In addition to losing juror Igor Oistrakh, the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis is reporting that two participants have withdrawn. According to the Indianapolis Star, Eugen Tichindeleanu, a 25-year-old Romanian violinist, quit the competition due to inflammation of his shoulder tendons. Haik Kazazyan, a 24-year-old Armenian musician, resigned, also citing health problems.
The Star also is running a series of mini-profiles of the competitors. On 8/27/06, the paper ran four:
Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova has performed repeat engagements on “A Prairie Home Companion.” Now 20, the Curtis Institute of Music student began playing on Garrison Keillor's widely known public radio variety show when she was 15. “Since then, Hristova's “Prairie Home Companion” performances have been broadcast from the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, and from New Jersey and Minnesota.
‘He just kept re-inviting me,’ she said. ‘I played a few short pieces. I've been wanting to be in a skit, but it hasn't happened yet.’ According to the paper, Hristova also has helped make a name for herself in this country by performing Fire and Blood, a concerto by contemporary American composer Michael Daugherty. ‘This [piece] is based on murals at the Detroit (Institute) of Arts, and on the life of the painter Frida Kahlo.’ Hristova arrived in the United States in 1999 to study at the Meadowmount School of Music. She has said she began teaching herself English by watching Indiana Jones movies over and over. At Philadelphia's Curtis Institute, she is a student of Ida Kavafian, a 1982 Violin Competition laureate and one of this competition's eight jurors.” If she progresses to the competition finals, she hopes to perform Bela Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2.
Twenty-year-old Italian-Romanian violinist Anna Tifu won her first competition at age 8 in Italy and played a concerto in Milan's famous La Scala opera house at age 12. “Her father is a Romanian-born violinist with whom Anna began studying at age 6. She was one of the last soloists to perform with the Romanian-born conductor Sergiu Comissiona, a former music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra who died last year. In Central Indiana, Tifu shares her Romanian heritage with Carmen Marmureanu Bugay, who will be her host during the competition. Bugay told Violin Competition officials that she and Tifu studied violin with members of the same Romanian family. Tifu will start her second year at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music after the Violin Competition ends. ‘I've done some competitions before,’ she said. ‘This is the first major competition I have done in America . . . I think the competition will help me with a lot of things. I have, like, some trouble to get a career, because I don't have a manager. Here in Italy, the people who organize concerts, they don't really care about young artists. I know in America, I will have much more of a chance.’ "
“Norwegian David Coucheron will turn 22 on Sept. 5 -- during the preliminary round at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. He has an apartment in New York, where he is working on his master's degree at the Juilliard School. He previously spent five years in Philadelphia, while attending the Curtis Institute of Music. ..The violinist, who plays in a duo with his sister, pianist Julie Coucheron, during this year's competition, said that life as a musician in New York is far different than in his native Oslo. ‘Norway is a country with only four million people,’ he said. ‘It has a much smaller music scene. Here in New York, most musicians know each other, but in Norway, everybody knows the three major orchestras. Everything is just a lot smaller. In certain ways it's easier to deal with, but in certain ways, it's more difficult. One thing Coucheron especially relishes about Norway is the quiet. ‘At home at 11 o'clock at night, everything is silent. Here, everything is the same as it was in the day. I miss silence a lot, because New York City is so noisy.’
Yevgeny Kutik travels the United States these days as a speaker for the United Jewish Communities, a philanthropic and humanitarian organization based in New York. “Mainly, the 21-year-old American citizen describes his family's 1990 escape from the former Soviet Union, driven by anti-Semitism and assisted by the group he now represents. ‘The story is simple,’ said the Boston University student by phone from his parents' home in Pittsfield, Mass. ‘We had an established family in Russia, with jobs and property, and came to the U.S. basically reduced to . . . about $400 and not much else.’ Kutik's father, who now works in the U.S. computer industry, played trumpet in the State Symphony Orchestra in what is now Belorussia. His mother is a violinist. At Boston University, Kutik studies music, but also Russian and other academic courses. He said he prefers a diverse academic environment to a conservatory. Kutik has been studying with an emeritus professor, Roman Totenberg, the 95-year-old father of longtime National Public Radio correspondent Nina Totenberg: ‘He personally knew everyone, from Prokofiev to Menuhin to Stravinsky.’ If Kutik proceeds to the finals of the Indianapolis competition, he plans to play Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1, which he has performed with the Boston Pops under the direction of Keith Lockhart.”
Other Musician News
9/2/06 - The Shanghai String Quartet will close out the season at Music Mountain. First, they will be joined by the violist Michael Tree and the cellist Robert Martin. Then, the next day, the quartet will perform the second and third of the “Razumovsky” Quartets of Beethoven.
9/2/06 – Violinist Ilya Kaler will perform the Vivaldi Four Seasons at the Skaneateles Chamber Music Festival, reports the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “Last year, the Skaneateles Chamber Music Festival learned that it was losing its star violinist, Hilary Hahn, a 26-year-old classical sensation and Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Hahn had been appearing at the festival every year since she was 12. But in recent years her itinerary had become increasingly hectic, making it impossible for her to continue her annual pilgrimages to the Finger Lakes.” Instead the festival retained Kaler. “Since winning the Paganini Violin Competition a quarter-century ago, Kaler has pursued one of the world's most illustrious — and quite frankly weirdly unpredictable — fiddle careers. He remains the only violinist in history to win gold medals in all three of the world's most prestigious violin competitions — the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Moscow, 1986), Sibelius (Helsinki, 1985) and Paganini (Genoa, 1981). Yet far from touring the world as a premier soloist with a priceless Stradivarius (he plays a contemporary Joseph Curtin violin), Kaler has spent the years doing a little of this and a little of that. He's taught at a variety of colleges and conservatories, including the Eastman School of Music. He even spent five years serving as concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Then, in 2001 he accepted a teaching post at Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, a town that in the end proved to be, in Kaler's words, ‘a little too small for my career’. But in 2003 he got it right when he moved to DePaul University School of Music in Chicago. His flexible teaching schedule has allowed him to start recording with a vengeance. He just finished recording all of the Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin for Naxos (a budget label, rather like his budget fiddle), and he plans to record all of the Beethoven violin sonatas. Other recent recordings include the Brahms violin sonatas, Ysaÿe solo violin sonatas and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time.”
8/31/06 – Bargemusic, New York’s floating chamber-music series, has commissioned a piano trio, Behzad Ranjbaran’s “Shiraz” Trio. Violinist Mark Peskanov, cellist Edward Arron, and pianist Olga Vinokur will perform the premiere this weekend.
8/28/06 – According to the Houston Chronicle, violinist Cho-Liang Lin has been appointed professor of violin at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. Lin has taught at the Juilliard School and is also the music director of the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest in the San Diego area. The Rice position is new, “created to handle the large number of talented violinists attending the Shepherd School.”
8/29/06 – The Peterborough Evening Telegraph (UK) ran an article about Bournemouth Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Roger Stimson and his experiences with epilepsy, including his attempts to revitalize a local epilepsy society. He had never told the orchestra of his illness. “But when he was rehearsing with the Bournemouth Philharmonic Orchestra one day, Roger got a familiar tingling feeling in his head, which worked itself down his body. He recognised this was the start of a seizure, and walked off the stage. But before he could find somewhere to lie down and put his violin in a safe place, he was overcome. ‘I woke up in hospital’, he said. ‘A cellist friend of mine was with me, and I asked about my violin. He said, 'well, we picked up the pieces'. Luckily, the violin was repairable, and Roger was able to carry on with the orchestra. Roger, of Longthorpe Green, Longthorpe, near Peterborough, has striven to pick the Peterborough branch of Epilepsy Action up after committee membership dwindled to just one person. His efforts, which have seen a new chairman appointed and membership rise to 48, were rewarded by him being given the Epilepsy Action Branch Member of the Year Award.”
8/29/06 – Esther Larsen is a Salt Lake City violin teacher who has begun purchasing student violins to give to needy students, reports the Deseret Morning News. “Larsen believes music is good for students, giving them a creative outlet. ‘Music transforms them. They have something to focus on that's worthwhile that can bring them recognition’, Larsen said. She also believes no student should be denied the opportunity to experience an instrument…She started buying and lending out violins about four years ago. Now she has about 150 violins, which were stacked in her basement for the summer. She paid for each violin herself, getting them from a wholesaler for between $50 and $75. When Larsen started thinking about buying the violins she was also thinking about redoing her kitchen. She wanted new expensive countertops and new cabinets. But she decided that every time she looked at those new expensive counters she would think of somebody who could have had an instrument. Instead she bought laminate countertops, kept the old cabinets and did the floor herself — and bought violins.”
