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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 34

April 29, 2007 at 6:47 PM

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.

Musician News

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.

Luthier Profiles

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.”

Orchestra News

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."

From John Baker
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 1:07 AM
I attended the Howard County Celebration fo the Arts concert last week. Ten very gifted performers presented their best, which included Broadway, Operatic, and Jazz. But the Violin was very well represented, having two outstanding musicians give us outstanding musical gifts. While Tao-Chang Yu walked off with the Prize, Natalia Jenkins, a senior at Oberlin Conservatory gave a moving performance of the 1st mvt of the Prokofiev Violin Sonata. Kudos to both our Vioin Stars!
From John Baker
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 1:18 AM
"The grass withers, and the flowers fade," but the world will long remember the uniquely gifted and uncommonly courageous Slava. He freely shared his enormous musical talent, but having no part of Timidity, he stood up to the Bolshevik Bullies who ran rough-shod over his Motherland. His punishment? Twenty years at the helm of the National Symphony! What irony. Today we need more talented and courageous musicians to follow in his steps.

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