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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 45

June 7, 2007 at 1:20 AM

6/6/07 - reports: “Austrian authorities recovered a Stradivari violin belonging to a top violinist and worth at least 2.5 million euros ($3.4 million) after police raided a Vienna house used by six Georgian suspects to stash stolen loot. ‘We’re just happy to be able to return the instrument to our star violinist in undamaged condition,’ Interior Minister Guenther Platter said at a press conference today in the Austrian capital. He returned the 327-year-old instrument to Christian Altenburger ... The Georgian gang was involved in at least 21 other house robberies in Vienna and had stolen jewels, art works and liquor, police said. The Stradivari, along with a Vuillaume violin, were stolen from Altenburger's apartment in May ... Police found the suspected thieves after they tried shipping some of the stolen goods in a suitcase taken from Altenburger's apartment.”

6/4/07 - The top six semi-finalists of the 2007 Michael Hill International Violin Competition have been announced in New Zealand. They are:

Can Gao (China)
Noah Geller (USA)
Celeste Golden (USA)
Stefan Hempel (Germany)
Bella Hristova (Bulgaria)
Yuuki Wong (Singapore)

The jury consists of Pierre Amoyal (France/Switzerland), Justine Cormack (New Zealand), Pamela Frank (United States), Mark Kaplan (United States), Boris Kuschnir (Russia/Austria), Hu Kun (China/United Kingdom), and Dene Olding (Australia). The first prize is NZ$40,000, a CD recording on the Naxos label and a winner’s tour in 2008. Second prize is NZ$10,000, and third prize is NZ$5,000. A prize of NZ$2,500 is awarded to the semi-finalist who has the best performance of Fanitullen, a work composed for the competition.

Musician News

6/15/07 - The EDU Quartet, featuring V.commer Samuel Thompson on first violin, will perform in recognition of the Elgar sesquicentennial on the Fazioli Salon Series in Chicago. The performance, a repeat of a June 13 program, will be broadcast on WFMT-FM 98.7.

6/10/07 - the US-based Shanghai String Quartet will play Western arrangements of Chinese melodies in Shanghai, reports the Shanghai Daily. “The quartet will play Chinese folk songs including Yao Dance, Shepherd's Song and Harvest Celebration, arranged for string quartet by one of its members, violinist Jiang Yiwen in Shanghai.” The concert also includes works by Beethoven and Brahms. Interestingly, the article notes that this appearance marks the group’s first in its namesake city in nine years. The quartet is ensemble-in-residence at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

6/9/07 - National Arts Centre Orchestra violinist Jessica Linnebach will present a performance/lecture as the final event in its popular Saturday morning "Behind the Music" series of the 2006-07 season. She will will perform on the 1700 Taft Stradivarius violin, which she won the loan of through the latest Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank Competition.

6/5/07 – According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Salvatore ‘Sal’ Silipigni, of Bradenton, Fla., formerly of Mt. Lebanon, died Friday, April 20, 2007, at his home after a massive stroke. He was 79 ... Mr. Silipigni received a bachelor’s degree in music from Eastman School of Music in Rochester. Over the years, he played in numerous orchestras, including the Rochester Philharmonic, the Muncie Symphony, the San Diego Symphony and finally the PSO. He retired from the PSO, after 27 years, in the 1999-2000 season. He also taught music at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and Duquesne University, Uptown.”

6/4/07 - British Early Music specialist Robert King faces four years in prison for “assaulting underage boys,” reports The Telegraph (UK). Igor Toronyi-Lalic regrets the loss: "Above all, however, he provided me with some of the most intense musical experiences I've ever had and, for me - though obviously not the courts - these and his golden recordings have put him beyond reproach. He was also about the only person in Classical Music who, when he opened his mouth, could actually be funny. He was the supreme raconteur and always had the audiences in the palm of his hand."

6/3/07 - The Houston Chronicle reports that violinist Yoonshin Song won fourth prize in the 2007 Ima Hogg Young Artist Competition. “First prize went to 22-year-old pianist Kwan Yi, who wins $5,000 and a concert date in July with the Houston Symphony under Music Director Hans Graf. Horn player Kevin Rivard won second-place honors and snagged the ‘audience-choice’ award, voted on by ballot at the concert in Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall and online by listeners of KUHF. Third prize went to cellist Dane Johansen.”

Orchestra News

The June 2007 issue of Cleveland Magazine ran an overview of the current status of the Cleveland Orchestra and its role in the civic identity of Cleveland: “The Cleveland Orchestra is in a financial crisis, and the plan to fix it isn’t going as well as anticipated. Can one of Cleveland’s most beloved institutions (even by those who’ve never seen the inside of Severance Hall) recover?”