8/27/06 – American Profile.com ran a piece about Emily Weinberger, a 13-year-old violinist who collected instruments to donate to the members of the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra as her bat mitzvah project. " ‘Emily told me about her mitzvah project,” says her violin teacher Richard Errante of Wilton, Conn. (pop. 17,633). "I had just attended a Norwalk (Conn.) Youth Symphony concert. The audience was asked to give $1 each to help GNOYO in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When Emily heard that, it was as if a light clicked on in her brain.” Using the Internet, she contacted Marianna Roll, the GNOYO's executive director. "Emily explained her project in an e-mail and I responded with a very wishful list,” Roll says. The youth orchestra needed instruments, music stands, strings, books and bows because most of the items were destroyed during the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina last year. Emily went to work, devoting her every free moment after school and on weekends for seven months. She called area music stores, which donated music stands, rosin, clarinet reeds and violin strings. At Weston Middle School, she asked her orchestra teacher if she could set out a box for students to donate musical instruments. She also sent newsletters and e-mails to temple members, friends and family asking for contributions. Emily collected 27 instruments, loads of musical equipment and $2,072, enough to provide one year of private lessons to a youth orchestra student in financial need. She even convinced United/Mayflower Van Lines to ship the items to New Orleans for free.” Emily performed with GNOYO in June as an honored guest.
8/28/06 – The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: "Members of the Cleveland Orchestra agreed to a new three-year contract Saturday, ensuring that labor issues will be avoided while the orchestra tours Europe starting Thursday. The contract will give orchestra members a pay increase of about 10.5 percent over the next three years." The article adds that musicians "voted 77-16 to accept the contract. It takes effect Sept. 4 and runs through Aug. 30, 2009 ... This is the first time in recent orchestra history that the two sides resolved a contract before it expired." The contract raises the maximum pension benefit and "introduces domestic partner medical coverage and increases musicians' health care contributions. The parties also agreed to allow the orchestra's broadcasts to be streamed for 14 days on the Internet following the initial broadcast." Cellist Thomas Mansbacher, the orchestra committee chairman, comments: "We brought the contract home on time before an expiration, which is a first that I can remember."
8/27/06 – The Helsinki Sanomat ran an interesting article noting that the Helsinki Festival has paid the “normal tariff” for the visit of the Minnesota Orchestra, despite hefty donations from a Finnish benefactor. The festival’s director is unwilling to offer even a ballpark figure for the Minnesotans’ price tag. But the article notes that “the even more eminent” Philadelphia Orchestra played at the festival in 2000 for 200,000 Euros, more than the Minnesota deal. Viktoria Mulova was the violin soloist at a sold-out Minnesota Orchestra concert last Sunday.
One of the orchestra world’s major jobs has been filled: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has appointed Romanian violist Liviu Prunaru its new concertmaster. Prunaru, born in 1969, will assume the post at the beginning of the new season. He will hold the position jointly with Vesko Eschkenazy.
In 1993, Prunaru won the Eugène Ysaÿe Prize, Audience Prize and second Grand Prize of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition. He subsequently won a number of other international competitions, including the Juilliard Mendelssohn Competition in 1999, which led to his New York solo debut at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall with the Juilliard Symphony. He has since performed as a soloist with orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra and has given recitals at major concert halls throughout the world. Prunaru studied with Alberto Lysy at the renowned Menuhin Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland and with Dorothy DeLay in New York. He is currently a professor at the Menuhin Academy and has served as guest principal violinist with the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, among others.
His predecessor, Alexander Kerr, relinquished the post to take up a professorship in violin at Indiana University.
8/24/06 - Ara Guzelimian has been named new dean of Juilliard, reports the New York Times. Guzelimian comes from Carnegie Hall, where was a key executive. “At Juilliard, Mr. Guzelimian will be second in command to the president, Joseph W. Polisi. He will oversee faculty, hiring, the curriculum and the performance programs at one of the country’s premier conservatories. Mr. Guzelimian also lectures and writes on music, and has produced radio programs. He was simultaneously artistic administrator of the Aspen Music Festival and School and artistic director of the Ojai Festival in California in the 1990’s. Before that he worked for 15 years at the Los Angeles Philharmonic as producer of its radio broadcasts and as artistic administrator.”
8/23/06 – Did anyone else notice in the obituary coverage of famed trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, who has just died at the age of 78, that he started on violin at age 4? That surely must have been due to the influence of his mother, who was a violinist with the Ottawa (Canada) Symphony and one of his leading musical influences, second only to the great Louis Armstrong, according to the AP obituary.
The Orion String Quartet will be the ensemble-in-residence at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music during the 2006-2007 academic year.
Duo Jung-Carballo, comprised of violinist Jiwoon Jung and pianist Kim Carballo attended the chamber music festival Festival de Música de Cámera de Aguascalientes in Aguascalientes, Mexico. They participated in lessons and master classes, were part of a televised concert, and won the prestigious Manuel M. Ponce award, which includes a return trip to present a concert next season.
8/27/06 - Arnold Steinhardt, the Guarneri Quartet’s first violinist will perform trios with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s principal cellist, Jules Eskin, and the formidable pianist Lydia Artymiw in Falls Village, Conn.
8/24/06 - Lawrence Dutton, the Emerson String Quartet’s violist, is currently out of commission for shoulder surgery. According to the New Yorker, the remaining players got some help from their friends, including the pianist Leon Fleisher, the violist Jaime Laredo, and the cellist Sharon Robinson, who join them in works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms at Avery Fisher Hall. Due to Dutton’s leave, that same day the young Daedalus String Quartet, winners of the 2001 Banff Competition, filled in for the Emersons at the Kaplan Penthouse.
8/24/06 – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is publicizing the philanthropic efforts of 12-year-old violinist Jenna Mitchell. In searching for a service project for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah, she decided to collect used instruments for the nearby Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club. "I saw how many kids there were there who wanted something to do in the afternoons. I saw music as a great opportunity for them." She’s gotten instruments from stores that couldn’t sell them and from people cleaning out their attics. Even old music stands and shoulder rests are coming in handy. "We've been looking for a project, and because of Jenna's violin background, we tried to come up with something that she could sink her teeth into and would also be good for other people," said Holly Mitchell, Jenna's mother. "Her violin teacher pointed her to the Boys & Girls Club because she knew there were so many children there who couldn't afford their own instruments to practice on every day." Holly Mitchell said people at the Club were a bit skeptical when her daughter first proposed the project. "We only started talking about this four weeks ago and at first, I don't think they thought it would really go anywhere," she said. "But it's really taken off." Bravo, Jenna!
According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, the real-life, music-loving canine mascot of the New York Philharmonic is the subject of a new children's book, "Jake, the Philharmonic Dog," by Karen LeFrak. The tale, illustrated by Marcin Baranski, introduces readers to the instruments and sounds of the orchestra through the story of the real-life terrier that loves to interact with musicians and crew backstage at Avery Fisher Hall and has been known to sit onstage during rehearsals. LeFrak, a member of the Philharmonic board of directors, will donate all proceeds from the book to the orchestra. "Jake, the Philharmonic Dog," is published by Walker Books for Young Readers.
The Rockford Symphony Orchestra is offering a 2-hour class specifically for homeschooled students ages 5-10. "Orchestra Adventures," an interactive introduction to the instrument families of the orchestra, takes participants through Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" with listening games and other activities.
8/26/06 - The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra chose an unusual partner: Harley Davidson of Indianapolis. The two organizations teamed up to host a motorcycle ride promoting highway safety. The ride took participants from the Harley Davidson dealership to the Conner Prairie Amphitheater to attend a Marsh Symphony on the Prairie Series concert. Tickets, priced at $20, included the concert plus VIP parking and lawn seating in a reserved area.
8/24/06 - The Minnesota Orchestra’s performance at the BBC Proms in London was broadcast live and streamed online via Minnesota Public Radio. The orchestra departed on August 20 for a two-week tour of European music festivals. The tour, led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, includes performances in Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Helsinki, and Locarno, Switzerland. Twin Cities Public Television will air a telecast of the Proms concert on September 6.
