4/27/07 – I was touched that, upon receiving news of the passing of the great Mstislav Rostropovich, WFMT-98.7 FM in Chicago reworked all their programming for the day to consist of nonstop Slava. The commemoration continued into Saturday as well. The station also invited listeners to call in with memories of Rostropovich and played those recorded testimonials throughout the weekend.
4/25/07 - Last week, London's The Independent newspaper engineered a busking stunt in which British violinist Tasmin Little played under the railway bridge next to Waterloo Station during the afternoon of April 17. The intent, of course, was to learn whether the results varied from American violinist Joshua Bell’s similar stunt in Washington, DC last month. Little’s results were very similar to Bell’s.
5/12/07 – Violinist Aaron Rosand will receive the Curtis Alumni Award at this year’s commencement at the Curtis Institute of Music. Rosand is a member of the class of 1948. Here is the biography that Curtis is circulating: “Aaron Rosand carries on the tradition of Leopold Auer and Eugène Ysaÿe, having studied with their disciples Leon Sametini at the Chicago Musical College and Efrem Zimbalist at The Curtis Institute of Music. Born of a Russian mother and Polish father, he gave his recital debut at age nine and his orchestral debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra a year later. He made his New York recital debut in 1948 and his New York Philharmonic debut with Leonard Bernstein in 1960. He has appeared with the orchestras of New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Houston, London, Paris, Munich, Tokyo, Rome, Vienna, and Brussels, as well as the National Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, among others, and frequently combines master classes with concert engagements. He joined the faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music in 1981 and holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Violin Studies. Mr. Rosand has recorded extensively throughout his career and, to date, has recorded over thirty CDs and DVDs on various recording labels in the United States and Europe. Most recently Musical Concepts released a two-CD set featuring Mr. Rosand and pianist and fellow Curtis faculty member Hugh Sung performing works by Brahms.” The award is the school’s greatest honor.
5/6/07 – Violinist Yuval Yaron, former faculty member at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, will be the featured guest performer at the annual fundraiser for Congregation Beth Shalom in Bloomington.
4/29/07 – The Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News reports that violinist Anker Buch, the violinist equivalent of the late, great Victor Borge, will present a rare recital in Harrisburg. “Buch, who could play the violin while holding it on his back or between his legs, made frequent appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and the Merv Griffin Show during the 1960s. ‘He does some really crazy stuff’, said Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Odin Rathnam, who is Buch's nephew. ‘It's fantastic musical entertainment with a sort of vaudevillian humor’.” Buch and Rathnam performed together.
4/28/07 – The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports that Nova Sinfonia gave a concert that featured three violinists. Guest conductor/violinist Hok Kwan led the orchestra and soloed in the Winter concerto by Vivaldi. Dalhousie violin instructor Conrad Chow, finishing up a year subbing for Philippe Djokic, who is on sabbatical leave, served as concertmaster and played the violin solos in Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherezade. Finally, high school student Celeste Williams, daughter of the orchestra’s principal cellist and bassist, performed Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie with “fire and outstanding musicality.”
4/27/07 – The New York Times ran a review of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s performance of the Berg Violin Concerto with the Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic. “Ms. Mutter played with great sensitivity, piercing insight, melting tone and complete technical command. Mr. Maazel proved an ideal conductor for this score, laying out its textures and complexities with striking clarity, letting no detail pass unnoticed, yet integrating all the parts into a glowing and affecting entity.”
4/25/07 – The Baltimore Sun reports that violinist Tao-Chang Yu won the Howard County (Md.) Arts Council’s Celebration of the Arts: “Tao-Chang Yu, whose violin has taken him across three continents, almost became an electrical engineer. ‘The moment I decided this was what I wanted to do was after my father passed away when I was 19’, Yu said. He made the right decision. On Saturday night, the sassy notes of Carmen Fantasy leapt off the strings of Yu's violin, captivating listeners and earning him the first-place $5,000 Rising Star Award at Howard County Arts Council's Celebration of the Arts.
4/21/07 – According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Michael Shih performed the world premiere of Kevin Puts’s new Violin Concerto with that orchestra. “In tandem with Puts's incredibly virtuosic writing, Shih's high-octane performance created such a white-hot sensation that for a few moments you imagined that he would set his 1710 Stradivarius aflame.
4/29/07 – The Halifax Chronicle-Herald ran a profile of violinist and luthier Nicholas Tipney and his handcrafted electric violins, cellos and upright basses. “It’s hard to say what draws the most notice — the vibrant, funky colours like turquoise and orange, or the fact that they seem to be missing everything but their necks. Whatever it is, the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa has noticed and has just commissioned Tipney to build it an electric violin. ‘They were excited to find someone in Canada who’s doing it’, he says.”
4/20/07 – The website Vietnam Net Bridge ran an article under the subhead: “Vietnamese violinists all know Mr. Le Dinh Vien, and many famous international artists prostrate themselves before this man out of admiration for his impeccable violins.” The article begins, “On November 12, 2002, world-renowned American violinist Paul Carlson visited Hanoi to perform with the Vietnam Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Through a friend’s introduction, Mr. Vien brought a violin for Carlson to test, and the violinist exclaimed, ‘’I’m so surprised with your wonderful instrument. Can I borrow it to play in my two performances?’ So Paul Carlson put aside his hundred thousand dollar Antonius Stradivarius for Mr. Vien’s yet-to-be named violin.”
4/26/07 - The Liverpool Daily Post ran a call to action for more fully integrating classical music into the educations of Britain’s schoolchildren. “The conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra, Vasily Petrenko, yesterday helped to lead a call for every child to receive a free ticket to a classical music concert as part of their education. England's eight leading symphony orchestras made the call as part of a major drive to promote classical music over the next 10 years. The initiative includes plans for a new Turner Prize-style award for original compositions and musical ‘missions’ overseas. Apart from Mr. Petrenko, others backing the scheme were Marin Alsop, principal conductor with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Sakari Oramo, music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Jurowski, from the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Valery Gergiev, the London Symphony Orchestra’s principal conductor; Christoph von Dohnányi, principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra; Daniele Gatti, music director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and Mark Elder, music director of The Halle.” Ross quotes a joint statement from the conductors: “This unique collaboration is a manifestation of our orchestras’ energy and determination to reach out and invite new generations to appreciate the power of performance, and experience at first hand the value of great symphonic music.”
