December 2006

Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 92

December 31, 2006 08:36

12/28/06 – Twenty-five-year-old Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel has seen his career take off with a meteoric rise. Only a few years out from conducting youth orchestras, Dudamel is now appearing as a guest conductor with the world’s leading orchestras and earning comparisons to two other conducting prodigies in the process: Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sir Simon Rattle. The Los Angeles Times ran an interesting profile of Dudamel, as well as the exemplary classical music system that produced him.


CORRECTION: In the 12/22 column, I incorrectly reported that the Grainger String Quartet is working with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. In fact, the group is working with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

Musician News

Skowronski Classical Recordings has released its eighth CD featuring violinist, Vincent P. Skowronski. Titled Skowronski Plays! Avec et Sans-Volume II Live in Concert, the disc features works with and without piano accompaniment by Bloch, Engel, Honegger, Milhaud and Szymanowski. Assisting artists are Katherine Hughes, violin and Saori Chiba, piano. Listen to audio clips online here

Violinist Caroline Goulding has won the 8th Annual Jean L. Petitt Memorial Music Scholarship competition. As a result, the 14-year-old will appear with Cleveland POPS Orchestra in May. According to a press release, in March 2006, Caroline became the recipient of an ex Lobkowicz by A&H Amati, 1617, Cremona violin, through the efforts of The Stradivari Society of Chicago.

1/19/07 - Violinist Vadim Gluzman will perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

1/13/07 - Violinist Tai Murray will perform the Barber Violin Concerto with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.

1/11/07 - Conductor and violinist Jaime Laredo will lead the Seattle Symphony in a program of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti and Vivaldi Violin Concerti. Soloists include violinists Maria Larionoff and Michael Miropolsky.

1/4/07 – Violinist Jennifer Koh will perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in her New Jersey Symphony Orchestra debut. “The concerto was one of the pieces in her repertoire when she won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1994.
‘I really enjoy the piece, always interesting coming back to it. It's refreshing. You always discover something new that you hadn't necessarily seen before’, she said. ‘It's an interesting perspective to look back at how you approached it 10 years ago versus five years ago versus today’.

12/31/06 – Violinist Jaime Jorge will perform a concert of Christian music in Reading, Pa. According to the Reading Eagle, “Jorge, who has performed in more than 35 countries on five continents, will play music ranging from favorite hymns to contemporary praise songs. Born and raised in Communist Cuba, Jorge was offered many opportunities, including offers to study in Moscow with some of the greatest musicians of our time, if only he and his family would renounce their belief in God. They refused, but when Jorge was 10 they were given the opportunity to leave the country, and they immigrated to the United States, where he received lessons with eminent violinist Cyrus Forough. In 1998 Jorge left medical school early to pursue his music ministry full-time. Jorge has seven albums to his credit, five of which have won the Angel Award for Instrumental Religious Album of the Year.”

12/29/06 – As reported last week, the finals of the 2007 Bolz Young Artist Competition in Madison, Wisc., will be broadcast on WPR and WPT in a 90-minute program entitled “Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte.” Now, the four finalists have been named and include violinists Krista Stewart and Sakura Takemitsu. The panel of judges includes Wen-lei Gu, Violin Professor at Lawrence University. Two winners will each receive $1,000 cash and perform at a concert with the Madison Symphony on Feb. 1 that will be attended by 2,000 high school students from communities across South-Central Wisconsin.

12/20/06 - Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink was named Musical America's 'Musician of the Year' for 2007 at an awards ceremony in Lincoln Center, reports “Haitink, 77, was recently appointed principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; he also conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a complete Beethoven symphony cycle this past fall at Lincoln Center. (The Haitink/London Symphony recordings of the Beethoven Symphonies, released over the past months on the LSO Live label, have drawn wide critical acclaim.)”

Orchestra News

12/28/06 – The Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas City Symphony is suing the state of Missouri. Ten years ago the Missouri legislature "enacted a law calling for half of the income taxes paid by out-of-state athletes and entertainers who worked in Missouri to be put in the Missouri Arts Council Trust Fund (also known as the Missouri Cultural Trust).” But that hasn't happened, so the orchestra is suing, charging the state with shortchanging the fund by $83 million in principal and interest since 1987. “The Symphony, whose overall budget is about $10.5 million, got $60,000 from the state last year. That is not even a drop in the bucket compared with orchestras in comparably sized cities, said Frank Byrne, Symphony executive director.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 91

December 27, 2006 16:12

Musician News

12/27/06 - Conductor Zubin Mehta is one of six winners of the 2007 Dan David Prize, presented annually by the Dan David Foundation and announced last week, reports “The Foundation, created by Israeli inventor and businessman Dan David, presents three awards each year for achievements relating to the past, present and future in areas of science, technology and culture. Now in its sixth year, the prizes are funded and administered in cooperation with Tel Aviv University and the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Mehta and and composer Pascal Dusapin are being honored in the ‘present’ category and will share a $1 million award. Last year, cellist Yo-Yo Ma was honored in the ‘past’ category for his work with the Silk Road Project, which he founded and continues to direct. All the laureates must donate one-tenth of their prize money to outstanding doctoral students in their respective areas.”

