May 2007

Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 43

May 31, 2007 20:05

5/29/ reports that a 1680 Stradivarius violin worth about €2.5 million was stolen over the weekend from an apartment in central Vienna. “Also missing were a Vuillaume violin valued at about €120,000, three bows worth €12,000 in total, and some jewelry and electronics, according to reports from Agence France-Presse and RIA-Novosti. The thief or thieves evidently knew what they were after and what was necessary to get it: he or they brought a blowtorch and used it to break into the wall safe where the instruments were kept.

“The victim, a 49-year-old Austrian violinist who was not further identified, discovered the theft upon returning home on Sunday night (May 27) from a chamber music performance in Germany, according to the Associated Press.”


5/30/07 – The Boston Globe reported on the Conservatory Lab Charter School: “Literally and figuratively, music is in the air at the Conservatory Lab Charter School -- and in the curriculum, too.

“Plenty of elementary schools teach music, but how many require students to attend a 45-minute music class every day, and to take half-hour violin lessons twice a week, and to practice every night? How many issue a violin to each student in first grade, which he or she gets to keep until graduating fifth grade? How many organize the entire educational experience around music?”


5/30/07 – The International Herald-Tribune has a thought-provoking article on pernambucco, which is danger of extinction: “If you think the problem of endangered species is all about tigers, elephants and orangutans, ask a violinist where he gets his bow. The best violin bows are made from pau brasil, a tree from the Brazilian rain forest that has been exploited for 500 years, and was once so economically vital for the red dye it produced that it gave its name to the only country where it grows. Pau brasil is among dozens of plants and animals threatened with extinction that are on the agenda of the 171-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, which opens its meeting Sunday. About 7,000 animals and 32,000 plant families now are regulated, including more than 800 species which are banned completely from commerce.”

And how many of us really understand the technicalities of harvesting the rare wood: “It takes a lot of wood to make a violin bow — of every 3,300 pounds (1,497 kilograms), only 220 to 440 pounds (100 to 200 kilograms) are usable, experts say, and 80 percent of that is wasted in carving the bow. The tree has a trunk only about 15 feet (4.5 meters) long, meaning a tree can produce only a few bows.”

Musician News

From the Top recently announced the newly established Jack Kent Cooke Talent Development Award for students 14 and under. The award includes a $5,000 scholarship, artistic advising and participation in From the Top's enrichment programs. This scholarship is renewable after one year for a two-year total award of $10,000.

The first recipients included a violinist: 13-year-old Emily Hudock from Sterling Heights, Mich. A pianist and a percussionist snagged the other two awards.

6/2/07 - The Pacifica String Quartet will perform at the Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle at Bard College. The quartet consists of violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad, and cellist Brandon Vamos.

5/30/07 – The New Zealand Herald notes that American violinist Mark Kaplan was the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's savior in 2005 when, at a few days' notice, he replaced an ailing Salvatore Accardo in a sterling performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. “Tomorrow night, he returns, in his own right, with the Second Violin Concerto of Bela Bartok. It was this work that got Kaplan his first break in 1975, standing in for Pinchas Zukerman in Cologne.”

5/29/07CCTV in Beijing has posted a profile and a video clip of violinist Li Chuanyun on its website.

5/28/07Commentary magazine posted a short opinion piece on its website that ponders why violinist Cho-Liang Lin, once the darling of the classical music world, no longer seems to receive the recognition he is due.

Orchestra News

5/31/07Newsday reports that the Children's Orchestra Society will make its Carnegie Hall debut. The group was founded by the father of Yo-Yo Ma and is now led by his sister, Yeou-Cheng Ma, a violinist and pediatrician. Violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson join the group for Brahms' Double Concerto.

5/30/07 - The Portland Symphony Orchestra “introduced 40-year-old Robert A. Moody on Wednesday as its new music director and conductor,” reports the Portland Herald (ME). Moody is now music director of the Winston-Salem Symphony in North Carolina, a job that he will retain. He will balance both jobs and maintain a home in each community.”

5/30/07- Orchestre de Paris said Wednesday it had appointed the Estonian-born American Paavo Järvi as its music director from 2010, according to the Baltic News Service. “The 44-year-old will take over from the German Christoph Eschenbach at the head of the orchestra that has had many high-profile collaborators, including Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim ... Järvi’s contract with the Orchestre de Paris requires him to be present for a minimum of 14 weeks and 28 concerts per season in Paris and on tour.”

5/29/07 – Both the Detroit Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra had major onstage glitches this week, reports “During a Cleveland Orchestra performance that evening (May 24) at Severance Hall, music director Franz Welser-Möst was forced to stop the show twice during the last movement of Alban Berg's Chamber Concerto for Piano, Violin and 13 Wind Instruments, with Mitsuko Uchida as soloist….

“Meanwhile, in Detroit, Yefim Bronfman stopped the show while performing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Towards the end of the first movement, according to The Detroit News, Bronfman stopped playing and called out to conductor Peter Oundjian that a D-natural on the keyboard's upper register wasn't working. While the house piano technician wrangled with the keyboard, Oundjian and Bronfman joked on stage: ‘I don't see what the big deal is. The D is missing and the concerto happens to be in D minor’, said Oundjian. ‘Right now’, replied Bronfman, ‘I wish I played violin’."

5/29/07 - reports: “Broadway musicians, who staged a four-day strike in 2003 that cost New York City's economy about $10 million, agreed to a three-year contract with producers, both sides announced today in a release. The contract requires producers to increase contributions to the musicians’ health plan and expands the number of musicians eligible to participate. In return, musicians gave up two wage increases over the course of the deal. The contract was approved by 82 percent of the members of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians who voted.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 42

May 28, 2007 19:55

5/25/07 – From the Top has been getting quite a bit of press lately. The latest installment is to be found in the Boston Globe, and ponders the social pressures facing serious young classical musicians. The article quotes Charles Yang, an 18-year-old violinist from Austin, Texas who has been featured on the show: “The classical image is that whoever’s in orchestra right now is a geek or something ... I think we should do something about that, like Hendrix revolutionized the guitar.”

"If anyone could, it's Yang. In his spare time, he goes off-roading, sings in a band, and plays classical violin with the charisma of a rock star. His high school buddies had apparently never seen him play violin, and in one segment from an early episode of From the Top: Live From Carnegie Hall--the show's new television series -- Yang's mother plays the friends a home video of her son tearing through the Tchaikovsky Concerto as a soloist in front of an orchestra. Yang hides his face in embarrassment, but his friends are absolutely stunned.”


