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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 88

November 4, 2007 at 11:13 PM

To elaborate on a discussion thread started earlier this week, Juilliard cellist Harvey Shapiro has died.

Former Shapiro student Jeffrey Noel Lastrapes, Assistant Professor of Cello at Oklahoma State University, wrote asking for more information.

I contacted Juilliard Media Relations and received back confirmation: “He did die last Thursday night. We've been trying to get details ever since. I do know that his assistant has given info to the NYTimes. It's complicated by Harvey's wish to have no memorials, notices, or obits.”

Then, Jeffrey wrote me back:

Apparently he didn’t want any fuss over his death. A bunch of former students have started a yahoo group (harveyshapirocello) where we can post stories and photos. We are going to try to meet up for some kind of memorial dinner in NYC. No plans as of yet. That dinner should be a real party!

I’ll keep you posted and you please do the same. He was a remarkable man. When I got in to Juilliard, I didn’t want to study with him after having been with Mr. [Orlando] Cole for nine years. I took the plunge with Harvey and he changed my life.

Finally, here is the notice about the Harvey Shapir Yahoo group Yahoo group:

“This Yahoo group is dedicated to the memory of Harvey Shapiro (1911-2007), to his colleagues, and to all the cellists who were his students over the years. With the news of his recent death on October 25, this group can be a central location for those who wish to post their memories of him, as well as any photos or other relevant material. Eventually there needs to be a more detailed web site or blog honoring his life and career, but this will get us started; web suggestions are welcome. Please pass this info on to any other Shapiro alumni you know.

All the best,
Joshua Gordon”

Musician News

11/8/07 - South Dakota State University faculty violinist John Brawand will perform on string recital at the school. The recital is funded by an F.O. Butler Award.

11/4/07 – Violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn, perhaps best-known for playing the Red Mendelssohn Strad her grandfather purchased for her, will solo with the Marin Symphony, reports the Marin Independent Journal. The article also notes that Marin Symphony concertmaster Jeremy Constant plays the ex-Heberlein Stradivarius, donated to the San Francisco Symphony expressly for his use.

11/3/07 – Now that he has assumed venerable elder statesman status, much less is written about violinist Itzhak Perlman compared to the generation behind him, which is still busily jostling to ensure their place in the violin pantheon. So it’s a rare pleasure to read The Guardian’s full-length interview. One interesting point: “Perlman makes a point of exposing his students to archive recordings in an eff ort to teach them ‘where they came from. Unless you are aware of this heritage, your style of playing can become very narrow. It doesn't mean you have to slide like Kreisler used to slide, but it's good to know that's what they did back then. It's very easy to be technically brilliant in the modern manner and not realise that you could still make a sound so pure it ends up like white bread’."

11/3/07 –Violinist Martha Curtis, an Eastman graduate spoke at the Epilepsy Foundation's annual community education conference in Rochester, reports the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. She speaks of feeling "like something was coming to kill me," referring to the intensity and regularity of her seizures. She ultimately had several brain surgeries to remove the parts of the brain responsible for the seizures.

11/3/07 – According to the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, violinist Trond Saeverud will solo with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra in Ravel’s Tzigane. Saeverud is now in his third season as the orchestra’s concertmaster.

11/3/07 - Violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann played the American debut of a work by Australian composer Brett Dean, for many years a violist in the Berlin Philharmonic, reports the Boston Globe. “The new piece is titled "The Lost Art of Letter Writing," a straightforward reference to the rather familiar lament that, in an age of e-mail, no one writes letters anymore. Dean chose a brief excerpt from four 19th-century letters (written by Brahms, van Gogh, Hugo Wolf, and an Australian bushranger named Ned Kelly) as inspiration for a four-movement violin concerto….The piece is in many ways an unapologetic throwback to the 19th-century violin concerto, with a long high-flown first movement, full of rhapsodic pleading in the violin's upper registers, a meditative slow movement, a brief and breezy third movement, and a standard virtuoso dash to the finish. Dean's writing suggests a fine ear for melody and a string player's gift for dreaming up virtuoso solo violin lines, but even Zimmermann's impassioned and technically brilliant performance could not give the work much spice, color, or punch.”

11/2/07 – When you see the word “robotic” in a headline involving classical music, chances are it’s from a negative review. But in this case, the headline is literal: violinist Megan Lee of the Sydney Youth Orchestra performed Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with a violin-playing robot named RoboFiddler at the National Information and Communication Technology Australia centre in Kensington, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. “Created by mechatronic engineering students at the University of Adelaide, RoboFiddler consists of a computer linked to a robotic bow arm and a series of six metal ‘fingers’ that allow 28 notes to be played across a violin.”

10/30/07 – According to the Anchorage Daily News, Christopher Brubeck's violin concerto, Spontaneous Combustion, had the audience shouting at its world premiere. “Brubeck has custom-tailored the piece for violinist Nicolas Kendall, and Kendall's ceaseless virtuosic energy -- he must have played for all but 120 seconds in the 35-minute work -- supplied all of the numerous highlights… Kendall built to frenzy after frenzy, with occasional breaks in mood, usually in the form of extramusical stage antics. Some of the gimmicks in the outer movements -- Kendall playing his first notes standing in the aisle and having half the orchestra clap rhythmically during a barn dance-ish episode -- could probably be abandoned without regrets. But one bit must be retained at all costs: Near the end, Kendall set down his violin and turned to wallop on some percussion pushed out from the wings. The crowd loved it, yelling encouragement as he whacked away. Try that, Hilary Hahn.”

10/30/07 – According to Gulf News from Dubai, 12-year-old violinist Campbell McLauchlan, from the Emirates Children's Symphony Orchestra, held a fundraising performance in Ibn Battuta Mall that netted almost Dh2,000 in just two hours for the Dubai Cares charity campaign..

10/16/07 – In the “better late than never” category, the review of Hilary Hahn’s San Francisco recital is worthwhile for the technical analysis injected by San Francisco Classical Voice reviewer Michelle Dulak Thompson, herself a violinist. Among other observations, Dulak Thompson notes that Hahn played almost the entire first two movements of the Franck Sonata without using the E string.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 5, 2007 at 2:47 PM
Michelle Dulak Thompson's review was such a pleasure to read. Thank you for providing the link.
From Darcy Lewis
Posted on November 5, 2007 at 4:10 PM
You're welcome, Anne--It IS a pleasure to read a review that touches on technical issues from a hands-on perspective. Darcy

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