4/25/07 - The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s surprise announcement of Venezuelan wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel as its next music director caused critics across the country to heap praise on the orchestra's courageous show of support for a young up-and-comer, and admiration for the quick and efficient way the hiring came about. Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer says that it's far too early to say whether the Phil has made a brilliant hire or a colossal error, but other MD-less orchestras are feeling the pressure to make a similar bold move.
4/23/07 – Newly named music director Vladimir Ashkenazy is making big plans for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, reports The Australian: "In his first interview since the announcement of his appointment to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the world-renowned conductor told The Australian his plans for the orchestra included major tours of Europe and Asia and one of the most extensive recording programs of any orchestra in the world over the next five years."
4/24/07 – The problems of traveling with stringed instruments continue…According to the London Evening Standard, a group of British cellists traveling home from a performance on a nearly empty train this week took advantage of the abundant space by placing their instruments in empty seats. But "they were left astonished after being ordered by a ticket inspector to buy additional tickets" for the cellos. When the musicians refused, the inspector called police.
4/20/07 – The Guardian (UK) recently ran a pianist’s reflections on the pros and cons of performing by memory: "Playing from memory in public is a fairly recent fashion. Before the late 19th century, playing without the score was often considered a sign of casualness, even of arrogance. The custom of playing from memory developed along with the growth of a body of classics that everyone agreed were worth preserving exactly as their composers had intended. Teachers encouraged students to memorise them."
5/24/07 – This sounds like an interesting event: In addition to hearing violinist/fiddler Ed Caner perform at the Council of Smaller Enterprises Arts Business Network in Cleveland, one can also hear Caner deliver the keynote address. Caner is Director of Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Programs at Case Western Reserve University and holds a master's degree in physics and entrepreneurship from CWRU, as well as a master's degree in violin performance from Cleveland State University.
4/25/07 – The Del Sol String Quartet performed three new compositions at UC Berkeley. The concert featured works by Robin Estrada, Jen Wang, and Nils Bultmann.
4/24/07 – According to the Ottawa (Canada) Citizen, when conductor/violinist Pinchas Zukerman brought his Ottawa-based National Arts Centre Orchestra to Toronto, the reviews were blistering. Zukerman, who has been a controversial figure since taking over the NACO, took fire for his programming choices, conducting style, and solo violin skills, with one critic writing, "It doesn't get any worse than this." Interestingly, the same program had gotten two positive reviews back home in Ottawa.
4/23/07 – The Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette profiled 13-year-old violinist Matthew Vaughn, who is Meadowmount-bound this summer. The article includes audio clips.
4/23/07 – For another take on violinist/conductor Maxim Vengerov’s tour with the UBS Verbier Chamber Orchestra and Vengerov’s injury to his bowing arm, read the New York Times’ review of the group’s Carnegie Hall concert.
4/21/07 - Gentry Lasater, an 18-year-old violinist from New Bern, NC, has won first place in the senior division of the North Carolina Symphony Youth Concerto Competition. A student of Ara Gregorian, Gentry will have the opportunity to play with the North Carolina Symphony in the near future, in addition to receiving a cash prize of $500. The first place junior division winner is 14-year-old violinist Orin Laursen from Durham, who studies with Joseph Genualdi at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has announced a timetable for expressions of interest to purchase its Golden Age Collection of historic string instruments. The 30-instrument collection includes pieces created by Stradivari, Guarneri, del Gesù, Guadagnini, and Testore, among others. The collection can be sold either as a whole or individually, and orchestra management is hoping that the purchaser of the collection will be willing to loan the instruments back to the orchestra. Expression of interest forms are due to the NJSO by June 1, and the goal is to close the sale by the end of the summer.
4/28/07 – The Montreal Symphony will wrap up its first Canadian tour with new music director Kent Nagano at the helm, reports the CBC. He was "hired to rejuvenate Montreal's premier orchestra after its reputation, and its relationship with its audience, suffered in the wake of a bitter and lengthy labour dispute in 2004-2005. His plans include not only touring the country but also bringing Canadian themes and content to the orchestra's programming, as his 2007-2008 repertoire shows."
4/25/07 – The New York Times reports that the New York Philharmonic is adding a new position, principal conductor, to its artistic roster. The person hired to fill the new job would have authority greater than that of a principal guest conductor, but would still be under the music director's final authority.
4/19/07 – It’s official: the Royal Philharmonic has snagged Charles Dutoit as its next music director, reports PlaybillArts.com. "Charles Dutoit succeeds Daniele Gatti, who steps down as the orchestra's music director when his contract expires in the summer of 2009. The position has an illustrious pedigree: the list of the Royal Philharmonic's previous principal conductors includes Thomas Beecham (who founded the orchestra), Rudolf Kempe, Antal Doráti, Walter Weller, André Previn and Vladimir Ashkenazy."
4/19/07 – Violinist Sharon Schuman is organizing a benefit concert in Eugene, Ore., to pay medical costs for the cancericken daughter of another violinist, Rachel Hurwitz. The Eugene (Ore.)
Register-Guard tells the sad story of a San Francisco two-year-old stricken with an aggressive form of jaw cancer. Ana, whose grandparents are prominent musicians in Eugene, is undergoing a “massive” chemotherapy regimen. Schuman’s quartet, which includes violinist Matthew Fuller, violist Jessica Lambert and cellist Anne Ridlington is repeating a sold-out concert from February, with all proceeds donated to Ana.
4/19/07 – Violinist Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica received a mixed review this week from the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal that stemmed from his decision not to program more of the new music for which he is known. “Leader Gidon Kremer, 60, is an iconoclastic violinist. He's more an ideas guy than someone who blinds you with the beauty of his playing.”
4/19/07 - The Daily Telegraph (London) profiled Austrian violinist/conductor Thomas Zehetmair. “Now in his late forties, he’s risen quietly to the top rank of violinists, appearing regularly with orchestras such as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Cleveland [Orchestra], and the Boston Symphony. He’s done this through sheer musicality, as he doesn’t cut a romantic figure on the platform like Maxim Vengerov.”