5/22/07 – According to San Francisco Classical Voice, the 22nd annual Irving M. Klein International String Competition will be held June 7-10 at San Francisco State University's McKenna Theater. The final round will consist of performances with the Marin Symphony, conducted by Alasdair Neale.

This year, 65 young musicians entered the competition, coming from 15 countries, and ranging in age from 15 to 23. Among the nine semifinalists are six violinists and three cellists, from the U.S., South Korea, and Canada. The 2007 Klein Competition semifinalists are:

Andrea Segar - 20, a California native studying with Donald Weilerstein at the New England Conservatory of Music.
David McCarroll - 21, another California native studying with Weilerstein at NEC.
So Jin Kim - 21, from South Korea, studying at the Juilliard School with Cho Liang Lin and Naoko Tanaka.
Jing Wang - 21, a Canadian citizen born in Guilin, China, studying with Sally Thomas at Juilliard.
Siwoo Kim - 17, born in South Korea, and now attending high school in Westerville, Ohio.
Lydia Hong - 19, from Chicago, studying with Itzhak Perlman at Juilliard. Three years ago, she advanced to the semifinalist stage of the Klein Competition.

Alice Yoo - 22, from Syosset, N.Y., studying with Paul Katz at NEC.
Madeleine Kabat - 20, from Cleveland, studying with Norman Fischer at Rice University in Houston.
Paul Dwyer - 23, from Indiana, studying at Oberlin Conservatory. His teacher, Amir Eldan, won fourth place at the 1997 Klein Competition.

Musician News

5/25/07 – Violinist Gidon Kremer performed the Bartok Violin Concerto on its home turf, Budapest. He was accompanied by the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

5/25/07 – The Times of London gave four out of five stars to violinist Julia Fischer’s new release of the Brahms Violin Concerto and the Brahms Double Concerto. Regarding the opening passage of the Violin Concerto: “With the sweetest of sighs she eases herself into the principal theme, a violin acrobat delicately treading the high wire with a hushed orchestra waiting below, and she never falls off. It’s a magical, lyrical moment, one of many in the performance here.”

5/25/07 - Violinist Calvin Dyck performed a concert in Nanaimo, BC, that follows the theme of the CD he released last November, The Dancing Violin, according to the Nanaimo News Bulletin. “Dyck, the concertmaster for the Vancouver Island Symphony, produced six sold-out multimedia concerts called Songs Strings and Steps in Abbotsford with pianist Betty Suderman. They’ve also toured internationally with The Golden Violin and From Moscow to Madrid. …Dyck said, ‘There’s a tendency to think all dances are upbeat when really there’s a whole range of emotion expressed, like humour in Peggy the Rubber Duck, sarcasm in Golliwog’s Cakewalk, intimacy in Liebesleid (Love’s Sorrow), and celebration in Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms’.”

5/24/07 - The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: “Peter Otto, assistant concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, will become first associate concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra in September. In the new position, Otto will be first in line to fill in when concertmaster William Preucil is absent. The German-born Otto won the post last month, when the orchestra held auditions for first associate concertmaster and associate concertmaster, the position Ellen dePasquale will relinquish at the end of August after eight seasons. The associate concertmaster post has yet to be filled.” The article adds: “Otto, 32, joined the first violin section in St. Louis in 2001 and was promoted to assistant concertmaster in 2005. He holds a bachelor of music degree from the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Rostock, Germany, and a master of music degree from the Juilliard School.”

5/24/07 – Violinist Thomas Hu was selected as concertmaster of the National Association for Music Education's 2007 MENC All-Eastern Honors Orchestra, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “Hu, a violinist, beat out 54 other violin players from 11 states across the northeastern United States for that top spot. The orchestra meets every other year and performed this year in Hartford, Conn. …Thomas has played the violin since he was 6. His teachers have included Cyrus Forough at Carnegie Mellon University and Hong-Guang Jia, assistant concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.”

Orchestra News

5/26/07 - The Gemini Youth Orchestra has raised $3,000 for the New Orleans String Project. A donation of six violas from Murphy’s Music in Huntington, New York was also presented. The New Orleans String Project, founded by members of the Louisiana Philharmonic and the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra, allows inner-city children to receive high-quality instruments and string instruction. The Gemini Youth Orchestra draws student musicians from across Long Island.

5/23/07 – The Boston Globe reports that a court hearing has been scheduled to determine whether either or both of the men involved in the now infamous Boston Pops brawl should be charged with a crime. At the time of the fight, both men were ejected from Symphony Hall, but not arrested. "A few days later the police department reversed its decision not to pursue charges and assigned a detective to investigate."

5/22/07 - As of this week, Chicago has a period-instrument orchestra for the first time in 16 years, as the brand-new Baroque Band gives its inaugural concerts, reports “Founder/director Garry Clarke, a Briton who moved to Chicago last year, has training as both musician and administrator. As a violinist, he has played (among others) with The Academy of Ancient Music, The Sixteen, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Les Arts Florissants. In 2001 in England's West Midlands, he founded the 18th Century Concert Orchestra, an ensemble of 12 musicians who perform by candlelight in period dress.”

5/22/07 - The Louisville Orchestra, which has been in severe fiscal trouble several times in recent years, seems finally to have turned things around, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. This week, the orchestra announced that it expects to finish the year with a healthy surplus, and will use some of the money to pay its long-suffering musicians a bonus. The organization also recently finished paying off more than $1 million in bank loans, and the board president celebrated by setting fire to the loan documents at an official ceremony.

5/21/07 - A concert by the Dubrovnik Symphony in Croatia was disrupted earlier this month when a nationalist member of the city council forced his way into the hall, threatened the guest conductor (apparently over his Serbian heritage,) then head-butted the orchestra's executive director, who was attempting to keep the assailant from the stage, according to

5/21/07 – The Buffalo News reports that the oboist alleging anti-gay discrimination in his dismissal from the Buffalo Philharmonic will have his case heard by New York's state Division of Human Rights. "Roach filed a state discrimination claim in December [2003] and less than two months later, in February 2004, was denied tenure. Roach then filed a second complaint alleging retaliation by the BPO."

Other Music News

5/25/07 - The Juilliard Manuscript Collection is now available online at The collection includes working manuscripts, sketches, engravers' proofs, and other musical artifacts. Each page of the original manuscripts, sketches, and annotated first editions -- some with extensive composer markings, others with first-performance conductor markings – can be viewed with a zoom feature that allows images to be displayed in detail, showing original corrections, handwritten notes and instructions, and in the case of Beethoven, insults about his copyist. Forty-two composers are represented, with multiple works by Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin, Wagner and others.