8/24/06 - One of the highlights of the Cleveland Orchestra's upcoming European tour, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, is expected to be a performance in Anton Bruckner's own church of the composer’s Symphony No. 5. Coincidentally, this lies just outside of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst birthplace of Linz, Austria. The performance will be recorded for a DVD and television broadcast.
8/21/06 - The New York Times included an article about the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an ensemble made up of young Arab and Israeli musicians co-founded by conductor Daniel Barenboim and cultural theorist Edward Said. "This summer the orchestra's very existence has been tested as never before" as a result of the conflict between Israel and Lebanon. …For both political and security reasons, a dozen Lebanese and Syrian players decided to stay away, and a planned concert beside the pyramids near Cairo was canceled ... This year Mr. Barenboim and Mr. Said's widow, Mariam, decided that music was not enough. After two weeks of rehearsals, they proposed that a political declaration by the orchestra be added to the program for concerts on the tour. The final document reiterated principles on which the orchestra had been founded: that there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the destinies of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples are inextricably linked."
8/23/06 - BBC News.com reports that strict security measures at UK airports are having a 'devastating impact' on musicians, according to the [British] Musicians' Union. “It says its members 'are reporting significant lost earnings' because they are unable to take their instruments on board aircraft as hand luggage ... But the Department for Transport says the security regulations will 'be in place for as long as they need to be.' Under the rules, passengers are allowed one item of cabin baggage, which must be no larger than a laptop bag." The article notes that "several musicians face potential legal action for breaking contracts to perform abroad,” says the assistant general secretary of the Musicians' Union.
“US violin duo Marc Ramirez and Olivia Hajioff, who play together as Marcolivia, contacted the BBC to tell how they had been affected by the restrictions. "We have been in Europe this summer performing at various music festivals," wrote Hajioff. "We are planning to return to the States on 27 August, but have been informed by the airline and by the Department for Transport that we will not be able to take our violins with us into the cabin.
"Our violins are extremely valuable and delicate," she continued. "There is no way that we, or any other serious musician, could consider putting them in the hold. "This means that we would have to return home without our instruments indefinitely."
8/22/06 - Violinist Igor Oistrakh has been forced to resign from the jury of the 2006 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis Seventh Quadrennial Competition due to a combination of visa complications and health issues. This will also affect his participation as a soloist in the Gala Opening of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on September 10 and his lecture on the International Forum on Violins on September 6.
Mr. Oistrakh had previously served on the IVCI Jury representing Russia in 1994 and 1998.
Each quadrennial an exhibit accompanies the competition honoring significant musicians in the violin world. This year’s exhibit is devoted to the career of David Oistrakh, Igor’s father.
Competition performance rounds begin on Sunday, September 3. Due to the tight timeframe, IVCI will not replace him. The 2006 Jury consists of Jaime Laredo, Pamela Frank, Cho-Liang Lin and Joel Smirnoff (United States), Kyoko Takezawa (Japan), Rodney Friend (United Kingdom), Pierre Amoyal (France), and Malcolm Lowe (Canada).
8/21/06 - The London Mail on Sunday reports Anne-Sophie Mutter and renowned composer/conductor André Previn, 77, have quietly ended their four-year marriage.
Sources quoted in the reports indicated that the reason the marriage ran into trouble was that the aging Previn, 77, was “unable to keep up with the extremely busy and peripatetic schedule that the 43-year-old Mutter, as one of the most in-demand instrumental soloists on the scene, maintains. While Previn just completed a term as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic and maintains relationships with the London Symphony and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras, he travels far less than he once did and reportedly now concentrates on composing.”
“When Previn and Mutter married in 2002, the match was widely publicized as being creative as well as romantic. He wrote several works for her, including a violin concerto which they toured widely together and whose DG recording won a Grammy Award in 2005.”
Elisa Barston has been named the Seattle Symphony’s new principal second violin. She served as a guest principal second violinist in the orchestra during the 2005-06 season, and had previously been associate concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Barston has also served as a section first violinist in the Cleveland Orchestra and the Saint Louis Symphony.
American conductor Joseph Bousso has been appointed coach and conductor at Germany's Hamburg State Opera House. Bousso holds a master's degree in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School and a bachelor's in orchestral conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music.
Christof Perick has extended his contract as music director of the Charlotte (N.C.) Symphony Orchestra through the 2008-09 season.
8/28/06 – Violinist Vincent Skowronski wrote to let me know that WFIU-FM in Bloomington will play a selection from his recording Skowronski Plays! The Szymanowksi Romance will air at approximately 7:07 p.m. Eastern and can be heard online at the station's website, www.indiana.edu/~wfiu.
8/24/06 – According to PlaybillArts.com, violinist Rachel Barton Pine will make her New York City Baroque violin debut with her period music group, Trio Settecento. It will be her only New York appearance this season. “When performing as a ‘conventional’ violinist, Barton Pine plays a modernized 1742 Guarneri known as the ‘ex-Soldat’; with the Trio Settecento she plays an unaltered 1770 instrument by Nicola Gagliano.
8/23/06 – The Minnesota Orchestra opens its five-city tour of European festivals today in Amsterdam. The tour will conclude 8/31 in Helsinki. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, “Minnesota will be the first of three U.S. orchestras playing the 70-concert festival. The other two are Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, both of which have played there previously."
8/23/06 – The Nashville Symphony has tapped National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leonard Slatkin as musical adviser for the next three years, reports the Tennessean. In this role he'll help determine the organization's future programming and guest artists, as well as assisting with its music director search.
8/21/06 - An Associated Press report filed Monday profiles Iran's Tehran Symphony Orchestra. “Western music was officially banned in October by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but state-run radio and television still broadcast it ... Still, [Music Director Nader Mashayekhi] sometimes sees a need to tread softly. For instance, if the orchestra does Mahler's song cycle 'Kindertotenlieder,' it would be the version with a baritone, not a mezzo-soprano. 'Certain people might not like a woman singing in front of an audience including men,' he said. The orchestra is funded by Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, although the musicians have been earning as little as the equivalent of $100 per month."
8/20/06 - The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports that the estates of Wilda Gene Marcus and Amy Morrill, both of Fort Wayne, bequeathed the Fort Wayne Philharmonic a total of $2.3 million. “The money, which will be divided evenly between the philharmonic's endowment and operating funds, will allow the financially strapped orchestra to show a net profit for the 2005-06 season. Marcus, a former music teacher, willed the orchestra $1.5 million, to be paid during the next 20 years. Morrill's gift was given in a lump sum of $800,000 …Marcus's gift will enable the orchestra to add piano to the Freimann Series concerts, which take place at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. For the past several years, the orchestra was unable to afford moving a piano to and from the museum."
The 8/21 issue of BusinessWeek includes an article about the famed Meadowmount summer music program under the revealing subhead: “The Meadowmount School of Music, with alums like Itzhak Perlman, proves that hard work can be more important than raw talent.”
Here are the article’s opening paragraphs: “Instructor Hans Jorgen Jensen bounds up the steps of a beat-up cabin filled with 12 cellists warming up, and suddenly there's silence. ‘It's showtime!’ he proclaims, and technique class begins. The teenage musicians race through scales and shift exercises as Jensen, 56, calls out orders. With a shock of white hair ringing his head and a thick Danish accent, he's an unholy pairing of Larry David and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- a grinning drill sergeant. He singles out 16-year-old Alina Lim and tells her to do octave scales. The exercise requires her to play two notes at once, using the side of her thumb for the lower note. As Lim plays, Jensen twists a knob on her cello below the bridge, untuning her instrument -- and making the exercise all the harder. ‘You should be practicing the feeling of knowing how to adjust,’ he says, as she tries to keep up with the fast-sliding pitch. ‘You should be trusting your instincts, not memorized positions.’
Welcome to Meadowmount, Saturday, 9 a.m. Part summer camp, part music school, and part boot camp, the Meadowmount School of Music is strict, austere, and responsible for creating some of the top string players in the world. Though little known outside of music circles, the small, rundown camp in the Adirondacks has trained such luminaries as Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, and Yo-Yo Ma. Many more alums are players in top U.S. orchestras or chamber groups. Every summer 220 young violinists, violists, cellists, and pianists head into the woods with dreams of such acclaim…”
Violinists mentioned in the article include: Ivan Galamian (of course!), current student Elly Suh, and former Galamian students Ronald Copes and Ronald Lantz.