4/19/07 – Violinist Ilya Gringolts performed a recital in Pittsburgh and received a lukewarm review from the Post-Gazette. The reviewer, who professes great admiration for Gringolts’ recordings, complained that his live performance was “on cruise control.”
4/18/07 – Violinist Maxim Vengerov, touring with the Swiss UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra as soloist and conductor, had to alter his plans in Toronto due to an injury to his bow arm, reports the Toronto Star. Toronto violinist Mayumi Seiler replaced Vengerov in the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, then sat concertmaster for the Mozart Symphony No. 29, which replaced his Violin Concerto No. 4. “Seiler is an excellent soloist, too, as well as a tireless champion of young musicians. But her tone is steelier and her dynamic range more controlled. Nonetheless, she was an exemplary last-minute substitution.”
4/16/07 – Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia concertmaster Gloria Justens received special treatment from violin soloist Salvatore Accardo, who kissed her hand during his ovation, and a shout-out in the ensuring Philadelphia Inquirer review, which was rather mixed on Accardo.
4/14/07 – According to the Simi Valley (Ca.) Acorn, violinist Jennifer Liu won the Classical Instrumentalist Grand Prize during the 19th annual Music Center Spotlight Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Liu, a Simi Valley resident, is 14 years old.
4/14/07 – Cellist David Pereira, who played with the Australia Ensemble and was principal cellist of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, has been forced to retire because of a psychiatric illness, according to PlaybillArts.com. “The Australian, which calls Pereira the country's top cellist, writes that he had hoped to return to performing after staying in a psychiatric institution and taking medicine to combat his obsessive-compulsive disorder. But while the medication reportedly staved off suicide, it left him with a trembling of the hands that restricted his cello playing.”
4/18/07 - The New Haven Register reports that the New Haven Symphony Orchestra has appointed “acclaimed British conductor” William Boughton as its new music director. Boughton will succeed the outgoing Jung-Ho Pak on July 1.
4/18/07 – The Capital Times reports that, next year, the Madison Symphony Orchestra will ask ticket-holders to choose which one of four symphonies they want to hear performed. The choices are Beethoven's No. 1, Schubert's No. 9, Brahms' No. 1 and American composer John Corigliano's No. 1 "Of Rage and Remembrance" (composed in 1988 as an elegy for friends and colleagues who had died of AIDS). … "It's part of an ongoing effort to get the audience more involved," says Music Director John DeMain. “I'm very comfortable with any one of the choices. It will be interesting to see how many people take the time to participate in it. It brings an element of fun and joy and involvement into the process."
4/15/07 – The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on diversity in American orchestras and, in particular, conditions in the Philadelphia Orchestra, which “has made some headway in bringing its sound to African Americans -- who make up 43 percent of Philadelphia County and 20 percent of the eight-county region -- with an annual tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., neighborhood concerts that have resulted in a developing relationship with groups in Camden, and other programs.” But he adds: “ ‘You can’t get around the fact there are a lot of people of color who we are not engaging’. The article quotes Aaron P. Dworkin, an African-American violinist and founder and president of the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based advocacy group that works with young minority classical musicians: “Classical music ... has created a very negative impression within the African-American community about what it stands for, who plays it, and who listens to it.”
4/12/07 - The National Symphony Orchestra has named Iván Fischer its Principal Conductor, reports PlaybillArts.com. “The two-year appointment will become effective with the 2008-2009 season, reports PlaybillArts.com. The National Symphony's fifth music director, Leonard Slatkin, will step down at the end of the 2007-8 season. Maestro Fischer's term as Principal Conductor runs through the 2009-10 season; during that time the music director search will be ongoing.”
The cover story of April’s International Musician profiles Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra Concertmaster Gregory T.S. Walker. “In the spring of 2006, Newport Classic released his groundbreaking electronic violin interpretation of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra.” Walker played the Vivaldi on a “state-of-the-art MIDI” violin: “With the knowledge of how to program a MIDI instrument, you can play the instrument so it evokes the written images. In the second movement of ‘Spring,’ there is a mosquito sound. I spent almost a week programming that ugly thing. And it fits—it’s what Vivaldi described.”
4/22/07 - Violinist Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra will perform at the Eastman School of Music.
4/17/07 - NBC's Today Show featured a segment about From the Top with a performance of the Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor. Performing were program host and concert pianist Christopher O'Riley, along with violinist Caroline Goulding, violist Vicki Powell and cellist Kevin Olusola. The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a piece on local resident Caroline Goulding.
4/15/07 – Violinist Phillip Ruder played his final concert as concertmaster of the Reno Chamber Orchestra. He appeared as soloist (with violist and RCO Music Director Theadore Kuchar) in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364. Ruder, a member of the University of Nevada faculty and the chamber group Argenta, was awarded the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2004. Prior to becoming the RCO’s concertmaster he served for 21 years in that capacity at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, having earlier served as concertmaster with orchestras in New Orleans, Dallas, and Santa Fe.
4/14/07 – Violinist Yuko Honda has died, reports the Seattle Times. “She taught thousands of young violinists during her lifelong career as a music teacher, once assembling 800 fledgling players onstage for the opening of Benaroya Hall in 1998. Ms. Honda died Monday at her home in Bellevue after a four-year battle with cancer, continuing to teach her students until a month before her death. She was 61.”
4/11/07 – Edwin Paling is retiring as concertmaster of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra after a remarkable 34-year tenure, and he has a few choice words for those in charge of the ensemble, reports the Glasgow Herald. "Paling's criticisms, which sound like an indictment of the organisation, boil down to this: successive principal conductors were interested only in their own concerts, in what was going on in their own backyard... Matters of artistic policy and the direction of orchestral development were of no interest to them. Everything became, in that sense, short term. Therefore, any long-range strategy or structure was scarcely tenable. There was no artistic head of the RSNO."
The Phoenix Symphony has announced the ratification of a “catch-up and move forward” contract revision. Highlights of the agreement include increased base salaries for musicians, the addition of musician “relief services” to provide more recovery time between concerts, and clarification of the various ensembles within the orchestra. According to the board, the base salary has been set at a new high of $36,000 and will reach $47,000 in 2011. The new contract extends the labor agreement adopted by the Phoenix Symphony Association board of directors in June 2005 through 2011. The “evergreen” contract will enable musicians to renegotiate work rules and salary increases annually.
The Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico has engaged Carlos Miguel Prieto as music director. He will retain music directorship of the Louisiana Philharmonic, Huntsville Symphony, and Orquesta Mineria, and will reside both in Mexico City and at his new home in New Orleans.
4/11/07 - For decades, the Boston Symphony's summer home at Tanglewood has depended on the labor of a small army of volunteer staffers, who toil on the grounds in exchange for free passes to the concerts. But now, with the BSO battling deficits, the organization is demanding that all "volunteers" donate at least $75 to the orchestra, reports the Berkshire Eagle (MA). The orchestra is also yanking the privilege of "companion passes" volunteers could use to get guests in for free.
4/8/07 - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra returned to the national airwaves for the first time in six years with the launch of the new BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcast Series. Syndicated to more than 160 markets across the country, the two-hour weekly broadcasts, hosted by Lisa Simeone from NPR’s “World of Opera,” will feature both commercial and live concert recordings from the CSO. The first broadcast highlighted the CSO’s yearlong Silk Road collaboration, with segments featuring Yo-Yo Ma and Betty Xiang. Further series programming will include interviews with CSO musicians and guest artists.
Other Music News
4/18/07 – The Columbia State (SC) reports that Converse College in Spartanburg has hired Miles Hoffman as dean of its music school. Hoffman, “has been a commentator on classical music for National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘Performance Today’ for a dozen years. He's also the author of ‘The NPR Classical Music Companion’ and founder of the American Chamber Players ... Hoffman plans to continue his commentaries after moving to S.C. with his wife, Susan Boykin, a retired singer and North Carolina native, and their two children. He starts the job in August.”
4/11/07 - A horn player in New Zealand's Christchurch Symphony has been arrested and charged with possession of illegal military-grade explosives, according to the Christchurch News. "Police say the cache included five military flares, two anti-personnel mines, eight sticks of Powergel and two cans of black powder."
4/13/07 – I happened across a blog called the Long Con: Business, Marketing and the Art of Exacting Confidence from Strangers. What makes it relevant on V.com is that its author, Steve Morris, seems to think that the reason Joshua Bell’s Washington busking experiment “failed” was because neither Bell nor the Washington Post used even rudimentary stagecraft or a huckster’s spiel to entice viewers to linger: “I was in London on business a few years ago and happened to walk through Covent Garden during the annual street performers festival. The contrast between the way these professional street performers went about their business and the usual ply your trade and wait for coins subway violinist was an important business lesson.”
If you do any busking yourself, you may pick up some interesting tips here.
4/12/07 – Scanning a review of a recent performance by Sarah Chang in the Santa Barbara Independent, I was surprised to see Violinist.com mentioned: “The Prokofiev Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 94a was the evening’s highlight. This is why the message boards at violinist.com are full of Chang fanatics offering slavish praise and unsolicited marriage proposals to the 26-year-old musician—because on this kind of piece, something that requires tremendous energy and strength, she may be the best young violinist in the world. This is the prettier of the two Prokofiev violin sonatas, the one originally composed for flute, and Chang made it absolutely roar.”
Who knew we were so noteworthy??
Just a reminder that the application deadline is near for the 6th Annual Orchestral Audition Workshop sponsored by International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. The seminar, to be held June 9-11 in Indianapolis, is limited to twelve violinists aged 21 years and older selected through an audition tape. It is designed for professionals and aspiring orchestral violinists, though an unlimited number of auditors, minimum age 14, are welcome to observe the class. Led by British violinist Rodney Friend, the three-day workshop will combine individual instruction with special sessions working as a group exploring the art of section playing and the leadership skills necessary for principal and concertmaster positions. Visit www.violin.org to apply.
4/16/07 – Violinist Leonidas Kavakos, will perform as soloist in the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on their concert tour in California. The tour begins on Monday in Palm Desert and concludes next weekend.
4/15/07 - The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio celebrates 30 years together with a special concert at Carnegie Hall on April 15, according to PlaybillArts.com. “Violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson (husband and wife) met pianist Joseph Kalichstein in 1976 at the 92nd Street Y, where Laredo has been artistic director of the Chamber Music at the Y series since 1974. The three of them hit it off immediately, and not long after, when Laredo and Robinson decided to form a trio, Kalichstein was the first person they contacted.”
4/13/07 – The Indianapolis Star ran an overview story about violinist Augustin Hadelich launching his “Pure Gold” tour, the result of winning the 2006 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. In it, Hadelich is quoted briefly regarding his motivations for entering the competition and his long-term goals.
4/12/07 – Violinist Barnabás Kelemen performed concerti and chamber music in Finland for the Lahti Symphony Orchestra Spring Festival. His wife Katalin Kokas (performing on both violin and viola) will be one of his collaborative partners, as will Lahti Symphony Concertmaster Jaakko Kuusisto. All three have ties to the IVCI: Kelemen won in 2002, and Kokas and Kuuisto participated (2006 and 1994, respectively.)
4/21/07 – The Nashua (NH) Symphony announced that its Music Director and Conductor, Royston Nash, will lead his farewell concert. Nash is stepping down after 21 years with the orchestra. A special farewell celebration for Nash the next day will be open the public.
4/15/07 – The Jerusalem Post notes that, on the eve of Holocaust Day, the Ra'anana Symphonette will perform at the Tel Aviv Opera House. The repertoire will consist of music that famed violinist Alma Ros led with her ragtag orchestra at Auschwitz, which was depicted in the 19890 television movie, Playing for Time. The orchestra will use the Ros’ orchestrations, made with the instruments at her disposal there: a string section, accordions and a mandolin. Nita Tzuri will play on a violin whose unknown owner was murdered in Auschwitz, and which was borrowed from violin maker Amnon Weinstein's collection of instruments whose owners died in the Holocaust. The bulk of the article summarizes Ros’ life and achievements.
4/13/07 - The Washington Post reports that Iván Fischer will become the principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season. “It is an interim appointment, slated to last two years while the search continues for a full-time music director to replace Leonard Slatkin, who will step down at the end of the 2007-2008 season. Fischer will not serve as music director.” The article adds: “Fischer, 56, who made his debut with the NSO in 1997, is currently the orchestra's principal guest conductor.”