5/23/07 - It's been nearly 15 years since the acrimonious split between Spoleto Festival USA, based in Charleston, South Carolina, and its parent festival in Spoleto, Italy. But now, there are signs that the two organizations could be ready to partner once again, reports the Charleston Post & Courier.

5/23/07 – If you’ve ever wondered how the relatively small Naxos label holds its own against the Big Boys, read the Herald (Glasgow) profile of founder Klaus Heymann. "In the breadth, depth, ambition and prestige of its repertoire, Naxos has no serious rival anywhere in the world today, even among specialist labels."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 41

May 24, 2007 08:26

5/20/07ABC News offers an update on the amazingly resilient Baghdad Symphony, which is still performing regularly. “Incredibly, only one musician has lost his life in the violence since the war. But recently, one of them lost something almost as precious. Mohammed Qassim plays the violin -- a beautiful 19th century violin that he bought in Czechoslovakia 25 years ago and has treasured ever since.

But in a raid on his apartment building by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers, his priceless instrument was taken out of its case and smashed to pieces. ‘The whole apartment was in a complete mess’, said Qassim, his face twisted in pain. ‘It reflected some basic hatred by these people. Some extremist soldier says, 'What's this?' and then goes, 'Bang! Bang! Bang!' and just leaves it’. Qassim picked up the splintered remnants of his lovely violin, which he still keeps inside its case. He cannot bear to throw it away, though it's beyond repair.”


5/20/07 – In praise of amateurs: In the Chicago Tribune, classical music critic John von Rhein writes, “Long before the phonograph turned a music-making society into a music-consuming society, amateur music-making was woven into our nation's domestic and social life ... If you wanted music in your daily life, you had to make it yourself. Sadly, that tradition is in decline at a time when you can access virtually the entire history of music with a click of your iPod. Despite this, amateur musicmaking lives on in the countless community and regional orchestras and bands, volunteer choruses and church choirs that dot the American landscape.” Von Rhein cites organizations like the Amateur Chamber Music Players, Inc. as well as the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, sponsored by the Van Cliburn Foundation, adding: “Musicians who play for love rather than money can teach even jaded ears something vital about what it means to make and experience music. They are one reason classical music remains a living art.”

Musician News

Conductor and composer Douglas Lowry has been named dean of the Eastman School of Music, effective August 1. He succeeds James Undercofler, who stepped down in April 2006 to become president and chief executive officer of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Lowry is currently dean of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, He earned a bachelor’s degree in music theory and composition from the University of Arizona, and holds master’s degrees from the University of Southern California in trombone performance and orchestral conducting.

5/22/07 - Maxim Vengerov made the London newspapers twice this week. The
Times of London
noted his pro bono visit to a hospital for those with severe neurological conditions and traumatic brain injuries. Then, on 5/19/07, The Telegraph reported that Vengerov is still troubled by the right-hand injury that plagued him last month: “After playing Mozart's Violin Concerto No 2, Vengerov switched the running order and launched the orchestra into Shostakovich's C minor Chamber Symphony in memory of his friend and mentor Mstislav Rostropovich. Then he announced that a hand injury meant he couldn't play any more violin, so he would only conduct. Since most of the crowd bought tickets specifically to hear sizzling fingerboard action from Siberia's super-fiddler, he was lucky the hall wasn't trashed by berserk classical cognoscenti.” The article goes on to describe him as “short and built like a bullock,” by the way…

5/22/07 – Violinist Lindsay Deutsch received a good review from the Los Angeles for a performance with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The program featured Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, “with ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’ sandwiched in between the second and third movements as a ‘control’ sample. Here the spotlight was turned over to Lindsay Deutsch, a 21-year-old violinist who grabbed that light with a bold, aggressive tone and a body language that speaks loud and clear to audiences raised on rock videos.”

5/21/07 – Wire service reports indicate that violinist Leo Panasevich has died: “For all that Leo Panasevich loved music, it's possible that he was happier holding a golf club than a violin. When the Boston Symphony Orchestra played at Tanglewood, "he would see how many holes he could squeeze in between open rehearsal and afternoon rehearsal," said his daughter, Karen Panasevich-Cummins of Still River. "I think it was 12 holes." A first violinist who played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 46 years, Panasevich died May 5 at the age of 85.

5/19/07 – Jazz violinist Randy Sabien, dubbed , dubbed by National Public Radio's Jazz Profiles as "the past, present and future of jazz violin," led a session with ninth graders at an Indianapolis school, reports the Indianapolis Star.

Orchestra News

5/23/07 – The American Symphony Orchestra League reports that a $35 million increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was approved by the House committee responsible for drafting the NEA’s funding bill. “This increase is significantly higher than the modest $4 million increase proposed by the President and represents a much more substantial restoration of NEA funds than has been proposed by the House committee since the NEA sustained a 40% budget cut more than a decade ago.”

5/23/07 – The Cleveland Orchestra is searching for a new principal trombonist, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer provides a window onto what the process is like: “…just about every interested, top-notch trombone player in America -- and some from overseas -- reportedly has come through Severance Hall with hopes for a future in Cleveland….The job first came open at the end of the 2002-03 season, with the retirement of orchestra veteran James DeSano ... Steven Witser, a member of the orchestra since 1989, has been acting principal trombone while the search for a permanent replacement continues.”

5/22/07 – According to the Charleston Daily Mail: “The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra celebrated a first since its move into the Clay Center in July 2003 -- a sellout crowd. The occasion was marked Saturday for the orchestra’s production of the fully staged opera, Carmen. A total of 1,716 seats were sold -- many of them by earlier in the week, said Paul Helfrich, the symphony’s executive director.” Helfrich comments: “Officially, it’s the largest crowd we ever had for a single performance.”

5/20/07 - The president of South Carolina's Charleston Symphony Orchestra, which nearly had to shut down mid-season because of financial problems, says that the ensemble should end the year in the black without needing to tap into its credit line, reports the Charleston (SC) Post & Courier.

5/18/07 – The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has a new music director: 27-year-old Finnish former heavy metal guitarist and footballer Pietari Inkinen. He replaces British conductor James Judd. Inkinen conducted his first orchestra at the age of 14 and is the youngest person to hold the key NZSO position since the 1950s.

Other Music News

5/22/07 – The New York Times reports: “Carnegie Hall announced yesterday that it would embark on a major expansion that would create more offices, rehearsal and practice rooms and space for large ensembles, as well as renovate backstage areas. The plan would gobble up all of the studios in the building and its two towers, Carnegie said, and would mainly serve Carnegie’s expanding educational wing. While detailed plans have yet to be drawn up, the cost would be in the range of $150 million to $200 million, said Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s executive and artistic director, to be financed through a capital campaign ... Residents [of the Carnegie studio apartments] received letters with the news yesterday.”