12/26/06 – Eric Lewis, violinist with the Manhattan String Quartet and professor of violin at Western Connecticut State University, has donated a violin and is willing to teach a 7 year-old girl with Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. The child, Pearl Ziegler, has long expressed a love for music and a desire to play an instrument, reports the Danbury News Times. Read the story here:

12/26/06 – Dutch violinist Janine Jansen received a shout-out from the Palm Beach Post as performing one of 2006’s top 10 concerts. She performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra: “A concert with real firepower, and one that introduced an enthusiastic audience at the Broward Center to an imaginative soloist who inhabits the pieces instead of only performing them.”

12/25/06 – The Israeli news organization profiled Gil Shaham, who was in town last week to play for part of the festivities marking the Israel Philharmonic’s 70th anniversary. Read the story here:

12/24/06 – The Sarasota Herald-Tribune ran a profile of the Perlman Music Program, an intensive two-week training program run by Toby and Itzhak Perlman now in its third year.

12/22/06 - The Black Star, a New York African-American newspaper, got in on the act when Joshua Bell dropped by: “Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell paid a surprise visit to the 5th graders at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary in East Harlem on Wednesday, December 20th. The students had written to Bell after learning about him while studying the violin through the Education Through Music program. They were delighted with Bell’s performance of Bach’s Chaconne, and even more thrilled by how much he enjoyed their own performance. Bell, whose current CD, Voice of the Violin, is at the top of the classical charts, is the first celebrity to visit Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary.”

Orchestra News

Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich has announced that David Zinman has renewed his contract as music director through the 2009-10 season.

12/21/06 - The Daily Telegraph (UK) profiled the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year: "The extraordinary story of the orchestra's birth centers around the vision and drive of a single Polish violinist. Bronislaw Huberman's concert tours to Palestine in the early 1930s led him to conceive a rescue plan for Jewish musicians in central Europe: a Palestine Orchestra would offer a haven for players who had been dismissed from their posts, and would also bolster 'the prestige of world Jewry and its cultural defense against the ignominious lies of Hitlerism’." The paper adds: "The orchestra's resilience is matched by that of its audience. When the Philharmonic performed in Jerusalem during the first Gulf War, the audience wore gas masks. And earlier this year, at the time of the conflict in Lebanon, the orchestra was in mid-performance in Haifa when the first missiles hit the city. Nobody left the hall ... Conductor Zubin Mehta, in particular, has gone beyond the call of professional duty. He flew to Israel to conduct during the Six-Day War of 1967 and again during the Scud missile attacks of the Gulf War."

12/21/06 – The Grand Rapids Press reported that members of the Grand Rapids Symphony surprised a loyal patron, known for lavishing flowers on orchestra members: "It takes something special to make Mary Simar cry. But members of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra hit the right note Wednesday when a handful of them traveled to an Osceola County laundromat where Mary works and surprised her with a medley of holiday tunes on their French horns. It was the GRSO's way of saying thanks to Mary the 'flower lady,' who for years has not only driven from Reed City to attend performances in downtown Grand Rapids, but showers bouquets on members of the orchestra after their final bows. Stunned and delighted, Mary forgot for a moment about the $7.25-an-hour job she has held for 15 years, and faced the music instead of washing machines and industrial dryers ... French horn player Richard Britsch said,: ‘I've been dying to do this ever since she started bringing flowers to us’."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 90

December 24, 2006 15:33

Do you or another musician you know have a cochlear implant? Consider this ad from December’s International Musician:

“Our 15-year-old son, a talented musician (guitar and voice) has lost much of his hearing as a result of cancer treatment. To assist us in assessing the impact of a possible cochlear implant on his musical hearing, which remains extremely high despite the hearing loss, we are trying to gather information from musicians with cochlear implants who lost their hearing as an adult or young adult. If you know of anyone who meets this description or might have leads, we would very much appreciate your contacting us:”

Jaime Banks

Good luck to the Banks family! My 37-year-old brother received a cochlear implant this fall, so I know what a big decision this is. In his case, it’s been a miraculous intervention, but he has been deaf since birth and is not a musician.

Musician News

According to an ad in the International Musician, the Degas String Quartet in Charlotte, NC, is seeking a new first violinist. See for more information or e-mail

1/14/07 – The American String Quartet will perform at the Manhattan School of Music with a special guest: Robert Mann as second violist, who recently joined the MSM violin faculty. Read this news release for some fascinating tidbits about Mann, the Juilliard String Quartet’s founding first violinist. He has used the decade since his JSQ retirement to focus on solo work and composition, and has composed more than 30 works for narrator and music, often performed with his wife, actress Lucy Rowan. And the violinist has a passion for wilderness backpacking, particularly in the Rockies.