4/11/07 - The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has selected Vladimir Ashkenazy as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The paper’s article, while overall quite favorable to the appointment, expressed concern that Ashkenazy will only be in Sydney for eight weeks versus the 10-16 the orchestra is accustomed to, and that his contract is only for three years, rather than the usual five.
Other Music News
Beginning this fall, Northwestern University School of Music will provide full tuition for all entering doctor of music students (17 new students per year) and the same for 20 entering master of music students. Each award covers two years of study, the normal timeframe needed to complete required coursework. All Ph.D students in the School of Music already receive full tuition support.
4/12/07 – In the wake of the most recent Strad auction, the Wall Street Journal takes its turn at exploring “why these old instruments command such hefty sums.” The article quotes an April 200 article published by Colin Gough in “Physics Web” that states: “Science has not provided any convincing evidence for the existence ... of any measurable property that would set the Cremonese instruments apart from the finest violins made by skilled craftsman today.” Toby Faber, author of Stradivari’s Genius, tells the WSJ: “If science has not been able to find the difference, then that is simply because science does not yet know where to look.” Scherer notes: “Violinist Lynn Chang, who teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University, and who plays a 1739 Carlo Bergonzi, says: ‘A great performer will sound good on any instrument, but the Cremonese violin helps the performer go beyond the instrument.’ ” Violin maker Samuel Zygmuntowicz observes that “the name ‘Stradivarius’ conveys a wealth of meaning to people: as a cultural icon, as a collectible, as a beautiful luxury item.”
If you can’t get enough of From the Top, you can get updates delivered right to your e-mailbox. Karen Rile, mother of Violinist.com’s own Caeli Smith, sent me an issue of the newsletter today. To subscribe, send an email to email@example.com asking for a subscription. Caeli is a roving reporter on the show and was the Summer 2006 V.com intern.
The big news in classical music right now involves the LA Philharmonic. Wunderkind conductor Gustavo Dudamel will succeed Esa-Pekka Salonen in 2009. Various articles abound, including:
4/8/07 – Los Angeles Times: "After helping make the Los Angeles Philharmonic one of the world's most adventurous and versatile orchestras, Esa-Pekka Salonen has decided to step down as music director at the end of the 2008-09 season. His successor, the Philharmonic will announce Monday, will be Gustavo Dudamel, a charismatic 26-year-old conductor from Venezuela. Salonen, who will still live in Los Angeles, intends to concentrate on composing, although he plans to continue to conduct the Philharmonic and other orchestras."
4/9/07 – Los Angeles Times: The announcement that Esa-Pekka Salonen will leave the LA Philharmonic in 2009, to be replaced by 26-year-old Venezuelan wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel, caught the vast majority of the orchestra by complete surprise. But after taking a few hours to process the new information, many musicians were quick to praise Dudamel's energy and skill on the podium, and expressed relief at the unusual double announcement: "The future of the orchestra is secure. We're not going to flail around with our hat in hand like every other orchestra, saying, 'Will you please come?'" Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour is quoted in the article: "I would characterize Dudamel as a sort of Impressionist painter — he's like a painter splashing colors on the canvas."
4/10/07 – Los Angeles Times: “Three years ago, Gustavo Dudamel entered a conducting competition sponsored by the Bamberg Symphony in southern Germany. When he gave his first downbeat to the orchestra and it played its first chord, he loudly exclaimed, ‘Wow!’ He was 23 years old and music director of the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela. He had never before stood in front of a professional ensemble. Esa-Pekka Salonen was one of the judges. And when he arrived in Bamberg three days later for the finals, he said in an interview last week, Dudamel was already a seasoned pro. That the competition launched a meteoric career is already part of the Dudamel legend. He is now in demand everywhere. He has a fancy contract to record for Deutsche Grammophon. And Monday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced officially that Dudamel would succeed Salonen as music director in 2009.”
4/7/07 – Last week, it just so happened that Dudamel made his debut in Chicago. Critic Andrew Patner, not given to hyperbole, wrote a dramatic review calling the concert “a once-in-a-generation event: A young conductor showed what happens when talent, charisma, excitement, adventure, daring and, believe it or not in a world of Olympian egos, warmth and kindness take the stage. An electrical charge ran through the hall and its buzz didn't stop even after multiple curtain calls, many animated handshakes with principal players and a wild ovation.” Dudamel opened the concert with “a 1954 piece by his countryman Evencio Castellanos, ‘Santa Cruz de Pacairigua’ ... Star violinist Pinchas Zukerman was on hand for the staple of Bruch's G-minor concerto and Dudamel proved a sensitive and perfect partner.” The second half of the program featured Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Patner writes: “When was the last time we saw almost every player sitting at the edge of his or her seat with eyes focused on the conductor?”
4/10/07 – Violinist Yura Lee and the Borromeo String Quartet are among the winners of the 2007 Avery Fisher Career Grants, reports PlaybillArts.com. Double Bassist DaXun Zhang is the third winner. Each of the three winners received $25,000 at a ceremony at Lincoln Center last night. The ceremony, which included performances, was taped by WQXR-FM and will be broadcast on April 17. The Borromeo String Quartet consists of violinists Nicholas Kitchen and Kristopher Tong, violist Mai Motobuchi and cellist Yeesun Kim.
4/10/07 – Teen violinist Kassia Beckett Frantz appeared as a panelist on Wisconsin Public Television's Teen Connection, reports the Wisconsin Daily Journal. “The 16-year-old sophomore from Green Bay East High School practices the violin three hours every day. Her goal: to attend the Juilliard School, a top-notch institution that accepts only 6 percent of its music applicants. ‘Violin always comes first for me’, Frantz said. ‘There's sacrifices that I make to reach my goals, and I want other kids to realize the hard work I put in. I realize that in a couple years, missing a dance or a party won't be important if I can achieve my goals of a successful career’." Frantz performed the third movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto on the show.
4/10/07 – According to the Virginian-Pilot, transgendered violinist Tona Brown, formerly Thomas Brown, is now launching a new career as an operatic soprano. Brown teaches violin and voice in Norfolk, Va.
