March 8, 2007 at 4:09 PMUsually, we focus on news related to violinists. Today, however, we have lots of news about some famous violins…
4/2/07 – From a press release on News-Antique.com: “Christie’s is pleased to announce the Fine Musical Instruments sale on April 2 in New York will be led by a 1729 Stradivarius violin known as the Solomon, Ex-Lambert (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000).”
3/6/07 – According to San Francisco Classical Voice, “Philharmonia Baroque has added a 1660 Guarneri violin to the storehouse of rare period instruments that the orchestra's musicians use. The violin, from Cremona, will be available on loan to Elizabeth Blumenstock, one of the orchestra's concertmasters. ‘This goes beyond anything I could have dreamed of in my career’, Blumenstock says. ‘Musicians rarely have the opportunity to actually play instruments of this caliber. The process of selecting an instrument was one of the most informative experiences of my life. I’m immensely humbled and touched by the thoughtfulness and generosity of this gift and wish only that I could thank the donor, or donors, in person’." The violin’s purchase was financed by an anonymous donation.
3/5/07 – The trade magazine Insurance Journal ran an Associated Press follow-up to the story of the stolen violin that ended up in Billings, Mont. by unknown means: “A violinist whose missing instrument valued at about $50,000 was recovered by police says it will be auctioned…The violin's owner, Evan Price, said his insurance company plans to auction the instrument May 7. Price gave the violin, made in Italy in 1879, to the company after it paid the insurance claim he filed when the violin was lost. The company will try to recover its cost by selling the violin through the Skinner auction house in Boston, he said. Price, a member of the Turtle Island String Quartet of San Francisco, said he has replaced the stolen instrument with a violin made by American Andrew Ryan in 1999.”
Hilel Kagan will retire as principal second violin of the Lyric Opera of Chicago at the end of the season.
Violinist Kaitlyn Filippini is the subject of a full-page profile in the February issue of International Musician due to her business smarts as much as musical accomplishment. Filippini, a 19-year-old undergrad at Berklee, passed up Juilliard due to its lack of business training. As founder of Eloquent Acoustics, she figured she’d need to know about business.
The same issue also contained an article written by Christal Phelps Steele, acting associate concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony. The article recounts her struggles with injury and deconditioning, and praises what the discipline of physical therapy has to offer musicians. Steele suffered a series of nonmusical injuries that eventually sidelined her from the violin for 18 months. After intensive rehabilitation with a knowledgeable therapist, she successfully reauditioned for her orchestra.
The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis is accepting applications for its 6th Annual Orchestral Audition Workshop for Violinists, to be held June 9-11. Violinist Rodney Friend, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras, will be on hand.
3/21/07 - The recital and master class to be given by violinist Pamela Frank at Bard College have been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 21 (these had been scheduled for March 6).
3/10/07 – According to a press release, Polish violinist Mieczyslaw Szlezer will present a recital in Valletta, Malta, in conjunction with the Maltese-Polish Friendship Society. The program will include sonatas by two Polish composers. These are Sonata da camera by Grazyna Bacewicz and Sonata in D-minor op. 9 for Violin and Piano by Karol Szymanowski. This will apparently be the first time that these two sonatas have been performed publicly in Malta. Mieczyslaw Szlezer is a professor of violin and chamber music at the Academy of Music in Krakow.
3/7/07 – Finally, an update on Mstislav Rostropovich, who checked into Moscow’s top cancer clinic last month: PlaybillArts.com reports that the cellist was in a Russian facility and "underwent a complex operation on the liver, and now [doctors] have prescribed therapeutic exercise and walks in the fresh air." Unfortunately, the beloved maestro’s prognosis does not sound too promising.
The New Mexico Symphony has announced that its music director, Guillermo Figueroa, will not renew his contract with his other orchestra, the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra The first native Puerto Rican to lead the San Juan-based orchestra, Figueroa that his decision to step down as music director in Puerto Rico was “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. New Mexico has become my home and this is where my heart is. I look forward to having more time to spend with my family and my adopted community.”
3/10/07 – This is the deadline to apply for the violin fellowship offered by the Montgomery (AL) Symphony Orchestra, a community orchestra that retains a violin fellow and a cello fellow every two years to “serve as the chief soloists and leaders in our musical community.” The violin fellow serves as the concertmaster and performs as soloist with the orchestra once each season. Additionally, the orchestra sponsors three recitals each year for the fellow, who must relocate to the Montgomery area and earns a stipend of $30,000 annually.
3/10/07 - Members of the University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will spend their spring break traveling and performing in Bolivia. Last December, UW violin professors Naomi Gjevre and Javier Pinell, a Bolivian native, conducted music clinics in El Alto, a community outside of La Paz, Bolivia’s capital. Now, the orchestra will perform three evening concerts, two school performances and work individually with the El Alto youth orchestra. Conductor Michael Griffith recounts just how vital the orchestra has become to the students of El Alto, a severely impoverished community comprised mainly of native Bolivians: "This orchestra was so important to the kids that during a time of political unrest a few years ago, some people set fire to city hall, where the instruments were stored," he says. "Kids went running into the burning building to rescue their instruments."
3/10/07 - The Hudson Valley Philharmonic is holding its 35th annual String Competition this weekend at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. The winner of the Hudson Valley competition gets $3,000 and a solo performance with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. “Notable past winners of the competition include violinist Ani Kavafian (1973), a soloist with the Lincoln Center Chamber Players; Adela Pena (1985), violinist with the Eroica Trio; and Judith Ingolfsson (1996), winner of the 1998 Indianapolis International Violin Competition.”
3/7/07 – The Honolulu Advertiser reports: “After more than two years without a principal conductor, the Honolulu Symphony has named internationally known maestro Andreas Delfs to the post ... Delfs, musical director for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, has signed a three-year contract with the Honolulu Symphony ... He succeeds Samuel Wong, who resigned in June 2004 as music director, a post he had held since 1995.”
3/04/07 – My favorite story of the week ran in The Argus (UK): “Music lovers came down from as far as Yorkshire to hear A Very British Symphony, by the Queen's choirmaster, Andrew Gant, in Brighton last week. As the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra concert was about to begin, conductor Barry Wordsworth announced Gant's work had been dropped and would be replaced by a Mendelssohn piece. He told the audience he 'did not believe in it' and later added it was a matter of artistic integrity… [According to] orchestra manager Ivan Rockey, a party of 20, who had made the trip especially for the premiere, received their money back. Mr Rockey said he had also refunded others who said they had come especially to hear Gant's new work. He said: ‘We have not refunded everyone because there was a large proportion of the audience who rather liked the change of programme’."
3/5/07 – This is not violin-related news, but I couldn’t pass it up. According to the Washington Post: “Today, [oboist H. David] Meyers will face the music in a courtroom in Greenbelt. Having pleaded guilty in November to three counts of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering, he awaits sentencing by a federal judge. Meyers could receive up to 20 years in prison. …Those who knew Meyers for his musical achievements likely had no idea of his other pursuits. Between early 2001 and 2004, according to his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Meyers operated a business called Sports International 2000 that solicited and helped place thousands of bets on college and pro football and basketball games from gamblers in Montgomery County, Northern Virginia and elsewhere."
That would have been Andrea Guarneri, the grandfather of del Gesú. He learned the craft as an assistant of Nicoló Amati. If you are interested in the Guarneri family the Hill's (famous london dealers) wrote a fantastic book about them. You can get it in paperback at low price from amazon.
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