September 11, 2006 at 1:54 AM
Cellist extraordinaire Janos Starker is profiled in the current issue of Strings magazine.
Violinist Chloe Hanslip, released her first CD for Naxos in August. The all-American disc includes works by John Adams's (his violin concerto), John Corigliano (his Chaconne from his music for the film The Red Violin) and Franz Waxman's Fantasy on Tristan and Isolde. Leonard Slatkin leads the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has announced the appointment of bassist Eric Polenik to a one-year post. He will substitute for Jesse Watras, who will be on leave this season. Polenik is a 2006 graduate of the Eastman School of Music and is now pursuing a diploma in Orchestra Studies at Eastman.
9/15-16/06 – Violinist Elmar Oliveira will open the Chattanooga Symphony’s new season in a performance of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3.
9/10/06 – The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer is reporting that the Charlotte Symphony has added several musicians to its roster, effective with the 2006-07 season. Joseph Meyer, formerly with the San Francisco Symphony, has been named associate concertmaster. Kari Giles, previously with the Minnesota Orchestra, is the CSO's new assistant concertmaster. And Sacha Barlow, a British citizen, will become the orchestra’s assistant principal violist if she gets her visa in time. Of note is that Barlow is a former psychotherapist: “After a few years as a professional musician, Barlow returned to school for a master's degree in psychotherapy and counseling. She went into practice, setting performing aside. ‘If you can help somebody and see them change, and know that you had a part of it,’ she said, ‘that's a really amazing thing to do’. Barlow decided after seven years that she wanted to live her own life, rather than watch other people live theirs. So she returned to playing -- taking the opportunity to switch from the violin to the viola.
9/9-10/06 – Violinist Gil Shaham joins the Houston Symphony Orchestra and music director Hans Graf for a season-opening gala concert featuring two showpieces by Pablo Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen ("Gypsy Airs") and the Carmen Fantasy, a suite arranged from Bizet's opera with the violin taking the vocal roles.
9/8/06 – Violinist Christian Tetzlaff, “a nerves-of-steel violinist” did not wow the San Jose Mercury News’s music critic, who attended the San Francisco Symphony’s opening gala. “The German virtuoso is pretty much the soloist you want to see out there for Stravinsky's Violin Concerto, with its lacquered surfaces and gazillion details, so many of them exposed, like booby traps. Tetzlaff, as a rule, is a peerless virtuoso; he's right in the center of every note, no tricks or adornments required to pretty things up. [But] Tetzlaff struggled at times to stay on pitch, to get through a number of crazy, winding tightrope passages, and to keep in sync with the orchestra, which had a hard time holding together.”
9/8/06 – Violist Russell Guyver is one of three finalists vying for the job of music director of the Greeley (CO) Philharmonic, reports the Greeley Tribune: “[Guyver] once hated conductors so much, he set up his own chamber orchestra without one. He still plays viola and loves it, but he's also moved to what he calls the dark side. And it turns out he's pretty good at it. As conductor and musical director for the University of Northern Colorado, the student orchestra has won the title of best orchestra in the country by Downbeat magazine numerous times.”
9/7/06 – According to the Washington Post, conductor Zubin Mehta will receive a 2006 Kennedy Center award. Other honorees this year include Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
9/7/06 – The Los Angeles Daily News reports that violinist Neal Donner, an active Libertarian, helped defeat California’s Proposition R, which would have enacted term limits for elected officials. “As the petitioner in the lawsuit challenging the city's term limits/ethics-reform ballot measure, Neal Donner didn't really do much more than lend his name to the cause. But the 64-year-old Westside resident - a private violin instructor, writer and longtime political activist - was only too happy to help when a friend from the Libertarian Party called and said U.S. Term Limits was looking for a petitioner in the case. ‘I have the opportunity to stand up and be the representative of a lot of people who agree with my perspective’, Donner said.”
9/6/06 – The Indianapolis Star offered an interesting tidbit about Eric Silberger, a first-round competitor at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. It turns out that he is the first Indianapolis native ever accepted into the 24-year-old competition. The paper called his performance “bold, technically solid, charismatic” performance, but it was not enough to advance him to the semifinals. Silberger, 17, who attends high school in New Jersey and has studied with leading violinists in New York, …began with a darkly pensive Grave movement from J.S. Bach's Sonata No. 2, paired with a clearly voiced, demonstrative interpretation of the sonata's Fuga. For his required Paganini Caprices, he chose two that have been heard often this week -- No. 1, which demands a "bouncing" bow technique, and No. 24, a theme with variations including some high-register playing and pizzicatos mixed with staccato bowing. His concluding Tchaikovsky Melodie offered a full-bodied sound but was momentarily marred by a glitch in intonation.”