Read the article here:
8/22-23/06 - Lisa Batiashvili will perform the world premiere of a violin concerto by Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg at the Mostly Mozart Festival.
8/18/06 – Violinist Samuel Thompson was interviewed on the National Public Radio Program Day to Day as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches. Thompson had gained international recognition for his impromptu concerts for refugees in New Orleans in the storm’s immediate aftermath. Listen to the interview here:
8/17/06 - Charles Barr, the 31-year old Cleveland Orchestra bass player who was killed last week when his bicycle was struck by a truck, was memorialized Wednesday by friends and colleagues, reports The Plain Dealer (Cleveland). "Barr, with a mop of honey hair and intense, inquisitive eyes that seemed to burn through his glasses, joined the orchestra in 2002 and fast became a favorite of musicians and stagehands alike. Those who saw him perform were drawn into his kinetic, charismatic orbit." Barr was also well-known to musicians throughout the U.S. - more than 500 people attended the service.
8/17/06 – New Zealand violinist Clare Galambos-Winter is mentioned prominently in an opinion column on the Stuff.co.nz website examining the appeal of neo-Nazism to certain narrow-minded youths. The column refers to her as “the 82-year-old Jewish violinist who just endowed Victoria University with two annual violin scholarships, having already donated valuable violins. Mrs Galambos-Winter is Hungarian. She emigrated here in l948, and played the violin professionally for 50 years, 33 of them in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. She is a survivor of Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp. Most of her family was murdered in concentration camps. ‘New Zealand gave me a reason for living,’ she said the other day, explaining that the scholarships were a way of showing her appreciation to her adopted country.
Read the column here: http://www.stuff.co.nz
8/15/06 - The Sofia News Agency reports that Vasko Vassilev, “a violin virtuoso of universal calibre,” became the sixth Bulgarian to receive a star on the Walk of Fame in Sofia. “Vassilev was born in Sofia in 1970. By the age of eight, he was already a star prodigy violinist and the star actor in an international award-winning film. In his teens, he won top prizes in three major international violin competitions (Jacques Thibault; Carl Flesch and Paganini) and embarked on a worldwide solo performing career. Since becoming the youngest-ever concertmaster at the Royal Opera House, Vassilev has continued to widen his artistic horizons. Aside from the classical arena, he has also enjoyed artistic collaborations in various capacities, not limited to violin playing, with many musical names from other sectors such as Vanessa-Mae, Ronnie Wood, Sting, Paco Pena, Erasure, to name but a few.”
8/15/06 – According to a Boston Globe review of a Boston Symphony performance at Tanglewood, “concertmaster Tamara Smirnova dispatched the fast violin solos with unshakable equilibrium” in Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite. Then, “the Canadian violinist Corey Cerovsek, familiar from many appearances at the Gardner Museum, made his BSO debut in Bach's Second Violin Concerto. Cerovsek--who turns 34 this year, although he still looks 17 -- was on secure musical footing, if not always stylistically attuned to [conductor Harry] Bicket's way with Bach. His fresh, natural playing was welcome after a summer full of violinists congealed in the grease of their own celebrity.”
8/15/06 – The Southern Illinois Business Journal included the news that grade-schoolers from John Thomas School in Carbondale, Ill. played at the Illinois State Fair at the request of Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who made the John Thomas Strings Program a statewide model. “John Thomas Strings will introduce the 2006 Illinois Violin Initiative to thousands who parade past the lieutenant governor's tent Tuesday. The violin initiative - which aims to provide musical instruction for young people of all levels and backgrounds - was directly inspired by the local program developed by Paula Allison, director of the SIUC Egyptian Suzuki School, and Linda Flowers, principal of Thomas School. At the fair, Flowers and Allison will discuss the two-year-old partnership that puts a violin in the hand of all Carbondale second-graders. The children's state fair performance was in memory of fallen soldier and avid violinist, Maj. Paul Syverson III of Lake Zurich, Ill. Syverson, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, lost his life in an Iraq mortar attack on June 16, 2004.”
According to the American Orchestra Symphony League, American conductor David Handel has been reappointed music director of the Orquesta Sinfonica UNCuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. He is also music director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia and principal conductor of American Voices.
Glenn Quader has been appointed assistant conductor at the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (Va.). Quader received his training at the Peabody Conservatory and the universities of Indiana, Illinois, and Miami, and received a performance diploma in 2003 from the Catania International Conducting Institute in Sicily. He was appointed music director of the Piedmont Regional Orchestra in 2005.
8/18/06 - A posting on BBCNews.com reports: "The public has been invited to take part in what has been described as the first virtual orchestra. Plastic cubes, attached to a light and a speaker, have been laid out on a full size orchestra stage outside the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank. Sitting on a cube activates a musical note and as more people sit down, more of the score is revealed. Owners of Bluetooth phones will also be able to receive a free ring tone of the Philharmonia Orchestra playing. People can also record their own sound and then send it to the orchestra using this technology. These sounds will then be added to the online sample library and some will be used as part of a new piece of music being composed for the culmination of the project."
8/17/06 – In Plymouth, Mich., the Plymouth Symphony has changed its name to the Plymouth Canton Symphony Society, reports the Detroit Free Press. The new name reflects the organization's reach and focus …and signals a restructuring for the society, too. Now, a vice president oversees each division -- Orchestra Canton, the Plymouth Symphony and the Celebration Youth Orchestra. [I played in the Plymouth Symphony in the late 1980s and remember it fondly.]
8/18/06 - The Chicago Tribune reviewed the Deutsche Grammophon release of Beethoven's Symphony Nos. 5 and 7 by the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. "It is an astonishingly responsive group of musicians, many slum kids rescued from a miasma of drugs and crime and brought up, like Dudamel himself, through a superb national training system that takes music education seriously." The review adds: "They perform both symphonies with tremendous intensity and commitment ... Beethoven's music clearly means the world to these players, and they embrace it as a shining symbol of their own optimism ... Dudamel steers them through a lean and mean Fifth Symphony, single-minded in its rhythmic drive, ending in blazing triumph. If anything, their Seventh is even finer: a take-no-prisoners, full-metal jacket reading, pure distilled musical energy from start to finish."
8/17/06 – The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) reports that Miami's new concert hall is almost ready to open its doors, and while the city doesn't have a professional symphony orchestra of its own at the moment, it has engaged the very best ensemble it could find to help fine-tune the acoustics of the chamber. The Cleveland Orchestra, which will play a 3-week residency in Miami this winter, will be on hand later this week to give acousticians Russell Johnson and Tateo Nakajima their first taste of the hall's full sound. The Miami Herald elaborates: "On Friday, the Cleveland Orchestra begins three days of private rehearsals, playing while Artec's experts fine-tune the hall. The process will continue after the orchestra finishes on Sunday, right up to the hall's October opening and beyond, using jazz groups, Latin ensembles, the Master Chorale of South Florida, the South Beach Chamber Ensemble and others ... In Miami's adjustable system, the reverberation doors open onto a vast, empty chamber stretching two-thirds around the room. With a full orchestra playing, the doors are open to let the sound waves enter the chamber, reverberate inside and come back out." Artec acoustician Tateo Nakajima comments: "Even when the music stops, everybody's holding their breath, and you still hear the reverberation in the air."
8/16/06 - The Oregon Symphony cut 10 positions from its administrative staff of 55, reports The Oregonian. “The layoffs, the largest in the orchestra's history, affected employees in the orchestra's marketing, development and education departments, but did not affect the musicians or conducting staff." The cuts are expected to save $500,000.
8/16/06 – According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is adding staff in preparation for a full 36-week season in 2006-07. The group has filled six key administrative positions, including artistic administrator and personnel manager.
It was no secret that last week’s failed terrorist plot in Britain and the ensuing tightening of airport security was going to affect traveling musicians. What surprised me was seeing a story about the problem on the front page of the New York Times (8/15). "Strict regulations imposed last week forced the New York-based Orchestra of St. Luke's to cancel a long-awaited tour of Britain over the weekend and sent other ensembles with imminent trips, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra, scrambling to cope with the new rules."
