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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 2, No. 62

September 14, 2006 at 3:42 AM

9/13/06 – The Chicago Symphony announced this morning that longtime concertmaster Samuel Magad is retiring in January after 48 years with the orchestra. Magad made his debut with the Chicago Symphony at Orchestra Hall at the age of 11, as the winner of the CSO Youth Auditions. He joined the CSO’s first violin section in 1958 under the baton of CSO Music Director Fritz Reiner and became assistant concertmaster in 1966. In 1972, Sir Georg Solti appointed him as concertmaster, a position that he has held longer than any other player in the CSO’s history. In his role of concertmaster, Magad can be heard as soloist on several of the CSO’s most renowned recordings, including Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and Also sprach Zarathustra, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade.

For more on the luggage debacle….

9/10/06 – According to The Scotsman, BBC Symphony guest conductor Mark Elder “used his performance at the Last Night of the Proms to launch a stinging attack on the heightened airport security, which prevents musicians from carrying their instruments on to planes as hand- luggage. The Musicians' Union yesterday said it planned to lobby parliament over the strict security - introduced after last month's alleged terror plot - which the group claims is having a "devastating impact" on musicians. Under current rules, passengers flying out of UK airports are allowed one item of cabin baggage, which must be no larger than a laptop computer bag. Travellers flying into the UK from destinations including the US are not subject to the same restrictions. The rules make it impossible for musicians with valuable instruments to travel out of the UK. He added: "I think we would all agree that the time has come really to put an end to this unfairness. Otherwise it seems to me that next year we should all look forward to Concerto for Laptop and Orchestra."

A similar article in the Guardian (UK) quoted cellist Steven Isserlis. The British musician, who plays a Stradivarius, said the instrument's owner had banned him from placing it in an airline hold. “With a concert planned in New York next month, he faces flying from Cologne, where he has another engagement, to Montreal and then taking a train to the US. A concert schedule planned two years in advance may need to be stripped down if the security measures remain in place. Isserlis said: ‘It will end up with Europeans playing in Europe and Americans playing in America’.

9/8/06 – According to the blog of Minnesota Public Radio personality Brian Newhouse, violinist Viktoria Mullova, who went so far as to “smuggle” her unprotected Stradivarius onto a Helsinki-bound flight in a shopping bag last month because of the carry-on restrictions in Britain. Now, Mullova tells Newhouse she is concerned about getting her Strad to the U.S. for her appearance next week with the Minnesota Orchestra. He says her plan is to have a friend accompany her to Heathrow Airport. If security refuses to let her bring her instrument in the cabin, she will entrust it to the friend to return it to her home. Then, “when she lands in Minneapolis, she’ll start scrambling for the best instrument she can find.”

Other Musician News

9/18/06 - Violinist Janine Jansen will appear with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in the Metropolitan Museum’s opening concert of the season, playing Vivaldi and Bach. According to the New Yorker, Jansen’s recent recording of The Four Seasons is notable for more than its seductive cover photograph.

9/12/06 - Hai-Ye Ni, the 34-year-old former associate principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, has been appointed principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. "A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, she won the prestigious Naumburg competition in 1990 at the age of 18, and made a much-praised debut at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in 1991 ... [As a concerto soloist], she extensively performed 'Spring Dreams' by the acclaimed Chinese composer Bright Sheng ... She received an Avery Fisher career grant in 2001 and continues to have the standard concertos in her active repertoire as well as modern ones by Lutoslawski and Dutilleux."

9/8/06 - Violinist Chee-Yun performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Winnipeg Symphony. The concert also marked the first appearance of new Music Director Alexander Mickelthwate.

9/8/06 - Violinist James Crawford, concertmaster of the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Symphony, performed with the orchestra as soloist in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. The Grand Rapids Press reports that the performance marks a milestone in the return to health of the violinist. “Crawford, appointed concertmaster in the 1993-94 season, was preparing to play Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto in mid-season two years ago when he felt tingling and numbness in his arm from cubital tunnel syndrome and medial epicondylitis. Crawford spent six months away from his fiddle in rest and rehabilitation. He missed much of the 2004-05 season, returning just a month before the orchestra played in New York City's Carnegie Hall in May 2005.”

9/3/06 - Violinist Cela Gomberg Newman, whom the Sarasota Herald-Tribune refers to as living a “life that reads like a Cinderella story,” has died at age 95. “One of seven children raised in a low-income household in Boston before World War I, Newman was accepted into a prestigious music school [Curtis Institute of Music] at the age of 16, became a concert violinist and married Ruby Newman, one of the most popular bandleaders in the Northeast during the 1930s….After moving to Sarasota in 1968 at the urging of former mayor and fellow violinist David Cohen, Newman performed with the Florida West Coast Symphony for several years and was a longtime volunteer at a popular consignment shop to help raise money for the symphony…. Embarking on a career as a concert violinist, Newman couldn't afford a quality instrument like the one she trained on. A friend suggested she contact bandleader Ruby Newman, a heartthrob who led one of Boston's favorite society bands in the 1930s. She was told he had a spare violin. She wrote to him and he invited her to New York City's famed Rainbow Room, where he was performing, Stone said. After he agreed to lend her a violin, "out of the blue she asked him, 'How come you haven't been taken by some cute dame yet?' and he said, 'I haven't found the right one,'" Stone recalled. They married in 1938 after a brief courtship.”

Orchestra News

The Japan Art Association has announced a Praemium Imperiale special award of 5 million yen (currently about US$43,000) to the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela, the organization which Simon Rattle has called "the most important thing happening in music anywhere in the world" and which produced the young star conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Praemium Imperiale are given annually by the Japan Art Association for outstanding achievement in five fields not covered by the Nobel Prizes: music, painting, sculpture, architecture and theater/film. The gold medals will be formally awarded by Prince Hitachi of Japan in a ceremony on October 18 in Tokyo".

9/13/06 – The San Francisco Symphony will perform in Luxembourg as part of their European tour with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. On 9/17, the San Franciscans move on to the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland.

From Ben Clapton
Posted on September 14, 2006 at 7:37 AM
I really like Jansen's Four Seasons CD, mainly due to the choice of orchestration. Using only one player per part gives these works a whole new clarity, and makes these concerto's more like chamber music. The dynamic levels achieved and the tones produced are in my opinion much greater than any that could be produced by an orchestra. I prefer Jansen's Four Seasons to Kennedy's
From Christian Vachon
Posted on September 14, 2006 at 11:46 AM

The story from Mullova is so telling... Imagine? I know the violist from Ottawa, Paul Casey, that is sueing Air Canada for destroying his viola.

I have to raise the question... Are people really that stupid?

From Erin McGann
Posted on September 14, 2006 at 1:44 PM
According to The Times, the baggage restrictions will be changed to allow musical instruments on board next week:,,2-2356795,00.html

From Igor Yuzefovich
Posted on September 14, 2006 at 2:11 PM
Oh man, I can hear the Heldenleiben excerpts already.....

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