9/5/06 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that six members of the Pittsburgh Symphony are "opting for early retirement." They include violinist Richard DiAdamo, who joined the orchestra in 1968), violist Richard Holland, who joined in 1972, and bassist James Krummenacher, who joined in 1956. DiAdamo comments: "I am retiring from the symphony but not the violin."
9/1/06 - The Lansing Symphony Orchestra's new music director, Timothy Muffitt, traded his baton for a baseball when he made his minor league debut throwing out the first pitch at a Lansing Lugnuts Game. Muffitt debuted as music director on September 9 with the orchestra's season opener.
At the invitation of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, members of the Orchestra of St. Luke's will participate in the fifth anniversary commemoration of 9/11 at Ground Zero. Musicians will play during the reading of the names of those who died in the World Trade Center attacks. The reading begins at 8:46 a.m., the exact time the first plane plowed into the building.
The Independence Symphony Orchestra in Missouri has changed its name to the Heritage Philharmonic. The new name reflects the orchestra's history and commitment to the eastern Jackson County region, and serves as a better representation of its broad audience base. The orchestra consists of 68 musicians from the greater Kansas City area. In addition, James Murray, who served as guest conductor last season, will become music director and conductor.
Musicians of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra have ratified a new, four-year collective bargaining agreement, reports the American Symphony Orchestra League. “The agreement, ratified on August 28, provides for steady improvement in musician compensation coupled with the ability to utilize the musicians for more community engagement and development opportunities. It also includes an electronic media guarantee. The salary range for section musicians will increase from $25,500 to $31,300 if all the community engagement services are elected.”
9/7/06 – The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and musicians have agreed to extend their labor contract for a year with no changes in salaries or benefits. “The minimum salary in the orchestra remains $1,900 per week or $98,800 for the season, though many players make more. The previous contract expired this week. Talks will resume later this fall. Neither DSO management nor players will comment publicly on the extension, but it effectively means that the largest chunk of the orchestra's fixed costs -- musician salaries -- will remain constant for another year, which is especially important given Michigan's rough economy and the tough fund-raising environment for the arts. It also gives the orchestra a year to work out an agreement….The musicians agreed to pay cuts in 2004 when the orchestra's deficit ballooned to more than $2 million. However, the deal was back-loaded with sizable pay increases last season. The DSO ranked 11th in musicians' salaries in 2005-06, according to figures from the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians.”
9/7/06 – According to the Oklahoma City Journal Record, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic has received the largest single donation in its history. “The $1.25 million gift from the Inasmuch Foundation is part of $7.3 million contributed to the philharmonic's $9 million Orchestrating Greatness Campaign, which is scheduled to continue through December. … Endowments will be established to attract musicians and expand education programs. [And] A dedicated endowment will provide money for live orchestral services for Ballet Oklahoma and Canterbury Choral Society."
9/7/06 – The Kansas City Symphony opened its season without Music Director Michael Stern on the podium. The orchestra announced that Stern withdrew from this weekend's performances due to the expected birth of his first child... David Robertson filled in for Stern, reports PlaybillArts.com.
9/6/06 – The Fairfax (VA) Symphony is back in the black, reports the Fairfax Examiner. "Now, at the organization's 50th anniversary, Executive Director Jane Kenworthy] said the organization is entering the season without debt, the result of an outpouring of donations and cost-cutting measures that included trimming administrative staff and temporarily cutting musicians' pay. It's a major change from a year ago, when the orchestra was struggling to pay for its first performance of the season ... Though orchestra members agreed to a 10 percent pay cut for the second half of the season, they maintained the size of the 90-piece group. Meanwhile, they nearly tripled the number of individual gifts from the previous season, she said."
General Music News
The Sphinx Organization has opened offices in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Currently headquartered in Detroit, the organization is establishing roots in New York in order to expand its artistic and educational programming in the area.
9/8/06 – Pluto may have just lost its planet status, but don’t tell British composer Colin Matthews that. His movement honoring the former planet has just been recorded on EMI classics as part of Gustav Holst’s masterpiece The Planets, reports the New York Times. Matthews comments: "I thank God that I was actually on holiday the day that it happened ... At times I've been cursing, but it's very fascinating to be in the middle of it." The article explains that "Holst excluded the Earth, because it has no astrological significance, and Pluto, which was not discovered until 1930. He died in 1934, but there is little evidence that he considered updating his piece."
9/7/06 – The Washington Post is reporting that National Public Radio said it will end production and distribution of Performance Today, ‘the most popular classical music program on the air’. The organization will eliminate 11 jobs in its Washington headquarters as a result. But the Minnesotans ride to the rescue: American Public Media, the distribution arm of Minnesota Public Radio, will produce Performance Today and another weekly classical show, SymphonyCast, starting early next year. APM will continue to distribute the program to some 230 stations. [An APM executive] said discussions were being held with 'PT' host Fred Child and 'SymphonyCast' host Corva Coleman to continue, but no agreements have been reached."
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