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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 53

August 12, 2006 at 8:47 PM

Musician News

8/11/06 – 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 .

Organization News

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.' "

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 12, 2006 at 11:04 PM
For more information on the prize-winning violin design, see Patricia Ho won the gold medal in the student category for her ergonomic, self-supporting violin. The body of the violin is made of light weight carbon fiber. Its frame, which wraps around the player's neck, and its lip, which curves around the shoulder, are made of a "high-tech Shape-Memory Polymer" which conforms to the shape of each player. The quality of its sound is not described.
From Gregory Zinkl
Posted on August 13, 2006 at 1:54 PM
While I don't agree with the substance of Mr. Zander's quote in the Orpheus CO article, I have to say I ardently disagree with the journalist's assertion that his Mahler performances are "mesmerizing." Sometimes, maybe. Boring, yes. Poorly played (shame on the Philharmonia, usually one of my favorite London orchestras), yes. (Which kind of disproves Zander's point, especially in context of the OCO's phenomenol playing execution). Surely they could've gotten a quote from a much more credible source, e.g., NY's own Lorin Maazel!
From Gregory Zinkl
Posted on August 13, 2006 at 1:58 PM
Oops, typo--I don't DISagree with the substance of Zander's comment. *blush*
From Darcy Lewis
Posted on August 14, 2006 at 4:06 AM
Oops--the column description that e-mail subscribers receive should refer to the Seattle YOUTH Symphony getting a new music director, not the Seattle Symphony, where Gerard Schwarz is still firmly ensconced.

Pauline, thanks for sharing that link to the ergonomic violin.


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