4/9/07 – People are definitely talking about Joshua Bell’s Washington, DC, busking experiment. Here is an opinion piece from the Arizona Daily Wildcat, written by a senior majoring in music appreciation. He correctly points out the optimism in the fact that, generally, passing children wanted to stop. Implicit in that observation, of course, is the lament that the children’s adults invariably hustled them along.
4/10/07 – According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the Rochester Philharmonic is finally closing the books on a 7-year, $10 million endowment drive designed to keep the ensemble fiscally solvent for the indefinite future.
4/10/07 – More glum news from New Hampshire, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader: “Little more than a month after the New Hampshire Symphony announced that it was canceling the remainder of its season, Opera New Hampshire is canceling its lone spring production, citing lower than anticipated funding from subscriptions, ticket sales, sponsorships and other sources."
Other Music Issues
4/9/07 – The Independent (UK) notes that “Jean Sibelius was once the world's favourite composer but, thanks to German fascist admirers, his star waned after his death." In recent years, the Finnish composer's reputation has had much of its luster restored, thanks largely to a series of Nordic conductors specializing in his work, but Sibelius is still rarely placed alongside masters like Beethoven and Mozart in the musical canon. Some believe it's time for that to change.
4/7/07 – The New York Times ran an opinion piece by John Marchese, the author of The Violin Maker (the new book about Sam Zygmuntowicz mentioned Laurie’s interview with the luthier). “Another Stradivarius sold at auction for millions of dollars last week, and once again, it's a sure bet that the buyer wasn't a musician. In fact, there are nearly no musician-owned Strads left, thanks to the ever-escalating value collectors place on the Cremonese gems. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Yes, it does mean that most musicians, even great ones, will never get to play on the best of the old Italian violins, but it also forces the music world to pay attention to the stunning number of great instruments being crafted by living makers.”
4/8/07 – The Washington Post featured an intriguing gimmick as the cover story of the Sunday Magazine: Put a top-drawer violinist busking at a Metro subway station, and see how people react and how much dough he rakes in. When the Washington Post asked National Symphony Music Director Leonard Slatkin how much he thought such an experiment would yield the virtuoso, he predicted $150. Well, the actual take was $32 and the violinist was none other than Joshua Bell. An entertaining video clip accompanies the story.
Don’t miss the New York Times’ timely analysis of classical music’s role in China—and vice versa.
4/3/07 - First, China has become a considerable force in Western classical music. Conservatories are bulging. Provincial cities demand orchestras and concert halls. Pianos and violins made in China fill shipping containers leaving its ports. The Chinese enthusiasm suggests the potential for a growing market for recorded music and live performances just as an aging fan base and declining record sales worry many professionals in Europe and the United States."
4/4/07 - Second, "With stunning swiftness China's surging ranks of classical musicians have found a home in Western concert halls, conservatories and opera houses, jolting a musical tradition born in the courts and churches of Europe... The phenomenon, which has been building for at least a decade, has gathered steam in the last few years, injecting new vitality into the American classical music scene."
Eric Silberger, an 18-year-old violinist, has been selected as one of two violinists representing the United States at the 2007 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in June 2007. Most recently, Silberger has won a Toyota Scholarship Award for the invitees of the Tchaikovsky Competition in New York. He is currently a scholarship student and studies violin with the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Glenn Dicterow, at the Juilliard Pre-College. Silberger serves as concertmaster of the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra and is a 12 th-grader at Tenafly High School in New Jersey. He will perform a solo recital at the Louvre in Paris, France, in October 2007, which will be broadcast live on Radio France.
4/6/07 – The St. Petersburg Times profiled violinist Jeff Multer, concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra.
4/5/07 – Minnesota Public Radio ran a feature (including audio clips, of course) of violinist Maxim Vengerov’s new recording of the Mozart Violin Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, in which he appears as both soloist and conductor.
4/4/07 - The Denver Post reported that Colorado Symphony Music Director Jeffrey Kahane has cancelled his April appearances due to severe hypertension. "Severe or malignant hypertension provokes symptoms beyond those associated with typical high blood pressure. These can include confusion, headaches and vision irregularities. And if left untreated, it can lead to heart failure, kidney failure or stroke." The ailment also forced him to cancel his March appearances. The additional cancellations stem from “Kahane’s doctor wanting him to have additional recuperation time and does not mean his condition has worsened ... the orchestra is ‘beyond reasonably confident’ that Kahane will be back in action for his May concerts and the symphony’s June finale, a week-long Beethoven festival that includes Kahane performing all the composer’s piano concertos.”
4/4/07 – The always-entertaining Norman LeBrecht paid tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich in Bloomberg’s on the occasion of the cellist’s 80th birthday: "No soloist in modern times has inspired more new works; no cellist in history did more to expand the instrument's repertoire. Slava has given about 240 premieres, including concertos by the three Russian masters, the Frenchman Henri Dutilleux, the Estonian Arvo Paert and the Poles Lutoslawski, Panufnik and Penderecki."
4/3/07 – The Intelligencer (PA) ran a profile of violinist Caryn Lin: “When [she] was in elementary school, a music teacher discouraged her from following her heart and taking instrumental lessons….These days, the professional electric violinist is busy taking her musical talents on the road -- but not those late-night gigs at smoky bars. Now, her main audience consists mostly of those more familiar with juice boxes than frozen margaritas.”
4/3/07 – The Independent (UK) reported on the 2007 Classical Brit nominations. “The winner of the album of the year is chosen by Classic FM listeners and Classic FM magazine readers ... The frontrunner is [violinist] Nicola Benedetti, the 19-year-old former BBC Young Musician of the Year, who received three nominations ... Benedetti's rivals for instrumentalist of the year include the British trumpeter Alison Balsom and the pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.”
The documentary film featuring the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra, “Music from the Inside Out,” has been released commercially in a special edition DVD. The DVD includes material not seen or heard in the film’s theatrical release, such as extended musical performances and deleted scenes with appearances by guest artists including violinist Sarah Chang. Other extras are commentary from director Daniel Anker, interviews with Anker and the musicians in the film, and a special conductor segment.