5/20/07 – The New York Times recently pondered the fact that different orchestra constituencies seek different traits in a music director. “When you ask the players of a major orchestra what they want in a conductor, they answer almost as one: a great musician steeped in the heritage and repertory, an interpreter of insight and depth with the technical skill to convey ideas and elicit results. In other words, they want someone who reminds them of the master teachers they revered in music school….There are notable examples, though, of orchestras that have thrived under younger conductors who were able to emulate the experience of collegial conservatory music making.” The article cites as examples Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic: “Right now several major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, are searching for music directors. It is essential for an orchestra to work regularly with leading international maestros. But these maestros can develop productive relationships with orchestras as guests. Day-to-day operations can be entrusted to an empowering younger conductor.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 40

May 20, 2007 13:19

5/15/07 - As musicians, we all know the power of music, to heal, to transform, to be a catalyst for many kinds of change. But sometimes, the power lies within the instrument itself, as shown in a remarkable essay that ran in the Annals of Internal Medicine last week, entitled “Dr. Wohl's Violin: A Family Doctor's Last Act of Kindness” by Sheldon H. Gottlieb, MD.

Dr. Gottlieb was called in to counsel the family of a young man who, in the end stages of leukemia, had just been declared brain dead. The grieving father was unable to process his son’s imminent death, and unable to authorize his son’s removal from the ventilator that kept his lungs functioning.

In a remarkable coincidence, when the father mentioned how much his son loved their original family doctor, who had died when the boy was just four, Gottlieb was shocked to learn that the boy's family doctor had been the previous owner of his violin. And now, that violin was able to help the grieving parents marshal their strength and say goodbye to their beloved son.

Musician News

5/18/07 – Julien Heller, a 17-year-old violinist, has fallen in love with a violin that exceeds his family’s means. So a local arts patron organized a benefit concert to help Heller raise the $10,000 necessary to buy the instrument, reports the Danbury (CT) News Times. The participants included Eric Lewis, Heller’s teacher and a member of the Manhattan String Quartet.

5/18/07 – According to a University of Delaware news release, The 1699 Stradivarius "Lady Tennant" violin, on loan from the Stradivari Society in Chicago to Xiang Gao, associate professor of music, has arrived on campus. The violin, which is valued at $3 million, made its Delaware debut during the sold-out “Xiang Gao and Friends” concert held May 18.

5/16/07 – According to, violinist Nikolaj Znaider recently acquired a Guarneri del Gesù violin once owned by the great Fritz Kreisler. “The Guarneri was purchased from an American collector by three Danish funds for Copenhagen's Royal Theater, which then lent it to Znaider. The instrument replaces the Stradivarius the violinist had been using; Znaider reportedly consulted with Daniel Barenboim and Valery Gergiev, among others, before deciding to make the switch.”

5/16/07 – also notes that Canadian violinist James Ehnes has joined the Seattle Chamber Music Society Summer Festival in the newly created position of associate artistic director. In his new role, Ehnes will help founder and artistic director Toby Saks choose musicians and repertoire. Ehnes has performed at the festival for years and will continue to do so.

5/16/07 – Violinist Ruth Palmer, fresh from being named Best Classical Performer at the Classical Brits, received a mixed review from the Telegraph (UK).

5/15/07 – Robert Chen, concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony, began a week of concerts as soloist with that orchestra of Lutoslawski's "Chain 2": Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra."

5/14/ profiled violinist Julian Rachlin. The Lithuanian-born violinist will solo with the New York Philharmonic on May 24-26.

Orchestra News

5/17/07 - The Dallas Symphony has canceled a planned performance of Britten's War Requiem because of money, reports the Dallas Morning News: "We were reviewing the budget for next year, and we determined the need to make a few programming adjustments. It's a very expensive piece to produce, and we just determined it would be prudent to postpone it."

5/16/07 - The Opera Orchestra of New York has announced a complete three-work season for 2007-08, having successfully weathered severe financial difficulties several months ago. Reportedly, many orchestra members donated money to the ailing organization.

5/16/07 - The Budapest Symphony is one of Europe's oldest orchestras, established in 1853 and playing concerts ever since in the celebrated Hungarian State Opera House. But this year, the Hungarian government declined to pay the usual subsidy that kept the orchestra afloat, and the organization finds itself scrambling to find new revenues to replace the public funds, reports the Budapest Sun.

5/15/07 – According to the Southwest Florida News-Press, the Southwest Florida Symphony has appointed 37-year-old Californian Michael Hall as music director. “One of seven finalists, Michael Hall signed a three-year contract with options for two more seasons ... Hall replaces Paul Nadler, who was credited with raising the orchestra to a higher level in 16 seasons as music director ... A native of Canada, Hall serves as associate conductor of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and music director of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra.”

5/15/07 - Oboist J. Bud Roach has filed a claim against the Buffalo Philharmonic for job discrimination. Formerly the orchestra's second oboist, he was fired in February 2004, and he claims that his firing was due to homophobia in the orchestra, reports

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 39

May 16, 2007 09:56

5/13/07 – In 1993, violinist Stefanie Kitts was in a car crash so severe that she was in a coma for three months and her doctors urged her mother to consider removing her from life support. Today, Kitts is married with a new baby, and her 73-year-old mother, Sonnhild Kitts, still teaches 10 hours of violin lessons a day. Stefanie, former violinist with the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra, has not regained her violin abilities, but otherwise, life is good. Very good, reports the Gainesville Sun.


5/13/07 – The Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine contained a brief item about a young Brazilian violinist, Deborah Wanderley dos Santos, who was born into poverty and largely self-taught. When Richard Young, violist of the Vermeer Quartet, was in Brazil performing with Brazilian Alex Klein, former principal oboe of the Chicago Symphony, Klein wanted Young to hear the young woman play. “She was very talented and expressive, but not as developed musically as you usually see in a 19-year-old,” Young told the newspaper. He worked out a deal with North Park University in Chicago: In return for the school giving her a full ride, Young joined the faculty and now teaches dos Santos for free. Young and Klein have since collaborated on a benefit recital in Chicago to raise dos Santos’s living expenses. Her goal is to return to Brazil and teach in a new program modeled on Venezuela’s that stresses classical music as a way out of poverty.

