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June 2006

Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 40

June 29, 2006 16:19

It’s long been an open secret that being a Seattle Symphony Orchestra player is scarcely a bed of roses due to the orchestra’s contentious relationship with its Music Director, Gerard Schwarz.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that a survey of SSO musicians, described by one trustee as "explosive," is expected to be released next week, expressing their unhappiness with music director Gerard Schwarz.

Following are excerpts from the article: “Trustees said the survey showed a high level of dissatisfaction over Schwarz's artistic leadership and his three-year contract extension, announced in early May, as well as board leadership in ignoring the opinions of the musicians regarding Schwarz's new contract.

…The executive committee of the board asked the musicians to delay making public the results of the survey until after the end of the fiscal year on Friday because it could potentially harm fundraising efforts, said Scott Wilson, chairman of the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players Committee. However, Ronald Woodard, board chairman, denies that such a request ever was made. Neither the full board nor musicians have been given the results of the survey.

The most divisive issue for the musicians, some trustees and musicians agreed, was the extension of Schwarz's five-year contract, due to expire at the end of the 2007-08 season.
Shortly after the extension of Schwarz's contract was announced, SSO second trumpet Geoffrey Bergler, a widely admired musician, wrote a letter to The Seattle Weekly, the first SSO musician to speak openly about its terms.

He wrote: "The vast majority of Seattle Symphony musicians are shell-shocked and dismayed: They recognize the need for change. The issue is not Maestro Schwarz personally. If anything, I'm biased in his favor. He's a friend, was my teacher at Juilliard (School in New York), and he hired me for this job. He has brought a lot to the organization and is enormously popular with our major donors. However, it is time for fresh artistic leadership for the symphony."

Less than two weeks later, Bergler said he was given notice by principal trumpet David Gordon, on direction from Schwarz, that his playing was no longer adequate. Bergler equates the warning with "retaliation." Schwarz refuses to talk about Bergler.

As Schwarz has his allies on the board, he has allies in the orchestra who are fervent in their support of the maestro. Each side calls the other a minority voice. What the survey should establish is which side is the majority in the orchestra.

Another musician, considered an ally of Schwarz, said: "A lot of people are tired of Jerry. He has been here a long time and has angered many, a danger of any long tenure. There is a lot of frustration that has been pent up, but I am not sure releasing the results of the survey is a good idea. It does not help sell tickets."

Read the entire article here: http://www.seattlepi.nwsource.com

Musician News

6/29/06 – Violinist Joshua Bell returns to his hometown of Bloomington, IN, to perform the Vivaldi Four Seasons and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. He has been WFIU-FM’s artist of the month for June.

6/28/06 – The Penderecki Quartet is also playing in Bloomington. Pianist Jeannette Koekkoek will join the quartet for Schumann’s E-Flat Piano Quintet.

6/25/06 - In a Florida Orchestra season wrap-up, the St. Petersburg Times included the news that Acting Concertmaster Jeff Multer has officially been named Concertmaster, filling a two-year vacancy. "I thought it was important to have Jeff in place before some other things could happen,'' Music Director Stefan Sanderling said. The paper explains, “Without a permanent concertmaster, the top leadership position among the players, the orchestra was slow to deal with turnover in the ranks. Not entirely coincidentally, with a concertmaster finally onboard, a flurry of audition winners was announced at the end of the season.” Oleg Chelpanov and Nancy Chang won permanent positions in the violin section. Violinist William Kang won a one-year position. Two leading violin positions are also up for auditions next season: principal second violin and associate concertmaster. The article also notes that former concertmaster Amy Moretti has been concertmaster of the Portland (OR) Symphony for two years now. “Base pay this past season for Oregon Symphony members was about $41,000, while scale for their counterparts in the Florida Orchestra was about $27,000. Until the orchestra upgrades wages, it will continue to be vulnerable to losing players. Negotiations for a new musicians contract will get under way next season.”

6/23/06 – The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music’s most recent newsletter proudly trumpeted the news that violinist Yura Lee, an active V.com member, had won First Prize in the 6th International Leopold Mozart Violin Competition in May. This is understandable since Lee studied at IU as a teenager with Miriam Fried and Paul Biss. But here’s what really grabbed my attention: “Biss remarked that Lee is possibly the best student he has ever heard.” Wow! Accolades like that are seldom uttered publicly, let alone in print.

6/22/06 - Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra and music director of the Utah Symphony, has been named artistic advisor of Brevard Music Center effective Oct. 1, 2007, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times. “Lockhart, 46, an alumnus of the center who has conducted there a number of times, will succeed David Effron, also an alumnus, who is retiring after 11 years as artistic director following the 2007 summer season ... Under the terms of an initial five-year contract with Brevard, Lockhart will spend at least two weeks at the center each summer and lead up to four concerts."

6/20/06 – Violinist Samuel Thompson performed at the New Haven International Festival of Art and Ideas in a multimedia performance honoring life and the spirit of New Orleans. Thompson performed Bach's Sonatas in G and A Minor for unaccompanied violin, Eugene Ysaye's Sonata No. 2, Thomas Benjamin's Shapes, for Violin Solo. Photos of New Orleans families and events were projected on a screen during the performances.

Orchestra News

6/25/06 – The Missoulian (Mont.) reports that the Missoula Symphony Orchestra announced its five finalists for the position of artistic director, which was vacated by the departure of 21-year veteran Joseph Henry at the end of this past season. “The finalists are: Morihiko Nakahara, associate conductor of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra; Arthur Post, music director of the San Juan Symphony in Durango, Colo.; Darko Butorac, director of orchestras at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff; Adam Flatt, former associate conductor with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra; and Anthony Spain, music director of the Northwest Symphony Orchestra in Seattle. In addition to conducting concerts, the five finalists will each spend two weeks in Missoula, meeting with civic leaders and visiting schools.

6/25/06 - A major donor to the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Philharmonic wanted to join the board. The orchestra is having attendance and money problems. But the orchestra's board refused to have him join them, reports an op-ed in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Why? "I'm very controversial to some people, because I want to make things better,” says Don Willis. “Board members think it’s their orchestra." In addition to serving on many of the city’s leading boards, Willis donated $90,000 to the orchestra last year alone. He believes the Philharmonic could market itself more aggressively and effectively. “Last year, subsidized with $70,000 from Willis, the Philharmonic offered discounted season tickets, and 40 percent of the people who purchased them renewed this year for a full season – at full price.” The Philharmonic’s musicians, meanwhile, last month passed a resolution supporting Willis. “Beyond the gossip value of mostly well-to-do people squabbling over control, why should you care? Because, as [the key participants] agree, the Philharmonic is a treasure: musically excellent, with the potential to make Fort Wayne and the region more appealing to arts-conscious prospective employers. That’s important, even if you can’t tell Bach from the Beatles. In fact, it’s so important, that everyone involved should put their personal agendas aside and work together for the common good. But will they?”

