January 2007

Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 9

January 31, 2007 13:32

1/28/07 – After announcing his impending retirement several months ago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Samuel Magad has made it official, reports the Chicago Tribune: "As of this month, Magad no longer will be alternating in that crucial leadership role with Robert Chen, who has shared the position of concertmaster with Magad since 1999. At 73, Magad is retiring from the orchestra this month after 48 years as a member of the violin section, 34 of them as concertmaster. No other player in CSO history has held the post longer."

Magad tells the paper: "I decided that, considering my age and length of service, this was the best time to let it go ... I also figured that with Daniel Barenboim leaving at the end of last season, it was just as well that I left too. I've had many music directors in my time, and I didn't want to start with another one."

Assistant Concertmaster David Taylor comments: "I, for one, will be sorry to see Sam go ... We had a lot of fun making music together. Even at the very end of his career, he is still one heck of a violinist."


1/27/07 - Esa-Pekka Salonen is about to take over London's Philharmonia orchestra, and The Guardian has taken the opportunity to profile him and share his thoughts on classical music in London versus LA.: "The greatest risk to classical music is not to respond to the culture until one day it just stops. There are some differences in the artistic structures and traditions of LA and London, but the approach that worked in LA was not to dumb down, but to do the opposite, to challenge the audience. And people responded."

The article, of course, recounts the famous story of Salonen’s big break as a conductor: “Back in 1983 Salonen was a late substitute for Michael Tilson Thomas, who had been due to conduct a Philharmonia performance of the Mahler [Symphony No. 3]. Salonen was then a 25-year-old best known as an uncompromising modernist composer. He had never conducted the work and had barely skimmed the score. But, after a few days of preparation, he went on an understudy and came off a star. One of the reasons the concert went so well, Salonen says, was that ‘it wasn't a make or break thing for me. I wanted to do my best, but I wasn't planning on a conducting career’. The next day he realised things had changed.”

Musician News

Canadian violinist Thomas Cosbey has been appointed concertmaster of the Thunder Bay (Ont.) Symphony Orchestra. He began his career in the Regina (Sask.) Symphony Orchestra and later served as principal second violin in Sinfonia Toronto.

2/24/07 – Conductor and violinist Tito Muñoz, the 23-year-old assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, will make his subscription debut with the orchestra as a replacement for guest conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, who is recovering from surgery. Korean violinistr Chee-Yun will be the soloist. Muñoz sounds like a young conductor to watch: He made his professional conducting debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in May 2006, the same month Paavo Järvi appointed him in Cincinnati. Then he made his Cleveland Orchestra debut at the Blossom Music Festival in August 2006.

2/2/07 - Violinist Benny Kim will premiere a commissioned work at the University of Wyoming. A brief ceremony with the composer, noted accompanist Marc Neikrug, will precede the concert. The work, commissioned by UW Cultural Programs and the Department of American Studies, was also cosponsored by four other Wyoming presenters. Kim will also showcase the new work in performances in the sponsoring communities of Rock Springs, Casper, Gillette, and Sheridan. “Playing in L.A., Chicago, and New York, that is all great," he said in a university news release, "but people tend to be jaded about music there. People in places like Wyoming, especially the smaller towns, don't have many opportunities to hear a lot of classical music, especially music that has just been commissioned. This is a very unique opportunity."

2/1/07 – Two of the four finalists in the Madison Symphony Orchestra's 2007 Bolz Young Artist Competition are violinists: Krista Stewart and Sakura Takemitsu. For the first time this year, the competition also will be aired on Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television. The Wisconsin State Journal ran brief Q&A interviews with all four finalists.

1/29/07 – According to the La Crosse Tribune, violinist Samantha Bennett was one of two winners Saturday in the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra’s Rising Stars Concerto Competition. “Bennett, 17, was a semi-finalist in the 2006 Johansen International Competition in Washington, D.C. She was a national semi-finalist in the American String Teachers Association solo competition in 2003.”

1/29/07 - Gina Ferguson, a high school math teacher and violinist with the Christchurch (NZ) Symphony Orchestra, has won a triathlon, reports the Rotorura Daily Post: “Yesterday, looking very much like a hardened athlete, the 26-year-old enjoyed a convincing victory in the fifth round of the National Triathlon Series at Tikitapu (Blue Lake), part of the Bike Vegas Blue Lake Multisport Festival. Ferguson, who only took up the sport two years ago… completed the 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 11km trail run in 2 hours and 31 minutes. ‘I love the off-road stuff and tough courses and this is a tough course, so it suited me really well’," she told the paper.

1/28/07 – Alex Shum, a member of the Kansas City Symphony’s first violin section since 1978, was profiled by the Kansas City Star on Sunday.

1/28/07 – The New Orleans Times-Picayune profiled violinist Rachel Lee in conjunction with her weekend performance there.

Orchestra News

The Rhode Island Philharmonic has announced that Music Director Larry Rachleff has extended his contract with that orchestra through 2011-12. A resident of Houston, Rachleff holds the Walter Kris Hubert Chair at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, and is also music director of the San Antonio Symphony.

1/30/07 - The Grand Rapids Symphony released its latest recording, a Naxos of America release of [American composer Adolphus] Hailstork's Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3, reports the Grand Rapids Press. This is the orchestra’s 10th commercial recording but its first on a national label in 10 years. The recordings will be released Tuesday in national chain stores such as Barnes and Noble and from Amazon.com, iTunes, CD Universe.com and other online sites. “Naxos publicist Mark Berry called Hailstork 'an esteemed American composer' and the Grand Rapids Symphony 'one of the best small-city orchestras in the nation'."

1/29/07 – According to Musical America, Venice's La Fenice opera house has named Eliahu Inbal to be its music director. "Inbal, 71 and a charismatic figure in the international music scene, previously served in that capacity from 1984 to 1987. This time, the appointment appears to be temporary, Inbal having signed only a two-year contract, as opposed to the usual four."

1/27/07 - The Colorado Springs Philharmonic performed the world premiere of Garden of the Gods, a baseball-inspired work composed by Glen Cortese, who has just been named music director and conductor of Colorado's Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra.

