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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 46

June 10, 2007 at 5:12 PM

6/9/07 - Bella Hristova of Bulgaria is the winner of the 2007 Michael Hill International Violin Competition. First prize includes NZ$40,000, a CD recording on the Naxos label for worldwide distribution, and a winner’s tour of New Zealand in 2008.

“Second Prize of NZ$10,000 went to 25 year old Yuuki Wong; Third Prize of NZ$5,000 went to 27 year old Stefan Hempel. The prize of NZ$2,500 for the semi-finalist who had the best performance of Ross Harris’s composition Fanitullen, a piece specially commissioned for the Competition, was won by Yuuki Wong. Celeste Golden (United States) won Fourth Prize; Noah Geller (United States) won Fifth Prize; and Can Gao (China) won Sixth Prize. Kinga Augustyn of Poland was awarded the use of the Riccardo Bergonzi violin for the next two years.”


6/6/07 – For more on the issue of noise control in British orchestras, read what Norman Lebrecht has to say in La Scena Musicale: “The noise issue began rumbling a decade ago when woodwind players complained that modern brass instruments were getting louder. The Musicians Union took the matter up with the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) which, in 2001, commissioned a survey of 400 players by Alison Wright-Reed, an ex-BBC workplace expert, and staged a seminar on the South Bank. Wright-Reed discovered tinnitus – a ringing in the ears - in 42 percent of woodwind players and a high incidence of temporary hearing loss after extremely loud passages.

“Orchestras took note and acted promptly. Ten bands held training days and formed dedicated noise teams to monitor progress. Earplugs are issued routinely on request and the seating ramp of the brass is often raised so that their noise goes literally over the heads of the rest. In rehearsal, the blare is contained behind screens….”

Musician News

6/13/07 – Among several guest appearances at the Mainly Mozart festival in La Jolla, California, Cleveland Orchestra Concertmaster William Preucil will perform a double violin recital with his daughter, Alexandra Preucil, and Kirill Gerstein, piano.

6/8/07 – Violinists EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and Laraine Kaizer performed Bach's Double Violin Concerto at the 2007 Peoria (Ill.) Bach Festival, reports the Peoria Journal Star. “Holmes-Hicks, 24, recently participated in a workshop with the world-famous Kronos Quartet, performing in Carnegie Hall. Kaizer, 31, who has a doctorate in violin performance, is also pursuing a new calling as a painter while she seeks out performance opportunities in Arizona.”

6/7/07 – Earlier in the week, I posted a link to a blog entry in The Telegraph (UK) that opined on the fate of Robert King, newly convicted pedophile. I meant to also include a link to a news story; here’s one on “Robert King, founder and director of the ensemble The King's Consort and a major figure in the period-instrument movement, has been convicted by a London jury of 14 incidents of indecent assault over an 11-year period and sentenced to almost four years in prison.”

6/6/07 – The Cincinnati Enquirer includes an op-ed by Gabriel Pegis, principal second violinist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Pegis writes: “In her ‘Your voice’ column ‘Why bother saving dying classical music?’ (May 30), Catherine Vermeersch raises several points that need to be disputed ... In her statement that classical music is ‘ethnocentric,’ I think she demonstrates ignorance of both the makeup of performing groups and the role of the modern symphony orchestra. If we use the Cincinnati Symphony as an example, you'll find, yes, white males. But, you will also find many, many women, Asians and African-Americans ... Regarding her conclusion that classical music has been dying for 100 years, consider the great composers in this ‘dying’ era. Did Stravinsky contribute to classical music’s slow death? Or Prokofiev? Or Copland? Even Bernstein has only been gone less than 20 years. …There’s plenty of life left in classical music here in Cincinnati.”

6/4/07 - Tony Woodcock officially took office as President of New England Conservatory, following a year of interim service by President Emeritus Laurence Lesser. Woodcock, with a background as an orchestra administrator, has been at NEC since April, getting to know the school.