12/21/06 – Here’s a closer look in the Billings Gazette at how Turtle Island SQ violinist Evan Price lost his violin—and how the Billings, MT, police recovered the stolen instrument. “Price said he has already collected from the insurance company and has purchased a new violin, one that he's become accustomed to. He's not sure what will happen to the Praga once he gets it back. ‘I'm really relieved that it's safe but I'm not sure if I'll be playing it again’, Price said. He figured whoever took the Praga would eventually try to sell it but figured it would be ‘somewhere in the range of the next six months to 15 years’. Since it went missing in April, the violin has apparently been stored in a closet in Billings, much to Price's relief.

12/20/06 – The Cincinnati Enquirer reported the death of violinist Henry Meyer. The 83-year-old, a founding member of the LaSalle String Quartet, survived four Nazi death camps in a miraculous story of survival. In one, he shined the shoes of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. Numerous violinists and other musicians comment in his moving obituary.

Orchestra News

The Ann Arbor Symphony has hired a number of section violinists: Yi-Ting Kuo, Jeanine Markley, Marie-Elise McNeeley, Anton Shelepov, Jinhee Suh, and Antony Verner.

The Charleston (SC) Symphony, currently embroiled in a desperate attempt to stave off financial disaster, has also hired violinists. Karyn Blake is the new associate concertmaster, while Hana Kim is the new assistant principal second. Three violinists joined as section players: Frances Hsieh, Megan Allison and Brent Price.

Chicago’s Grant Park Orchestra plans to hire an assistant concertmaster and two section violinist for the 2007 10-week summer season.

2/9/07 – This is the deadline to apply to audition for the Huntsville (AL) Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra plans to hire a total of seven violinists.

2/6/07 – African-American musicians age 30 or under should be aware that this is the application deadline for the Detroit Symphony’s Orchestra Fellowship program. Auditions will be held for all orchestral instruments except harp and tuba. Fellows will perform with the DSO for 20 weeks next season; the off weeks will include individual coaching, mentoring and training in audition techniques.

2/2/07 – Applications are due on this date for the chance to audition for the position of first associate concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. Auditions will be held 4/16/07.

1/31-2/1/07 - The New York Philharmonic will collaborate on a two-day symposium for music educators to examine music education in Finland - a country of five million people that has produced a disproportionate number of internationally known musicians - and lessons that can be applied in the United States. The symposium, titled "Learning Overtures: Finland -- Radical Success in Music Education," is created in partnership with the Consulate General of Finland, New York University's Steinhardt School of Education, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and the New York City Department of Education. The symposium will occur in conjunction with the world premiere of the piano concerto by Finnish-born composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. Salonen, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will conduct the concerto's February 1 premiere by the New York Philharmonic, and participate in the symposium, speaking about his own experience with music education in Finland.

1/31/07 - The final round of the Madison Symphony Orchestra's 2007 Bolz Young Artist Competition will be broadcast live through a collaboration with Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television, the first statewide broadcast of a music competition for young people. Four high school finalists will perform with the orchestra, competing for cash prizes and the opportunity to perform with the MSO in a concert for their peers the next morning. WPR will broadcast the event live and WPT will air the program, along with profiles of the finalists, on 2/3/07.

1/15/07 – Applications are due on this date for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Diversity Fellowship Program. Auditions will be held in February for this one-year program in which blind auditions determine CSO substitute positions. Up to two fellows will be chosen for violin, viola, cello or oboe; the stipend is $36,000 and includes additional funds for audition travel and health coverage.

1/11/07 – Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra will hold auditions for the associate concertmaster chair, effective with the 2007-08 season.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 89

December 21, 2006 18:18

Last April, Turtle Island String Quartet violinist Evan Price suffered the theft of his $50,000 Eugenio Praga violin while in Billings, Mont. In the 12/20/06 Toronto Globe and Mail, we learn that the violin has been recovered: "The violin was feared gone forever because, as with the art world, legitimate instrument buyers want documented provenance and the black market is hard for inexperienced thieves to access. In this case, the would-be seller phoned a dealer thousands of kilometres away and had the misfortune of finding a personal friend of the instrument's former owner. [Violin maker and dealer Raymond] Schryer talked to him twice, keeping his surprise hidden, and then contacted police. Officers in Billings set up a sting operation and managed to recover the instrument intact." Most likely, more detailed stories will crop up in the next few days…

Musician News

12/20/06 – Australia’s Grainger String Quartet is currently affiliated with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, performing as orchestra members while receiving support for their quartet performances. The arrangement is profiled in The Standard, China’s business newspaper

12/19/06 – It turns out that composer Tan Dun, now with a work making its Metropolitan Opera debut, also plays violin. Read his fascinating account of surviving China’s Cultural Revolution and his life as a busker in New York City in this Associated Press story.

12/19/06 – The Warwick Courier (UK) ran a brief item on how 15-year-old local violinist Debbie Rothwell has earned a place in the National Youth Orchestra.