6/23/06 – The Norwegian musicians' union has called off a month-old strike that could have crippled the nation's many state-supported symphony orchestras, after musicians accepted a draft settlement proposed by a mediator, reports the Aftenposten (Oslo). "The strike began in Bergen in late May, disrupting the opening of the west coast city's annual music festival. It later spread to the National Opera and the Oslo Philharmonic, which was forced to cancel its Asian tour. The musicians were protesting annual salaries that average NOK 350,000 ($58,300) and the fact that they have to pay for their own instruments and their own gala clothing that's worn during performances."

Other Music News

6/27/06 – The Boston Globe provides an update on the sale of and possible frequency change for Boston classical music station WRCB-FM (102.5): "The Globe has learned that [buyer] Greater Media is in negotiations to sell its 99.5 frequency -- currently country music station WKLB-FM -- to New Jersey-based Nassau Broadcasting," which in turn "hopes to launch a classical music format on 99.5 and then apply to the Federal Communications Commission for the WCRB call letters." Louis F. Mercatanti, president and CEO of Nassau Broadcasting, comments: "We believe that there are a few markets in the country that do extremely well with classical, and Boston is certainly one of them ... You have a unique market, a product that is a niche format so it doesn't have any competition, and you have a marketplace that wants the format to stay." Mercatanti says he hopes to maintain WCRB's current staff.

6/27/06 - Los Angeles County will more than double its budget for arts grants in fiscal 2007, from $2.2 million to $4.5 million, reports the Los Angeles Times. “The county board also awarded 5 percent of a $400 million surplus in fiscal 2006 to cultural institutions…On the state level, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a $5.1-million budget for the California Arts Council -- a $1.8-million boost that relies on projected income from arts lovers' voluntary purchases of special arts license plates. California ranks last in the nation in per capita arts spending.

6/25/06 – The Saratogian (NY) includes an article about the Saratoga Performing Arts Center's new logo, unveiled in late February, which features an image of a left-handed conductor. “Marcia White, SPAC's president and executive director, comments: "It was a design that worked, and when we researched, we found that the baton could be in either hand." The paper adds: "White emphasized that SPAC would never design a logo that wasn't accurate. But errors do occur in design and printing, and it's not uncommon that musical images, in particular, are reversed ... Designers don't seem to realize that it matters if an eighth note has its flag to the left, instead of to the right, and it's common to see sharps and flats where they couldn't possibly belong. If an editor or graphic designer doesn't have a good musical background, it shows in the end result -- but only to those in the know." The paper also cites Peter Nero and Donald Runnicles as examples of left-handed conductors.

6/26/06 – The New York Times reports that KTPB-FM, the classical-music station of Kilgore College in Texas, is being sold to "a Christian-music broadcasting company from California, which will pay the college $2.46 million over 10 years." The station's supporters have formed a group, Save Our Arts Radio. “They have advertised in the local paper and generated at least 175 letters, many of them sent to the Federal Communications Commission, which must still approve the deal." Nancy B. Wrenn, the executive director of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra, comments: "Just because we live out here in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean we have to be a cultural void ... This radio station has reached people who have no other access to the arts." The paper adds: "KTPB, the only classical music station between Dallas and Shreveport, La., a distance of 190 miles, has about 15,000 listeners and reaches a population of 300,000 to 400,000 ... The school, a junior college in this town of 11,000, has been increasingly strapped financially, and the money it was using to subsidize the station -- about $125,000 a year -- was better put toward educating students, officials said."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 39

June 25, 2006 09:27

Now that the Grant Park Symphony 2006 season is underway, it really feels like summer to me. This is a free summer concert series that performs in downtown Chicago in the famed Millennium Park in a Frank Gehry-designed open-air concert setting. With Lake Michigan nearby and skyscrapers’ lights twinkling as the sun sets, it is a magical setting, one that is perfect for an alfresco dinner, seeing friends and peoplewatching. Oh yeah, there’s the terrific music, with an orchestra staffed largely by off-season Lyric Opera of Chicago players and the city’s top freelancers.

Last night, we were treated to a startling combination: Tibetan monks and Mozart. Tibetan monks performed various of their daily chants as an introduction and intermezzo to the Mozart Requiem. The audience was asked to focus on attaining world peace during the performance. For those who have not had the pleasure of hearing this unique Tibetan art form, my six year-old’s unfortunate description is actually quite apt: burp-singing. Quite a memorable performance!

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I learned something today: that famed mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson is also a professional-level violist and in fact is a former member of the San Jose Symphony. Unfortunately, Ms. Hunt Lieberson’s management company has announced without explanation that she has canceled all performances for the remainder of the year.

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Musician News

Violinist Gil Shaham can be heard in the near future on National Public Radio’s Performance Today and Symphony Cast programs. He will be playing the Barber Violin Concerto with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. For broadcast specifics and local stations, visit http://www.npr.org

PlaybillArts.com gave favorable reviews to some recently released violin discs: “Violinist James Ehnes’ first disc of Bach sonatas offered brilliant playing. The Canadian virtuoso is equally spectacular in this follow-up, which completes the set and also includes a pair of handsome sonatas attributed to Bach that are more likely the work of his second wife, Anna Magdalena.” (Analekta AN 2 9830) And, regarding a new recording of the Henze Violin Concertos 1 and 3 by Peter Sheppard Skaerved: “Hans Werner Henze’s three violin concertos span his entire career and cover a sweeping range of emotions. Last year, MDG issued a well-received disc containing all three concertos. If you want a low-priced introduction to these works, a new Naxos disc is worth checking out. The release contains Concerto No. 1 (1946) and No. 3 (1997) performed by Skaerved and the Saarbrucken Radio Symphony under Christopher Lyndon-Gee. The substantial fill-up is Henze’s Five Night-Pieces for violin and piano, written for Skaerved and Aaron Shorr, the performers on this disc.” (Naxos 8.557738)

6/25/06 – Violinist Vincent Skowronski writes with the news that WFIU-FM in Bloomington has played a selection from one of his recordings: Satie’s Choses Vues a Droit et a Gauche.

6/20/06 - Peter Oundjian, music director of the Toronto Symphony, has been hired as principal guest conductor and artistic adviser of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for two years beginning in September, reports the Detroit Free Press. “Oundjian will focus on artistic planning, helping select repertoire, shaping upcoming seasons and devising special initiatives such as festivals or other ventures. Oundjian, who was previously engaged to conduct two weeks in Detroit next season, will lead three weeks in 2007-08." Oundjian comments: "I'm going to be an artistic anchor ... I'll be happy to provide some stability and creative directions that will allow the orchestra to forge ahead." The paper adds, "Depending on the pace of the music director search, Oundjian's advisory role could easily extend beyond two years.”