Musician News

6/10/07 - Cleveland Orchestra violist Richard Waugh will undertake a cross-country bicycle ride in June to honor the memory of colleague Charles Barr, a bassist in the orchestra who was killed in a bicycle accident last August. Waugh’s 3,000-mile, 17-day ride will raise funds for the Musical Arts Association, the parent organization of The Cleveland Orchestra, through the endowment of the newly created Charles Barr Memorial Chair. Waugh will leave the Pacific shore at San Diego on June 10 and head for Tybee Island, just east of Savannah, Georgia. The average daily ride will be about 170 miles. Orchestra musicians initiated the creation of the Charles Barr Memorial Chair in the bass section. It is first endowed chair of its kind, as funds will not be coming from a single donor, but rather from multiple donors in the community. To learn more about Waugh’s initiative, visit

5/19/07 – The Prince George (BC) Citizen reports that five professional musicians who were raised in Prince George will perform a special concert, The Boys Are Back In Town. The featured performers include violinists Karl Stobbe, Jonathan Crow and Darryl Strain. Stobbe is the associate concertmaster of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Crow, 29, has been the concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony since the ripe old age of 24. Strain has performed with the CBC Vancouver and Vancouver Symphony orchestras. Hosted by the Prince George Conservatory of Music, The Boys Are Back In Town concert will be recorded live by CBC Radio for later broadcast.

5/13/07 – According to the Aurora (IL) Beacon News, Itzhak Perlman made a point of welcoming a group of beginning violin students onstage with him after a two-hour long recital last week. “The Fox Valley Academy of Music Performance in January began providing aspiring string musicians ages 9 to 12 the opportunity to study and perform music regardless of income. The nonprofit organization is giving these youngsters access to professional instruction, instruments and a chance to perform with an orchestra in an after-school setting at O'Donnell Elementary School on Aurora's East Side….For most of the youngsters, it was their first time in a concert hall.”

5/13/07 – It’s unusual for major newspapers to review youth orchestra concerts, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer sent its critic to the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra’s closing concert. “[Fourteen-year-old] Caroline Goulding played the Tchaikovsky concerto as if she'd been living with the piece her entire, short life. The violinist, a student at Gilmour Academy, easily surmounted the work's technical obstacles, of which there's a bounty. But Tchaikovsky's expressive lines also were shaped, rather than merely executed, with tonal warmth and fine attention to detail. Everything in the violin part could be heard, down to the subtlest trill and quickest flourish. Goulding, playing a 1617 Amati violin on loan from the Stradivari Society of Chicago, had a tendency to rush here and there, but who wouldn't at this age, in this piece? It will be fascinating to hear her perform the concerto in a decade or two, when her amazing abilities go through the natural maturation process.”

5/11/07 – Conductor Sir Simon Rattle’s tenure as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic has been marked by controversy. Read The Guardian’s profile of the maestro for a better sense of Rattle’s goals: “In his five years with the Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle has grappled with conservative critics and the language barrier... What he is attempting is to have it both ways: to open Berlin up as an orchestra in terms of its repertoire and its relationship with the city, and develop the ensemble as the definitive orchestra in the core German tradition. It's not something you can do in five years, or even 10: it's a project that could last Rattle the rest of his musical life."

5/11/07 – The Victoria (BC) Times Colonist noted that Victoria violinist Nikki Chooi, 17, gave a concert in Victoria last weekend before “heading off to two of the world's biggest classical music competitions. He will compete in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in Auckland later this month and the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, in which he is the youngest violinist and the only Canadian. In fact, he is the first Canadian violinist to be invited to compete since 1962.”

Orchestra News

The Nashville Symphony is hosting a weeklong exchange with the music director and four musicians (all wind players) from the Orquesta Sinfónica de la UNCuyo in Mendoza, Argentina.. In September, four musicians and one administrator from the Nashville Symphony will travel to Mendoza to perform and work with the Orquesta Sinfónica de la UNCuyo. American conductor David Handel, music director of both the Orquesta Sinfónica de la UNCuyo and the National Symphony of Bolivia, proposed the exchange after David English, a Nashville native and entrepreneur living in Mendoza, recommended the orchestra. Handel has performed similar exchanges with the National Symphony of Bolivia between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony.

5/14/07 – The Great Falls Tribune (MT) reports: “The Great Falls Symphony lost two of its primary musicians in a plane crash. Jennifer ‘Jenny’ Sengpiel and Kyle Mills were not only members of the orchestra, said Executive Director Carolyn Valacich, they were also engaged to be married the end of this summer ... They were killed when a plane they were scheduled to skydive from crashed slightly after takeoff Saturday morning. Also killed in the crash were 28-year-old Troy Norling, the pilot, from Onalaska, Wisconsin; Joel Atkinson, 25, a tandem instructor from Kalispell; and another 25-year-old tandem instructor, Dave Landeck of Missoula ... Tom Little, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said it was too early to tell what caused the crash, but he said it appeared that the plane made a 180-degree turn just after takeoff and was only about 500 feet high before it plummeted to the ground. Valacich said Sengpiel was a principal oboist with the Symphony orchestra and Mills was a principal French horn player.”

5/13/07 – According to the the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1974, ran into serious financial problems in May 2005, canceled the last two programs of the season and has been on hiatus since. Now the organization has raised enough money to pay off its old debt. Although the musicians were never paid for the two canceled concerts, many of them will return to play the upcoming program, which calls for a string orchestra of 22."

5/13/07 – According to the Associated Press, President Bush attended the huge Virginia Symphony concert honoring Jamestown’s 400th anniversary. Virginia Symphony Music Director JoAnn Falletta was conducting a 400-piece orchestra made up of Virginia Symphony members and youth orchestra musicians from around the country. “It took [Falletta] a few seconds on Sunday to realize someone behind her was motioning for a try. President Bush. She gave him her baton and stepped aside. Gesturing exuberantly, the president led the orchestra during part of its performance of ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’ ‘We didn't expect him to know the score so well,’ Falletta said afterward. ‘He was not shy about conducting at all. He conducted with a great deal of panache.’ ”

Other Music News

5/11/07 – Finally, some good news from the Telegraph (UK): Classical music's constantly predicted death may be limited to the baby boom generation, if radio listening numbers coming out of the UK are to be believed. According to reports, Classic FM is seeing large numbers of kids under 15 tuning to their station.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 38

May 12, 2007 08:00

5/10/07 – Trouble brewed in Boston Wednesday night, when a fistfight erupted in a balcony during the Boston Pops’ opening night concert. Conductor Keith Lockhart briefly stopped the opening night performance while officers escorted the two fighters out of the hall. The incident drew international attention, including jokes on "The Tonight Show."