6/2/07 – According to the Modesto Bee (CA), the Modesto Symphony Orchestra has appointed David Lockington as its new music director. “A native of Great Britain, Lockington will continue to live in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he has served as music director of [the Grand Rapids Symphony] since 1999 ... The orchestra’s 10-member search committee chose Lockington by unanimous vote, said Bev Finley, chairwoman of the committee and the orchestra board.”

6/1/07 - "Contract talks between the Omaha Symphony and its musicians have broken down, reports KETV (Omaha, NE): “According to a release from the Omaha Symphony Musicians Organization, negotiations ended May 31 without an agreement and no further talks were scheduled... The musicians rejected the Symphony Association's proposed 2.5 percent salary increase for the 2007 contract. [Another complaint is that] musicians are not provided benefits on par with those provided to the Omaha Symphony administrative staff." …According to the release, the musicians will complete the season's performances as scheduled. But orchestra members plan to demonstrate their unity during performances June 1-2 and at the Johnny Mathis concert June 9. Musicians will distribute leaflets and wear red, white and blue ‘unity’ ribbons on stage.”

5/30/07 – Well, the Philadelphia Orchestra emerges the winner: “After a highly unusual year spent shuttling between principal horn gigs in St. Louis and Philadelphia, Jennifer Montone has informed the St. Louis Symphony that she will be officially departing the orchestra in order to spend full time in her now-tenured chair in the Philadelphia Orchestra.” (St. Louis Today)

Other Music News

Musical America
reports that the venerable classical music critic Peter G. Davis has been fired from New York magazine. "In recent years, and especially since Adam Moss has been the editor, the magazine's classical music coverage has dwindled considerably. It also marks the third time New York has fired a longtime, senior critic, raising the question of serious age discrimination. Dance critic Tobi Tobias was axed four years ago, after 22 years at the magazine, theater critic John Simon was let go on the eve of his 80th birthday two years ago, after 37 years. He was replaced by a 28-year-old theater critic…. This marks the third major classical music critic to lose his job in the last month. Reorganization and/or cutbacks at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune have seen the position of classical music critic disappear. At this time, neither Pierre Ruhe at the former nor Michael Anthony at the latter is clear on what they will be doing at the paper, only that their positions have been eliminated.”

6/5/07 – The Washington Post reports on WETA-FM: “Since dropping news and talk programming for classical music in January, the Arlington public station has seen its fortunes soar. Ratings have more than doubled since the switchover from BBC and NPR reports to Bach and Brahms concertos. And perhaps just as important to WETA (90.9 FM), pledge contributions from listeners have been gushing. WETA’s strong showing in the first four months of the year likely reflects the death of WGMS-FM, the station that called it quits in January after 60 years as Washington’s commercial classical station. WETA, owned by a nonprofit foundation, coordinated its format change with WGMS's expiration, becoming the sole classical outlet on the local airwaves. The station's early success suggests that classical music isn't dead as a radio format ... WETA captured 4.9 percent of the radio audience in Washington during the first quarter, up from 2.1 percent in the preceding three months, when WETA was a news-talk station. Those numbers make WETA the region's fifth most popular station.”

5/30/07 – Norman LeBrecht opines in La Scena Musicale about teen British composer Alex Prior. “[He] is what used be to be called a child prodigy and is now regarded as a freak of nature. Were his gift of the sporting kind, he would be playing in gold studs at Wembley or Wimbledon and grinning from roadside hoardings from here to Calcutta. But modern times are suspicious of precocity and feel threatened by junior genius."

From Albert Justice
Posted on June 7, 2007 at 3:20 AM
I really enjoy these Darcy--thank you.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on June 7, 2007 at 4:44 AM
Go Bella! The People's choice, from the land where the women are good-looking and the violinists are above average.
From Robert Berentz
Posted on June 7, 2007 at 10:54 AM
WETA-FM story is great. Music is what we need, not news. I have been TV FREE for five years now; yes, I threw my set out of the house.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 7, 2007 at 11:57 AM
I don't think the wording of "Geoff Hale, disgruntled bassoonist" is fair. How about "Geoff Hale, unemployed bassoonist".

Also, Igor Toronyi-Lalic needs to get his head examined.

From Eugene Chan
Posted on June 10, 2007 at 6:52 AM
Well, Hristova won. Yuuki Wong came in second, and Hempel was third.

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