6/17/06 - Julie Ayer, assistant principal second violinist in the Minnesota Orchestra, received a favorable review in the Boston Globe of her book More Than Meets The Ear: How Symphony Musicians Made Labor History. The review notes that former Boston Symphony assistant concertmaster George Zazofsky "played a central role in ... the establishment of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians in 1962. Up until that time, the interests of orchestral musicians were not invariably well-served by the American Federation of Musicians, which represented many other musicians in popular and commercial fields and therefore had other irons in the fire." Dyer writes that "with the help of some very tough negotiators and lawyers ... players now have a voice, and a responsibility, in artistic and administrative decisions that would have been unthinkable 50 years ago; they even evaluate conductors as carefully as conductors evaluate them." Ayer’s book was also reviewed in the March/April 2006 issue of Symphony Magazine.

6/17/06 - Violinist Tom Hall is retiring from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Coincidentally, his years of service span the entire Daniel Barenboim era, from 1970 (when Barenboim was named a CSO guest conductor) to now, when the maestro is also leaving the orchestra. Hall told the Chicago Tribune: “It has been an honor, privilege and pleasure to belong to this wonderful orchestra for 36 years and, ruing that time, to work with this most remarkable musician. I am in awe of his keyboard virtuosity, extensive knowledge of music history and theory, probing intellect, courageous humanitarianism and sharp and ready wit.”

6/10/06 – Itzhak Perlman received a mention in a Boston Herald article examining the new trend of classical music performers promoting themselves on the social networking site MySpace.com. “Savvy classical music marketers are discovering that if you want to attract young people, you’ve got to go where they are. Thus MySpace is becoming a valuable marketing tool for some of today’s biggest classical stars - and is poised to be even more important as young musicians promote their own careers.”

Orchestra News

6/21/06 - The Arizona Youth Symphony is folding after six seasons in the face of competition from the newly announced Mesa Youth Symphony Orchestra, reports the Arizona Republic. "Wal-Mart moved in next door to TrueValue; that's basically what happened," he said. "We've had such good seasons, the idea of not being able to be as good as I was, I thought I'd better not. That's why I didn't," said Steven Bardin, the AYS’s leader. The leader of the new Mesa group, Cal Stewart Kellogg, takes exception to this: "Any other youth symphony has just as much right to exist as anybody else," he said. "We were just going to be another one in there, but we were not muscling in on anybody else's territory nor do we wish to."

6/17/06 – The members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented Daniel Barenboim with the unofficial title of Honorary Conductor for Life. Not carrying the weight of the orchestra’s administration, the gesture is a heartfelt farewell to a musician many players revere deeply.

6/14/06 - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, "which disappeared without a trace after canceling a May 19, 2005 concert." The paper notes that the orchestra's board has named as its music director Richard Hynson. “Hynson is the first to hold that post since the MCO parted ways with founding conductor Stephen Colburn in 2002.The board did not cancel the 2005-06 season; it simply never announced a season and left the musical community wondering whatever happened to the MCO ... The blackout had to do with money and with employment rules and policy."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 38

June 22, 2006 14:40


I’ve now gotten the updated participant list from the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.

But first, I thought it would be interesting to look at the application requirements, particularly the mandatory recording. In previous competitions, applicants were required to submit a recording of themselves playing the first movement from one of 14 approved Romantic concertos. New in 2006 is the requirement that the recording must also contain a Paganini Caprice and two contrasting movements from Bach Solo Sonatas or Partitas.

In addition to Jury President Jaime Laredo, the other 2006 selection committee members were violinists David Cerone, president of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Joel Smirnoff, a member of the Juilliard String Quartet and Chair of Juilliard’s Violin Department.

They selected 31 women and 20 men from 22 countries. Participants range from 16 to 27 years of age. The 2006 competition will include two 16 year-olds, the youngest eligible age, both from Japan.

Competition spokesperson Cathleen Strauss tells me that application forms were available in English, French and German and mailed to leading violin professors and universities worldwide. They were also mailed upon request and available for download from the website. Strauss notes that, for 2006, the majority of applications submitted had been downloaded.

On June 19, IVCI released the information that, for the first time ever, the selections committee had named a small group of alternate participants. “As participants have dropped out due to personal or professional reasons, we have been drawing violinists off this Alternates list,” says Strauss. “Since April 28, four violinists have withdrawn and we have selected three violinists from the Alternates list.” The violinists who withdrew are Alena Baeva, Russia; Sophie Moser, Germany; Antal Szalai, Hungary; and Eugene Ugorski, United States. Their replacements are now full participants and are not being publicly identified as alternates.

Thus, the tally has changed to 31 women and 19 men representing 23 countries.

Here is the list of participants by country; with each competitor’s age following.

Armenia
Haik Kazazyan, 24

Australia
Alexandra Osborne, 24

Belgium
Yossif Ivanov, 20

Bulgaria
Bella Hristova, 20
Daniela Shtereva, 27

China
Howard Zhang, 22
Zhijong Wang, 23
Dan Zhu, 24
Yang Xu, 27

Czech Republic
Roman Patocka, 25

Dominica
Yuuki Wong, 24

Finland
Petteri Iivonen, 19

France
Elsa Grether, 26
Matthieu Arama, 27

Germany
Korbinian Altenberger, 24
Augustin Hadelich, 22
Nicolas Koeckert
(German-Brazilian nationality), 26

Hungary
Katalin Kokas, 27

Italy
Anna Tifu, 20

Japan
Miki Kobayashi, 16
Shion Minami, 16
Yusuke Hayashi, 22
Ryoko Yano, 24
Maiko Enomoto, 25
Saeka Matsuyama, 25
Miho Saegusa, 25

Korea
Jinjoo Cho, 18
Ye-Eun Choi, 18
Mi-Sa Yang, 19
Hye-Jin Kim, 21
Yura Lee, 21

Netherlands
Simone Lamsma, 20

Norway
David Coucheron, 22

Romania
Eugen Tichindeleanu, 25

Russia
Valentina Sviatlovskaia, 23
Liana Gourdjia, 24

Slovakia
Dalibor Karvay, 21

Taiwan
Tien-Hsin Wu, 21

United Kingdom
Caroline Adomeit-Gadd (British-German nationality), 22

United States
Eric Silberger, 17
Stephanie Jeong, 19
Elena Urioste, 20
Emilie-Anne Gendron, 21
Yevgeny Kutik, 21
Celeste Golden, 22
Eunice Keem, 22
Rachel Harding, 24
Angelia Cho, 25
Erin Keefe, 26

Uzbekistan
Daniel Khalikov, 22

In the near future, I hope to share some information about those competitors who are either American or have studied in the United States.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 37

June 19, 2006 08:18


In this, the year of the quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, news about the competition is going to start flowing fast and furious until its September 17 completion. Founded by the legendary Josef Gingold in 1982, the IVCI is, I believe, the only North American violin competition recognized by the World Federation of International Music Competitions.