No travelers were exempt from the initial total ban on carry-on items. Even though the ban was relaxed on 8/14 to allow one small carry-on, that is not enough to help most musicians. “The United States Transportation Security Administration says on its Web site that musical instruments are generally allowed in the cabin in addition to a carry-on bag and a personal item, but it leaves size requirements and permission for the carry-on to the airlines. In addition, it promises that security personnel will handle instruments carefully. That is of little comfort to musicians, particularly string players, who suffer constant anxiety over the threat of damage and fears that their instruments will arbitrarily not be allowed in the cabin, even though violins fit into most overhead bins. The violin virtuoso and conductor Pinchas Zukerman said security officials had even asked him to remove the strings of his 1742 Guarneri del Gèsu. “I’ve had unbelievable discussions at certain airports,” he said by telephone while waiting at the Atlanta airport for a flight with his wife, the cellist Amanda Forsyth. “They want to stick their hands in my instruments, and they say, ‘It’s my job.’ ”
Unfortunately, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s does not own its own crates. “It spent two years planning the trip and many months carefully polishing the programs, which were to have been broadcast in the United States. The trip had special significance for the orchestra’s principal conductor, Donald Runnicles, who is Scottish, and for its president, Marianne Lockwood, who was born in England.” After scrambling unsuccessfully to make it across the Pond in time for their scheduled appearance—whether with or without instruments—their flight ended up being cancelled.
Here’s what some major groups are planning, according to the article.
The Bolshoi opera and ballet, currently performing in London: Will send their orchestra’s instruments back to Moscow by ferry and truck at the end of the week if the restrictions are not relaxed. The Bolshoi orchestra’s chief conductor, Alexander Vedernikov, had been quoted as saying that the musicians’ contract requires them to keep their instruments with them.
The Minnesota Orchestra, due to leave on Sunday for a European tour: About 20 players in the 95-member ensemble like to take their instruments or precious bows on board, but they will stow them in the orchestra’s specially designed crates this time around, said a spokeswoman. “The trunks are delivered straight to concert halls, so the instruments will not be immediately available for players who want to practice at their hotels.”
The Philadelphia Orchestra, due to play the Proms in early September. “Its trunks also have space for all the members’ instruments, but it is working on backup plans for about a dozen musicians who are going on to other jobs or on vacation and not returning with the orchestra, said a spokeswoman.
8/15/06 – As a corollary to the New York Times story, consider the bold approach the Italian early music group Academia Montis Regalis brought to their impending Canadian tour, as reported by the Globe & Mail (Canada). “British transport officials banned carry-on luggage after reports of a large-scale plot to destroy as many as 12 transatlantic flights surfaced Thursday, forcing the Italian Academia Montis Regalis orchestra to board their flight to Vancouver on Saturday (8/12) not knowing what [instruments] they would play in [their North American concerts]. Scouring the city and calling out to performers across B.C., Festival Vancouver promoters found baroque-era replacements …for all 16 of the missed instruments for the musicians from Turin.” Marc Destrubé, the concertmaster of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, loaned his $90,000 violin. "We are very, very lucky, very grateful to the people to give up so we can play," said Italian concertmaster Alessandro Tampieri. Staffers at the University of British Columbia School of Music also took six antique instruments for the performers from the shelves in the department of early music studies.
8/21/06 – The issue of The New Yorker issue dated August 21 includes a piece about conducting. Two New York Philharmonic stalwarts, concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and principal cellist Carter Brey, are interviewed.
8/12/06 - Violinist Alexander Markov played Ernst's one-movement Concerto Pathétique in F-sharp minor at the Bard Music Festival, this year titled "Franz Liszt and His World."
8/11/06 - The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports the sad news that Charles Barr, a bassist for the Cleveland Orchestra, died in a bike accident following a morning rehearsal. "Barr lost control of the bike about 2 p.m., Cleveland Heights Police chief Martin Lentz said, and a pickup truck struck and killed him after he veered in front of it. He was 31." The paper notes that Barr was wearing a helmet and had an "obvious” head injury. "Barr was a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Before joining the Cleveland Orchestra in September 2002, he played with the New World Symphony in Miami, Fla., and was principal bass of the Charleston (S.C.) Symphony Orchestra. Barr's parents are musicians. His father, Eric, a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, recently retired as principal oboe of the Dallas Symphony. His mother is also an oboist." The paper quotes Thomas Sperl, who shared a music stand with Barr: "He was a phenomenal bass player ... He was very honest and very direct." On Sunday, the orchestra's strings opened their concert with a hushed account of the Air from Bach's Suite No. 3, which they played without conductor, in memory of Barr.
8/13/06 - The Louisville Courier-Journal’s longtime music critic comments on the Louisville Orchestra's naming of Jorge Mester as its music director "some 27 years after he completed his first stint in that post." He writes, "I was as surprised as anyone when told of Mester's appointment, and I must acknowledge that my initial reaction was not terribly positive." He adds: "But after speaking to musicians, committee members, board leaders and, most significantly, Mester himself ... I'm almost coming around to the notion that choosing him was, and is, strongly in the orchestra's interests ... Mester could tap into the reserves of potent memories about his conducting here from 1967 to 1979, re-energizing the orchestra and its current listeners, while spreading his innate charm and ability to rope in new ones. But he could just as easily run smack up against the orchestra's traditional obstacles: not enough board and administrative support, not enough sustained community interest, not enough labor stability, not enough money. Having said all that, I still give Mester a pretty good chance to turn the orchestra's circumstances around."
8/13/06 – Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune’s music critic tries to place the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's continuing search for a music director to replace Daniel Barenboim in context. "Two or three years is about average for regime changes at major orchestras, though the process has been known to require up to five years," he writes, quoting Henry Fogel, president of the American Symphony Orchestra League: "When you have an orchestra whose last four music directors have been Reiner, Martinon, Solti and Barenboim, you have set a very high standard, and that serves to make the search both extremely important and extremely challenging." The article adds: "The appointment of the dream team of Bernard Haitink as principal conductor and Pierre Boulez as conductor in interim leadership roles, beginning this coming season, has bought the CSO time to conduct the search process as thoroughly as possible."
8/12/06 – When the Pittsburgh Symphony leaves on its imminent European tour, it will do so without music director Sir Andrew Davis, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. ". ... Sir Andrew, 62, will receive a femoral-popliteal artery bypass in his left leg and is expected to rest from conducting for about six weeks." Conductor Leonard Slatkin will replace Davis.
Other Music News
8/15/06 – A rift is brewing between the American-based Friends of the Salzburg Festival and the festival itself, according to the New York Times. "Festival officials are miffed with the Friends over that group’s decision to present 'The Salzburg Festival: A Short History,' a new documentary by the British filmmaker Tony Palmer. The festival has disavowed the film, partly because of what festival directors consider Mr. Palmer’s overemphasized and sometimes inaccurate account of the festival’s intertwined relationship with the Nazis."
8/13/06 - The Kansas City Star reports on Kansas City's "first hi-def FM classical station," introduced by Entercom Communications and available only on HD radio receivers. "It will broadcast classical music 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 'CD-quality sound,' said KXTR-AM program director Patrick Neas, making it the only 24-hour FM classical station in the area. 'It's going to be pretty much wall-to-wall music, and the first 18 months will be commercial-free,' said Neas, who's programming the new station's offerings and will continue at KXTR-AM (1660), including its popular 'Morning Show' drive-time classical program." The article adds, "Supporters say that HD digital radio represents the future of high-end broadcast and is a viable alternative to satellite radio ... Unlike satellite radio, after the equipment purchase, HD is free." Let’s hope this guy knows his stuff: Neas "will create programming for syndication over 150 hi-def stations around the United States, both within the Entercom chain and outside it."
8/11/06 – PlaybillArts.com reports that, due to illness, violinist Eugene Fodor has cancelled his planned appearance with South Indian violinist Dr. L. Subramaniam at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival. The concert was held without Fodor. “Though many Western music lovers don't realize it, the violin has been an integral part of South Indian music ever since it was introduced to the country by the British in the late 18th century; indeed, it is now just about ubiquitous as the melodic instrument to accompany vocal or instrumental soloists. (The violin also appears in the Hindustani, or North Indian classical, music tradition, though not as frequently.) Dr. Subramaniam is India's most acclaimed violinist and one of the most respected performers on any instrument in the Karnatic tradition. A protégé of the late Yehudi Menuhin, he is also accomplished in Western music and has appeared and recorded with many a symphony orchestra and jazz ensemble in addition to his work in the purely traditional vein.”