4/30/07 - The Juilliard Orchestra will perform at Alice Tully Hall in a gala concert and benefit, the venue’s final event before it closes for an 18-month renovation as part of Lincoln Center’s West 65th Street Redevelopment. “Good Night Alice,” emceed by Tom Brokaw, will feature performances by Wynton Marsalis, Audra McDonald, Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass, among others. A television broadcast of the concert, “Lincoln Center Special: A Gala Night at Alice Tully Hall,” will air on PBS stations nationwide on May 3 as part of its “Live from Lincoln Center” series. The hall is scheduled to re-open in winter 2008 in anticipation of Lincoln Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2009-10.
4/4/07 – The Virginian-Pilot reports that the Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra has changed its name to Symphonicity. “The orchestra announced its new name at a concert Sunday at Tallwood High School before an audience of about 600. Conductor David Kunkel said the 26-year-old orchestra made the bold move for a couple of reasons. First, people often confused the Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra with ... the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Second, the Virginia Beach orchestra is about to move into new digs at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts at Town Center ... And while an audience of 600 looks cozy at Tallwood, it would leave the Sandler Center half empty. The orchestra needs a bigger audience, which requires more marketing, Kunkel said. So the orchestra hired a consultant -- HCD Advertising & Public Relations -- then brainstormed a list of hundreds of possible names.” Dan Downing, executive vice president at HCD, comments: ‘It's a $50 word, that's for sure. But it's something that you see it, you don't forget it’.”
Other Music News
In the April issue of Chamber Music, Celeste Headlee, granddaughter of composer William Grant Still, writes: “My grandfather was known as the dean of African-American composers, a title that he alternately treasured and hated. Throughout his life, he protested the label. He believed he should be known simply as a composer, or as an American composer, more specifically. If Copland is never introduced as a Jewish composer, why should William Grant Still always be black?” Headlee adds: “He was the first African-American to do so many things: the first to conduct a major orchestra, the first to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra and the first to have an opera produced by a large company ... My grandfather blazed trails and others have continued with that arduous track. But I also believe that the journey is barely half over. I rarely hear my grandfather’s music performed except during February -- Black History Month.”
4/5/07 – PlaybillArts.com posted an overview of the new television version of From the Top. Several young violinists will appear in various of the thirteen episodes. Joshua Bell will make a guest appearance on the sixth episode.
4/3/07 – The Stradivarius violin auctioned by Christie’s yesterday sold for $2.4 million, far above its expected sale price of $1-$1.5 million. With commission, the tab rose to $2.7 million Canadian. The buyer remained anonymous. Read the New York Times’ play-by-play.
4/1/07 - A Cox News Service story printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Venezuela’s classical music education program, known simply as “The System.” He writes: “With about a half-million participants over the past three decades, the program's success has been remarkable. Visiting conductors and musicians rave about it and then copy it: more than 20 other countries have started their own programs to duplicate Venezuela's. Youth concerts in Venezuela now draw crowds rivaling those for soccer or baseball games, and the top youth orchestras have performed in venues around the globe. The program was started in 1975 by Venezuelan conductor Jose Antonio Abreu, who began his instruction with 11 children in a garage. Over the decades he secured government funding that now runs about $25 million a year, opening practice centers in neighborhoods across the country. Some 85 percent of the kids involved come from poor or working class families. Now a source of national pride, the program has become intensely competitive.” The article quotes Nehyda de Celis, coordinator of one of the program centers: “Parents see it as a way out for their kids, a way to a better life ... But they also know it will help their kids learn discipline.”
Yuriy Bekker has been selected as concertmaster of the Charleston (SC) Symphony.
Naomi H. Guy has been hired as associate concertmaster of the Toledo Symphony, while Rita Lammers will be assuming the associate principal second violin seat.
The Southwest Michigan Symphony has hired violinist David Repking as assistant principal second. Rebecca Appert has been hired as a violin section member.
4/15/07 - Violinist Roman Totenberg will receive the New England String Ensemble’s “Muses & Mentors” award. Totenberg, born in Poland in 1911, has had a storied career most can only dream of, including performing the world premiere of Karol Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1964. According to a
press release, other premieres include: the Darius Milhaud Violin Concerto No. 2, the William Schuman Concerto, and the Krzysztof Penderecki Capriccio. He also premiered Paul Hindemith's Sonata in E (1935), the Barber Concerto (new version) and the Martinu Sonata, as well as giving the American premiere of Honegger's Sonate for violin solo.” Totenberg is the father of renowned NPR commentator Nina Totenberg.
4/11/07 – Violinist Geoff Nuttall, cofounder of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, will lead and solo with the New Century Chamber Orchestra as the California-based ensemble continues its search for a permanent concertmaster. The program will include Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa, Bach's Concerto for Two Violins and Strings, and Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht.
4/10/07 - Joshua Bell will have the distinction of being the subject of a Dennis the Menace Cartoon. Check out your newspaper for its debut nationally on April 10th. Also, NBC's Today Show has been taping Bell around the country for a profile story that is tentatively scheduled to air April 19th.
4/2/07 – The Independent (UK) profiled violinist Nigel Kennedy. “ ‘From now on, at least 50 per cent of my endeavor is going to be in the jazz field,’ says the man whose recording of Vivaldi's ‘Four Seasons’ earned him a place in what was then called the Guinness Book of Records for the best-selling classical disc of all time. ‘I love classical music and I've had a good 30 years playing it professionally. But I'm really into the jazz thing, and it needs more time so I can develop as a player and get the band kicking more.’ ” The article adds: “In late 2005, Kennedy went to New York to record his first proper jazz album for Blue Note ... The resulting album, ‘Blue Note Sessions,’ is a collection of modern jazz standards, and originals ... It is far from cutting-edge, being rooted in the 1960s material that made the label famous. But it sounds fresh, not least because this music is rarely heard on the violin.”
4/1/07 – Violinist Marc Ramirez is the co-subject of an amusing riff in the Seattle Times by another Marc Ramirez on the subject of, you guessed it, “Google twins,” those who share our names.