With these luscious prizes, the quality is bound to be topnotch: $200,000 in cash prizes, concert engagements at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere, and the opportunity to record a CD. Additionally the winner will be allowed to use the "ex-Gingold" Stradivarius, formerly owned by Gingold, and a 19th-century Tourte bow until the 2010 competition.

I understand that the governing body, led by Gingold protégé Jaime Laredo, has selected 51 participants for this year’s competition. These names have not been posted on the IVCI website, but I hope to have the list of names by midweek.

One highlight of the competition will be the recital featuring 2002 Gold Medalist Barnabas Kelemen and 2002 Bronze Medalist Soovin Kim.

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I missed the informative interview with St. Louis Symphony concertmaster David Halen when it first ran on PlaybillArts.com in April, but it’s never too late to learn from an accomplished musician. The occasion was his then-upcoming performance of the Glazunov Violin Concerto with his orchestra. Read Hagen’s informative comments about this concerto here: http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/4242.html


Musician News

6/29/06 – Violinist Karen Gomyo will partner with pianist Dina Vainshtein at a recital at the Caramoor International Music Festival in Katonah, NY.

6/29/06 – Violinist Nikolaj Znaider will perform a Mozart Violin Concerto in Risor, Norway, as part of the Risor Festival.

6/27/06 – The Euclid Quartet and Degas Quartet will join forces at Aspen for a performance that, amazingly, does not include the Mendelssohn Octet. Rather, the two quartets have chosen to play Armando Bayolo’s “Ludi, for string octet.”

6/15/06 – The Boston Symphony announced that Music Director James Levine will conduct the Boston Symphony on July 7, the opening night of the Tanglewood Festival, in his first performance since he injured his shoulder on March 1. According to Levine, his enforced four-month hiatus has enabled him to focus on his health in an unprecedented way. He is overweight and has suffered from sciatica and other health problems that have forced him to conduct sitting down for several years. In an odd coincidence, the program for the July 7 concert is the same as the program that Levine led on March 1: Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1 and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

6/14/06 - Japanese conductor Hiroyuki Iwaki, who led the Melbourne Symphony for more than three decades, has died at 73, reports PlaybillArts.com. “In Europe Iwaki conducted the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Leipzig's Gewandhaus Orchestra." A legend in Japan, Iwaki also held a lifetime appointment as chief conductor of Tokyo's NHK Symphony.”

6/9/06 – Outgoing Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Daniel Barenboim invited one of his favorite performing partners, violinist Maxim Vengerov, to take the stage with him in one of the conductor’s farewell concerts. Vengerov, who played the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4, received a good review from the Chicago Tribune: “The young Siberian-born virtuoso is one of Barenboim’s star protégés, and the results of their close musical rapport were there for all to appreciate: the crispness of Vengerov’s bow work, the purity of his sound, the refinement of his style. Expressive warmth and charm did not have to be externally applied because these elements were central to the shared musical conception.”


Orchestra News

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and its musicians have reached an early settlement for a new contract, reports the American Symphony Orchestra League. “Negotiations for the three-year agreement, extending through the 2008-09 season, concluded this week, three months prior to expiration of the current agreement. The new agreement calls for wage increases of 2.5 percent each year. The current base salary of $39,234 will increase to $42,276 in the third year of the contract. Other components of the agreement include greater flexibility in the scheduling of regional educational concerts and an increase in the Electronic Media Guarantee. The new contract follows a season in which musicians worked under a one-year extension of the previous contract, at their own suggestion. The wage freeze was brought on by the tenuous nature of funding from Erie County and recognition by the musicians that the board and staff needed to focus on other critical issues.”

6/16/06 - The Oslo Philharmonic went on strike, leading to the cancellation of planned appearances this month in Malaysia and Singapore. Sarah Chang was to have appeared as soloist in Sibelius's Violin Concerto in the cancelled concerts. According to the orchestra, the Norwegian Musicians' Union called the strike, which also affects the Norwegian National Opera, the Bergen Philharmonic and other organizations around the country. "The Musicians' Union is fighting for a raise in salaries, claiming that the salaries in the orchestras have not seen the same development over the last 10 years as other sectors in society," reads a statement from the Philharmonic.

6/15/06 - The Mesa Symphony Orchestra has canceled four concerts, including its popular Fourth of July pops show, after its annual $50,000 grant request was turned down by the Mesa City Council, reports the East Valley Tribune (AZ). The $50,000 grant represents about a quarter of the symphony's annual budget. "Officials from the symphony, which comprises 65 part-time employees who perform about a dozen concerts a year, blamed the failure of a Mesa property tax initiative in May for the loss of funding….To offset the financial blow, the organization launched a campaign to raise $50,000 in 50 days for its 50th season."

6/15/06 – The Duluth News Tribune profiled the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, "Duluth's only regular summer orchestra." The group opens its 20th season this week with a performance of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf in collaboration with local comedy troupe Colder By The Lake, which has updated the work "with sketches that poke fun at contemporary issues and personalities."

6/13/06 - The first CD produced under a new agreement between the New York Philharmonic and New World Records was released. It includes world-premiere performances, conducted by Music Director Lorin Maazel, of two commissions: Stephen Hartke's Symphony No. 3 (2003) and Augusta Read Thomas's Gathering Paradise: Emily Dickinson Settings for Soprano and Orchestra (2004). The recording also includes Jacob Druckman's Summer Lightning, conducted by Maazel in 2003.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 36

June 15, 2006 15:47

A couple days ago, Laurie and I received an e-mail from reader Morton Raff, pointing out that I hadn’t reported on the October 2005 death of violinist, teacher and conductor Robert Gerle. Here’s what he had to say: “[Gerle] owned and used the ex-Hubay Strad for some thirty years, and he made a number of highly esteemed recordings. I played in his Friday Morning Music Club (of Washington, DC) Orchestra for a number of years. His recently published autobiography, Playing It By Heart, is an absolute gem.”

It’s true that I hadn’t included mention of Gerle’s death at the time. It simply hadn’t crossed my radar. And that’s where the readers of Violinist.com come in, of course.

Please feel free to send any string-related news to me at news@violinist.com. It’s great to get tips in a timely fashion, but even after the fact is fine, too.

Now that I’ve just passed my first anniversary of newsgathering for V.com, it seems a great time to check in with you all. I typically cover new recordings, auditions, personnel changes, labor issues, tours, honors, auctions, competitions and anything of interest to a passionately string-oriented readership. Noteworthy orchestra and conductor happenings make the grade, too.