Other Music News

1/29/07 – According to Bloomberg News, the Juilliard School is more than two-thirds of the way toward raising $300 million to expand. "The 101-year-old school wants to complete its largest fund- raising drive by the end of 2009, Juilliard President Joseph Polisi said in an interview. The money, in gifts and pledges, will endow educational programs and fund expansion of the school's 39-year-old Lincoln Center building… About $84 million of the $300 million to be raised will go to scholarship aid, Polisi said. The school currently awards $11 million in scholarship aid, an average of $18,100 per student. This year, Juilliard is charging $25,610 for tuition and $10,095 to $12,605 for room and board. ‘Any student who has the ability to get into the school, if there is proven financial need, they will receive support’, Polisi said.”

1/28/07 - The Kansas City Star reports: "Missouri arts advocates let out a collective sigh of relief last week when Gov. Matt Blunt included money for the arts in his annual budget recommendation. Blunt recommended $7.8 million for the Missouri Cultural Trust, the endowment for the Missouri Arts Council - a match of $3.3 million transferred to the trust in the previous budget plus an increase of $4.5 million. …Arts advocates had been concerned that the governor might not recommend any money for the arts because of anger over a lawsuit filed by the Kansas City Symphony against the state. The lawsuit contends that the Cultural Trust has been underfinanced by the legislature to the tune of $83 million."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 8

January 28, 2007 13:09

1/18/07 – "I've never heard of such a thing."

“With those words, delivered by a spokeswoman in Japan, conductor Seiji Ozawa has denied a report that Kim Jong Il tried to recruit him to lead the National Symphony Orchestra of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.” See the recap on PlaybillArts.com.


1/24/07 – For an unusually candid look at how stage fright and alcoholism can derail a musical career, read the Detroit Free Press’ profile of Detroit Symphony principal cellist Robert DeMaine, who performed the Dvorak Cello Concerto with that orchestra this weekend.

“By late 1998, deMaine, a former prodigy, had been drinking heavily for years to calm his nerves before going onstage to perform, usually relying on Sambuca, the anise-flavored liqueur that had become a favorite crutch. DeMaine was core principal cellist of the Hartford Symphony in Connecticut, the kind of job a major talent might settle into when his day gig is trying to change the world from a barstool.

One day, his fiancée gave him an ultimatum: the bottle or her. DeMaine, already a veteran of two stays in detox and a failed stab at rehab, chose the bottle and spent a month drinking himself into oblivion. Then on Jan. 2, 1999, he woke up and, just like that, quit. He hasn't had a drink in eight years.”

DSO concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert got to weigh in on DeMaine: “When I have to follow him, it's not like I'm following him, it's like I'm following the composer," [she] says. "He becomes one with the piece. He's very much his own man, but it's very pure. Nothing is for show or exaggerated."


1/25/07 - The Washington Post reports that not everyone is delighted by WETA-FM’s abrupt change from news to classical. "WETA's sudden switch this week from news programming to classical music has prompted a backlash among some of its listeners, who believe the public radio station should have consulted the public about the decision. The station says reaction to its format change has been mostly positive, but not everyone is pleased. Hundreds of listeners, some of whom donated money to support the station's NPR and BBC news programs, say they feel double-crossed ... Although many of the comments welcomed the change, others used words such as 'betrayal,' 'appalled' and 'grieficken’." The Post quotes Salli Diakova, a WETA listener from Alexandria, Virginia: "Until the last moment, they were making fundraising calls and sending out letters saying, 'Support our news programs.' I feel a public station owes the public some sort of discussion before doing this." The article adds: "[WETA General Manager Dan] DeVany said that WETA will refund contributions to any listener who requests it."

Musician News

Violinist Karel Butz, a doctoral student in music education at Indiana University, presented a clinic titled “Establishing Quality Sound in the Beginning Orchestra” at the Indiana Music Educators Association convention in January.

2/15/07 - The Ariel Quartet, winners of the 2006 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, will participate in a Kennedy Center concert showcasing New England Conservatory students.

1/26/07 – The San Diego Union-Tribune profiled violinist Susie Park, the newest member of the Eroica Trio. “As the replacement for violinist Adela Peña, who left the Eroica due to a fatigue-related hand injury, Park represents the group's first personnel change since its founding in 1986. She'll make her local debut with the trio this weekend.”

1/26/07 – According to Radio Netherlands, “The violin is the instrument par excellence for approximating the human voice. And nobody can do it better than the Indian violinist Kala Ramnath, a gifted performer of North Indian ragas. She can make her instrument sing and that has earned her the nickname ‘the singing violin’.”

1/25/07 – The Des Moines Register has published a list of “10 things you should know about Joshua Bell.” My favorite tidbit was No. 2: “Bell's first violin was a half-sizer his parents bought him when he was 4 or 5 years old. After he became famous, he gave it to his first violin teacher. When a forgetful student left it in a driveway, the student's father accidentally backed over it with his car.”

1/25/07 - Enrica Cavallo-Gulli, a pianist and widow of violinist Franco Gulli, died January 25, 2007, in Bloomington, IN, reports the University’s Jacobs School of Music. “[Mrs.] Gulli was born in 1921 in Milan, Italy. As a child prodigy, she gave recitals everywhere in the years preceding World War II. After the war, she met violinist Franco Gulli, whom she married in 1950. With Franco, she formed the world renowned Gulli-Cavallo Duo, which was active until Mr. Gulli’s passing in November 2001.”

1/24/07 - Ubaldo Valli, a violinist and conductor from Ithaca, N.Y., has been named the new conductor of the SUNY Cortland College-Community Orchestra. He currently serves as the music director of the Auburn Chamber Orchestra,
the Hamilton College Orchestra, the Empire State Youth Orchestra String Ensemble and the Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra. An active violinist, Valli plays with the Glimmerglass Opera, the Albany Symphony, the Binghamton Philharmonic and the Catskill Symphony in Oneonta, N.Y. He also teaches violin at Hamilton College.

Orchestra News

The musicians of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra raised more than $55,000 through their 2006 Christmas FanFair fund-raising campaign. The money will be divided evenly between the Snowsuit Fund, which distributes more than 16,000 snowsuits each year, and the Food Bank, which gives food assistance to 32,000 people every month.

