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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 27

April 5, 2007 at 1:28 AM

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.”

Musician News

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.

Orchestra News

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.

From Sydney M.
Posted on April 5, 2007 at 2:57 AM
Hahahaha... Since when are classical musicians in comic strips? Is this the first instance ever? Darcy, how did you find out about this?
From Sydney M.
Posted on April 5, 2007 at 5:04 AM
And "Dennis the Menace"? I could maybe see him in "Brevity" or "Non-Sequitur" but not DtM. Can't wait to see that will unfold!
From Adam Wasiel
Posted on April 5, 2007 at 9:14 AM
Totenberg did not premiere the Karol Szymanowski Violin Concerto No 1 Op 35 - and definetely not in 1964! That concerto was composed in the 20's in collaboration with Kochanski - Imagine...Szymanowski being world premiered in the US...
From Adam Wasiel
Posted on April 5, 2007 at 9:16 AM
Besides that...Wanda Wilkomirska and David Oistrakh both recorded that concerto in 1961 with the Warsaw Philharmonic seperately
From Darcy Lewis
Posted on April 5, 2007 at 3:13 PM
Thanks for the corrections, Adam.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on April 5, 2007 at 10:09 PM
That "Marc Ramirez" article was hilarious - thanks for posting the link.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 6, 2007 at 12:49 AM
I can't imagine anything being the subject of a Dennis the Menace cartoon except Dennis po'ing Mr. Wilson. We'll see.

Wouldn't you love to know what's behind this! Or did it come out on Apr. 1?

From Sydney M.
Posted on April 6, 2007 at 4:25 AM
I was thinking that, Jim... ;) This isn't something that has to do with A. Fool's day, is it?
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 6, 2007 at 7:08 AM
She was so excited about Joshua Bell that she forgot to boldface Nigel Kennedy.
From Christian Vachon
Posted on April 7, 2007 at 2:53 AM
I am curious who in Canada bought that Strad, and especially for who?!

That said, I am glad that the TSO is doing better. It is a fine orchestra and its turn around financially comes at a great time. Cool too that it coincides with Oundjian tenure as conductor. A fantastically fine musician!

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