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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 87

October 31, 2007 at 11:26 PM

Violinist Josh Weilerstein, a junior at New England Conservatory, shared some exciting news with me:

“Hi Darcy,
I love your blogs! Could you put a mention about the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela's U.S. tour in your next post? You've mentioned it before, but tomorrow the orchestra is heading to L.A, then to San Francisco, Boston and New York. I was invited to play with the orchestra on the tour and I am being constantly inspired every day by them. I'm keeping a blog of my own at MySpace. I'd love for the orchestra to get as much exposure as possible on this tour. Thanks so much!”

Congrats on the tour, Josh, but please do consider blogging right here on!

I’m happy to spread the word about Dudamel, but I don’t think he is having any problem garnering press and public attention right now. For example, the New York Times Sunday magazine is not exactly low-profile…

10/27/07 – “Gustavo Dudamel, now 26, is the most-talked-about young musician in the world. Sir Simon Rattle, the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, has called him 'the most astonishingly gifted conductor I have ever come across.' His upbringing in Venezuela's El Sistema music education program and rapid rise through the ranks of the conducting world are already legend within the music business. "As an international celebrity whose career was incubated by the sistema, Dudamel is uniquely able to champion its expansion at home and promote its adoption abroad."

Musician News

11/1/07 – A memorial concert is being held in Madison, Wisc. to honor the late violinist Vartan Manoogian, who died July 12. The Wisconsin State Journal notes: “Born in Baghdad of Armenian parents, he enrolled at the Paris Conservatory at age 16 and earned his masters at the Juilliard School before developing a broad reputation in Europe, in part as the concertmaster of L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. At one point in his career, he was sent by the U.S. State Department on a performance tour of nine South American countries.” Violinist Manuel Guillen will be the featured soloist in the world premiere of Concierto Americano, written by renowned Spanish composer Zulema de la Cruz. “Guillen, who performs on a 1767 T. Carcassi violin, studied with Manoogian at UW-Madison and today is concertmaster/conductor of Camerata of Madrid and violin professor at Madrid's Royal Superior Conservatory of Music.”

10/29/07 – According to the Associated Press, Joshua Bell performed the world premiere of a highly anticipated violin concerto at Carnegie Hall. Ordinarily, this might not be an event worthy of national attention, but in this case, the composer was 15-year-old Jay Greenberg, whose 5th symphony was recorded last year by the London Symphony, and who has been compared to Mozart and Mendelssohn. "Greenberg skilfully leads the listener through a gamut of emotions with touches of 21st-century tonality, excitement and lyricism. It's a compelling addition to the genre."

10/29/07 – According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, “A Bloomfield violin teacher has been charged with repeatedly sexually abusing a 10-year-old student while she was taking lessons in his home, authorities said today. Rafael Frost, 66, was arrested Friday in his Watchung Avenue home by detectives from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and Bloomfield police. He was accused of assaulting the girl on three occasions between September and October.”

10/28/07 – Violinist Chee-Yun made her recital debut as an artist-in-residence at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts. The Dallas Morning News opined: “Her virtuosity and passion should certainly be an inspiration to the students she'll be teaching. But her recital did raise some questions. With fortissimos that nearly hurt the ears, she seemed to be playing for a hall four times the size of this sonically lively 480-seater.” The review also mentioned a student string quartet that included Andrew Sords and Pablo Hurtado.

Orchestra News

10/29/07Reuters ran an update on the Iraqi National Symphony, which was celebrated in the days after the US-led invasion as a hallmark of Iraqi culture, and later as a symbol of bravery in the face of the insurgency. "Before the U.S.-led invasion, the INSO would advertise concerts in the media, especially on television. Now this happens by word of mouth, with organizers phoning a list of supporters or putting up posters in music colleges... No time is given for the event because both the musicians and the guests have to navigate police and army checkpoints and blocked roads."

10/29/07 – Imagine this: the Brevard Symphony is giving fifth graders a crack at composing music—to be performed by them, not less. Composer Gregory Smith is working with four schools' worth of students to develop a jointly composed piece that will be played by the Brevard Symphony next February, reports Florida Today.

10/28/07 – The Boston Globe ran a look at the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, ten years on. "Ten years and 42 world premieres later, BMOP is emerging as the national leader among orchestras of its ilk... Its performances draw the city's youngest concert crowds by far, with their combination of Rose's savvy programming, the orchestra's incisive and stylish playing, and a general vibe that somehow weds a breezy coolness with a healthy dose of chaos."

10/27/07 – Given the New York Philharmonic’s stunning announcement that they might visit North Korea, it’s predictable that controversy has followed. Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal finds it unconscionable: "What would you have thought if Franklin Roosevelt had encouraged the Philharmonic to accept an official invitation to play in Berlin in the spring of 1939? Do you think such a concert would have softened the hearts of the Nazis, any more than Jesse Owens's victories in the 1936 Olympics changed their minds about racial equality? Or inspired the German people to rise up and revolt against Adolf Hilter? Or saved a single Jewish life?"

10/27/07 – The Pittsburgh Symphony finds itself without an artistic adviser, one year early, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Andrew Davis is cutting out early. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has agreed to let its artistic adviser out of the final season of his three-year contract, leaving five weekends of the current season on the table... Davis said in a statement that he has enjoyed his time here and hopes to find other dates to return as a guest conductor."

10/27/07 – Given its reputation as the world’s best orchestra, it’s inevitable that orchestra buffs closely scrutinize every move the Berlin Philharmonic makes. Simon Rattle, the Phil's chief conductor for the past five years, is all about modernization, according to EUX.TV (The Europe Channel). "What Rattle and the philharmonic are hoping to do is to build an orchestra of the future. But to achieve this, he also believes the Philharmonic has to find a balance between exploring new music and coming to terms with its musical past."

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on November 2, 2007 at 8:36 AM
The Teachout piece is interesting the way it weaves in and out logical sense. Speaking of FDR, he had one of the greatest statesman/diplomats of all time as his Secretary of State (another Nobel Peace Prize winner from Tennessee, this one born in a log cabin LOL), so if FRD had sent that orchestra to Germany, you'd expect some results :) Of course he didn't, but he might have sent them to Korea. Yawn... Impoverished countries are that way because of the corruption. Repressed countries are that way to allow the corruption to flourish. Throw everything Western you've got at them. Force it down their throats. If that doesn't forment a revolution, nothing will.

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