1/30/07 - Naxos will release a DVD featuring the first modern recordings of Virgil Thomson's film scores to director Pare Lorentz's documentaries "The Plow that Broke the Plains" and "The River." The Washington, D.C.-based Post-Classical Ensemble recorded the soundtracks under the direction of Angel Gil-Ordóñez. The DVD, with narration by Floyd King, also includes the films with the original soundtrack recordings and an audio interview with Thomson on the art of film scoring.

1/25/07 – Have you ever wondered what security measures the Israel Philharmonic must take when touring? The Los Angeles Times found out, in preparation for the group’s upcoming visit. Here’s a hint: Don’t plan on parking in the underground parking garage at Walt Disney Concert Hall. And inside the theater will be either metal detectors or human screeners. “No threats have been received, Philharmonic spokesman Adam Crane said Wednesday, but similar precautions were put in place when the orchestra played a sold-out performance at the hall in 2003.”

1/25/07 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the “debonair” Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck was officially introduced yesterday as music director designate of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra." The article quotes musicians' union spokesman and PSO percussionist John Soroka: "I would absolutely characterize it as unanimous support for his hire." It also notes the PSO's current collective bargaining agreement, which "gives the musicians more power in nearly every aspect of the organization," and quotes Honeck: "I was born in a tradition in the Vienna Philharmonic, and they have no chief conductor ... Ticket sales, everything, is organized by members of the orchestra. So this is nothing new to me. The time is over where the bosses just tell the people what they have to do, in any profession."

1/24/07PlaybillArts.com’s take on the appointment includes the tidbit that [new Pittsburgh Music Director Manfred] Honeck played both violin and viola in the Vienna Philharmonic and notes that the orchestra’s three-year experiment with a trio of part-time "artistic advisers" and guest conductors has come to an end.

1/25/07 – The Fremont (Calif.) Symphony Orchestra has announced the winners of its 41st annual Young Artist Competition, reports the Fremont Bulletin. What’s unusual is that, though this year’s competition, was limited to string players and included 22 violinists and 16 cellists, violinists swept the event. Violinist David Southorn, 21, a senior at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, won first prize for his performance Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major. He received $1,000 and an opportunity to perform with the Fremont Symphony Orchestra. Violinist Tao Zhang, 20. also a senior at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, won second prize for a performance the Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major. Violinist Jennifer Wey, 17, took the third prize of $250. And violinist Stephen Waarts, 10, won the $150 Nafisa Taghioff Award.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 7

January 24, 2007 11:13

As of today, we’re even more famous: Violinist.com is the subject of an article in the Christian Science Monitor as an example of a website that can serve as a model to many others for its tight vision and collaborative execution.

Tom Regan writes, “More than a few times over the past few years, people at technology conferences or seminars walk up to me and ask how they can start their own websites. ‘Is there any site that I can use as a model?’ is one of their frequently asked questions.

‘Yes, one in particular’, is my response. ‘Violinist.com’.”

Let’s have a big shoutout for Laurie, who was interviewed, and Robert!


Unfortunately, Chicago has just lost one of its most prominent—and gifted—accompanists. Melody Lord died last week of breast cancer at the age of 57, and her loss will be deeply felt, particularly by the flutists and singers who were her preferred partners. She made five recordings and performed hundreds of recitals with Donald Peck, longtime principal flutist of the Chicago Symphony. She taught at DePaul University for 20 years and more recently at Sherwood Conservatory of Music.

My husband, a cellist, had the pleasure of being accompanied by Melody on several occasions and was thoroughly impressed by her musicianship and professionalism each time.

From the Chicago Tribune obituary: “She was the best pianist in her high school and figured she was quite proficient until her tryout for the piano program at DePaul University. ‘They laughed at her’, her daughter said.

She embarked on a practice schedule that never really let up. Her children remember going to sleep to the sounds of their mother hard at work at her Schimmel baby grand. She would often play until 2 or 3 in the morning, only a few hours before she had to get up to get her girls ready for school.”


1/22/07 – The Washington Post reports: "Washington's WGMS-FM will stop airing classical music, a format it has carried for nearly 60 years, but the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven won't disappear from the local radio airwaves. In an unusual arrangement, WGMS, a commercial station, has agreed to help public station WETA-FM resume the classical-music broadcasts WETA dropped nearly two years ago, the two stations said today. WETA (90.9) will go back to playing classical music at 8 p.m. tonight, abandoning the news and talk programming that had replaced its classical broadcasts in February 2005. WGMS, in turn, is expected to announce later today that it will change its call letters and adopt a new format. Sources indicated that it would become a news and talk station."

Musician News

1/23/07 - Violinist Gil Shaham appeared as featured soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra Carnegie Hall, replacing bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff, who had been scheduled to perform but bowed out earlier this week due to a bronchial infection. Shaham performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5.

1/22/07 - Violinist Mary Elizabeth Keller of Hawaii took first place in the Junior String Competition's Southwest Division, in a competition held by the Music Teachers National Association in Salt Lake City. Mary, a 14-year-old student of James Stanford, competed earlier this month against state winners from Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. She goes on to the national contest in March.

1/21/07 – The Detroit Free Press profiled violinist Andrea Jarrett, who won the 2006 Birmingham-Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition.

1/20/07 – A work from violinist Vincent P. Skowronski’s new CD was featured on WFIU-FM radio, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. The station selected Szymanowski’s Sonata in D Minor from the disc Skowronski Plays! Avec et Sans, Volume 2.

1/18/07 – Violinists “blanketed” the Tampa Bay area last weekend, when Joshua Bell and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg both came to town, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

1/17/07 - Jazz violinist John Blake is trying to change the “stereotypes” of classical violin by introducing children to jazz at a string improvisation workshop for young musicians and their teachers at New Jersey City University, reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger. The masterclass was part of the annual New Jersey String Symposium offered by the New Jersey chapter of the American String Teachers Association.

Orchestra News

1/22/07 – The Indianapolis Symphony has received a Joyce Award, which Chicago-based Joyce Foundation has bestowed annually since 2004 on five Midwest performing and visual arts organizations. The $50,000 award is so that Peruvian-Chinese composer Lena Frank can compose a work for the orchestra.

