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

January 28, 2007 at 8:09 PM

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


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/’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.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on January 28, 2007 at 10:40 PM
here are ten things you shouldn`t know about Joshua Bell.


From Linda Lerskier
Posted on January 29, 2007 at 12:45 AM
How about 10 things you don't want to know about Buri?
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on January 29, 2007 at 1:38 AM
be hard to choose...
From Anne Horvath
Posted on January 29, 2007 at 2:28 PM
Thank you for the link to the story about Robert DeMaine. It is nice to hear about someone who came out on top of a drinking problem.
From parmeeta bhogal
Posted on January 29, 2007 at 5:26 PM
Thanks for the link to Kala playing the violin.

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