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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 58

August 31, 2006 at 4:49 PM

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juror Igor Oistrakh, the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis is reporting that two participants have withdrawn.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 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.

Orchestra News

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.

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