1/19/07 - The Berkeley (Calif.) Symphony has announced that music director Kent Nagano will step down as music director in 2009, following three decades of service. The orchestra will mount an international search for his replacement, according to PlaybillArts.com.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 6

January 21, 2007 12:45

1/18/07 - In Thursday's Christian Science Monitor, Amelia Thomas reports on the Belgian charity Music Fund, which was formed by President Lukas Pairon in 2005 "to provide practical support to young musicians and music schools in conflict zones and developing countries. It was born of a collaboration between Ictus, a Belgian contemporary-music ensemble, and the nongovernmental organization Oxfam Solidarity.


1/12/07 – For a look at how musicians are able to acquire stringed instruments in the big-boy leagues, read the Times of London’s look at instrument syndicates. “Jamie Walton is in love. And the problem with the object of his affection is not so much that she’s out of his league as that she’s out of his price range. The 32-year-old cellist has fallen for a Guarneri, one of only a few remaining cellos made by the legendary Italian firm in the 18th century. And the particular model that he’s set his heart on will set him back a painful £890,000, or $1.7 million.”


Be sure to take a peek at the current issue of Strings magazine (where I used to be a frequent contributor) for an in-depth look at being a concertmaster in a leading American orchestra.

Musician News

1/20/07 – Violinist Christian Tetzlaff, fresh from a rave review in the New York Times, created more pyrotechnics, this time in Indianapolis. The Indy Times opined, “Soaring melodies, an unusual first-movement cadenza, an uncanny balance that ISO Music Director Mario Venzago repeatedly struck with Tetzlaff, hushed solo playing, attention-grabbing attacks and careful high-register work all added up to a breathtaking concerto.” As if all this weren’t enough Tetzlaff kept his cool when his pegs popped during the cadenza in the Beethoven Violin Concerto: “Prospects were good that the cadenza would be interesting anyway, because, according to the ISO, Tetzlaff has been using a version that Beethoven reportedly wrote for a piano version of the concerto. But then, the soloist's instrument suddenly went out of tune, and he quickly switched instruments with guest concertmaster Jonathan Carney. While Tetzlaff continued his solo, Carney retuned the soloist's fiddle before handing it back.”

1/20/07 – Violinist Doosook Kim, concertmaster of the Sioux Falls, SD, Symphony, soloed in the Berg Violin Concerto. She is one of nine full-time professional musicians in the orchestra.

1/19/07 – The Yale Daily News ran an entertaining account of how Yale Symphony concertmaster, Mari-E Takahashi has spiced up the orchestra’s annual Halloween concerts for the last two years. “Usually, she explained, the concertmaster or mistress plays a solo on the electric violin, jazzing up the usual classical fare of the orchestra. When it was her turn to carry on this tradition, she decided it would be fun to put on a leather bra and a short ‘skanky’ pink skirt. Her friends’ shock before the concert convinced her to add a shirt to the mix, but onstage, she stripped down. It is hard to imagine why Takahashi would be reticent to discuss how undeniably sexy she is onstage, scantily clad — be it in the now infamous leather bra outfit, or the slinky negligee she wore in 2006. Perhaps it is because she is first and foremost the talented leader of Yale’s most prestigious orchestra, a person for whom playing the electric violin in lingerie is simply an amusing diversion.” Sorry, fellas, no photos.

1/19/07 – Read icWales for a look at how violinist and conductor John Stein built the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra: “I was leading the Royal Ballet when I was asked. I said ‘Yes. How many players will I have?’ I was told ‘Five.’”

1/12/07 – The Orange County Register recently profiled jazz violinist Regina Carter. In the article, she describes playing the “Cannon” Guarneri, once owned by Paganini: “She is the first jazz musician and the first black American to play the 260-year-old Guarneri violin (nicknamed ‘the Cannon’) once owned by legendary composer and violinist Niccolò Paganini. She played the treasured instrument in its home – Genoa, Italy – and also in New York, both onstage and in the recording studio. ‘It was an incredible experience’, she said. ‘The violin itself has such an incredible sound. Usually, only classical players are allowed to play it. I was the first nonclassical player that they allowed to play it. It was heavily guarded, and I couldn't make a move with it, without them being right there’.”

1/11/07 – The Anchorage Daily News ran an obituary of violinist Ruth Jefford, concertmaster of the Anchorage Symphony for nearly 30 years. Additionally, Jefford, who was 92, was the first woman commercial air taxi pilot in the state, flying planes in Alaska for 60 years.

1/10/07 - Piotr Filochowski, 15, is originally from Poland, but now lives in New Jersey and studies violin with Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School in New York City. He was recently featured on From the Top and is the recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Piotr will receive an award of $10,000 to help him continue his music studies and assist him with music-related needs. NPR has posted an audio clip of him playing.

Orchestra News

1/22/07 - The Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra will receive $10,000 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. as a winner of the 2006 Coming Up Taller award. The orchestra is one of seventeen youth arts and humanities organizations selected for the national honor. Coming Up Taller is an initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The awards recognize and support outstanding community programs in the arts that celebrate and cultivate the creativity of America's youth.

1/18/07 - The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra departed for its first European tour since 1998. Led by Artistic Partner Roberto Abbado, the orchestra will visit Budapest, Vienna, Zagreb, Maribor, Warsaw and Berlin. Orchestra students from Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools competed to win a chance to join the orchestra overseas. Those selected by a panel of musicians and community leaders will observe and interact with the orchestra during its time in Vienna and Budapest.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 5

January 18, 2007 08:56

1/14/07 – If you’ve been curious about the Symphonica Toscanini, a new, privately funded Italian orchestra that carries on the legacy of the great conductor Arturo Toscanini, read this profile in the Los Angeles Times. The orchestra’s first U.S. tour after earning raves at home is currently underway.

From the files: Wayne Schafer recently sent me a December 7 article from the Baltimore Sun profiling the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra that featured the group’s executive director and Violinist.com member Peter Schafer.

“Schafer …ha[s] made it a priority to take advantage of the youth orchestra's unique combination of quality musicianship and low ticket prices to bring classical music to a larger audience, particularly to those who otherwise would not have access to it. ‘The orchestra has always done community outreach work, traditionally in nursing homes and malls’, Schafer says. ‘This February we're going to be playing at Kennedy Krieger and Johns Hopkins Hospital - but the one thing that's really new is our efforts to reach out to city audiences. We're trying to reach out to traditionally underserved audiences and to develop and nurture talent in city schools’."

What a worthy effort—keep us posted, Peter!