If there’s something you’d like to see more (or less) of, just drop me a note. And keep the news coming!

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Last Sunday's (6/11) New York Times contained an article musing on music in the operating room, a widespread phenomenon little known among the nonmedical population. "Like most of modern life, surgery has acquired a soundtrack, whether it be Sinatra or Vivaldi, Mozart or Bob Marley, La Bohème or the Beatles. Surgeons say it relaxes them, focuses their attention and helps pass the time." The paper adds: "Music can become a subtle bone of contention among the members of the surgical team or a practical aid. Loud rock 'n' roll is good for routine operations, they say, Mozart for trickier ones. There is even a genre called 'closing music': raucous sounds to suture by."

"Generally, the attending surgeon, the honcho in the hierarchical operating room, decides the playlist ... Any member of the team has veto power if the music becomes distracting or interferes with dialogue. Music that requires concentration, like Mahler, is rare." The reporter interviews several doctors on their music choices and notes: "Dr. Nas Eftekhar, a retired pioneer of hip and knee replacements, used Mozart's 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' to mark the exact moments to apply cement to the femur and insert the artificial joint."

Are there any surgeons on V.com who care to share their own take on this trend?


Musician News

The Phoenix Symphony has announced four one-year string appointments for 2006-07. Jing Zeng has been named to a one-year section violin position; she is currently a member of the Virginia Symphony and the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. Danielle Guideri, principal cello of the Pueblo Symphony Orchestra, has received a one-year appointment in Phoenix as section cellist. Sarah Koo, a member of the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini in Parma, Italy, has also been named to a one-year section cello position. Finally, Jan Simiz, currently assistant principal cello, will assume the associate principal post for the 2006-07 season.

6/15/06 – Joshua Bell is in Baltimore this weekend, recording Corigliano’s The Red Violin with the Baltimore Symphony. Incoming music director Marin Alsop will conduct. Having performed the work in the score of the movie of the same name, Bell is widely associated with it, but his partners are old pros, too. According to the Baltimore Sun, “Corigiliano's large-scale concerto, developed out of his 1999 Academy Award-winning film score for The Red Violin, was commissioned by the BSO. The premiere in September 2003, with Bell and Alsop, had to be delayed a day because of Tropical Storm Isabel, but then caused a storm of its own - the public loved the work. Bell will perform Corigliano's Violin Sonata to fill out the CD.” Sony Classical is the label. The Baltimore Symphony’s most recent recording was made in 1998, with Hilary Hahn as soloist.

6/13/06 – The Boston Globe reported that Daniel Steiner, the president of New England Conservatory for the past seven years, has died. Steiner had previously announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2005-06 school year. He died of complications from chronic lung disease at 72, according to the paper. "During his tenure, the conservatory hired key faculty members, increased student applications, created a joint degree program with Harvard University, and launched a $100 million capital campaign that has raised about $72 million to date." Steiner's "lengthy legal career had included 22 years as Harvard's first general counsel….Mr. Steiner was acting president [of NEC] for a year and then was offered the presidency in part because faculty members were so impressed by his leadership and genial manner."

3/4/06 - Violinist Alexander Sprung won first place in the 10th Annual Hellam Young Artists’ Competition on March 4 in Springfield, MO. Sprung, a German, has just completed his second year in the undergraduate program at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studies with Miriam Fried. He played the Sibelius Violin Concerto at the Hellam finals, where he was awarded $5,000. As reported here earlier this year, he had also won a prize in the Jacobs School’s 2006 Travel Grant Competition.


Conductor Appointments

Guy Victor Bordo has renewed his contract as music director with the Richmond (Ind.) Symphony Orchestra through 2011. For the past year, Bordo also serves as director of orchestras at the University of Akron School of Music.

Fyodor Cherniavsky has been named music director and conductor of Georgia's DeKalb Symphony Orchestra. The British-born conductor had been serving in that post on an interim basis since last November. Cherniavsky is currently on the faculty of Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta. In addition to his work as a conductor Cherniavsky is a producer for ACA Digital, Albany Records, National Public Radio, Telarc International, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He trained in bassoon, viola, and piano at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama and subsequently pursued conducting studies.

Stefan Sanderling, music director of the Florida Orchestra, has signed a five-year contract that will keep him in the post through 2010-11.

Scott O'Neil will be joining the Colorado Symphony Orchestra as associate conductor, effective September 1. Since 2000 O'Neil has been with the Utah Symphony, most recently as associate conductor. He studied piano performance at Oberlin College Conservatory and earned a master's degree in orchestral conducting at Rice University, where he directed the Campanile Orchestra.

Miriam Burns has been named music director of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. She is currently music director/conductor of the Kenosha (Wis.) Symphony and of New York City's Orchestra of the Redeemer; a cover conductor on the staff of the New York Philharmonic; and conductor of the C.W. Post Summer Music Festival, where she also teaches conducting. Most recently, she served as music director of the Lawton (Okla.) Philharmonic, and was associate music director of the Bronx Opera for nine seasons.


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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 35

June 11, 2006 10:29

I recently received a note from our dear friend, Dr. Gregory Cowell, with the happy news that his 9-year-old violinist daughter, Cathryn Cowell, won first place in the Midwest Regional Fleadh Cheoil in the 12 and under category. This fleadh (pronounced “flah”) is sponsored by Comhaltas, the principal organizing body promoting Irish culture and music worldwide. Cathryn will compete at the Fleadh Cheoil (All-Ireland competitions) in Letterkenny, Ireland on August 25th. Congratulations, Cathryn!

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Violinist Ani Kavafian, along with clarinetist David Shifrin and pianist Andre-Michel Schub, has formed the Kavafian-Schub-Shifrin Trio, or the KSS Trio for short. In order to take full advantage of the clarinet-trio repertoire, Kavafian plays both violin and viola with the group.

The played a delightful performance on the Saint Paul Sunday radio program. To hear more, go to
http://www.saintpaulsunday.org

I’ve always been interested in hearing of Ms. Kavafian’s accomplishments, as I had the pleasure of studying viola with her stepfather and early teacher, Ara Zerounian, in the late 1970s. On rare occasions, she would be visiting—and practicing—during my lessons. What a privilege to hear her!

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The results are in for the 6th Annual Leopold Mozart International Violin Competition, which concluded in Augsburg, Germany on May 28. Contestants competed for a total prize of 35,000 EUR and various concert engagements. The finalists performed with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, conducted by Dimitri Sitkovetsky.

The winners are:

Yura Lee, Korea – 1st prize
Gahyun Cho, Korea – 2nd prize
Yuki Manuela Janke, Germany – 3rd prize

Additionally, Lee won the Audience Prize and the Prize of the Young Musicians’ Jury. Nurit Stark of Israel won the special prize for the best interpretation of the contemporary commissioned work.

