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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 30

May 25, 2006 at 1:21 AM

Music News

5/24/06 – Today, Yahoo is running a general-interest Associated Press story about the Juilliard School's 100th anniversary. Graduation will happen on Friday at Lincoln Center, when 263 students will get their degrees. The article has some interesting quotes:

From James DePreist, 69, conductor of The Juilliard Orchestra: "’People are waiting in line for the few jobs that do exist. The situation is precarious.’ A graduate auditioning for a seat in a major American orchestra these days typically faces 100 or more competitors for the same job.”

Violinist Tai Murray, a 23-year-old from Chicago who spent two years getting her artist's diploma, is “among the lucky ones. She had a budding career before she got to Juilliard, starting with solo concerts when she was 9. She now has a New York manager and a CD on the way, and she lives in her own Manhattan apartment on money earned playing concerts. ‘For me, Juilliard was a haven. It gave me a base to hold on to in the bigness of New York,’ she said, noting that she recently returned from an appearance with an orchestra in Denmark.”

And violinist William Harvey talks about Juilliard’s competitive atmosphere: “One day, this guy walked into my practice room and said, 'Your octaves are out of tune. I can play the best octaves in the world.' And he lifted up his violin and showed me." He says each Juilliard graduate must leave with a very personal definition of why they take on the challenge of an artistic profession: “His answer came after Sept. 11, 2001, when he played the violin for an Army regiment that had just returned from rescue work at ground zero. ‘At Juilliard, kids are hypercritical of each other and very competitive,’ he said. ‘But this wasn't about that. The soldiers didn't care that I had so many memory slips I lost count. They didn't care. I've never seen a more appreciative audience, and I've never understood so fully what it means to communicate music to other people.’

It’s nice to hear about Harvey, whose street performances and an accompanying essay describing his post-9/11 experiences riveted radio listeners around the country. He seems to be a very talented violinist who also has a big heart.

5/16/06 – reported that Romanian police allegedly discovered a Stradivarius violin during a raid on a prostitution gang. “The gang is headed by a Romanian named Catalín, who is currently incarcerated in Salamanca. He reportedly gave instructions that his subordinates were not to sell the violin for less than $1 million euros, although it is worth up to 2.5 million euros, according to Madrid ABC. It is unclear where the violin came from or when it was stolen; it reportedly doesn't match up with any Strads known to be missing. Spanish media report that it is possible one of the gang members played the instrument.”

5/16/06 – “The Hammer” Strad set an auction record for the sale of any kind of instrument, surpassing the previous record of $2 million, reports “An unnamed buyer bid $3,544,000 for the 1707 instrument yesterday, which Christie's had estimated would fetch between $1.5 to $2.5 million. Another Stradivarius, ‘The Lady Tennant’, sold at Christie's in April 2005 for $2.032 million.” The violin’s name derives from a 19th century Swedish collector called Christian Hammer.

“Previous owners have included violinist and collector Bernard Sinsheimer, industrialist Raymond Pitcairn, collector Albert H. Wallace, and businessman Laddie Junkune, who owned it from 1945 to 1992. Recently, the violin has been on loan to violinist Kyoko Takezawa.”

Musician News

5/19/06 – Violinist Gil Shaham earned a rhapsodic review from the San Francisco Chronicle for his performance of William Schuman's Violin Concerto: “Shaham's breathless and slightly grainy approach made Schuman's writing sound like the most urgent thing imaginable and when he softened up for the lyrical episodes, it was like the sun breaking through clouds.”

5/12/06 - Violinist Robert Zimmer, a longtime member of the Cleveland Orchestra, has died at 78, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Zimmer, a native of Angola, Indiana, began studying the violin at age four. He became the youngest member of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic at 16. Shortly after graduating high school, he joined the first violin section of the Indianapolis Symphony. After fourteen years with the ISO, he joined the Cleveland Orchestra in 1966 and played with the ensemble for 36 years. Zimmer also had stints teaching at Butler and DePauw Universities and played in chamber groups including the Indianapolis Baroque Ensemble.”

5/7/06 - The Ariel String Quartet, an eight-year-old ensemble based at the New England Conservatory of Music, won the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition at Notre Dame University. The Ariel won both the grand prize and first prize in the senior strings category. It will receive a total of $10,500 and the opportunity to tour the Midwest and appear at the Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy. The quartet includes violinists Gershon Gerchikov and Alexandra Kazovsky, violist Sergey Tarashchansky, and cellist Amit Even-Tov, all 21 years old. The group has studied at NEC for the last two years.

Orchestra News

5/18/06 - The Charleston (SC) Post & Courier reports that musicians would see their salaries restored to 2003 levels under a tentative one-year contract between the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Association and the Coastal Carolina Association of Professional Musicians Local 502. The paper notes that in 2003 the musicians took a 17 percent cut to keep the orchestra from canceling "at least one season," accepting base salaries of $15,953 "plus extra services that brought total yearly pay to $17,500. Under the proposed contract, an average section player would earn $20,903 and average principal player would earn $26,128 in the 2006-07 season." James Holland, the CSO's principal cellist and chairman of the musicians' negotiating committee, comments: "I believe this leap of faith sends a message to the community that we have value." The agreement must be ratified by both groups on or before June 30.

5/17/06 – The Seattle Symphony has renewed the contract of music director Gerard Schwarz for three years. But an article in Seattle Weekly indicates that perhaps the reasons for keeping Schwarz at the helm have little to do with music. “He has been sued by his own musicians, accused of having little to say musically, and while there can be no doubt that Schwarz has been a masterful raiser of money, one observer says that ‘The [symphony] board is already a laughingstock around the country for allowing itself to become hostage to the fund-raising abilities of its music director’."

5/12/06 - Oregon Symphony musicians voted to accept a one-year contract that will raise their salaries to nearly their 2003 level, reports the Oregonian. Salaries have been frozen since a 5.25 percent pay cut took effect three years ago. The new contract raises salaries and benefits by $2,000, but falls approximately $200 short of the pre-2003 level, according to the paper. Players will also receive an additional $500 for instrument maintenance. The entry-level salary for a section player is $41,539, but principal players make much more, of course. The contract covers only the 2005-06 season, which ends June 7.

5/11/06 - After years of performing under an alternate title, an orchestra in Chandler, Arizona, has gotten the name it always wanted: the Chandler Symphony, reports “According to the Arizona Republic, the orchestra, based in a suburb southwest of Phoenix, has been performing as the San Marcos Symphony since its founding in 1991 because Irving Fleming, the longtime conductor of the nearby Scottsdale Symphony, owned the Chandler Symphony trade name and refused to relinquish it. Recently, San Marcos Symphony president—and violinist—Laura Russ discovered through the web site of the Arizona Secretary of State that Fleming had let his claim lapse. The Chandler-based orchestra hurriedly registered the name for itself.”

From parmeeta bhogal
Posted on May 25, 2006 at 6:17 AM
I started a thread on the stolen violin recovered in Spain when the news first came out entitled " Strad found in gang's hoard". You might want to look it up.
From Gregory Zinkl
Posted on May 25, 2006 at 12:11 PM
Wow, what's up with Mr. Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony. Are the facts in that news report really accurate? You'd think from their successful recording legacy that everything was sweet! =8O
From Nick W.
Posted on May 25, 2006 at 10:37 PM
Just a slight correction: Gil Shaham performed the William Schuman - not Robert Schuman(n)'s - Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony last week.

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