Musician News

1/21/07 – Violinist Zvi Zeitlin is playing a recital on the Faculty Artist Series at the Eastman School of Music.

1/16/07 - The Guardian (UK) ran an interesting profile of Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto. “In 1995, aged 19, Kuusisto became the first Finn to win the country's prestigious Sibelius Prize for young violinists, beating into second and third places, respectively, Nikolai Znaider and Elisabeth Batiashvili. It was a vintage year. Yet their careers haven't followed quite the same path since, and while all three can dazzle as a concerto soloist or hold a chamber music audience rapt, the odds are long on finding Znaider touring with an electronica band, or Batiashvili jamming along with a pair described as a Norwegian noise duo.”

1/16/07 – The New York Times ran a review of a concert Christian Tetzlaff gave with the Met Orchestra last weekend. The occasion was “the orchestra’s 50th program at Carnegie Hall since James Levine and his players emerged from the pit at the Metropolitan Opera to present a full-fledged symphonic concert in the hall in 1991. …But the concert is likely to be remembered most for the exhilarating performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with Tetzlaff as soloist. This serious-minded 40-year-old German musician seemed somewhat dazed by the rock star ovation that erupted after his stunning performance.”

1/15/07Asian Journal ran a curious article about how 22-year-old violinist Stephen Shey recently performed the Philippine Kundiman as part of his repertoire for a benefit concert on January 12 at the Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, along South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles. “No, Stephen is not Filipino American. Rather, the violinist, labeled as an unusual ambassador of Filipino music because of his special interest in the Kundiman, a sentimental Tagalog song characterized by soulfulness, is Chinese American by ethnicity but maybe Filipino by heart.”

1/15/07 – When Hilary Hahn dropped by Seattle to perform her first recital there in two years, the Seattle Times made sure to catch up with her.

1/15/07 – Now that 18-year-old McGill student and Celtic fiddler Sarah Burney won the Canadian Folk Music Award for “Young Performer of the Year” last month, the McGill Daily decided to get up close and personal.

1/14/07 – Newsday ran a brief profile of violin “prodigy Jourdan Urbach, 15, founder of Children Helping Children, [who] recently headlined benefit performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Since founding the organization eight years ago, Urbach has raised about $1.3 million for medical organizations nationwide. He began studying the violin before turning 3 and made his Lincoln Center debut as a soloist with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in 2003 and his Carnegie Hall debut two years later. Newsday. In addition, Urbach has authored two published novels, Leaving Jeremiah and Inside the Music. …Last year, he was one of five winners in the Dupont National Science Essay Competition; his paper was published by the Concord Review. He presented his ongoing research into myelin repair, conducted at Stony Brook University, at the National MS conference in Atlanta in 2005 and more recently to doctors in Houston and New York.”

1/14/07 – For a glimpse at what Urbach’s future might be like, read the Cincinnati Enquirer profile of Dr. Christopher Karp, director of the division of Molecular Immunology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and former concertmaster of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. “Karp, 49, of Hyde Park, spends the first 90 minutes of each day practicing his ‘Robert Koff’ Vuillaume violin, that once belonged to his teacher, a founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet.”

1/14/07 – The Toledo Blade ran an obituary of Helena Ryan, 87, a violinist who “played with two symphony orchestras for decades and a competitive equestrian as a young woman who rode into her 60s. …She played second violin with the Jewish Community Center and Perrysburg Symphony orchestras until recent years. But she still listened to classical music and still played violin. ‘We still would get together and play duets because we enjoyed playing together’, said Dortha Stewart, also a violinist. ‘She was my stand partner for all those years when we played with the orchestras. She enjoyed making music, and she enjoyed reading music’.

Orchestra News

According to San Francisco Classical Voice, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation has awarded Tom Busse's City Concert Opera Orchestra a $3,000 gift to help with the organization's recording project for a PBS special next Christmas.

1/17/07 – According to the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic has announced that its music director, Edvard Tchivzhel will step down when his contract expires in June 2008. J.L. Nave, executive director of the Philharmonic since April 2006, said the resignation was the result of differences of opinion between Tchivzhel on one side and Nave and the Philharmonic board on the other about the future of the orchestra. “Nave comments: ‘Edvard has a vision that involves increasing concerts and increasing numbers of full-time musicians. That vision is contrary to the vision of many in the organization who feel that we need to take a closer look at what the Philharmonic and Fort Wayne can support and are willing to support’. Nave adds: ‘We've had five years of operational deficit ... More concerts and more full-time musicians probably is not in the cards for us. That doesn't necessarily mean fewer musicians and fewer concerts. It just means we need to find ways to preserve what we have’."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 4

January 14, 2007 09:17

Despite possible appearances to the contrary, this is NOT a Joshua Bell fan site….

1/9/07 – In my 12/27/06 blog, I included a link to the Black Star News’ take on Joshua Bell’s recent visit to a Harlem school. Here is what the Archdiocese of New York had to say about the same visit. Either way, Bell comes off as an admirable person and musician. Violinist Sharon Kim is the school’s music teacher.

1/7-8/07 – Joshua Bell performed at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. He was the featured performer at the opening of the Sony Electronics booth on the 7th and then performed at his own Showcase on the 8th. The photogenic violinist will also be featured in the Ritz Carlton Magazine, available at all of the hotel's luxury properties through March, and in the next issue of Movieline's Hollywood Life Magazine.

Musician News

Mark Kaplan, professor of violin at Indiana University, has been selected as WFIU-FM’s artist of the month for January.

Violinist Vincent P. Skowronski’s new CD, Skowronski Plays! Avec et Sans, Volume II, Live in Concert, was recently selected by the Chicago Daily Herald to its list of Top Ten Best Classical CDs of 2006. According to the Herald, "This is simply a recording of exceptional merit."

1/20/07 – Violinists Katherine Thayer and Mari Horita will appear on a recital to be given by Myrna Jeong, principal cellist with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra. Proceeds from the recital will benefit the orchestra.

1/14/07 – If you watch Sunday’s episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” you’ll see eight Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinists serenade the lucky homeowner: Cornelius Chu, Nathan Cole, Alison Dalton, Nisanne Howell, Mihaela Ionescu, Wendy Koons, Joyce Noh and Akiko Tarumoto. All six of the homeowner’s children studied violin, five at Chicago’s famed Merit School of Music. The program airs at 8 pm Eastern.