12/19/06 – An article about joint health and physical fitness on quotes Christal Phelps Steele, first violinist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. “At 55, she faced early retirement because of musculoskeletal injuries and chronic pain from a combination of sports and 33 years of wielding a bow. She asked each of us [non-musicians in an exercise class] to play air-violin, holding our arms up and out at the necessary angles. ‘Hold that position as long as you can’, she dared us. Steele related that a carefully constructed rehab program with an athletic trainer got her back on track. She's now the acting associate concertmaster.”

12/17/06 – Violinist Wanda Becker is featured in a sobering St. Louis Post-Dispatch article about the difficulties of making a living as a freelance musician in the U.S. outside of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

12/5/06 - According to the Inverness (Scotland) Courier, the Edinburgh String Quartet is searching for a new first violinist. Charles Mutter is leaving to pursue other projects.

Orchestra News

12/17/06 – Arts executive Elaine Calder has been brought in to “clean house” at the Oregon Symphony. “What needs changing, according to her analysis? ‘We do a lot of classical programming’. Too much, she means. ‘At the beginning of the 21st century, you can no longer look at any market as homogenous. You've got to find niche markets, and I don't see too much of that here’. In The Oregonian’s article, Calder lauds a popular OSO gospel concert and favors more run-outs to churches. Oh, and shorter contracts so management is not locked in to the status quo is another of Calder’s recommendations. Read the article here.

12/16/06 – The New York Times profiled the Minnesota Orchestra and its music director, Osmo Vänskä, writing: "In discussions of Mr. Vänskä's relationship with the orchestra, the word chemistry keeps coming up ... The chemistry is right, we are told, though no one seems entirely sure how to analyze it." Vänskä comments: "People were ready to show what they could do, and maybe they were a little bit hungry. Then for me, who is a nut for working and trying to put things together, it was like heaven." Vanska has his sights set high—very high indeed—for the orchestra. Learn just how high here.

Other Music News

12/16/06 – You won’t want to miss the Twin Cities’ Star Tribune’s article about focal dystonia. “While it may not be as well-known as crippling conditions like Parkinson's, focal dystonia is wrecking the careers of a growing number of professional musicians. The terrifying disease, which causes musicians to forget the muscle movements necessary to play their instruments, "ended the careers of pianist Gary Graffman, Tokyo String Quartet violinist Peter Oundjian and Chicago Symphony Orchestra oboist Alex Klein." There are treatments, but no guaranteed fixes, and the condition frequently worsens when victims, ashamed of their deteriorating skills and unaware of the cause, fail to report the problem to a doctor.

12/16/06 – According to the Washington Post, Washington may not become the classical radio wasteland currently feared: "Public broadcaster WETA (90.9 FM) is considering dumping its news-and-talk programming and returning to being a classical broadcaster if the music dies on WGMS, WETA's management said yesterday. In a special meeting Thursday, WETA's board voted to give station executives the green light to consider switching back to classical if WGMS drops the format. Dan DeVany, WETA's vice president and general manager, said the station 'could move very quickly' back to classical if circumstances warrant. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has a preliminary agreement to buy WGMS (103.9/104.1 FM) from its owners, Bonneville International Corp. A Snyder-owned subsidiary, Red Zebra Broadcasting, intends to turn the station into a sports-talk outlet that probably would also air Redskins games."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 88

December 17, 2006 21:36

12/15/06 - It turns out the French composer Georges Bizet isn’t sitting so pretty these days. The Guardian (UK) reports: "The Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where famous residents such as Moliere, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf and Maria Callas attract 2 million visitors a year, has been the victim of theft. Six bronze busts were stolen last month from its 19th century tombs, including that of Georges Bizet, the composer of Carmen.

The busts dated from the second half of the 19th century and were made by well-known artists of the time. Each is worth between €5,000 and €10,000…’It's the work of an expert’, a source familiar with the case told the newspaper. The source added that the robberies were probably carried out to order for a collector. Hugues de Bazelaire, who works on the restoration of funeral monuments, said there was a thriving black market in pieces from French graveyards.”


12/14/06 - In the charming-story-of-the-week category, a primary school in Cheam, England, has rescued a violin from the scrap heap and restored it for use by its students, reports the Croydon Guardian. “St Dunstan's Primary in Ann Boleyn's Walk heard about the abandoned violin after it was left at Save the Children in Cheam Broadway from one of their teachers who is a helper at the shop. Although it was broken, the school adopted the instrument with the intention of getting it fixed and it is now played by pupils on a regular basis.

Head teacher of St. Dunstan's Primary, Christine Smyth, said: ‘Our swimming teacher helps out at Save the Children and she offered us this violin. It was a bit unwell and had a broken bridge. As a result of that, we discussed getting it repaired but it was too expensive. Then a very kind and caring violinist agreed to mend it for us and now the orchestra uses it. It means that perhaps a child whose parents are not in the position to buy them an instrument can still get involved in the orchestra’."