The following violinists won Young Musicians Awards, splitting 2,100 EUR among them:

Cecilia Bernardini, Italy
Miki Kobayashi, Japan
Maria Machowska, Poland

And five violinists were awarded concert engagements:

Sarah Christian, Germany
Judy Kang, Canada
David Schulteiss, Germany
Eugen Tichindeleanu, Romania
Kyoko Yonemoto, Japan


Other Musician News

Louise Dubin is acting principal cellist of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra through the end of 2006.

6/8/06 – Will Maxim Vengerov soon be without a record label? Gramophone reported that Warner Classics is being rolled into Rhino, Warner's reissue division, which would “reduce the so-called majors in the classical record arena to just EMI, Universal and Sony-BMG." Almost immediately, the label has issued a statement saying it will "remain a key part of the Warner music family." The company says Warner Classics will continue to release new recordings and develop its catalogue, which includes Teldec Classics and Erato Disques.

6/8/06 – Conductor Osmo Vanska, the Minnesota Orchestra's music director, will leave his post as chief conductor of Finland's Lahti Symphony at the end of the 2007-08 season, concluding a two-decade tenure, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

6/8/06 - Marin Alsop, music director designate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, "becomes the first woman to conduct an entire program with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam" this weekend with her appearance as guest conductor, reports the Baltimore Sun.

6/6/06 – Conductor Richard Kapp, who founded and led the chamber orchestra Philharmonia Virtuosi, died at his home in Danbury, Conn. at age 69, reports the New York Times. The cause was cancer. "Mr. Kapp started his orchestra in 1968, and it became a fixture on the New York-area musical scene until it suspended concerts in 2004, when he became ill ... The orchestra attracted top-flight musicians and soloists, and its concerts featured folksy talk from the podium by Mr. Kapp." Wakin adds: "In 1977, he recorded 'Greatest Hits of 1720' for CBS Masterworks, which became a big seller. He followed up with hit parades from 1721, 1790 and the 1900's. They were collections of generally shorter, more accessible works designed to have popular appeal." The obituary quotes Kapp from a 1980 New York Times interview: "We don't take ourselves too seriously. We tend to play less intellectual, more joyous music. We look at this as entertainment, a source of pleasure."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 34

June 8, 2006 07:10

If you studied cello at Interlochen Arts Camp during any summer between 1963 and 2004, chances are you crossed paths with the great Cassel Grubb. To honor the veteran teacher, Interlochen is establishing an endowed scholarship for young cellists in Grubb’s name. Given that the minimum amount for establishing an endowed scholarship is $30,000, Interlochen is reaching out to cello alumni, stressing (of course!) that no donation is too small. If you would like to contribute but haven’t received your letter yet, contact Beth Stoner in Interlochen’s development office, 231-276-7617 or stonerb@interlochen.org.

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As many violinists have learned, acquiring an instrument appropriate to one’s skills can be a profound financial challenge. It’s bad enough when considering 5- and 6-figure violins, but when you’re a major soloist, only a 7-figure fiddle will do.

Robert McDuffie couldn't afford the cost of a great violin himself, so he engineered a novel means of acquiring the $3.5 million 1735 Guarneri del Gesu known as the “Ladenburg,” reported the Toronto Star on 6/4/06. “He incorporated, setting up 1737 del Gesu Partners, L.P., and convinced 16 friends and acquaintances (including himself) to invest in the instrument. The return on equity? Two private concerts a year, a share in any profits when McDuffie sells the violin in 2024 -- and the pleasure of seeing and hearing a master play a masterpiece. These friends include National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue, bass player Mike Mills from the band R.E.M., an investment banker from Goldman Sachs, and Dietmar Machold, the ultra-high-end dealer from whom he bought the instrument."

By way of explanation, the reporter works in the fact that American artists are typically left to their own devices to secure appropriate instruments. “Here, the Canada Council has acquired a number of these valuable creations and lends them out to worthy musicians. Governments in most European countries also support their top artists in similar ways. But in the U.S., the brave and free must scrounge lending rights from private foundations and collectors — or find the money to buy their own.”

McDuffie must obtain a yearly appraisal from an independent firm. According to him, the violin is now worth $600,000 (U.S.) more than in 2001. "Everybody's happy," he says, although he does have to pay a $14,000 insurance premium every year. The artist points out that "these people invested in more than the violin. Not one person made the investment expecting to or on condition of receiving a profit at the end of this."

McDuffie is playing in Toronto this week, with his old friend and colleague Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade will be on the program; the pair has performed it together several times since the late 1980s. "’I still adore the piece; I'm not tired of it at all,’ [McDuffie] says of the music that came out of Bernstein's most dynamic years as a composer. ‘It suits my physical style of playing.’ Loosely based on the short Symposium dialogue by Ancient Greek philosopher Plato, Serenade is a thematically diverse mediation on the meaning of love and friendship.”

The article concludes with the news that McDuffie has convinced Philip Glass to write a new concerto for him. "I've always considered him to be the American Vivaldi,” he explains, referring to the still-unwritten piece by Glass as “the American Four Seasons." The violinist hopes to perform the world premiere in Toronto in 2008 or 2009.

Read the entire article here:
http://www.artsjournal.com/music/redir/20060604-64275.html


Musician News

6/5/06 – Three longtime string players in the Cleveland Orchestra are retiring this year, according to PlaybillArts.com. Violinist Alvaro deGranda was appointed by famed music director George Szell in 1966. Szell later promoted deGranda to assistant concertmaster, a position deGranda held for 31 years. “A native of Cuba who studied at the Curtis Institute, deGranda played with the Houston Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony before coming to Cleveland. He retires in July. Violist Yarden Faden's tenure dates to 1966; before he was hired by Szell, he was a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Atlanta Symphony. Faden will retire in September after the orchestra's tour of European festivals.” Cellist Catharina Meints joined the Cleveland Orchestra in 1971 after playing in the National Symphony. “With her husband, oboist James Caldwell, who died in February, she founded the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin Conservatory.”

6/5/06 – Conductor Ton Koopman, a renowned Bach specialist, was awarded the 2006 Bach Medal by the city of Leipzig on the final day of this year's annual Leipzig Bach Festival. He founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, which he founded in 1979.

6/2/06 – According to the Baltimore Sun, Jeffrey Sharkey, “the No. 2 administrator at the Cleveland Institute of Music, has been named to the No. 1 post at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. The Delaware-born Sharkey will start work as Peabody's director Oct. 1, succeeding Robert Sirota ... Frank Caputo, assistant to the president at the Cleveland Institute, called Sharkey's hiring at Peabody 'a big win for Baltimore.' Sharkey, 41, is a composer and pianist who holds "graduate degrees from Yale University and Cambridge University in composition and philosophy, respectively."