1/14/07 - Violinist Annie Rodier will solo with the Santa Rosa Symphony as one of the winners of the orchestra's Concerto Competition. The first-place winner is cellist Jaime Feldman. Two student winners will also perform on flute.

1/4/07 – Violinist Lynn Chang, a teacher in the New England Conservatory’s Prep Division, performed at the inauguration of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Yo-Yo Ma also performed, along with a 19-member string orchestra from NEC’s Prep Division.

Orchestra News

1/15/07 - The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's 15th annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., "A King Celebration," will be featured on a special edition of "Performance Today." The annual concert, produced by the ASO in partnership with The King Center, Morehouse, and Spelman College Glass Clubs, will take place at King's alma mater, Morehouse College, in Atlanta. The program will be broadcast by American Public Media in partnership with NPR. Check local listings for times.

1/11/07 - The Phoenix Symphony honored long-time patrons Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her husband John Jay O'Connor at a concert. The orchestra also announced the naming of its contrabassoon chair for the O'Connors.

1/11/07 – The San Jose Mercury News reports that Symphony Silicon Valley finished its 2005-06 year with a surplus of $118,000 on an operating budget of just under $1.8 million. It was the second year in a row the orchestra operated in the black. “In its audited financial statements covering the fiscal year from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006, the symphony showed a small decline in contributions, partially due to the bankruptcy of Calpine, previously its largest corporate sponsor.... The current 2006-07 season 'will be tougher,' [orchestra President Andrew] Bales said. The orchestra has expanded its core series, previously limited to Saturdays and Sundays, to include four Thursday night performances. 'The success of those Thursdays will spell out how we do this year,' Bales said."

1/11/07 - The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports that the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra posted an operating surplus of $18,000 and boosted attendance by 6.5 percent last year.

1/10/07 - The Cleveland Orchestra will make its first commercial recording under music director Franz Welser-Most this week, taking advantage of a new agreement with the musicians' union which allows live concert recordings to be used for commercial releases without the usual upfront payments to the musicians. The recording of Beethoven's Ninth symphony will be Cleveland's first new CD in seven years, reports the Plain Dealer (Cleveland).

1/10/07 - The Cincinnati Symphony is projecting a $2 million-plus deficit for the current fiscal year, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The short-term culprit for the deficit is a reduced contribution from the orchestra's $73.1 million endowment... Two years ago, the CSO raised ticket prices but saw a bigger drop in its subscription sales than it anticipated, Reynolds said. And it negotiated a three-year musicians' contract that froze salaries the first two years. But wages are scheduled to increase 2.4 percent this year."

1/9/07 – This week’s issue of San Francisco Classical Voice noted that, “Without an announcement, financially troubled Napa Valley Symphony has apparently halved its schedule by canceling the Tuesday repeat concerts for the season's four Sunday performances in Yountville's Lincoln Theater.”

1/8/07 – Four winners of the annual MetLife Awards have been announced, reports the American Symphony Orchestra League. The winners, who receive a $7,500 grant, are Oakland East Bay Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Longwood (Mass.) Symphony. The Virginia Symphony received a $10,000 grant for its "Harmony Project," influenced by the St. Louis Symphony's "In Unison" initiative.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 3

January 10, 2007 16:56

1/4/07 – Ok, this is not string-related, but who can resist the story of the soprano who is suing Hilton Hotels for $6 million because her bed was infested with bedbugs? Soprano Alison Trainer, who seems poised on the threshold of a solid American career, had 150 bites on her face and body. Her experience has made her afraid to sleep in a bed and caused weight loss and discomfort about her physical appearance, reports PlaybillArts.com.

“Trainer's lawyer, Kenneth J. Glassman, told the AP that, because of the bites, his client suffered during her stay at the Phoenix hotel between November 20 and November 26. He said, ‘She looks like a piece of wood that has been attacked by termites’. Trainer immediately noticed the itching and the blood on the sheets, according to the AP report, but was initially unaware that bedbugs were the cause. She told the New York Daily News that it was ‘a terrifying experience’: she leaped out of bed and pulled back the sheets and found that the bugs ‘were everywhere! It was like a sci-fi movie’."



1/8/07 – I heard from David Gale, a 20-year-old violinist whom I mentioned a few weeks ago in connection with one of his recitals. He wanted to share that he spent the last two weeks of December, concertizing on the Caribbean island of St. Martin-St.Maarten. According to the island’s Daily Herald, “his concerts brought together the first-ever innovative marriage of classical violin and the islands’ indigenous instrument, Steel Pan, in multiple performances with one of the greatest Steel Pan musicians in the Caribbean, Isidore York, a.k.a. ‘The Mighty Dow’.” Gale was one of 24 participants in the 10th Wieniawski International Violin Competition in Lublin, Poland.

Musician News

Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto, a novel by Joshua Cohen, has been reviewed on the popular website Bookslut as a January selection. The first thing that leaps out at the viewer or reader is that the cover intentionally evokes those beloved, iconic yellow covers from Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics scores.

1/8/07 – Violinist Ciara Picard of Manchester, Conn., tells her hometown Journal Inquirer how her string quartet at SUNY Potsdam was chosen to play for the inauguration of New York’s governor, Eliot Spitzer, and what it was like.

1/7/07KSL, a Utah television station, ran a profile of Kory Katseanes, director of orchestras at Brigham Young University, and a former violinist and associate conductor of the Utah Symphony.

1/6/07 - The Los Angeles Times carried an obituary of Eleonore Schoenfeld, "an internationally recognized cellist and teacher who had been on the faculty of the [University of South California's] Thornton School of Music since 1959." Schoenfeld, "who with her violinist sister, Alice, performed and recorded for several decades as the Schoenfeld Duo" died January 1 at the home they shared in the Los Angeles area. She was 81. "Schoenfeld was born in Slovenia to a Russian mother and a Polish father, who was a concertmaster ... The family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, and the sisters began an association with Idyllwild Arts Academy, which led to positions on the USC music faculty." She served as chairwoman of the strings department, and "Schoenfeld's influence was felt keenly throughout the Thornton School." Violinist Midori, who also teaches at the school, is quoted: "Schoenfeld and her sister built the international reputation of the Thornton School. I respected her for her honesty, integrity and years of experience and expertise, and I consulted with her several times on my own teaching."