6/3/07 – The New York Times ran a profile of Andrea Mosconi, a 75-year-old Cremonese museum worker who plays Stradivarius, Amati, and Guarneri stringed instruments to keep them in good condition. Karl Roy, a German violin maker, tells Fisher: “The wood gets tired ... It’s the same way as with a human being. If you just sit and rest in your comfortable chair, when you get up after a while you will feel crazy.” Fisher adds that “collections of instruments made by Stradivari and other top violins around the world are all played regularly,” writing that Mosconi plays each instrument “for six or seven minutes. He starts with scales and arpeggios, then something more substantial, on a recent day one of Bach’s partitas for the violin.” When asked if he enjoys his job, Mosconi replies: “It’s a difficult question. I don’t really know ... Everyone says I am lucky. But every coin has two faces.”

6/2/07 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted the death of conductor and violinist Donald Johanos, who was staff conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 1970-79, “He died in Naples, Fla. on May 29 after a long battle with kidney and congestive heart failure. He was 79.” Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Johanos received an undergraduate degree in violin performance and a master’s in music theory from the Eastman School of Music, “but it was the performance certificate in conducting he got there that had the greatest impact on him.” He soon began conducting the Altoona and Johnstown symphonies. Johanos was named music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1962. He became music director of the Honolulu Symphony in 1979, “and is credited with improving it musically before he retired in 1995.”

Orchestra News

6/12/07 – The New England Conservatory's Youth Philharmonic Orchestra will embark on an 18-day tour of China. With performances in a dozen cities throughout the country, the tour begins with a concert June 15 at Beijing's Poly Theater and ends on June 29 at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre.

6/7/07 – The Kansas City Star reports: “The Kansas City Symphony and its musicians have ratified a contract that will provide a 19 percent salary increase over the next four years. After two of the most successful seasons of its history, the symphony announced Tuesday that it would increase the players’ current base pay of $40,661 to $42,840 for the 2007-2008 season, a 5 percent raise. Incremental increases will push the salary to $50,005 in 2010-2011, the symphony’s first full season in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which is under construction. ... The contract also provides for modest increases in health benefits, disability benefits, life insurance and family health care. It also creates guidelines for more flexibility in scheduling of rehearsals, recordings and special projects.”

6/6/07 – But farther South, trouble looms, reports the San Antonio Express News: “The San Antonio Symphony’s musicians have voted to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike if no new agreement has been reached when the current labor contract expires on Aug. 31 ... The two sides have agreed to meet with Michael McMillion of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to try to bridge their differences ... Under the current contract, base salary this season is $1,000 a week for 26 weeks. Under the musicians’ latest offer, base minimum salary would be $1,000 a week for 28 weeks in the first year of the next contract and rise to $1,060 a week for 30 weeks in the third year. Management has offered slightly more weekly pay, but for only 26 weeks each year. Both offers are predicated on maintaining the current size of the orchestra, 72 musicians.” The paper “Both sides have agreed in principle to an electronic media guarantee that, in exchange for $30 a week per musician, would let the symphony broadcast recordings of its concerts on South Texas radio stations.”

6/6/07 - "Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Most will become music director of the Vienna State Opera at the start of the 2010-2011 season, even as he continues his duties in Cleveland," reports The Plain Dealer (Cleveland).

6/6/07 – There will be no charges in the now-infamous Boston Pops brawl, according to the Boston Globe. "Boston police threw both men out of Symphony Hall but did not arrest them. The incident made national news, and a few days later the police department reversed its decision not to pursue charges and assigned a detective to investigate." That investigation will now be considered closed.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on June 11, 2007 at 2:59 AM
If you want to hear Bella Hristova, do a search at the Prairie Home Companion radio show website. She's been on it a half-dozen times or so.
From Colleen Wang
Posted on June 11, 2007 at 4:55 AM
^Or you could go to to see her in IVCI, in which she was a laureate.
From Nate Robinson
Posted on June 11, 2007 at 4:58 AM

Ah glad to hear about Kiril he's an old friend of mine from MSM and a terrific pianist. I remember we performed Wieniawski VC 1, Mendelssohn VC, and a Brahms sonata together in a few concerts in Canada about 10 years ago. He shortly afterwards won the Rubinstein Piano Competition in Israel. 

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