Musician News

12/19/06 - Joshua Bell will appear on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" to perform a selection from "Voice of the Violin." Check your local TV schedule for airtimes. He is also featured in the December issue of Aspen Magazine and Golf Digest. Voice of the Violin is also a Woman's Day magazine pick.

12/18/06 - Violinist and Indiana University faculty member Alexander Kerr will perform with the IU Philharmonic Orchestra at the historic Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne as part of IU’s Moveable Feast of the Arts initiative. Kerr will play the Korngold Violin Concerto. The program will be repeated the next day in Chicago at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic.

12/14/06 – According to the Palisadian, Post Zebulon Projects presented the world premiere of violinist Mary Lou Newmark's multimedia show Street Angel Diaries. “Newmark is an award-winning violinist, composer and poet. She has a traditional classical background, with master's degrees in violin performance and music composition from USC and UCLA, respectively. Her works encompass a wide range of styles and techniques, incorporating live performance, original poetry and electronically generated sounds into unique pieces that inhabit their own sound world. She maintains a private violin and composition studio in Los Angeles.”

12/14/06 – Violinist Akira Maezawa was profiled in the Binghamton University newspaper as a standout student in more than one area of study—he is an engineering major who also excels at the violin.

12/9/06 – Violinist Shawn Moore is one of four winners of the Bard College concerto competition. Each winner will perform with the college orchestra this year.

Orchestra News

The National Arts Centre Orchestra's teacher resource kit, "Vivaldi and the Four Seasons," is being distributed to every elementary school in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and Atlantic Canada. The 32-page kit is designed to be used by generalist classroom teachers for music lessons and also contains a cross-curricular link to other content-related topics, such as climate change. The kit, produced in English and French, includes ready-to-use lesson plans and student activity sheets, a listening guide, music to be played or sung on recorder, and a copy of the CBC Records "Vivaldi: Four Seasons" CD, by the NAC Orchestra under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman.

1/15/07 - The Cleveland Orchestra will become the first visiting orchestra to perform at Nashville's new Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The orchestra will stop in Nashville on the way to Miami's Carnival Center for the Performing Arts Center, where it will kick off a ten-year residency project, consisting of three weeks of concerts and educational programs each winter.

12/11/06 – Melbourne’s The Age offers a profile of the 100-year-old Melbourne Symphony, which will be launching a two-week European tour in January.

12/7/06 – In La Scena Musicale, Norman Lebrecht writes: "India, which has never shown much interest in sonata form and suchlike, now has a professional symphony orchestra and this week named a Kazakh violinist [Marat Bisengaliev] as its music director ... The new Symphony Orchestra of India is funded by the agrochemicals-to-telecoms Tata Group, which has built a sumptuous National Centre for the Performing Arts on the waterfront in Mumbai and needs a resident ensemble. The Indian government, says Bisengaliev, 'shows no interest at all. But there is a middle class of 200 million people with a growing interest in western lifestyles. This is an incredible opportunity for classical music' ... Next September he is planning what may be the Indian premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, while tempting sub-continent opera lovers with a fully-staged 'Pagliacci.' "

12/5/06 – According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee Symphony has announced that Andreas Delfs will leave his post as the orchestra’s music director after the 2008-09 season, the orchestra's 50th. Delfs's current three-year contract was to expire at the end of 2007-08, which will be the conductor's 10th with the MSO. MSO officers and management negotiated an additional year, to keep Delfs in place for the orchestra's golden anniversary.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 87

December 14, 2006 21:25

Talk about educational outreach: When the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra travels to Europe next month, four junior high musicians will travel with them, reports the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

“Two students from St. Paul's Ramsey Junior High — Clare Romey and Cecilia Mazumdar Stanger — and two from Minneapolis' Ramsey International Fine Arts Magnet — Sophia Deady and Jasmine Randle — will be traveling with the orchestra to Budapest, Hungary, where it will open the tour with a Jan. 22 concert at the Franz Liszt Academy. In Budapest, the students will meet Hungarian students with whom they've been corresponding and will see the sights of the city. Then it's off to Europe's classical music capital, Vienna, Austria, where the SPCO will be performing at the legendary Musikverein on Jan. 23. In addition to touring the cities, the students plan to record their experiences through blogs, radio, video, a performance piece or some combination. The students will be traveling with their music teachers and SPCO education manager Kate Cooper.”

Musician News

According to San Francisco Classical Voice, San Francisco State violin professor Jassen Todorov, 31, has won a Crystal Lyre Award, the highest honor for achievement in music in his native Bulgaria. “Todorov won the title in the "young performers and artists" category. Awards are selected by a 27-member jury, and presented by the Union of Musicians and Dancers, and the Ministry of Culture. "Music is very much part of the culture in Bulgaria, and it is quite an honor to be recognized," said Todorov, who was nominated in the same category two years ago, but did not win.”

William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and Distinguished Professor of Violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music, has joined the faculty of Furman University (Greenville, S.C.) as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Violin. Preucil will visit the Furman campus three times each academic year to conduct violin masterclasses, teach private lessons to a select number of students, and coach the Hartness and Gladden string quartets.