1/6/07 – The Ann Arbor News reports that it's been over a year now since violist Geraldine Walther made “a daring professional leap, giving up her position as principal viola in the San Francisco Symphony to join the Takacs Quartet. The Takacs is considered one of the world's great string quartets, but orchestra jobs are considered to be more secure, and furthermore, there's never a guarantee that the chemistry necessary for a great quartet to succeed will develop properly with a new member. For her part, Walther says that she's having the time of her life.”

Orchestra News

1/6/07 – Via the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times notes that it's been 50 years since the death of legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini, and tributes are springing up all across the music world. "Commemorations will take place throughout 2007, mostly organized by countries and musical institutions that were touched by Toscanini's work as an artist and by his political stance as a staunch opponent of fascism and Nazism." Key events are to take place on Jan. 16, the anniversary of the maestro's death, with performances by some of the world's top orchestras.

Daniel Barenboim leads a performance of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony at La Scala's Philharmonic in Milan, the storied opera house where Toscanini was chief conductor. On the same day, the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic plays pieces by Verdi and Richard Strauss in the conductor's native Parma, while Lorin Maazel leads the New York Philharmonic in a gala concert at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Other Music News

1/8/07 – The Republican in Springfield, Mass. ran an article looking at a local after-school Suzuki program that falls under the federally funded "21st Century Community Learning Center Program." It sounds like a wonderful use of public money—too bad the program is set to expire next year. Let’s hope that private funding can be found.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 2

January 7, 2007 17:49

1/4/07 – Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber published an interesting opinion piece in The Telegraph (UK) about the rigors of the soloist’s life. In it, he refers to a “wide-ranging” interview with Jeremy Menuhin, son of the legendary violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, that concluded: ‘Perhaps it would have been better if my father never had children’. “And that damning verdict on Menuhin's shortcomings as a parent brings home the near impossibility of trying to juggle a career as an international musician with the everyday demands of family life.

Many people have stressful jobs, so I am wary of too much special pleading on behalf of musicians. But I do know what a nightmarishly lonely place the concert platform can be when you are playing by memory and things are not working out right. Unlike an actor, the soloist has no prompt. The spotlight is on you, and if things go wrong it is your fault.

Bad news travels fast in the world of classical music. A few years ago, I lost count of the number of times inside a week that I heard about the violinist who suffered a serious memory lapse while performing the Mendelssohn concerto in Liverpool. This unfortunate soloist has hardly worked since, and a similar fate befell the pianist who forgot the opening of Grieg's concerto at a televised Prom.”

The piece concludes with reference to a forum called "State of Play.”

“To be held in two weeks' time at London's Roundhouse, this event, I now discover, is about to determine the future of music education in this country and will be attended by 900 delegates, including the Education Secretary, Alan Johnson. Suddenly, it seems crucially important for this motion to succeed.”

Musician News

1/9/07 – Violinist Janine Jansen will release her new recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto on the Decca label.

1/7/07 – According to the Cleveland Jewish News, violinist Daniel Broniatowski returned to his ancestral town of Czestochowa, Poland to perform with the local orchestra at the Third Congress of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and Their Descendants. The 26-year-old is a doctoral student in violin at Boston University.

1/6/07 – The Los Angeles Times ran a brief obituary for Janos Furst, 71, a Hungarian violinist and conductor who worked with orchestras around the world. He died Wednesday of cancer in a Paris hospital, said Sandor Gyudi, director of the Szeged Symphony Orchestra. “Furst had been artistic director of the orchestra, based in the southern Hungarian city of Szeged, since 2002. Born in Budapest in 1935, Furst studied violin in the Hungarian capital's Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music and left Hungary in November 1956, after that year's short-lived anti-Soviet uprising. After winning the Premier Prix at the Brussels Conservatory, he worked as a concertmaster and later turned to conducting. Besides his work with orchestras in Paris, Madrid, Prague, London and Helsinki, among others, Furst was music director of the Marseilles Opera for nine years and taught conducting at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris. From 1990 to 1994, he was principal conductor of the Musikkollegium Winterthur Orchestra in Switzerland.”

1/6/07 - Violinist Caroline Goulding will be featured on The Martha Stewart Show on Monday, Jan. 9. The 14-year-old will play a short excerpt from composer William Kroll's piece, Banjo and Fiddle. She performed the same piece in the fall at Carnegie Hall with banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck. That concert was taped for an episode of the PBS television series From the Top. It is scheduled to air sometime in April, reports the Port Huron (Mich.) Times-Herald.

1/5/07 – Violinist Jassen Todorov, an assistant professor of music at San Francisco State University, has won a Crystal Lyre Award, the highest honor for achievement in music and dance in his native Bulgaria. According to a university press release, “The award honors achievement in 15 categories, including music and dance folklore, pop and rock music and orchestral art. Todorov was one of seven nominees in the young performers and artists category….Winners receive a Crystal Lyre statuette, diploma and cash prize of 300 Euros…. Todorov's father, Nedjalcho Todorov, a noted violinist and 2003 Crystal Lyre winner, accepted the award on his son’s behalf. The San Francisco resident is looking forward to performing with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria on Jan. 12. Not only will it be his first solo recital in his home country in 10 years, but also his first time performing with his father in public.”

1/5/07 - The Albany Times-Union reports that "Julius Hegyi, the flashy, severe conductor who over two decades guided the Albany Symphony Orchestra from a community ensemble to a professional philharmonic that championed American music, died New Year's Day at his home in Phoenix. He was 83 and had long suffered from Alzheimer's disease." Hegyi, who served as the Albany Symphony's music director from 1966 to 1987 and subsequently as conductor emeritus, was the son of Hungarian immigrants and a violin prodigy who "graduated with high honors from The Juilliard School." For 20 years beginning in the mid-1940s Hegyi "performed and conducted in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and other states."

