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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 23

March 22, 2007 at 2:56 PM

Musician News

3/27/07 - Violinist Korbinian Altenberger, who is completing his Artist Diploma studies at NEC, has been named concertmaster of the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra (WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln). A native of Germany, Altenberger will play his final Artist Diploma at NEC on March 27. Read more about him in NEC Today on the school’s website.

3/23/07 – Be sure to read the unusually meaty profile of Yo-Yo Ma appearing in the current issue of, where else, the Chronicle of Higher Education. The piece emphasizes Ma’s decade-long involvement with the Silk Road Project.

3/20/07 – The Mobile (AL) Press-Register carried the obituary of violinist Wendy Klopfenstein, the longtime principal second of the Mobile Symphony and the Pensacola Symphony. She died at 63 after battling breast cancer.

3/19/07 – A update on pianist Jonathan Biss’ recent activities reminds us that he is the son of violinist Miriam Fried and his father is the violist/violinist Paul Biss. His grandmother was cellist Raya Garbousova, the dedicatee of Samuel Barber's Cello Concerto.

3/18/07 – Friends and colleagues of Phanos Dymiotis, who died recently in a car crash, elegized the violinist in Ocean Pines, Md. The Ocean Pines Independent reports that the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, where Dymiotis was both associate concertmaster and composer-in-residence, will perform the world premiere this weekend of his piece The Soldier’s Blues. Additionally, the orchestra’s concertmaster, Nicholas Currie, will perform the Bach Sonata No. 1.

Orchestra News

3/18/07 – The Guardian (UK) reports from Iraq on the state of the country four years into the Iraq War and the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. Hassam al-Din al-Ansari, orchestra violinist and composer, comments: “We are challenging the situation ... by trying to not be too far from the public. We are trying to put on a concert every month, but circumstances are very difficult.” The article adds that the performances that the orchestra do put on are private and rarefied, little events for a small audience who do not have to travel very far or have their own security, and put on mainly at the city's two subscription-only ‘country clubs.’ Other events are by invitation only, for government officials and diplomats from the Green Zone ... “Complicated symphonies, al-Ansari admits, are too difficult to prepare, especially with no certainty that all the musicians will be able to appear. Instead, their performances are dominated by overtures, fragments of larger workers and short pieces -- Rossini, Tchaikovsky, and Dvorak ... ‘We could just stop work. We could submit,’ says al-Ansari, ‘but we are determined to challenge the times we live in and to do our best.’ ”

3/17/07 – According to the East Oregonian: the Oregon East Symphony’s office was “destroyed by a blaze that collapsed the roof of the building Thursday afternoon. The fire started around 3:30 p.m. from a popcorn machine in the Order of the Eagles lodge [another tenant] and quickly spread to the rest of the building through a common attic space, fire officials said. Firefighters had the blaze under control by 8 p.m. and completely out by noon Friday.” Michelle Kajikawa, executive director of the Oregon East Symphony, tells the paper: “The damage is much worse than I hoped it would be. We have insurance but it's not going to cover near the cost of getting restarted ... We are going to be reaching out to the community to survive, basically.”

3/17/07 - The Cincinnati Post reported on the Cincinnati Pops’s decision to cancel a plans for a concert featuring John Schneider and Tom Wopat, stars of the 1970s television program “Dukes of Hazzard.” The article adds, “A statement by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra said it has had a long artistic relationship with Schneider and Wopat and had conversations about a possible 'Dukes of Hazzard'-themed program. ‘In the end, we decided that some of the messages conveyed in the program are not consistent with the efforts of the Pops to reach out to all members of our community,’ the organization said. The orchestra had never announced the proposed show or sold tickets for it, said Carrie Krysanick, orchestra spokeswoman. ‘We have not blacklisted these performers, and we look forward to working with them in the future.’ ” Former Georgia Congressman Ben Jones, a former cast member of the TV series, “is opposing what he calls a ‘blacklisting of these guys out of some kind of political correctness that is just plain wrongheaded.’ ”

Other Music News

3/19/07 - The Globe & Mail (Canada) reports that CBC's Radio Two is cutting back on classical music. "The non-classical music that the network had relegated to late nights and weekends is now being given a prominent home in the evening hours, all part of Radio Two's new programming lineup."

3/18/07 - The Globe & Mail (Canada) ran an important article on how composers who were prisoners during World War II generally never saw their work performed or receive the attention it might have had in other times. "Italian researchers hope thousands of nearly forgotten works will find new life as they assemble a library of music composed or played in those dark places between 1933 and 1945. 'We are trying to right a great wrong: These musicians were hoping for a musical life for themselves, and they would have had it if their destiny had been different'."

From Jude Ziliak
Posted on March 22, 2007 at 9:59 PM
I'd like to add my voice to the obituary for Wendy Klopfenstein, whom I knew very briefly and had the pleasure of playing with last summer.
I was living for a few weeks in a rented room in the home of a retired professor in the college town where I grew up. He is a fine amateur pianist and an avid (and very able) sight reader. He and Wendy were old friends, having known each other for decades. She was in town for a week for a church music conference, and stayed in the same house where I was living.
Every night that week, Wendy and the gentleman from whom I was renting sightread duos with a pure enthusiasm, not to mention endurance, that was almost unbelievable for a 19 year old conservatory student.
Since I was practicing much of the day, the two of them could hardly help noticing that I was a violinist, too, and they invited me to join them for a few evenings of playing. The pairing of hotheaded youth with tempered age was, as is unavoidable, occasionally a strain, but I will always cherish the memory of those evenings in which I was given a generous view of what music means to people who have experienced it for much longer than I and very differently.
Wendy was incredibly generous with advice, compliments, and eventually gifts-- she insisted that I accept as a gift some sheet music which she had purchased but had decided not to learn (her capacity for self-deprecation was so great as to almost deceive one into believing what she said!). She had a great affinity for Handel, and played his music with tremendous grace. We played through vast amounts of repertoire, mostly all three together, but occasionally reducing to the violins alone or just one violin and piano. The highlight of those evenings was playing the Bach Double, especially the 2nd movement, which I seem to remember repeating several times.
It was a blessing to encounter Wendy before her death, which robs the musical community of the Gulf Coast of a remarkable spirit. She has my lasting admiration and gratitude.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on March 23, 2007 at 4:06 AM
Back in the 70s when the program aired, there were plenty of gas stations in Cinci where you could buy shot glasses with confederate flags on them. Maybe those locations could be identified through oral history and old photographs, the current structures bulldozed, and monuments and mini-parks erected in their place.
From Frank-Michael Fischer
Posted on March 23, 2007 at 11:42 AM
Might be interesting to know that Korbinian Altenberger comes from the same Suzuki class (teacher: Helge Thelen, now in Australia) as Arabella Steinbacher, Lena Neudauer (winner of the Leopold Mozart competition in 1999) and Julia Fischer.


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