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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 50

August 2, 2006 at 6:57 PM

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 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.

Musician News

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 “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 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.”

Orchestra News

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.' "

From Bram Heemskerk
Posted on August 2, 2006 at 9:59 PM
I heard Tasman Little who played the rare Glazunov violinconcerto on the Dutch Radio4 where you could live hear her Prom-concert. An amateurorchestra has played this rare violinconcerto just before I join that orchestra, so I missed it. I hope there will be soon in my life a chance to play this rare piece.
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on August 2, 2006 at 11:01 PM
That "strad" turned out to be an 80 year old German.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 3, 2006 at 12:46 AM
Mester was clearly missed.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 3, 2006 at 8:45 AM
So, are you pleased with the appointment?
From Darcy Lewis
Posted on August 3, 2006 at 12:07 PM
Send me a link, please. Thanks!


From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 4, 2006 at 10:25 AM
Em, to make a very long story very short, the Mester era was undeniably the Lou. Orchestra's finest hour.

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