an assortment of expressions: thoughtful, pensive, moody, sleepy, ruminative. He held his violin perpendicular to his thigh and stood like Donatello's David.”

11/1/06 – The Tacoma News Tribune reports on the death of violinist and violist John Howard Walters. “The long-time concertmaster and principal violist with the Tacoma Symphony died at home Wednesday after suffering a stroke in September 2005. He was 90." Walters studied violin and viola at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. "In 1945, he became the first concertmaster of the CPS-Tacoma Symphony, later to become the Tacoma Symphony, under Raymond Vaught, a position he held for 11 years ... After taking a short break from the symphony in 1956, Walters returned as principal violist, a position he held until his retirement in 1984, leading to his unofficial title among colleagues of 'the old man of the orchestra.' He also played occasionally with the Seattle Symphony, and backed Nat King Cole during the Seattle World's Fair. In Tacoma he was a member of several string quartets, and was concertmaster of the Tacoma Community College Chamber Orchestra for 22 years, retiring in 2001 because of poor eyesight."

11/1/06 - New Jersey Symphony Orchestra cellist Gretchen Gonzales died Oct. 23 of breast cancer, according to the Bergen County Record (NJ). She was 43. The obituary quotes her husband: "Through the chemotherapy and all she was going through, she never missed work until the last six months ... Even then, she was trying to play, trying to get back to it. Her mind-set was she was going to beat this and play again for the symphony." Fran Rowell, a cellist with the symphony, comments: "It's much more than showing up during work hours ... To be unwell and still put in the preparation required -- that's a real testament to her."

Orchestra News

11/2/06 - The West Australian Symphony Orchestra embarrassed itself last week after publishing brochures touting Edo de Waart as its next music director, only to have de Waart pull out of the negotiations, which had not been finalized. Now, the WASO's board chair has publicly apologized to de Waart for comments made by the orchestra's president at the time, in which it was implied that de Waart's change of heart had to do with not wanting to pay Australian taxes.

11/2/06 – According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has a new assistant conductor: "French conductor Lionel Bringuier, who turned 20 on Sept. 24… Currently assistant conductor of the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, he will be the youngest assistant conductor in the Philharmonic's 87-year history."

Other Music News

11/3/06 – According to the New York Times, "International Creative Management, a talent agency giant, is selling its classical music division to top managers and Newsweb, a Chicago printing and media company, the agency said yesterday. The sale comes after a deal between ICM and IMG Artists, another leading player in classical music management, collapsed last summer. ICM has said that it wants to focus on its core areas: film, television, publishing and popular music. Newsweb, a privately held corporation, owns several radio stations, a television station and a newspaper printing company, along with other investments ... The agency's roster includes Daniel Barenboim, Emanuel Ax, Gidon Kremer, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, the Tokyo String Quartet and orchestras including the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Staatskapelle Berlin and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields."

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on November 6, 2006 at 10:08 PM
ohh... that is so sad... Not only to have cancer but to also not be able to play the violin anymore!

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