4/1/07 - The Newark Star-Ledger reported on the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s effort to sell its collection of 30 "Golden Age" stringed instruments that it purchased from philanthropist Herbert Axelrod in 2002. “The NJSO wants to find one or more buyers willing to purchase the collection as a whole and lend it back to the orchestra for the musicians to play ... Most experts are skeptical of this scenario. The practice of investors buying instruments and lending them to prominent soloists is commonplace, they say, but there's no precedent for it on this scale. ‘I don't know of anything special about the collection, that it would be kept together for any historical significance,’ said Geoffrey Fushi, of Bein & Fushi in Chicago, one of the country's leading violin dealers.” McGlone adds: “The potential reward of $36 million -- enough to pay off the $12 million balance on the purchase loans and to sock away millions more -- will likely keep the effort on track ... Stewart Pollens, the former curator of musical instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who has been hired to handle the sale, says he has received calls from soloists, major American orchestras, investment bankers and officials from the Italian government. He declined to name any of them.”
4/1/07 - The Allentown (PA) Morning Call included a review of the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra’s final concert, “the last of more than 450 in the ensemble’s 26 years.” The program, led by Donald Spieth, the ensemble’s music director for 25 years, featured soloist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg “Before the concert, listeners were asked for a significant LVCO memory and what they would miss most about the ensemble. Janice Gillen Gross praised the orchestra's development of young musicians, many through a competition with the Juilliard School of Music, and early recognition of budding stars such as Kit Armstrong, then an 11-year-old pianist and composer.” Orchestra cellist Deborah Davis says: “I don’t think there’s a single person in the orchestra who felt we had to die. We were in our prime.”
3/31/07 - The Toronto Star profiled the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, noting that, a scant five years ago, the orchestra was on the verge of collapse, running up massive deficits and laboring to play quality concerts in a substandard hall. But thanks to an acoustical revamp, a dynamic new music director, a cut-price ticket program for young adults, and a tireless board chair with a passion for fundraising, the TSO is back on track and thriving in Canada's largest city.
3/30/07 – Have you ever wondered what the procedure is for being allowed to play one of those uber-incredible Strad or Guarneri violins that land on the auction block at one of the major auction houses? Well, it’s pretty simple, according to the New York Times: Just ask the right person and show your “violin hickey” and you’re in. At least, that’s what violinists Albert Cheng, Dr. Kenneth Christman and Natalie Smithson did.
3/28/07 – What should post-secondary musical education encompass? The BusinessWeek article “Teaching Musicians to be Entrepreneurs” explores the role of business training in a musical education. "In most areas of higher education, entrepreneurship has long lost its stigma as a career path for those without one. But at the nation's top music conservatories that stigma is still very much alive, despite the fact that the "traditional" career path for classically trained musicians--one that ends with steady employment in a symphony orchestra--is difficult." But some schools are slowly starting to embrace the idea that a musical education can be supplemented with a practical back-up business plan.
4/2/07 – Violinist Emma Shook will perform a recital at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn. She is a member of the Cleveland Orchestra who formerly played the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra.
4/1/07 – Read The State’s (SC) profile of a bevy of sisters who play as a string quartet: “The Jackson sisters from Columbia started their journey as a string quartet a dozen years ago. It has led them to performances at countless weddings and events, including the Governor’s Women’s Achievement Awards, and a CD of hymn arrangements entitled Rejoice.”
3/31/07 – The
Fort Collins (CO) Weekly notes that violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn’s solo recital was going to be performed on the Strad that inspired the movie The Red Violin: “It’s the stuff movies are made of—literally. The Academy Award-winning film The Red Violin was inspired by the Christie’s auction, during which John Pitcairn secretly bought his 16-year-old granddaughter an instrument that would help her to become an acclaimed performer. ‘The way things were going, it was decided that even though I was so young, it was time to get me a solo instrument like that’, Pitcairn says. That’s when the stars aligned, she says, and the Mendelssohn Stradivarius was put on the auction block at Christie’s of London. In 1990, Pitcairn’s grandfather anonymously purchased the highly sought-after violin and gave it to the young violinist, who at that age had already performed her first professional concert. No one knew Pitcairn owned the Strad until she began to play it publicly later in her career.”
3/30/07 – The Oregonian notes that violinist Stanley Ritchie made his debut with the Portland Baroque Orchestra this weekend in a program of early classical-era orchestral music by Mozart and Haydn and their contemporaries. Ritchie, who has taught at Indiana University since 1982, is a teacher of PBO's concertmaster, Carla Moore.
3/29/07 – Violinist Jan Bislin of Abbotsford, BC, won four awards at the recent Chilliwack Lions Club and Music Festival.
3/28/07 – The Cleveland Plain Dealer liked Margaret Brouwer's Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra, which received its world premiere with violinist Michi Wiancko and CityMusic Cleveland. “Brouwer, head of the composition department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, knows her way around the violin. She played the instrument professionally before devoting herself entirely to composing. But what makes her concerto so alluring is its surprising tension between skittish and poetic material.”
3/28/07 – The Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader ran the Sacramento Bee’s positive review violinist Viktoria Mullova’s new CD and notes her additional role: “The music on Viktoria Mullova & Katia Lebeque in Recital a brilliantly played CD, bears the stamp of a musician, not a record label, calling the shots (Mullova executive-produced the CD).”
3/26/07 – Violinist Cho-Liang Lin performed the Tsontakis Violin Concerto No. 1. with the Albany Symphony, in a reprise of a popular 2003 concert. According to the Albany Times-Union, “Tsontakis and his music are increasingly in demand and so an ASO/Tsontakis recording is in the works, with Sunday sessions for the Concerto.”
3/28/07 – On the 30th anniversary of the American Composers Orchestra, the New York Times marked the occasion with a profile: “In an ideal musical culture there would be no need for the American Composers Orchestra. Classical music programs in the United States would not be dominated, as they mostly are, by the works of dead European males."
3/25/07 - The Kansas City Star reported on the National Symphony Orchestra’s American Residencies program, which takes the orchestra to a different state each year for an extended residency. “This month Kansas becomes the 17th residency of the NSO’s ongoing series, which the 48-year-old [NSO Assistant Conductor Emil] de Cou described as ‘the most important thing the orchestra does.’ ” The article noted that the residency features “almost 100 events in several communities” alongside “formal full-orchestra concerts,” quoting de Cou: “I like us being kind of like the people’s orchestra ... And at the end of each tour, the orchestra is completely invigorated — no longer just an orchestra but 100 individually activated musicians.” De Cou adds: “We go there to reinforce what the communities are already doing, to put a spotlight on it. Everything we do is driven to help the local arts organizations, and all the money that is made stays in the community.”
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