12/14/06 - The Miami Herald reviewed the Miami Symphony Orchestra's Sunday night concert under conductor Eduardo Marturet. The concert also featured Time for Three: this "trio of Curtis Institute graduates, violinists Nicolas Kendall and Zachary DePue and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer, bring striking virtuosity to their Americana-flavored bluegrass music. At times the off-color jokes and self-conscious informality ('Hello Miami!') seemed more heavy-handed than the concert-hall stiffness these young artists are attempting to countervail." The reviewer also praised the group's display of "country-fiddle bravura."

12/13/06 – Two violinists were quoted in an article in the Willamette (Oregon) Weekly online about the phenomenon of agnostic and atheistic musicians performing in Handel’s Messiah. “Portland Baroque Orchestra violin section member and self-described 'spiritually minded borderline atheist' Adam Lamotte, 32, says it's the 'lushness of Handel's writing' and 'extremely satisfying counterpoint' that make it a perennial crowd-pleaser. And PBO might program it for this other reason: 'Messiah is a cash cow,' according to PBO violinist Rob Diggins. 'It gets people in the door.' Read the article here:

12/12/06 – Talk about well-rounded: The Niagara Gazette reports on Lewiston-Porter High School senior Joe McGreevy. He “doesn’t fiddle around on the wrestling mat, as his nearly 80 career wins will attest. But when he’s away from the mat, it’s an altogether different tune.McGreevy, one of the leaders for the Lew-Port wrestling team, is also an accomplished violinist. It’s a combination you don’t find too often — except at Lew-Port — where McGreevy’s younger brother Tom is also a wrestler and a violinist.”

12/2/06 – LA has a new chamber music series, Bel Air House Concerts, according to the website of the Film Music Society. “Bruce and Belinda Broughton launched a series of intimate chamber-music concerts Saturday night, Dec. 2, at their Bel-Air home, and their first outing can only be deemed an unqualified success. Twenty invited guests mingled, chatted, had dinner and enjoyed an hour of music for violin, cello and piano. Belinda Broughton – one of Los Angeles' and London's finest violinists – also happens to be a world-class chef. Her kitchen (with an entire wall library of more than 1,000 cookbooks, all of them read and used) was the first stop for guests, who enjoyed wine and hors d'oeuvres while meeting new friends or catching up with old ones. Belinda was as much "fiddler" as traditional violinist in the lively opening, gorgeous second movement and hoedown-style finale, and her pianist husband – so well known as a composer, with Oscar and Grammy nominations, multiple Emmys and frequent concert commissions – executed the complex variations with ease. Find more details of the evening here:

Orchestra News

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra has named Canadian conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin music director, to succeed Valery Gergiev in August 2008. Nézet-Séguin, 31,artistic director and principal conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (Ontario) has named Edwin Outwater, an energetic 35-year-old conductor from San Francisco, its new music director.

12/13/06 – is reporting that, more than three years after the Savannah Symphony disbanded, a new professional orchestra is taking shape in the historic Georgia city. Its organizers hope the group’s operating model will let the group be sustainable. The Savannah Sinfonietta and Chamber Players “was founded this past summer by William Keith, a university-level band conductor who is the new group's Executive and Artistic Director. His mission was to re-assemble the two dozen musicians from the Savannah Symphony who remained in the area and use them as the core of a new professional resident orchestra.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 86

December 10, 2006 16:49

Grammy Time again…

The Grammy nominations have been announced, though the winners aren’t selected until February.

It’s a lighter-than-usual year for individual string nominations, though violinist Gidon Kremer is up for a solo album, as is violist Roberto Diaz, new president of the Curtis Institute of Music. The Berlin Philharmonic’s cello section got a nod for a recording in the “small ensembles” category.

See the complete list of nominees here:

Musician News

12/9/06 – It turns out the Cleveland Institute of Music violin teacher Paul Kantor has a son who plays violin, too. Tim Kantor is a senior at Bowdoin College in Maine, where he played a solo recital this weekend. After graduation, he plans to study at CIM—with his father, no less. Read about it here:

12/8/06 – Jazz violinist John Blake conducted a masterclass and performed this weekend in Philadelphia to mark the Settlement Music School’s 100th anniversary. Read the Philadelphia Inquirer’s profile of him here:

12/6/06 – High school violinist Miran Kim has received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist’s Award, which is $10,000 to help defray her musical education. Hear a clip of her playing de Falla’s Danse Espagnole on the NPR website:

12/5/06 – The musical group Unexpect has posted on it My Space blog that it is seeking a new violinist to replace a departing member. Opportunity may be knocking at your door; read their notice here:

12/2/06 – Violinist Sarah Chang played the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic at Notre Dame University. The South Bend Tribune lauded Chang for her “exhilarating performance” and “exquisite tone.”