8/10/06 – Tricia Ho won the Gold Medal for her ergonomic violin at the Australian Design Awards, reports The Australian: “As the husband of a violinist in need of regular neck massages, I was taken with Ho's ergonomic violin that circumvents the need for players to grip the instrument under their chins. In the beauty stakes, it doesn't quite stand up to a Stradivarius, but it looked jolly clever and deserving of its Gold Prize.”
8/9/06 – Violinist James Ehnes performed in an “enthralling” performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Trio in A Minor at the Seattle Chamber Music Society's Summer Festival, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Cellist Robert deMaine and pianist Orion Weiss rounded out the ensemble.
8/9/06 - The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Mass.), ran a review of a Berkshire Choral Festival concert that featured Osvaldo Golijov's cantata "Oceana." Cellist Maya Beiser replaced mezzo-soprano Alexandra Montano, who was to have been the jazz vocalist in the work. Beiser informed the crowd that Montano was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. According to the paper,: "The piece uses a double chorus, flutes, percussion, two guitars, strings, and normally a vocalist of what Golijov specified as a 'Brazilian jazz style.' In this case, Beiser's cello sang the wordless lines of the vocalist.”
7/30/06 –Marcelo Lehninger conducted at the Gala Graduation Concert of the Conductors Institute at Bard College. A violinist, Lehninger was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and received a bachelor’s degree in conducting from the Brazilian Conservatory of Music. Since winning the second prize in the first Eleazar de Carvalho National Competition for Young Conductors in 2001 (Rio de Janeiro), he led the Petrobrás Pró-Música Symphony as well as several orchestras in South America. Prior to his focus on conducting, Lehninger studied violin and was a finalist in the first Paulo Bosisio Violin Competition in Rio de Janeiro.
7/30/06 – According to the Los Angeles Times, Thomas Osborn, 72, former conductor of the Pepperdine Orchestra and longtime professor of music at Pepperdine University, has died. “He suffered a fatal heart attack at Los Angeles International Airport while returning from a trip to the North Pole. Born in New York City, Osborn earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton and a master of music degree from Yale. Years later he earned his PhD in music from USC. After teaching during the 1960s at Western Washington State University in Bellingham, he joined the USC School of Music. He later taught at Cal State Northridge and Woodland Hills's Pierce College. In addition, he served as music director and conductor of the Downey Symphony as well as the Cal State Northridge Youth Orchestra Program.”
7/21/06 – Fiddler Willie Dunlop has died, reports The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland). He was born in 1916 and worked primarily as a mechanic in the Royal Air Force. “Willie Dunlop was one of the stalwart members of Kilmarnock Strathspey & Reel Society and when Ayr & Prestwick Strathspey & Reel Society was started in the early 1970s, Willie attended the very first rehearsal and became a founder member. He continued to play with the Ayr & Prestwick S & R Society even after he became conductor of the Kilmarnock orchestra, a position he held for 13 years. When the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra was started by John Mason, MBE, in 1980, Willie was a founder member, and in 25 years of the SFO he only missed two concerts. He retired from playing in 2006, through ill health, in his 90th year. …It was through the concerts organised by Saxone in the Grand Hall that Willie became interested in violin playing. With money he had saved, he bought his first violin for £6 and then took lessons from David Finney. He not only played Scottish music at that time, as his repertoire included Monti's Czardas, Heykin Serenade, Tosselli's serenade, Thais by Massenet and Souvenir by Drdla. By 1935 he had quite a reputation and was invited to play on the same programme as Leo Peroni.”
8/10/06 - violinist Roberto Cani performed the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 at the Redlands Bowl's Summer Festival in California .
JPMorgan Chase Foundation has awarded $1 million to the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, which seeks to involve young African-Americans and Latinos in classical music. Over four years, the funds will provide lead corporate support of the Sphinx Carnegie Hall Series and presentation of the Sphinx Competition for young black and Latino string players.
The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra has received a new grant of $100,000 from the State of Maryland, the largest single tax-supported grant to the organization in its 46-year history. It increases to $236,609 the total amount of government support to the orchestra for fiscal year 2006-07.
8/12-13/06 - This weekend is the North Central Regional Fiddlers Convention at the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds in Michigan, a gathering that draws several hundred fans of the fiddle.
8/12/06 – The Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras has named Stephen Rogers Radcliffe as its new music director, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Radcliffe, a doctoral fellow at Brandeis University, has served as director of orchestral and operatic activities at the University of Massachusetts, assistant conductor of Boston Lyric Opera, music director of New York Chamber Ensemble, artistic director of Cape May Music Festival, principal guest conductor of Hungarian Virtuosi and assistant conductor of New York Youth Symphony. A champion of both the classic repertoire and contemporary music, Radcliffe has commissioned works by John Corigliano, John Harbison, George Rochberg, Ned Rorem and Joan Tower.”
8/3/06 - The Economist (London) ran a brief article on New York's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The writer observes, "In the dictatorial world of orchestras - where conductors choose the repertoire, organize rehearsals and tell musicians how to play - Orpheus is fond of proving that it thrives without a baton. Whereas the first violinists in other ensembles, such as the Prague and Australian chamber orchestras, are de facto conductors, Orpheus rotates leadership in an artistically collaborative version of musical chairs." Orpheus has a "broad repertoire [that] ranges from Bach to Schönberg," can handle the "complex tempo fluctuations" typical of the Romantic period, and plays with "edgy spontaneity." But the article notes that "some conductors do not agree that their services might be dispensable. Benjamin Zander, known for his mesmerising Mahler recordings with the Philharmonia, says 'the greatest and most subtle orchestral music must be guided by one mind.' "
The American Federation of Musicians has signed an agreement with 48 classical-music institutions pertaining to the recording of live music. According to the 8/8/06 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "The pact allows orchestras like the [Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra] to reduce upfront payments to its musicians for any live recordings sold as CDs or digital downloads, but will increase revenue sharing of those products." PSO President Larry Tamburri comments: "It has been too long in coming ... It means that the cost in recording the orchestra has gone down." The paper notes: "Under the new deal, 'people are not going to be earning a significant amount from recordings,' said Bill Foster, a violist in the National Symphony Orchestra, 'but it might be a steady amount, and it could be more if there is a very highly successful recording.' " Zarin Mehta, president of the New York Philharmonic, remarks: "It represents another step toward bringing orchestras into the digital age, which is essential for increasing accessibility to classical music and reaching a broader audience."
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is preparing to move into its new, $80 million facility in the San Francisco Civic Center next week. “The region's musical life is getting a major lift,” opines San Francisco Classical Voice. “As long as the school remained "hidden" in the Sunset District for most of its 89-year existence, the hundreds of concerts produced there received scant publicity.” The new facility at 50 Oak Street offers vital improvements in classroom, studio, and rehearsal spaces, plus a trio of new performance venues: the 120-seat Osher Salon, the 140-seat Recital Hall, and the 450-seat Concert Hall. The building will be officially unveiled on September 7.
The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has announced that Pinchas Zukerman will serve as mentor in the music discipline during the program's 2006-07 cycle. He will be the first instrumentalist to serve as a mentor in the biennial program, which was launched in 2002.
Patrick Miles has renewed his contract as music director of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra (Stevens Point, Wis.) through the 2008-09 season.
Bernard Rubenstein has renewed his contract as music director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra through the 2008-09 season.
Violist Naimah Bilal has joined the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as artistic coordinator. She holds a bachelor's degree in viola performance from Indiana University and a master's from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and had previously worked with the Cleveland International Piano Competition.
Violinist Care Napolitano has been named executive director of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra. She holds a bachelor's degree in violin performance from the Catholic University of America's Rome School of Music, where she formerly worked as orchestra manager and production coordinator. Napolitano is also a teacher, a freelance musician, and a director for the Kerr Center for Performing Arts.
Daniel Rubenstein, violin, and Muhiddin Dürrüoglu-Demiriz, piano, released Suites & Partitas of Modern Times in June. The recording, released on Talent Records, includes works by Stravinsky, Dallapiccola, Schnittke, and Lutoslawski. It closes with Don Freund's "Sonapartita, Noch Nach Bach," a work commissioned by the duo.