6/1/06 - The Montreal International Music Festival, which focused on violin this year, has announced its winners, reports PlaybillArts.com. MIMF alternates between voice, violin, and piano over a four-year cycle, with voice presented every other year. It was admitted to the World Federation of International Music Competitions in 2004.

The winners are:

Jinjoo Cho, first prize
Ye-Eun Choi, second prize
Marcus Tanneberger, third prize
Corinne Chapelle, fourth prize
Moyuko Kamio, fifth prize
Dan Zhu, sixth prize

“Cho, a 17-year-old native of South Korea, currently studies in Cleveland. She performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto in the finals. The winners share $70,000 CDN.” Cho, Choi and Tanneberger performed the next day with the Montreal Symphony, conducted by Maestro Muhai Tang.

5/6/06 – Fans of Nigel Kennedy in Dusseldorf, Germany, were disappointed when the violinist’s performance with the Polish Chamber Orchestra was cut short due to a false alarm in the concert hall. Kennedy later posted this message on Another String, a fan site: “I want the audience to know that I waited backstage for one hour, and was ready to go back on stage and finish the concert, but there seemed to be a great lack of communication coming from the people that operate the venue. This is a great shame that the venue decided not to inform the musicians and the audience about what was going on. I do hope that I get the opportunity to perform for you all again some time soon. Be kool, Nigel.”


Orchestra News

6/5/06 - The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performed its first floating concert aboard an Erie Canal barge, reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. The event was almost cancelled due to inclement weather. "Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik cruised to the concert in style on the Sam Patch packet boat. Clad in black slacks and a sport shirt, he led a rousing program of patriotic, movie and pop music that had audience members clapping ... The concert was probably unique in RPO history. On both sides of the canal, spectators crammed into every available patch of grass and watched from private boats lined stem to stern.”

6/3/06 - An Associated Press article printed in the Los Angeles Times profiles the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra in Marshall, Missouri, a town of “about 12,000 people." The orchestra "just completed its 43rd year. Historians have traced the roots of organized bands in the town to 1871. Since 1934, residents have paid a 1/10 of a cent 'band tax' to support the orchestra and a municipal band ...”

6/2/06 - The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra has named soprano Dawn Upshaw as “its newest artistic partner, beginning a three-year tenure at the start of the 2007-08 season,” reports the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. The first woman and the first singer to become an artistic partner at the SPCO, Upshaw "will be one of five artistic partners during the 2007-08 season, joining pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and conductors Roberto Abbado, Douglas Boyd and Nicholas McGegan. Violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Stephen Prutsman will complete their three-year terms as partners next season, leaving Upshaw as the lone American on the leadership team."

5/31/06 – The Mesa Symphony Orchestra is forming the Mesa Youth Symphony Orchestra this year, targeting young musicians from 10th grade to age 20, reports the Arizona Republic. “The group plans to select about 60 players from Southeast Valley community, including Mesa, Gilbert, Apache Junction and Queen Creek, during auditions in August." Overseeing the new group will be violin teacher Patricia Cosand. "Cosand said one other youth symphony group in Mesa, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony that has been in existence more than 20 years, excludes students after 14 years or ninth grade. 'Our attitude was that we would have a high school group that's an extension of that.' " Parents "have been asking for a continuation of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony in the area for a long time.

5/31/06 - The Memphis Symphony and its musicians have reached agreement on a new three-year contract retroactive to 2005 and running through 2008, the orchestra has announced. According to PlaybillArts.com, “The contract includes salary increases of 5 percent, 7 percent, and 8 percent. The salary for principal musicians, which was $24,781 in 2004-05, will increase to $30,069 in 2008. The contract also calls for the addition to two full-time musicians to the MSO. The orchestra currently has 34 full-time players and 45 part-time players.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 33

June 3, 2006 18:37

I had the pleasure Friday night of attending one of Daniel Barenboim’s farewell appearances with the Chicago Symphony. The program contained the world premiere of Astral Chronicle by outgoing CSO composer-in-residence Augusta Read Thomas. Astral Canticle is scored for solo violin, solo flute and small orchestra. Concertmaster Robert Chen and principal flute Mathieu Dufour did the honors. “Astral Canticle’s two solo parts were designed not so much as leading roles for flute and violin, but as music tailor-made for Mathieu Dufour and Robert Chen,” the program notes tell us. Fittingly, the dedicatee is Daniel Barenboim, while Chen and Dufour are two of the outgoing music director’s most notable hires in his 15-year tenure.

The Tribune’s John von Rhein opines: “Astral Canticle is one of Thomas’ more immediately accessible pieces, and there is something interesting taking place at any given moment…the strength of Thomas’ new work was undeniable in this first performance. There’s no doubt Astral Canticle will make its way through the orchestral world.” So, this fine piece may be coming to a concert hall near you… And be sure to keep an eye out for Thomas’ new violin concerto, due for a 2008 premiere.

======

At my husband’s request and out of deference to his many fellow Curtis string alumni, I am reporting that Curtis solfege teacher and pianist Edward Aldwell has died.

The 5/31 Philadelphia Inquirer summarized his life eloquently: "Though among the greatest Bach pianists of our time, Edward Aldwell, who died Sunday at age 68 as the result of an automotive accident, was also among the least known. While a fixture in Philadelphia concert life, thanks to his faculty position at the Curtis Institute of Music and his frequent recitals presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, he was known to a larger public only through a half-dozen prestigious recordings and occasional concerts in other major music capitals, such as New York and San Francisco." A native of Portland, Ore. who held bachelor's and master's degrees from The Juilliard School, Aldwell "played other composers, such as Hindemith, Schubert and Fauré, but friends and associates say that Bach was so central to his life that they never thought to ask why. 'It was a given,' said pianist Cynthia Raim, who first knew him at Curtis theory classes." Stearns reports that Aldwell "is survived by his wife, Jean; daughter, Elisabeth; and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at Curtis at a date to be announced."

Musican News

6/11/06 - Yuri Temirkanov will lead his final concert as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has released a limited-edition recording to honor his seven-season tenure as music director. Recorded live in September 2004, this is the only recording released during the Temirkanov era.

5/27/06 – Violinist.com favorite Julia Fischer received a glowing review from the Baltimore Sun for a performance with the Baltimore Symphony under Temirkanov. "In the most sensational BSO debut since Chinese pianist Lang Lang's six years ago, the German-born [Julia] Fischer delivered an incandescent account of Beethoven's Violin Concerto ... Matters of intonation and articulation were so thoroughly under control that the violinist was free to focus on the innermost details of phrasing."