Twenty-seven-year-old Matthew Ellenger says the incident began when he told 44-year-old Michael Hallam to be quiet during the performance. Ellenger says after some continued bickering, Hallam punched him. No one has publicly heard Hallam's side of the story yet.

5/11/07 – For Ellinger’s version, read his account on WHDH-TV.


5/9/07 – The Los Angeles Times reports on classical radio station KUSC-FM’s fund drive, held between April 26 and May 6. “In the most successful pledge drive in its 60-year history, the nonprofit station raised more than $1.1 million with 7,900 pledges, KUSC President Brenda Barnes announced Tuesday. New members accounted for 60% of the pledges, and most of those identified themselves as new listeners ... KUSC Development Director Janet McIntyre said the recent drive drew an unprecedented 4,782 new members, pledging an average $142 a year. McIntyre said new members came from 34 states besides California, thanks to the station’s Internet transmissions. KUSC, based at [the University of Southern California], is the nation’s largest nonprofit classical music station.” Smith notes that commercial classical station KMZT’s recent “move to a frequency with a weaker signal and inferior sound quality left KUSC as the dominant classical music station in the area.”

Musician News

5/20/07 - Violinist Betty Zhou will perform the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Bloomfield (NJ) Symphony Orchestra. Zhou is the winner of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra 2006 Concerto Competition.

5/12/07 - Joshua Bell will be featured on From The Top- Live from Carnegie Hall on PBS in selected markets.

5/12/07 – I received a note from violinist Vincent P. Skowronski that WFIU-FM Bloomington will play two tracks from his latest CD. The Szymanowski Sonata in D Minor will be broadcast at approximately 12:05am (ET), while another track will be broadcast on May 23.

5/10/07 – The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram profiled rock violinist Bobby Yang: “Some people learn to play violin by the Suzuki method. Bobby Yang seems to have learned by the Harley-Davidson method, as his brand of playing is pure, roaring rock 'n' roll.”

5/10/07 – The Mongolian violinist Degi is the subject of a profile in the UB Post, an English-language newspaper in that country. Degi, who has recorded two albums, studied at Grand Valley State in Michigan with violinist Dylana Jenson.

5/10/07 – When From the Top recorded an episode in Columbus, Ohio, the
Columbus Dispatch
ran a blow-by-blow account. Among the performers on this episode were violinist Siwoo Kim of Westerville, Ohio. The article notes the Family Feud-type competition between an all-boy string quartet and an all-girl string quartet that included none other than’s own Caeli Smith.

5/9/07 - The Indianapolis Symphony has found a new concertmaster after 15 months of searching, reports the Indianapolis Star. “At only 27 years old, Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Zachary De Pue will be one of the youngest (if not the youngest) concertmasters of an upper-tier American orchestra.”

5/8/07 – The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that seven musicians have recently won spots in the Philadelphia Orchestra, including three violinists. “José Maria Blumenschein is the Philadelphia Orchestra's new associate concertmaster. A native of Germany, Blumenschein is just now graduating - he is 22 - from Curtis, where he studies with Joseph Silverstein and is concertmaster of the school orchestra….Violinist Marc Rovetti, a new member of the first violin section, has two degrees from Juilliard and has studied with Pamela Frank (a Curtis graduate and faculty member). A member of the New World Symphony, he has been a frequent substitute player with the Philadelphia Orchestra….Dara Morales, Utah Symphony principal violinist and sister-in-law of Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist Ricardo Morales, is the orchestra's new assistant principal second violinist. Hired several months ago, she starts this summer.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 37

May 10, 2007 08:54

5/5/07 - Musicians have been decrying the use of "electronic orchestras" in opera and Broadway pits for years. But can even expert listeners really tell the difference between the digitally generated orchestra and the real thing? The Wall Street Journal reports on new technological advances in the field and notes that even some prominent musicians have guessed wrong to their four sample passages.


5/6/07 – Now that Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel has been named the next music director of the LA Philharmonic, Venezuela's dynamic music education system is being recognized as a virtual factory of orchestral talent, reports the Los Angeles Times. "So far, the Venezuelan music education system has not produced a generation of young composers on par with Mexico's. Yet it's indisputable that its musician training program produces top-notch orchestra players."

Musician News

Benjamin Sung has been named concertmaster of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University and a bachelor’s from the Eastman School of Music. In addition to his concertmaster duties, Sung will serve as adjunct professor of violin and viola at North Dakota State University and at Minnesota State University in Moorhead.

Violinist/conductor Taras Krysa has been named director of orchestras at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and music director of the Henderson (Nev.) Symphony Orchestra. A native of Kiev, Ukraine, he began his studies as a violinist at the Moscow Conservatory and subsequently earned master’s degrees in violin performance and orchestral conducting from Indiana and Northwestern universities. Krysa has conducted and performed as a violinist with the New World and Saint Louis symphonies, and has conducted numerous other orchestras.

5/5/07 - Violinist Stefan Jackiw received Harvard University’s Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. Jackiw is completing his undergraduate degree at Harvard this spring, which he did concurrently with his work in New England Conservatory's Artist Diploma program. Harvard's Sudler Prize recognizes outstanding undergraduate talent and accomplishment in the arts. Additionally, the Harvard Crimson just profiled Jackiw this week, too.

4/30/07 – Young Armenian violinist Serge Khachatryan made his Carnegie Hall recital debut, followed by his Boston Symphony debut on y Khacha May 3. ran an in-depth Q&A with Khachatryan.

4/27/07 - The Charlotte Observer ran a Q&A with violinist-turned-conductor Andrew Grams when he guest-conducted the Charlotte Symphony as a last-minute stand-in: “I never wanted to be a solo violinist. But symphonic music is something I've always been incredibly passionate about. When you're a violinist in there (playing in the orchestra), it's great. It's wonderful to be wrapped up in that sound. But you're of course at the whim of the conductor. And there's a part of me that wants the piece to go the way I want it to go.” The program included soloist Vadim Gluzman playing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.

4/24/07 - Rachel Barton Pine recently performed the Bruch Violin Concerto with the Missoula (Mont.) Symphony, reported the Missoulian: “Dressed in a copper-colored evening gown, her brown hair flipping this way and that with every accent she played, Pine amplified the romance and drama of Bruch's music with an aggressive performance. Playing one of the most famous violins that isn't a Stradivarius - a 1742 instrument built by Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu, one so rich and throaty in tone that it sounds at times more like a viola than a violin - Pine's melodious playing soared out over the MSO's tastefully subdued accompaniment, wowing the audience time and time again. Pine, too, here and there pulled against Spain's tempos, leading to a few hiccups in the music's momentum; but by the end, none of that mattered, so convincingly did she and the orchestra sing the praises of Bruch's famous concerto.” Pine, a new member of, can be contacted through her directory page.