8/8/06 – Violinist Hilary Hahn made her Hollywood Bowl debut playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. According to the LA Daily News, “Her next recording, featuring concertos by Paganini and Spohr, is both wish fulfillment and a trip backward for her. Full of virtuosic flights but lacking weighty emotional moments, these concertos have long been associated with younger performers. The violinist says she would have preferred to record them earlier but was overruled by the label she was then signed to, Sony Classical. Deutsche Grammophon presumably has no such misgiving. Regardless, the record will be in stores Oct. 10.”
8/7/06 – According to the Salt Lake Tribune, 13-year-old violinist William Hagen performed the Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Deer Valley Music Festival. “The Salt Lake City native tackled French composer/violin virtuoso Henry in D minor. The charming prodigy played with the heart of a poet, creating elegant, lyrical phrases and spine-tingling tones. Wearing a white dinner jacket that matched symphony members', Hagen played the work's opening phrases cleanly and in tune, with enough passion to keep an appreciative audience riveted. Quick snatches of notes and rich double-stop passages were easily executed in the work's Scherzo movement, and the fiery last movement further highlighted an interpretative gift limited only by his inexperience and still-developing technique.”
8/6/06 –Jose Valencia, an Indianapolis-based violinist and conductor, will be the music director of the Kokomo Symphony Orchestra next concert season, reports the Indianapolis Star. He served as concertmaster of the Kokomo Symphony last season, and is throwing his hat into the ring for consideration as the orchestra’s permanent music director. He is the founding director of the 3-year-old Orkestra Projekt, music director of the Athenaeum Orchestra and frequently plays in the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra violin section, according to the paper.
8/4/06 – Yo-Yo Ma performed the world premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's new work for cello and orchestra, Azul, at Tanglewood.
8/1/06 – The Noblesville (Ind.) Ledger had a cute, violin-related human interest story. After one family bought a house from another, the buyers decided to invite the sellers over for dinner. It turns out that one of the seller’s children, Justin Olson, 19, plays the violin. The buyer had her grandmother’s 200-year-old violin and brought it out for her guest to play some after-dinner music. She was so impressed that she has loaned it to him indefinitely. “Justin Olson will study political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., this fall and had been wavering on whether he would join the orchestra. Playing Quatman's violin, his mother said, inspired him to continue performing. The violin has a much richer tone and is easier to play than his other violin, she said.”
7/1-12/06 – Turkey has a new summer music festival, reports the Turkish Daily News. Cellist Şölen Dikener of Marshall University in West Virginia founded the Academy Datça-First International Summer Music Academy. “The violin class was conducted by emerging Turkish violinist Özcan Ulucan -- assistant to Maxim Vengerov currently studying in Germany -- together with famous violinist Ellen Jewettof Canada's McGill University.”
8/7/06 - The Sacramento Philharmonic will release its first-ever CD next year, reports the Sacramento Bee. The recording will feature "the live recording of three world premieres, with one of them the long-awaited premiere 'Night Thoughts' by composer Andre Previn ... The commissioned works, which will define the Philharmonic's 2006-07 10th anniversary season, include Gang Situ's Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra and Jon Jang's Chinese American Symphony, along with Previn's [work]. The Situ and Jang commissions are part of the Philharmonic's 'Gold Mountain' project, designed as a tribute to the contributions of Chinese Americans in California."
8/6/06 - The Boston Symphony plans to replace the stage floor in Symphony Hall, reports the Boston Globe: "After more than two years of planning by Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director James Levine, management, staff, and musicians, the floorboards came up in July and new planks will be put down this week. The rebuilt floor will be ready for the opening of the next season on Sept. 29 ... BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe says the decision to replace the floor was driven by 'safety considerations.' " The paper notes, "The floor was uneven and pockmarked by a century's worth of stabbing cello and string bass end-pins, rolling pianos, risers coming onstage and off," adding: "Specialists in several fields have been called in for studies and advice, including the acoustical firm Acentech Inc. and Wood Advisory Services Inc. of Millbrook, N.Y." The orchestra has saved the floorboards and plans to polish them, and sell small pieces as mementos and souvenirs.
8/3/06 – The BBC is reporting that Beethoven's own violin has been used in a recording for the first time, according to the Beethoven Foundation. German violinist Daniel Sepec played the pedigreed fiddle on a CD of the composer's violin and piano sonatas. “The instrument, which is engraved with Beethoven's insignia, was in his family's possession until the early 19th Century. Beethoven died in 1827. The violin ended up in the US and was returned to the Beethoven Foundation in 1995 for a symbolic sum. It was restored in 1848, and again when acquired by the Foundation. The new CD comes with a 31-page booklet describing the history of the instrument.”
8/3/06 – As expected, the violin discovered in a community museum in British Columbia that was thought possibly to be a Stradivarius has turned out to be a fake, reports CBC. The violin has been part of a collection at the New Westminster Museum and Archives since the 1980s. The curator recently discovered that the instrument had a Strad label inside, leading him to think it may be a genuine article. But that turned out not to be the case. Richmond, British Columbia-based violin-maker and Stradivari expert Michael Altshuler confirmed that the violin was one of thousands of fakes made after Antonio Stradivari died in 1737.
9/11/06 - The Kronos Quartet will premiere Awakening, a "musical meditation" on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. The work, by frequent Kronos collaborator Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, will headline a concert to be held in San Francisco, reports San Francisco Classical Voice. "Through a wealth of musical perspectives, we hope to create equilibrium in the midst of imbalance, a special covering on an open wound," says Kronos founder and first violinist David Harrington.
8/6-8/7/06 – Violinist Gidon Kremer and his chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica will perform all of Mozart's Violin Concertos at the Mostly Mozart Festival.
8/4-5/06 – Also at Mostly Mozart, violinist Sergey Khachatryan was to have made his New York debut plying the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Mostly Mozart Orchestra. Khachatryan won the 2005 Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Brussels.
8/4/06 – The Guardian (UK) is reporting that three intrepid cellists will conclude a 12 day marathon that has seen them play recitals, usually on the roofs, at all 42 Anglican cathedrals in England. “They have battled up medieval staircases in Gloucester, avoided pigeon droppings at Leicester, [and] gusts of wind off the Mersey at Liverpool Cathedral yesterday.” Jeremy Dawson, a statistician at Aston University, and teachers James Rees and Clare Wallace are members of Sheffield Cathedral's choir. “For the last two weeks, dragging their instruments around the cathedrals, they have been seeking to raise £5,000 for the charities Shelter and Aspire, which helps those with spinal injuries. They started their odyssey on Monday last week at Truro Cathedral and they finish with Durham, Newcastle and Carlisle today, by which time they expect to have travelled about 2,000 miles.”
7/30-31/06 – Last weekend at Tanglewood was quite the violin feast. First, Gil Shaham played “an incandescent performance” of the Beethoven Violin Concerto on Saturday night. Then, on Sunday, Midori played Bruch's Violin Concert No.1.
7/30/06 - Violinist Tai Murray made her Cincinnati Symphony debut. “Murray, 24, an artist diploma student at New York's Juilliard School and winner of the inaugural (1998) Sphinx Competition for black and Latino string players, made an extraordinary impression in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor. It was a hard act at Riverbend, considering the noisy river traffic, but she did it with supreme grace and self assurance,” opines the Cincinnati Post.
The Fairfax (Va.) Symphony Orchestra, has promoted Glenn S. Quader from resident conductor to assistant conductor, beginning next season. He will continue to oversee the orchestra's education and outreach programs. Quader has stepped down as music director of the Potomac Valley Youth Orchestra, but continues as music director of Virginia's Piedmont Regional Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Frederick (Md.) Symphony Orchestra.
Ariel Rudiakov, artistic director of the Manchester (Vt.) Music Festival and conductor of the Manchester Chamber Orchestra, has been named to an additional post as music director/conductor of the Danbury (Conn.) Symphony Orchestra. Rudiakov is on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music's Pre-College Division, the Michael Rudiakov Music Academy, and the Manchester Music Festival. A violist, he is a founding member of the New York Piano Quartet and the String Orchestra of New York City (in which context I interviewed him for Strings Magazine several years ago).
The Mobile Symphony has announced a three-year renewal of Scott Speck’s contract as music director; he has led the orchestra since 2000. Speck continues as music director of Michigan's West Shore Symphony and of the Washington Ballet.
The Delaware Symphony Orchestra has announced a three-year extension of David Amado’s contract as music director.
Alexander Platt, music director of the Waukesha (Wis.) Symphony Orchestra since 1998, has renewed his contract for three years, through the 2008-09 season.