5/26/06 - Sylvia Nadien Rosenthal, former assistant principal cellist for the Rhode Island Philharmonic, died May 26 in Providence, reports the Providence Journal. "With her sister, the late Florence (Nadien) Weintraub, she toured the Allied bases in Korea, Japan, and throughout the Pacific Theatre, entertaining the troops at the liberations and at the beginning of the occupation presence. Upon her return, she attended The Juilliard School in New York, studying with Willem Wilike and Gregor Piatigorsky. Her son, Perry Rosenthal, who performed with her at the Philharmonic, sat as principal cellist until his recent death. For twelve years, as mother and son, they occupied the first stand of the Philharmonic cello section, which was unique in an American orchestra. Sylvia retired from the Philharmonic with Florence in 1998, ending a 50-year career for both women."

5/25/06 – Cellist Matt Haimowitz was named a 2006 ASCAP Concert Music honoree in New York City for “taking his performances and compositions to audiences in non-traditional venues.” Philip Glass, James DePreist, and the group Alarm Will Sound also received awards.

5/7/06 - Gisèle Ben-Dor conducted her final appearance as music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony.


Orchestra News

6/8/06 - The New York Philharmonic will begin a seven-city, eleven-concert tour of Italy that will wrap up on June 20. This tour marks the orchestra's first return in 20 years to Rome, Florence, and Milan. The orchestra will also visit Parma, Ravenna, Ljubljana in Slovenia, and Trieste.

According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has received a $1 million gift from the Irving Harris Foundation in support of the MusicNOW new music concert series and new music activities of the orchestra. MusicNOW, which will enter its ninth season in 2006-07, provides concert programs completely dedicated to new music and works by some of today's most prominent composers.

The Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra will receive $13,000 in funding for its 2006 Summer Festival Program, which will provide activities for 80 youth ages 8 to 19, reports the ASOL. “The funding represents a portion of $760,000 provided to summer camps, child- and youth-focused agencies, libraries and arts centers in the greater New Orleans area by a coalition including the international aid organization Save the Children, the United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area, Mercy Corps, and the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.”

The Canton Symphony Orchestra has established a new composer program in partnership with the Cleveland Institute of Music. “The program, to start in September, will allow a student composer to work with the CSO's Education Department throughout a given season, and includes the commission of a short piece for the orchestra's spring Kinder Koncerts. Evan Fein of Cleveland won the fellowship over a field of CIM composition students and will serve the program’s first composer-in-residence.”

5/27/06 - PlaybillArts.com reports that the Cleveland Orchestra and National Public Radio have struck a deal. “NPR will broadcast 13 Cleveland Orchestra concerts from the last three years through its Performance Today, SymphonyCast, and World of Opera programs ... The broadcasts will begin on June 9 with the broadcast on SymphonyCast of a concert featuring Messiaen's 'Turangalîla-symphonie' and Stravinsky's 'Requiem Canticles' and conducted by [Music Director Franz] Welser-Möst." The Cleveland Orchestra "has been heard nationally through a series of different networks since 1922, but it has not previously been heard on NPR's syndicated classical programs. NPR signed a similar deal with the Philadelphia Orchestra last month."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 32

June 1, 2006 16:33


The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a $5 million increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, reports the ASOL. “For the second consecutive year, the amendment to increase NEA funding was approved by a simple vocal ‘yes’ and ‘no’ vote. Voice votes are usually reserved for non-controversial amendments, an important sign of the growing Congressional confidence in NEA funding. The bipartisan amendment included a $5 million increase for the National Endowment for the Arts and a $5 million increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities.”
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In honor of the 125th anniversary of the birth of Bela Bartok, Bard College will host a conference this weekend exploring his life and career, particularly his contributions to the study of folk music. On Saturday, June 3rd, the program includes a concert that will juxtapose Bartok’s music with the folk music that inspired it. Several violinists will perform, including:

Bela Bartok, from Forty-four Duos (1931)
Jennifer Chun, violin
Angela Chun, violin


Roberto Sierra (b. 1953), Trio No. 2 (2002)
Calvin Wiersma, violin
Sophie Shao, cello
Frederic Lacroix, piano

Bright Sheng (b. 1955), String Quartet No. 3 (1993)
Daedalus Quartet

Bright Sheng, Four Movements for Piano Trio (1990)
Min-Young Kim, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Bright Sheng, piano

Musician News

Violinist and conductor Tito Muñoz will join the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as an assistant conductor, effective August 25. He will also serve as associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. The 22-year-old Muñoz, a native of New York City, studied violin and composition in the Preparatory Division of the Manhattan School of Music and continued his violin studies under Daniel Phillips at Queens College.

5/26/06 - Violinist Raymond Kobler and pianist Gloria Cheng played "committed, exuberant performances" of Lou Harrison’s Suite for Violin, Piano and Small Orchestra with the Pacific Symphony, reports the Los Angeles Times.

5/24/06 - Violinist and conductor James Hannon, director of orchestral activities at Iowa State University, has been named the 10th music director of the Greater Grand Forks Symphony, according to the Grand Forks Herald (ND). "Hannon conducts the ISU Symphony Orchestra and teaches instrumental conducting at the university in Ames. Hannon has served as orchestra director and violin professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, as well as assistant professor of music and director of orchestras at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he also taught violin and viola.”


Orchestra News

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has received a multi-year grant from the Lincoln Financial Group Foundation, in support of the orchestra's new Cabaret Pops Series, according to the ASOL. The $160,000 grant will support the series during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra has received a $500,000 fund-raising challenge from long-time supports Anne and Noel Melvin. The Melvins will match new or increased financial contributions made before August 31. In addition, they have also made a gift of $250,000 to the organization.

5/25/06 - Cleveland's Contemporary Youth Orchestra performed with the rock band Styx at Blossom Music Center, reports the Plain Dealer. Orchestra Music Director Liza Grossman, who organizes the orchestra's annual "Rock the Orchestra" concerts, tells the paper, "I was thinking of rock groups whose sound I consider to be orchestral, and because I went to high school in the '80s, Styx came to mind." Styx has “welcomed the young musicians fully into its territory, hiring professional arrangers to transcribe 21 songs into scores for the 115-piece orchestra and 40-member chorus… They now plan to record a DVD and Internet broadcast of the concert, as well as two singles for possible release next Christmas." Grossman comments: "Styx has been taking this project so seriously ... They treat the kids at the level of professionals." Styx vocalist Tommy Shaw comments: "To see them playing our music so seriously and realize they're doing this on top of everything else in their lives, it's beautiful."

5/19-20/06 - The Tucson Symphony Orchestra hosted two Young Composers Project Reading Sessions. “Fifteen works by composers ranging in age from nine to eighteen were selected for the project. Eight were performed by the TSO Chamber Orchestra on Friday evening and seven additional works were performed Saturday evening by the TSO String Quintet. From the advance press: “The composers and musicians will then discuss the works and the composer will be invited to make changes. A second performance will be recorded and a copy given to the composer.”

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