Orchestra News

5/8/07 – According to San Francisco Classical Voice, the San Francisco Youth Symphony Orchestra is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. Famous alumni include: Annie Li (concertmaster of Symphony Parnassus), Zacharias Grafilo (first violinist with Alexander String Quartet), cellist Matt Haimovitz (records for Deutsche Grammophon), and Jeff Zeigler (cellist with Kronos String Quartet).

5/7/07 – New England Conservatory reports that a new chamber orchestra, a far cry, is launching a concert series in Cambridge, Brookline, and Montpelier, Vt. Fourteen of the 17 players are NEC students or alumni. Donald Palma, the founding member of New York's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra who created and coaches the NEC Chamber Orchestra, has served as their mentor.

5/4/07 - The Hong Kong Philharmonic faces a public relations problem, reports The HKP’s music director, Edo deWaart, is moving his family out of the city and back to his wife's family home in Wisconsin. The major reason for the move: Hong Kong's notorious air pollution is sickening deWaart's children, including his four-year-old asthmatic son.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 36

May 6, 2007 19:31

As many know by now, violinist Joshua Bell as joined the Indiana University violin faculty as a senior lecturer. The news was picked up throughout Indiana and by various wire services.

5/3/07 – The Indianapolis Star, in lieu of reaching Bell himself, chatted up his mother.


4/26/07 - Researchers at Manchester University claim to have a solution for all those string players who wish their cheap violins could sound like a Stradivarius. According to an article in The Guardian (UK), the researchers have developed an electronic device that takes the violin sound picked up by a microphone and changes it electronically to provide the famous Strad tone.

Musician News

Violinist Claire Blaustein was recently named runner up in BBCMusic Magazine's first Michael Oliver Award for Young Classical Music Writers. An excerpt from her piece, "The Digital Revolution: How the Internet Can Save Classical Music," appeared in the May issue of the magazine.

5/31/07 – Indiana University Professor of Violin Mark Kaplan will play the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. In 2005, Kaplan stepped in at the last minute to replace Salvatore Accardo, in a performance of the Beethoven Violin Conerto that garnered four curtain calls, notes Scoop, an online news source in New Zealand.

5/5/07 – The documentary Circling Around: The Violin Virtuosi had two screenings at downtown Bloomington’s The Cinemat video store. The one-hour program, produced by RIAX in association with WTIU, documents the extraordinary life-journey taken by talented and dedicated young violinists from the Indiana University Music String Academy, which is directed by violinist Mimi Zweig.

5/4/07 – The Independent (UK) reports on the winners of this year’s Classical Brits. Violinist Ruth Palmer won the Young British Performer prize for her independently funded and released recording of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti was nominated in three categories but did not win.

5/3/07 – The Guardian (UK) profiled violinist Ruth Palmer just one day earlier: “Everything the 28-year-old has achieved so far -- and a nomination as Young British Classical Performer in tonight’s Classical Brits suggests she has achieved plenty -- has been down to sheer determination and a go-getting entrepreneurial spirit.” Palmer notes: “The idea of being snapped up by a management company or a record company and being handed a career on a plate is very old-fashioned. Artists are expected to come along a lot further before a major company is interested. It took me a while to realize, ‘OK, you've got to do it yourself’.”

5/3/07 – In the Washington Post’s profile of violinist Leila Josefowicz, one of the subjects is her short-lived modeling career. Modeling’s loss is clearly classical music’s gain.

5/2/07 – The New York Times profiled former Philadelphia Orchestra principal violist and new Curtis leader Roberto Diaz, referring to him as possibly the world’s best violist. In the article, Diaz expounds on how he sees his role unfolding at Curtis.

5/1/07 – “Inspired by Arts Journal blogger Drew McManus's "Take A Friend to the Orchestra" month, the staff critic at DCist decided to throw himself deeply into the spirit of the thing, inviting a sportswriter to accompany him to an Australian Chamber Orchestra concert. To make things even more challenging, the sportswriter was in a bad mood the night of the show, and in no mood for high culture. And then, the music started...”

Orchestra News

5/8/07 - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first CD release on CSO Resound, its in-house record label, will be available in stores, though the live recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, featuring the CSO under Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink, has been available on iTunes since April 24. Under the CSO Resound label, the orchestra will self-produce at least six new CDs in the next three years, culled from live recordings of CSO concerts, and issue three to four digital-only releases per year.

5/3/07 - The Cincinnati Symphony has extended the contract of its music director, Paavo Jarvi, through the 2010-11 season, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. The orchestra added an unusual "evergreen" clause under which the contract will renew automatically in subsequent seasons by mutual agreement.

5/2/07 – The Elgin Daily Herald reports on the Elgin Symphony Orchestra: “Tuesday’s announcement that the orchestra will record a commercial album of Aaron Copland compositions next week for the classical music label Naxos means the fulfillment of a longtime goal ... Board member Joyce McFarland Dlugopolski and her husband, Ed, volunteered to underwrite the orchestra costs for a recording. Their commitment plus the contacts of a former Naxos staffer now employed by the ESO led to the fortuitous partnership. ‘This is pretty big for us,’ Music Director Robert Hanson said. ‘We’re excited about it’.”

4/30/07 – The Daily News (Newport News, VA) wrote about the Virginia Symphony’s “first-ever residency Thursday through Saturday” in the communities of Mathews, Urbanna, and Kilmarnock: “They played at churches, libraries and retirement homes, gave master classes to high school students and held free public concerts for anyone who wanted to attend. The project was supported by a $100,000 state grant designed to bring music to less populated areas.

4/30/07 – Edmonton Symphony Orchestra music director William Eddins, who on March 23-24 conducted a program of Gershwin, Bernstein, Stravinsky, George Antheil and Howard Brubeck, attracted the ire of a patron who disliked his "bum wiggling" podium antics. In a letter to the Edmonton Journal, anti-wiggler Jeanie Campbell wrote "But what is with Bill Eddins? He's not classy; he's rude! He shakes his body, wiggles his bum, kicks his legs out, a chain hanging off his back pocket." But other music lovers rallied to Eddins's defense….”

4/27/07 - At the second Mahler Conducting Competition three young candidates led the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra — and the jury declined to award the €20,000 first prize to any of them, reports Shi-Yeon Sung, a 31-year-old from South Korea, won the €10,000 second prize, which she received from Marina Mahler (the composer's granddaughter and patron of the competition) at the closing concert. The jury awarded a third-place prize, too.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 35

May 2, 2007 08:22

More on Rostropovich….