Orchestra News

Finally, after a 5-year hiatus, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be back on the national radio airwaves, thanks to a $3.4 million gift from BP. The three-year gift will provide funding necessary for the CSO to return to weekly local and national radio broadcasts, beginning in 2007. The BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcast Series on the WFMT Radio Network will be heard in more than 160 U.S markets. The gift will also support two European tours and will underwrite the opening night gala programs for 2007 and 2008.

The Florida Orchestra has received more than $1 million from Tampa business leaders and philanthropists John and Susan Sykes. The bulk of the gift, $1 million, is for immediate use in the orchestra's general operating budget, and a smaller portion, $163,000 will be safeguarded in the endowment fund.

12/24/06 - Musicians from the South Dakota Symphony will be featured in the nationally broadcast "Christmas at the Cathedral" on CBS at 10:35 p.m. (ET). The South Dakota Symphony has participated in concerts at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Sioux Falls for the past 10 years.

12/20/06 - A one-hour special of the Nashville Symphony's inaugural concert at Schermerhorn Symphony Center will air Wednesday, December 20 on PBS stations nationwide. Shot in high definition, the special is culled from a two-hour live broadcast originally aired on Nashville Public Television. Check local listings for stations and times.

12/8/06 – The Boston Globe reports that "Struggling to fill seats for some Holiday Pops concerts, the Boston Pops have cut the size of the orchestra in half for five of the performances, including the Pops' pricey New Year's Eve show. The move to a 40-person ensemble has angered Boston Symphony Orchestra players, who sent a petition to BSO management raising concerns about whether ticket buyers for the concerts, which take place Dec. 28 through Dec. 31, will feel misled when they show up at Symphony Hall." The article notes: "The BSO has occasionally organized smaller groups of Pops players in recent years, but for private parties and corporate fund-raisers. Typically, that group performs under the moniker 'Keith Lockhart and Friends.' The post-Christmas concerts represent the first time a Symphony Hall Pops performance offered to the public will feature a smaller lineup."

12/7/06 - Ontario's Orchestra London is on the verge of a possible musicians' strike over low pay and lack of benefits. The London Free Press reports, "Most of the 29 full-time musicians (there are also 17 part-time musicians) are paid $23,223 for working a 36-week season... They receive no dental, drug, disability or health benefits. But the musicians are even more incensed by the fact that at a time when the symphony's operating revenue is at an all-time high, tickets sales are healthy and wages in other sectors of the organization have increased... base pay for musicians has inched up only 1.5 per cent per year since 2000." Read the article here:

12/6/06 – This was "Orchestra of St. Luke's Day" in New York City, recognizing the 30th anniversary of the orchestra's arts education program. A proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read before a program at the Apollo Theater that was the culmination of five days of concerts for New York City schoolchildren.

Other Music News

12/8/06 – The Washington Post reports: "Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has reached a preliminary agreement to buy classical music station WGMS-FM in a deal that would expand his budding sports-talk radio empire and likely be the swan song for the area's only classical outlet. Snyder and the owner of WGMS, Bonneville International Corp., have established a price for the sale but had not formalized the deal as of yesterday, people close to the negotiations said. They said, however, that an agreement could be wrapped up within days ... Neither side would disclose the proposed sale price or discuss potential programming changes."

12/8/06 - An Associated Press story filed Friday reports that hurricane-force winds that ripped through Lenox last week caused as much as a $250,000 worth of damage to the Tanglewood grounds. “Dave Sturma, director of Tanglewood facilities for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, estimated that it will take weeks or even months for the grounds to be cleared of storm debris. He says there were 300 trees down on the grounds, but the cleanup will be complete by the time Tanglewood opens in late June. There was also minor damage to the mansion's roof and more significant damage to the carriage house."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 85

December 7, 2006 21:10

For a change today, we start with a look at profiles of two leading conductors, each at very different stages in their careers:

12/3/06 - Zubin Mehta, the Indian-born, Vienna-trained maestro who now leads orchestras in Berlin, Florence, Vienna and Tel Aviv. Read the Washington Post article here:

At the other end of the spectrum is Vladimir Jurowski, the 34-year-old sensation who takes the reins of the London Philharmonic next year. Read the Guardian’s article here:


Do we need a better breed of orchestra player? Read this 12/3/06 article in the New York Times that looks at a new joint project of Juilliard and Carnegie Hall. Known as the Academy, the project is a venture for postgraduates designed as a performance and education initiative. Read about it here:

Musician News

Justin Bruns has been named assistant concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He holds the endowed Mary and Cherry Emerson Chair, and most recently served as assistant concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony. He has also served as concertmaster of the Boulder Bach Festival, and continues to be affiliated with the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music as assistant concertmaster. Bruns won top prize in the Artists and Scholars Honors Program at the University of Michigan, and holds a master's degree from Rice University.