1/4/07 - The Chicago Tribune ran a profile of Quartet Parapluie, pegged to its "pop-meets-classical" performance that evening at The Hideout in Chicago. The paper describes the all-female ensemble as "a string quartet with an indie-rock heart [that] has been balancing a classical group's conventional slate of wedding gigs and cocktail receptions with occasional, less orthodox forays into pop: Its members have recently played with Rilo Kiley, Sufjan Stevens, Pinetop Seven and Kanye West." Thursday's program includes "songs from artists including Edward Burch and the 1900s, of which Parapluie violinist Andra Kulans is a member ... the original vocalists will provide accompaniment. The Quartet hopes to make it a regular event."

Orchestra News

The New York Youth Symphony has received a $125,000 grant for its Growing Music Initiative from the New York State Music Fund, reports the American Symphony Orchestra League. The program will expand the Making Score seminar series for composers under age 23; increase the First Music commissioning program for the jazz band, chamber music program, and chorus; and allow for archiving of the organization's music library, which includes dozens of recordings of world premieres, making these works available for educational purposes.

1/24/07 - The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will release a recording with Music Director Paavo Järvi on the Telarc label. The all-Rachmaninoff disc includes Symphony No. 2 in E Minor; Dances from the opera "Aleko"; and a scherzo dating from the composer's early years at the Moscow Conservatory.

1/22/07 – The Requiem for Darfur event will bring together artists from the New York, Brooklyn, and Berlin philharmonics, the orchestras of Philadelphia, Minnesota, San Diego, New Jersey, Albany, and Saint Louis, along with the National Youth Orchestra of South Africa, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Luke's. They will join forces at Carnegie Hall for a concert featuring the Verdi Requiem to raise funds and awareness for the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. For more information, visit http://www.requiemfordarfur.org

1/3/07 – Leave it to the alternative press to gleefully point out shortcomings of the major daily newspapers in town, as shown by Seattle Weekly: “The Seattle Symphony has had a turbulent year filled with musician unhappiness over the orchestra's musical leadership. The orchestra's talented executive director got out when things started to get really bad, and the orchestra posted a big deficit. But the city's two newspapers have done a lazy job of covering the problems, and a messy situation has become even worse.”

12/27/06 – PlaybillArts.com reports that Canada's National Arts Centre and National Capital Commission have announced a three-year partnership to present a summer festival of outdoor orchestral concerts in the NCC's new festival park at LeBreton Flats in Ottawa. “The festival will offer free evening concerts by the National Arts Centre Orchestra in the new park, which covers a 3.6-hectare area in the heart of the city. Four concerts will take place July 19-22 as part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Ottawa's designation as Canada's capital.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 1

January 4, 2007 12:15

Happy New Year to all!

Musician News

Vanessa Rose has been named director of operations at the New York Youth Symphony. Currently special projects manager at the American Symphony Orchestra League, she is an accomplished violinist who has performed with the Harrisburg Symphony and New World Symphony, among others. Rose holds violin performance degrees from Mannes and Eastman.

1/2/07The Oregonian ran an article about Staff Sgt. Erika Sato, a local violinist who played at President Gerald Ford’s state funeral. Sato, a violinist with the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra, holds bachelor's and master's degrees in music from the Juilliard School, where she studied with violinist Masao Kawasaki. “Sato joined the Marine Chamber Orchestra in August 2003, a month after enlisting as a staff sergeant under a four-year contract for band duty only. She now lives in Washington, D.C. ‘We're the only ones who don't go through boot camp’, she said. ‘We do have orientation, where they teach us how to salute and wear the uniform’.

12/31/06 - An obituary in the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) notes the death of Columbus native Lois A. Sims at the age of 79. In 1946, Sims, a graduate of Ohio State University, "was one of the original violinists in the newly organized Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra, under conductor Izler Solomon. After raising five children, she spent more than 25 years working at OSU library, mostly the music library, as circulation manager then as cataloguer, retiring in 2003."

12/31/06The San Diego Union-Tribune recently profiled Jeff Thayer, the 31-year-old concertmaster of the San Diego Symphony.

12/30/06 – For more on Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless, Juilliard-trained bassist who was warmly embraced at a recent concert by former Juilliard classmate Yo-Yo Ma, read this column at the KTLA website from LA Times columnist Steve Lopez. Lopez is near completion of a book about Ayers, and reports that a movie studio has optioned Ayers’ story. One interesting tidbit from the column is that, after the onset of his mental illness 35 years ago, Ayers switched to cello and violin because they were easier to transport via shopping cart.

12/30/06 – According to the Something Jewish website, a number of British Jews “have been recognised for their achievements and contribution to society in this year's New Year Honours.” They include Kay Hurwitz, “wife of noted violinist Emanuel Hurwitz who died in November was awarded an MBE for services to music. Hurwitz, herself is a violin and viola teacher.”

Orchestra News

1/2/07 – The Philadelphia Inquirer was quick to jump on the fact that at least a quarter of the musicians playing the Philadelphia Orchestra’s New Year concert were substitutes: “It might not be worth noting had the members of the orchestra been less righteous about such matters in the past." But, the article noted, the plus side was that members who don't normally get the chance took solos: “The most delightful consequence was a chance to hear first associate concertmaster Juliette Kang, whose sweetness and strength make her one of the orchestra's best recent hires.”

1/2/07 – In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic’s founding, the Jewish Ledger ran a profile of the orchestra and its music director for life, Zubin Mehta.

12/30/06 - The New York Times reviewed a concert by the New York String Orchestra led by its director, violinist Jaime Laredo. "Its 63 student musicians, all between the ages of 15 and 22, join the ensemble through competitive auditions and are given full scholarships to come to New York from around the country. Once here, they spend 10 days at the New York String Orchestra Seminar playing chamber music and preparing for two [full] orchestral concerts at Carnegie Hall." Thursday's performance "wasn't just about technical polish and youthful energy, although those qualities were abundant. Its salient feature was the vitality that comes from approaching familiar war horses like the Beethoven Eighth Symphony and Brahms D minor Piano Concerto as fresh experiences."

12/26/06 – According to PlaybillArts.com, the New York Philharmonic will broadcast 10 concerts per year on radio stations throughout Europe, as part of an agreement with BBC Radio 3 and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The Philharmonic says it will become the first American symphony orchestra with a regular presence on European radio. “According to a statement from the orchestra, the broadcasts will reach between 3 million and 7 million listeners. The concerts — selected from the Philharmonic's 2006–07 season — will be produced and distributed by BBC Radio 3 beginning in early 2007. Program details will be announced later.”

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