4/30/07 – The New York Times, reported on Rostropovich’s funeral from Moscow: “Thousands of Russians paid their respects here in the Russian capital this weekend to Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist and conductor who was laid to rest on Sunday just feet from the fresh grave of former President Boris N. Yeltsin. It was the second time in less than a week that the country buried a public figure considered a symbol of his time ... President Vladimir V. Putin, whom Russian state television described as Mr. Rostropovich’s friend, paid his respects at the conservatory where the cellist’s body lay in an open coffin for viewing on Saturday.” Kishkovsky notes that services for Mr. Rostropovich were open to the public, writing: “Among the mourners were Queen Sofia of Spain and Bernadette Chirac, the wife of President Jacques Chirac of France, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and young cellists, bearing witness to Mr. Rostropovich’s reputation as a man of the world whose appeal cut across class lines ... The conservatory reported that more than 10,000 mourners streamed past Mr. Rostropovich’s coffin there.”

4/29/07 – The New York Times ran a piece considering the 200+ pieces of music composed for him. "He was the recipient of five pieces by Britten; two cello concertos by Shostakovich; and Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante. He gave the first performances of works by Penderecki, Dutilleux, Lutoslawski, Schnittke, Messiaen, Bernstein, Auric and Walton and a host of other 20th-century composers."

4/29/07 – The Chicago Tribune listed 10 top Rostropovich recordings (in alphabetical order) on CD and DVD. “They tell us why the ebullient Slava was one of the most revered classical musicians of his time and why he will forever remain so.” Here’s what the critic had to say about Bach: “Bach: Complete Cello Suites (EMI, CD and DVD). Rostropovich waited until he was 63, in 1991, before committing the six unaccompanied cello suites of Bach to disc. He carefully chose the recording site -- a church in the Burgundian village of Vaezelay, France -- because of its perfect acoustics. The results, released on CD and video in 1995, speak to us as eloquently as Pablo Casals' pioneering Bach recordings of the late 1930s spoke to a previous generation.”

4/29/07 - Nicholas Kenyon, director of the BBC Proms, wrote this appreciation in The Guardian (UK): "In an age of performers created by record companies or talent shows, Rostropovich was the real thing - a player of breathtaking command and power who put across the music he played with an emotional intensity that none could resist. But more than that, in standing up for his friends and colleagues and for music itself, Rostropovich was the most inspiring example of the interconnectedness and total indivisibility of music and political reality, art and life."

4/27/07 – Renowned cellist David Finckel posted his own thoughts on his website, “My actual lessons with him, which lasted roughly nine years, were sporadic, but my focus on learning from him was constant ever since I first was captivated by his recordings at the age of 11. One did not have to have a lesson to learn from Rostropovich; one had only to be near him in almost any situation.”

4/27/07 – When New England Conservatory sent out an e-mail flash about Rostropovich’s death, they included summaries of each of his three visits to NEC, including this nugget: “In April 1997, Rostropovich gave a rare public masterclass in Boston at Symphony Hall…. Playing for Rostropovich were violinists Vali Phillips and Mariana Green, cellist Ndidi Menkiti, and double bassist Lemarr Lovett. Green, Menkiti, and Lovett studied at the NEC Preparatory School, and Lovett went on to study at NEC at the College level. Green, who many knew as a member of the Amaryllis Quartet, now teaches at NEC Prep.”

Musician News member Samuel Thompson wrote to me to share news of his first publication. He wrote “Let's Talk Bach. Breaking down the G minor Sonata- on approaching the Adagio” for the Master Class department of the May 2007 issue of Strings.

4/30/07 – Violinist Christian Tetzlaff stepped up when Michael Tilson Thomas had to bow out of conducting most of a recent New World Symphony concert in Miami due to low back pain, reports the Miami Herald. “Tilson Thomas' illness meant dropping the Violin Concerto of Gyorgy Ligeti for more familiar fare. Christian Tetzlaff did double duty as soloist and conductor in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3. Still, whatever leadership he gave the players must have been confined to rehearsals, since, with his back to them, he gave no direction at all and barely looked their way. That produced an efficient, if somewhat pallid, accompaniment, though Teztlaff's light timbre and lithe, vital articulation made for an alert reading.”

4/29/07 – According to WTNH (Connecticut), Sidney Rothstein, former conductor and music director of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, claims he suffered disability-related discrimination, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. “At the root of the dispute is whether Rothstein's stroke, and subsequent problems with strength and dexterity in his right arm, made it difficult for musicians to follow his direction. The orchestra board's president says they have high regard for Rothstein, but that his lawsuit has no merit. She says their decision came after musicians in the orchestra raised concerns. Rothstein, who'd been with the RSO since 1996, says the physical difficulties were temporary and he shouldn't have been fired.”

4/29/07 – Violinist Shlomo Mintz closed the 7th European Music Festival in Sofia's Bulgaria Hall with a special concert, reports the Sofia News Agency. He played the Brahms Violin Concerto with the symphony orchestra of the Classic FM Radio.

4/27/07 – Admittedly, this is not violin-related news, but who could resist reading a Philadelphia Inquirer review of a recital by Evgeny Kissin in which the pianist played 10 encores? "Ten encores. Some swore they heard 11 at Evgeny Kissin's Kimmel Center recital on Wednesday. Audiences could have left after the substantial printed program of Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin and not have felt shortchanged. But Kissin obligingly returned to the stage again and again, playing for another hour. Were that many encores healthy?"

Orchestra News

5/17/07 – The San Francisco Symphony will launch a brief tour with a performance in New York. After a second New York performance, the orchestra will perform twice in Vienna and twice in Prague.

5/2/07 – The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Elgin Symphony Orchestra wrapped up its Aaron Copland: American Icon festival. “Over the course of six programs, supported by a $10,000 grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, Elgin and its music director Robert Hanson are offering performances, lectures and discussions of Copland’s illustrious and controversial life,” The festival included the program ‘Copland and the Cold War,’ which included local actors re-enacting Copland’s recently released 1953 testimony during hearings of the McCarthy Committee, where Copland was accused of having Communist sympathies. The festival will also include concerts by ESO Concertmaster Isabella Lippi.

4/29/07 - The Las Vegas Sun reports that the Las Vegas Philharmonic is losing its founding music director, Hal Weller. “In nine years the 66-year-old maestro has done what many said was impossible. He built an orchestra that feeds Las Vegas audiences a steady diet of classics ... And he created dependable seasons that put the orchestra on firm financial footing.” Concertmaster Dee Ann Letourneau comments: “[Weller] created a culture for this organization when it was almost impossible to do that in this town.”

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