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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 28

May 18, 2006 at 11:43 PM

5/4/06 – The Salt Lake Tribune recently ran a story about the latest effort to understand what makes a Strad a Strad: "Joseph Nagyvary, an emeritus professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M University, said several things set a Strad apart, but none more so than the chemicals that hardened the wood and gave each instrument its fiery appearance." Nagyvary, an amateur luthier, comments: "I have proven more or less that the refinement of sounds comes from a variety of chemical tricks that were not done by Stradivarius himself, but by the local drugstore that developed a manner of preserving against the wood worm." The reporter adds that Salt Lake City violin-maker Peter Prier "attributes a Strad's qualities to exceptional craftsmanship and simple aging. 'After 250 years, the old materials are totally dry and open, and that is the difference. We have the same varnishes and the same technology or better,' but making new wood sound like an old Strad is 'almost impossible.' "

5/14/06 - Starting next year, thanks to a $100 million gift, tuition at the Yale University School of Music will be free. The New York Times ponders the consequences: "Now as the school prepares for commencement on May 22 for the final graduating class to have paid the $23,750 annual tuition each year, many faculty members and students are wondering how the donation will affect Yale's reputation. Will subsidized tuition affect the type and quality of new students? Will the school claim a place alongside conservatories like the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia?"

Musician News

5/12/06 - Cecylia Arzewski, concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra who was profiled recently in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, performed the Berg Violin Concerto with the orchestra. The paper noted that Arzweski studied Berg's concerto with its dedicatee, Louis Krasner: "Yet her approach was her own: exacting, lyrical and a bit circumspect. As a soloist, she didn't reach out to the audience but invited the listener into her private world, rich in memory, pathos and a rather cosmic understanding of the music."

5/11/06 – Charles Meacham, concertmaster emeritus of the Marin Symphony, was honored by the College of Marin Music Department in "A Special Tribute to Charles Meacham," reports the Marin Indpendent Journal. "Meacham, who taught music at the college for nearly 20 years, was influential in the Marin music scene for half a century ... Through the college and in private lessons, Meacham taught hundreds of students, some of whom -- now professional musicians themselves – [flew] in from as far away as Florida, Ohio and Utah to join Bay Area musicians in performing at the tribute." The paper adds: "In 1952, Meacham helped found the Marin Symphony, of which he remains Concertmaster Emeritus. He also founded the Marin Arts Quartet, the only Marin string quartet for nearly 30 of its 40-odd years in existence. When the College of Marin music building opened in 1967, Meacham taught classes there until he retired in 1984 ... Meacham will return for Sunday's performance and the announcement of a College of Marin music scholarship in his honor -- the Charles Meacham String Scholarship."

5/11/06 - Andrey Boreyko concludes his short tenure as music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, reports the Winnipeg Sun. "Soon after taking the reins from former maestro Bramwell Tovey in 2002, [Boreyko] discovered the WSO was in a ‘tragic’ budget bind that threatened its existence. He and the musicians made financial sacrifices, the WSO rallied and Boreyko later extended his contract for an extra year to see the orchestra through its current season. But he bemoans the lack of public support for classical music in Canada." Germain quotes Boreyko: "If I could take this orchestra from Winnipeg to Europe and work with this orchestra for the rest of my life I would do it." Boreyko comments on his successor, Alexander Mickelthwate: "When I came here I was already in a certain part of my career that didn't allow me to be here as much ... He can dedicate himself to this orchestra."

5/11/06 – The Chicago Tribune published an update on Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project: "Earlier this year, Ma received the $1 million Dan David Prize for preserving cultural heritage" with his Silk Road Project, started in 1998. "The award is administered by Tel Aviv University and endowed by a foundation started by Dan David, a Romanian by birth and former longtime chairman of an automatic photo booth firm based in England," notes the paper. "The prize requires Ma to donate $100,000 for 20 scholarships for study at Tel Aviv and other universities around the world. Laura Freid, Silk Road Project's chief executive officer, says Ma is using the remaining $900,000 as a matching grant" to support Silk Road Chicago, "a year of cross-cultural programs and events here that is to begin June 1."

5/11/06 - "First-rate soloist” Chuan-Yun Li performed the Khachaturian Violin Concerto and Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade with the China National Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, reports the New York Times. The orchestra "has strong players throughout its ranks. They and their energetic conductor, Xincao Li, are still grappling with Western style, at times convincing in their phrasing and expression, at others creating reasonable imitations that can sound stiff and learned."

Orchestra News

5/14/06 – The Berlin Philharmonic, fearing the loss of future audiences, has constructed an elaborate education program, reports the New York Times. These are “something still relatively rare on the Continent. Many orchestras in Britain and the United States have been making similar efforts to draw in youngsters and educate the public, but in catching up, the Berliners have created one of Europe's most ambitious programs."

5/13/06 – According to the Las Vegas Sun, even though the Las Vegas Philharmonic is only eight years old, it is growing, seems to have found an audience, and has a $1.5 million budget. So it's time to pick a new music director. The candidates are: David Commanday of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, David Itkin of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Peter Rubardt of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. As part of the selection process, they will serve as guest conductors during the 2006-07 season.

From Sydney Menees
Posted on May 19, 2006 at 10:26 AM
I think that Boreyko guy was the conductor for the Deutsch "Youth" orchestra when they performed with Janine Jansen!
From Maura Gerety
Posted on May 19, 2006 at 2:21 PM
Is Nagyvary ever going to give it up? That "amateur luthier" sounds more ridiculous every day.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on May 19, 2006 at 11:25 PM
Now, is the Times reporting that accurately? Are many faculty members and students really pondering that? How many and how much total pondering are we talking about?

Grats, Cecylia! Wish I coulda been there.

From Ron Gorthuis
Posted on May 22, 2006 at 12:22 AM
I'm the type that always considers the proof in the pudding. Nagyvary theorises well, but were is the pudding? If his are so great, why do I not see great players playing them? If violins are so easy to make, why are millions of old instruments not equal to a Strad, or Gaurneri, or etc. After all, literally thousands of older german or hungarian violins are aged dry equally, with equal varnish, woods, etc, yet have no sound. Could there be possibly a skill factor, only few (eg Stradiavri) discovered and could apply? stands to reason, after hundreds of years.

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