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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 77

November 9, 2006 at 4:44 AM

When you see the headline “Brass and strings’ secret love child,” you know you just have to read the accompanying article. And you cross your fingers that a photo is included. Luckily, there is. So here’s the scoop, from an 11/3/06 piece in The Guardian (UK):

“When violinist and composer Aleks Kolkowski was on a visit to Budapest in 1998, a curious musical instrument caught his eye: a freakish hybrid that looked like the result of a drunken coupling between a violin and a saxophone. He bought one of these ‘strange, horned violins’, which, he found, were made for Transylvanian folk musicians. But he also discovered that the instrument was a form of ‘Stroh’ violin, an eccentric type of fiddle developed in the late 19th century but almost obsolete by the second world war. Except in Transylvania, that is. And, oddly enough, Burma, where a form of horned violin is also still made and played today.

Fascination soon turned to obsession. After several years of haunting junk shops and eBay, Kolkowski has finally assembled a string quartet's worth of Stroh instruments - the only one in the world….”


Here’s a touching story involving the man with a heart the size of Texas, Yo-Yo Ma.

From the 10/29/06 Los Angeles Times: columnist Steve Lopez wrote about Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a bassist who attended The Juilliard School before suffering a mental breakdown in his third year. "In the 33 years since then, many of them spent living on the streets of Cleveland and Los Angeles, Ayers has often wondered about his former classmates, holding onto a connection to them through the music he continued playing," Lopez writes, noting that "for a brief time, [Ayers and Yo-Yo Ma] played in the same Juilliard orchestra, although Ayers didn't think of Ma as a peer." Lopez writes of bringing Ayers to a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert at Disney Hall featuring Ma, and of bringing Ayers backstage to meet the cellist after the program: "Ma reached around Mr. Ayers and pulled him close. 'I just want to tell you,' Ma said through a bear hug, 'what it means to meet you. To meet somebody who really, really loves music. We're brothers. In a rare moment, Mr. Ayers was practically speechless."


In late October, the 30th Concours Prix de Vieuxtemps in Verviers wrapped up, announcing these winners:

1st prize, Hrachya Avanesyan
1st incentive prize, Caroline Poncelet
2nd incentive prize, Wéronika Godlewska
3rd incentive prize, Vincent Hepp

Other Musician News

The Charleston Symphony Orchestra has appointed Yuriy Bekker as concertmaster. A native of Minsk, Belarus, Bekker moved to New York City with his family in 1992. He has played with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera and Ballet Orchestras, the Louisville Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and as concertmaster of the orchestra at Peabody Conservatory, where he received his graduate performance diploma as a student of Herbert Greenberg. Bekker also holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Indiana University.

The Jupiter String Quartet has been named the sixth recipient of the biennial Cleveland Quartet Award, administered by Chamber Music America. The award sets the quartet up for concerts with eight prominent presenters over the next two years.

11/6/06 – According to the Hagerstown Morning Herald, Midori made time to meet with 24 local high school and college students in conjunction with an area performance. Local music teachers apparently received letters asking them to submit names of their top students; winners were chosen by lottery. Read the story here:

11/5/06 – In conjunction with Sarah Chang’s appearance this week with the Utah Symphony, the Deseret News ran an interview with the 26-year-old violinist. In it, she reflects on why she declined to perform the Brahms Violin Concerto until she was “much older,” as in 18 years old. Read the interview here:

10/22/06 – Violinist and violist Jaropolk Lassowsky, longtime faculty member at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, died after a brief bout with cancer. From the university’s web site: “Dr. Lassowsky was the long-time University Symphony Orchestra director and violin and viola instructor, and took on the responsibility of teaching all strings lessons and techniques courses for the last 9 years. …Dr. Lassowsky was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award in the summer of 2003 to travel to Ukraine to conduct and teach at Kherson State University. During his summer stay in Ukraine, Dr. Lassowsky conducted four different orchestras, taught courses in computer applications in music and music publishing, and premiered several of his music compositions and arrangements with the Kherson orchestras. At the conclusion of his summer appointment, the authorities supervising his activities in the Ukraine were so impressed and pleased by Dr. Lassowsky’s work, they requested from the Fulbright Foundation an extension of his stay to include the Fall ’03 semester.”

Orchestra News

The Cleveland Orchestra has received a $5 million donation from patron Norma Lerner.

11/8/06 – The San Antonio Symphony Orchestra has announced that it will not renew the contract of music director Larry Rachleff when it expires at the end of the 2007-08 season, reports the San Antonio Express News. The paper quotes David Green, the orchestra's president and CEO, as saying, "My thought is that San Antonio would most benefit from a music director who lives here." He pointed out that Christopher Wilkins, Rachleff's predecessor, moved to the Texas city when his tenure began in 1991. Rachleff lives in Houston, where he teaches at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music…The San Antonio Symphony Players Association issued a statement saying the musicians "are deeply disappointed and disturbed" by the decision, according to the paper.

11/5/06 - The New York Philharmonic launched a tour of the Far East with music director Lorin Maazel with a concert in Tokyo.

From Karin Lin
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 8:06 PM
Wow, really great collection of stories this week! Thanks!
From Samuel Thompson
Posted on November 10, 2006 at 12:25 AM
Yes, Darcy - really incredible collection of stories this week. Thank you.


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