Pennsylvania's Allentown Symphony has announced a three-year extension of Music Director Diane Wittry’s contract.
Other Music News
8/3/06 - The New York Times reported a new twist in the artist-management buy-out drama. "IMG Artists' effort to buy the classical music division of International Creative Management, the Los Angeles-based talent agency, has fallen apart, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations. The deal was nearly complete ... when I.C.M. Artists, a small part of its parent group, was approached by another suitor and tried to renegotiate the price, said a person involved at a high level in the talks." The paper notes that "the sources spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the fragility of the deal and confidentiality agreements. IMG Artists officials did not return phone calls, and I.C.M. declined to comment except to say, 'We continue to pursue a number of strategic options as it relates to I.C.M. Artists.' " Between the two of them, these agencies manage the careers of the vast majority of well-known string players.
8/1/06 - Tuesday's Boston Herald reports that "Country music will do-si-do up the FM dial to 102.5, while classical music would get new life at 99.5 FM under a deal between Braintree-based radio station operator Greater Media and Nassau Broadcasting of Princeton, N.J." Greater Media, which had already unveiled plans to buy classical station WCRB-FM (102.5), plans to move its country programming to that stronger signal and change the call letters to the WKLB. Under a station swap, "Nassau will acquire cash and Greater Media's 99.5 FM frequency and will run classical music on that station." Greater Media will acquire Nassau's Burlington, N.J.-based 97.5 FM signal, currently a classic rock format, "though the future format is undetermined."
Several interesting notices have crossed my desk lately….
The venerable adult amateur Chamber Music Conference held at Bennington College each summer is seeking a new music director. The music director, who must be present for four weeks in July and August, hires and supervises 40 musical staff/week, programs and performs faculty performances, and works with resident composers. “Successful candidate has deep knowledge of chamber music of all periods, can coach experienced players of varying abilities, and coordinate professional staff in coaching and performances. Current salary approx. $20,000, plus room/board and additional coaching fees.” Application deadline is 9/15/06.
Send a cover letter, resume and the names of three references to:
Andrea Berger, Search Committee Co-Chair
343 E. 30th St., #7C
New York, NY 10016
The University of California Genetics of Absolute Pitch Study is recruiting test subjects. If you have perfect pitch, call 1-888-TUNEDIN or visit http://perfectpitch.ucsf.edu for more details.
My husband, one of four children in his family, has perfect pitch and has participated in a couple such studies in Chicago. The researchers are always interested to learn that two brothers have it and two don’t.
I’ve just received an emotional appeal on behalf of the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. This five-orchestra organization had operated consistently in the black, even seeding a small endowment, before Hurricane Katrina hit. The storm destroyed the orchestra’s offices, computer equipment and instruments. The administrative leaders and approximately 40 percent of the students were forced to relocate.
Yet, amazingly, GNOYO has performed six concerts since last October. This feat is surely a testament to the group’s status as an emotional safe haven for children and teens amidst heartbreaking chaos.
GNOYO is on track to end the year with a deficit of $50,000—its first ever—and is soliciting financial support. If you’re so inclined, send donations to:
The Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra
938 Lafayette Street, Suite 206
New Orleans LA 70113
Attn: Tracey Sherry
8/1/06 –A community museum in British Columbia has discovered that a violin in its collection may be a Stradivarius, reports the CBC. “The violin has been held at the New Westminster Museum and Archives since the 1980s, said curator and manager Colin Stevens, who made the find recently. While gathering the museum's five violins together in preparation for an advertisement, Stevens decided to look inside each one.” And there, of course, was a label with the golden name on it.
Stevens says he knows that it’s very unlikely that the violin is really a Strad. “But there's always the fun of hoping," he said. "It's kind of like going to the Antiques Roadshow with your family heirloom."
According to Stevens, the violin was owned by Rufus Gilley, who played with the New Westminster Symphony Orchestra from 1916 to 1918. Gilley's widow donated the instrument and another violin to the community museum in 1984.
Stevens says the New Westminster Museum will let a few local musicians test out the violin before proceeding on a gradual evaluation process to determine if the specimen is a real Stradivari, because of the expense of the final authentication. Next up is having an expert determine if the instrument is in fact well made in the first place.
Experts estimate that Stradivari and his sons created about 1,000 stringed instruments (including violins, harps, guitars, violas and cellos) in his shop in Cremona, Italy, before his death in 1737. There are currently 512 documented Strad violins.
7/31/06 - Angela Fuller, a member of the Minnesota Orchestra first violin section since 1999, will be the new concertmaster of the Houston Symphony beginning Sept. 9, reports the Houston Chronicle. “Her selection culminates a lengthy search and audition process that began in 2005 with the solicitation of national and international candidates. Following an audition, five finalists each filled the concertmaster role for a classical subscription weekend during the 2005-06 season, with maestro Hans Graf on the podium. The final selection, which was unanimous, was made by music director Graf and a committee of seven Houston Symphony musicians. A Seattle native, Fuller earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota. She did graduate work at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Fuller made her concerto debut in February with the Minnesota Orchestra. She was guest concertmaster with the Bergen, Norway, Orchestra this spring. Fuller won first prize in the Irving M. Klein International String Competition in 2000 and was a 1998 winner of the Minnesota Orchestra Volunteer Association's Young Artist Competition.” Fuller is only 29, one of the U.S.’s youngest concertmasters.
7/31/06 - Eric Halen, who served as acting concertmaster of the Houston Symphony since Uri Pianka's retirement in June 2005, was one of the five finalists for the concertmaster position. He will resume his previous position as the orchestra's associate concertmaster.
7/31/06 – Tasmin Little performed the Glazunov Violin Concerto at Proms, earning an overall favorable review from musicomh.com. “At first the signs were not good with the violinist overcooking the vibrato on the rich opening theme, and parting company with the orchestra on more than one rallentando…as Little settled, she secured a more lyrical turn of phrase. The cadenza in particular was spot on, the lead in to the finale atmospherically weighted by the strings, the folksy themes then played with evident affection. The odd tuning issue aside, Little was a strong advocate of this sunny, tuneful piece.”
7/31/06 – Teenaged bassist Patrick Duff has won the senior division of the Minnesota Orchestra's "Minnesota Idol" competition, reports the Pioneer Press (St. Paul). A Sunday afternoon concert placed "six musicians before more than 1,000 judges - the members of the Orchestra Hall audience - and asked them to do their best to win their adulation. After each performed a movement or excerpt from a concerto or other work, audience members filed out and voted for their favorite in two division, those aged 15 to 18 and those 14 and younger.” The junior division finalists were all pianists, and there were no violinists among the seniors, either.
7/14/06 – Hilary Hahn had a big night performing in London with the English Chamber Orchestra led by Roy Goodman, opines musicohm.com. She first performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto: “Hahn's impressive bow-arm technique and tone made the opening melody even more poignant than normal, and although her vibrato could have done with a bit more variation, her technique was inch-perfect. Those long lines just came and came and I kept wishing the movement wouldn't end.” She then played the piece for which she’s already won a Grammy: Vaughan-Williams' The Lark Ascending. The reviewer confessed, “For the second time in my life, I was actually moved so much by the music in a concert that tears came to my eyes. The song of the lark was so pristine, and Hahn put so much work into it that even her open strings sounded expressive.” Finally, Hahn played an encore, performing Bach's D minor Sarabande. “Apart from the fact that her intonation and technique was perfect, she also did not splash her chords, and her violin playing was so clean that I could not believe I was not listening to a studio recording. Look out people, this lady is going to be big. Very big.”
8/1/06 – Perhaps hoping to cut down on its own internal dramas, the Louisville Orchestra has turned to a familiar face for leadership, naming Jorge Mester as music director. Mester previously served as Louisville's music director from 1967 to 1979, and his re-appointment comes as a big surprise, since the orchestra reportedly had a number of up-and-coming young conductors on its shortlist, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.
8/1/06 – According to the Baltimore Sun, contract negotiations at the Baltimore Symphony are proceeding smoothly. The contract is set to expire on 9/16, just 12 days before the season opener. Asked to describe the process so far, W. Gar Richlin, the orchestra's interim president and CEO, and Jane Marvine, chair of the BSO players' committee, issued a brief statement through the BSO's press office: 'To date, the talks have been constructive, with a shared emphasis on maintaining the artistic integrity of the orchestra while addressing financial challenges.' "
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