12/6/06 - The Livingston (Mich.) Press & Argus ran a profile of violinist Sarah Strane. Though just a freshman performance major at Central Michigan University, she recently participated in a masterclass with David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Read about it here:

12/6/06 – The Gisborne (New Zealand) Herald is reporting that violinist Yunzhi Ling of Singapore won first place in the 2006 Gisborne Music Competition. “It was Ling’s deeply-involved delivery of Brahms’ Second and Third Movements from Concerto in D Major, Chausson’s Poem and Caprice No. 13, by Niccolo Paganini, that won in the end.” She received a prize of $8,000, plus an opportunity to play as a soloist with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. This annual competition is open to classical musicians on any instrument. Here are some other string winners:

Third place - Wen Zhu (Australia, violin)
Best performance of a New Zealand composition — Rohana Brown (Melbourne, violin).
Best New Zealand string player — Ben Morrison (Wellington, violin).
Best international string player — Matthew Rigby (Brisbane, violin).
Most promising player — Matthew Rigby (Brisbane, violin).

11/28/06 – San Francisco Classical Voice ran a nice obituary of violinist Andor Toth, who died in Los Angeles at the age of 81 of a stroke. “In a career that spanned more than six decades, Toth was internationally celebrated as a soloist, concert artist, conductor, and music educator. During his career, Toth played his violin to comfort wounded soldiers on the World War II battlefields of Aachen, Germany; he performed with the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini; formed several musical groups (most notably the Oberlin String Quartet); conducted symphonies in Cleveland, Denver, and Houston; and he was founding concertmaster of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. professor emeritus at Stanford, Toth also toured Europe in 1993, playing first violin with the Takács String Quartet, before founding Chamber Music San Juans.”

Orchestra News

12/6/06 – According to the Lexington Herald Leader (KY), the Lexington Philharmonic has announced that, after 35 year, music director and conductor George Zack is stepping down. “Zack, 70, will continue in the orchestra's top job for three years as the Philharmonic begins the search for a new conductor and music director ... Philharmonic officials said they hope to name a new director by spring 2009."

12/5/06 – The San Francisco Chronicle profiled Symphony Silicon Valley. The story focused on the orchestra’s unusual business model of relying only upon guest conductors, with nary a music director in sight. Read it here:

12/5/06 – According to San Francisco Classical Voice, the San Francisco Symphony, “which had managed to stay in the black for the longest time (including during the difficult post-dot-com bust and post-9/11), is now dealing with blotches of red. Budget figures for the 2005-2006 season, released on Monday, show a $1.8 million shortfall on an operating budget of $54.5 million. The Symphony administration explains: ‘This deficit is $328,000 less than the deficit projected at the beginning of the fiscal year, and was the result of better than anticipated growth in both earned and contributed revenues as well as rigorous expense controls’.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 84

December 3, 2006 21:09

The WFMT Radio Network is producing a documentary about the life of Arturo Toscanini in recognition of the 50th anniversary of his death next month. Anyone who knew the Maestro is invited to contact Karen Shear at 212-496-9418 or


Musician News

12/1/06 – North Shore Sunday in Mass. ran an interesting article about a new group of instruments created by Carleen Hutchins, including an alto violin (nearly cello-size!) and others. The Peabody Quartet played a concert on them yesterday. Read the feature here:

12/1/06 – Violinist Kyoko Yonemoto of Tokyo has won first prize in the Fourth Paganini Moscow International Violin Competition. Read the Japan Times item here:

12/1/06 – The Arizona Star ran a charming profile of 19-year-old violinist Caitlin Tully, a Canadian-American who attends Princeton and hops a train to study with Itzhak Perlman in New York. Read it here:

11/30/06 – The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ran an interview with Joshua Bell in conjunction with a local appearance. Read it here:

11/30/06 – Violinist Clare Hurrell won the East Lindsey Young Musician of the Year title in Horncastle, England. The 16-year-old plans to enter the contest on clarinet next year and hopes to make a career of music. She receives a smashing silver trophy along with the title.

11/30/06 – Violinist Jamie Lee, 16, has won the annual concerto competition sponsored by the Kennett (Pa.) Symphony. In addition to soloing with the orchestra next year, she won $500.

11/29/06 – When Catherine Hewgill, principal cello of the Sydney Symphony, slipped on ice, her first thought was to protect her 300-year-old cello. And she did, but at the expense of her wrist, which was broken in multiple places. Read the story of her long recovery here:

Orchestra News

The Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra has received a pledge of $50,000 from Margaret Makris, in memory of her late husband, composer Andreas Makris.

12/19/06 – The Boston Symphony will release its first recording with Music Director James Levine. Appearing on the Nonesuch label, the recording will include Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs, which the orchestra co-commissioned with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson is the soloist.

11/29/06 – The Boston Pops has fired its principal guest conductor, Bruce Hangen, who had been in the post since 1979. The orchestra is not commenting on the reasons for the dismissal.

11/29/06 – Lorin Maazel, music director of the New York Philharmonic, has made it known that he has a candidate in mind to succeed him at the end of the decade: his old friend, former Chicago Symphony music director Daniel Barenboim. Barenboim claims he’s not interested in leading another American orchestra. Read the New York Times article here:

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