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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 49

June 20, 2007 at 11:28 PM

6/17/07Reuters ran an interesting article assessing the continuing impact of the Tchaikovsky Competition, which kicked off on 6/13, noting that its prestige has fallen dramatically. "Around 200 young pianists, violinists, cellists and singers from 34 countries will perform over the next two weeks before juries of top musicians in Moscow's grand but run-down Conservatory, hoping to become the virtuosos of the future. Organizers hope that more entrants, increased sponsorship, open voting and more prestigious juries will return some of the luster the four-yearly competition enjoyed prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991."

6/19/07 – The second round of the violin portion of the Tchaikovsky Competition is now underway, with 13 violinists surviving the first cut. They are, in order of their first-round appearance:

1. Nikita Borisoglebskiy (Russia)
2. Yuki Manuela Janke (Germany)
3. Erik Schumann (Germany)
4. Nikki Chooi (Canada)
5. Andrey Baranov (Russia)
6. Mai Suzuki (Japan)
7. Park Ji-yoon (Republic of Korea)
8. Wang Zhijiong (China)
9. Sergey Ostrovsky (Israel)
10. Yoon Soyoung (Republic of Korea)
11. Shin Hyun-Su (Republic of Korea)
12. Mayuko Kamio (Japan)
13. Artyom Shishkov (Belarus)

For more updates, visit the Tchaikovsky Competition website.


6/17/07 – Violinist Alex DePue played an open mic night Nov. 11 at Lestat's, a tiny San Diego club that seats just 50. But his performance of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was filmed and somebody put it up on YouTube. Now he's famous, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It got 80,000 hits in the first week. Now, it's up to over 781,000 hits on YouTube alone. If you include the other Web sites that have posted it, like and, and add them up, we've had 1.5 million viewings."

Musician News

6/20/07 – Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the Guarneri Quartet, will play the first of two recitals in Lancaster, Pa. He will also sign copies of his memoir, Violin Dreams, on 6/23 at the local Barnes & Noble.

6/17/07 – The
Boston Globe
reported on Project STEP, which stands for String Training and Education Program, a program that aims to increase cultural and racial diversity in American orchestras. William Thomas, artistic director of Project STEP, comments: “The program is about realizing that there are many talented youngsters who haven't had the exposure to top training, but have the ability to do great things ... We’re dedicated to finding those who have the talent and providing the education to make a go of a career.” The article continues: “Project STEP, which funds the training for 42 local students, was founded in 1982 because the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Boston University School of Music were having trouble filling vacancies with blacks and Latinos. ‘For two years, we tried to address the problem by increasing notice of the vacancies," says William Moyer, a former BSO trombonist who was instrumental in the founding of Project STEP. ‘So we met with Louis Krasner, an accomplished violinist who was teaching at Tanglewood at the time, and he said, “You’re starting too late; we need to start early, with first-graders’.”

6/17/07 – Pittsburgh violinist Sherry Kloss is profiled in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in conjunction with her upcoming recital dedicated to the memory of Jascha Heifetz.

6/16/07 – The New York Times reports that Barbra Streisand is touring Europe with a 58-piece orchestra composed mostly of the cream of New York’s freelance musicians. “It’s a sweet gig for the players. But beyond that, the tour has created a mild economic boom for the pool of musicians left behind. Many of the Streisand musicians are regulars in Broadway shows like The Lion King, Legally Blonde and The Color Purple, as well as in the American Ballet Theater Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Westchester Philharmonic. With their absence, somebody has to substitute. And that means opportunities for others, especially younger musicians or players who have yet to crack the regular lists of contractors. Alison Zlotow, a violinist, is quoted as being among the beneficiaries.

Orchestra News

6/20/07 – The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on “a series of three highly unusual Philadelphia Orchestra concerts starting Wednesday night. The orchestra is taking single movements of various pieces and stringing them together on single programs. This is something Serious Orchestras generally don’t do ... Performing all nine Beethoven symphonies in 90 minutes by taking one movement from each may not get the Philadelphians respect from the aficionados, but these concerts were not designed for them ... There are legitimate artistic reasons for performing, say, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in its entirety, rather than just the first movement ... But the orchestra has another obligation to Mozart -- to find him an audience. And not just any audience, but the largest one possible. So if the iPod shuffle format led by conductor Rossen Milanov is an effective means of taking the novice by the hand and leading him or her to a larger repertoire, the orchestra is serving a need greater than presenting, yet again, one movement of a Beethoven symphony in context with the other three.”

6/18/07 – According to the Los Angeles Times, “The Pasadena Symphony and the Pasadena Pops Orchestra will merge under the umbrella organization of the Pasadena Symphony Assn., effective immediately ... Jorge Mester will remain music director of the Pasadena Symphony and lead the orchestra's concerts at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.” Rachael Worby will remain music director of the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, which will change its name to the Pasadena Pops Symphony.”

6/18/07 – Alex Ross, classical music critic of the New Yorker, heard three middle-American orchestras live in two days recently. "Thanks to generous speed limits, I was able to catch a Thursday matinée by the Indianapolis Symphony; a performance that night by the Nashville Symphony; and, the following day, a concert by the Alabama Symphony, in Birmingham. I learned what touring musicians have been saying for years: that lesser-known orchestras can deliver sure-footed, commanding performances, and that the notion of a stratospheric orchestral élite is something of an illusion."

6/18/07 – The Baltimore Business Journal recently profiled that other orchestra in Baltimore: “Eight months ago, officials at the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra were staring at an $80,000 deficit that threatened to bring the music to an end if they did not act quickly. Today, the 35-musician orchestra has expanded its programming for next season, broadened its venues and pumped up its operating budget by 18 percent. Orchestra officials credit the turnaround to a renewed effort by its board members to reach out to individual donors and foundations, while redefining their mission to stand apart musically. The board also reached into its own pockets, contributing one-third of the money needed to operate in the black ... The orchestra is holding seven shows next season, one more than last year.”

6/16/07 – For something unexpected from a classical music critic, read Rocky Mountain News columnist Marc Shulgold’s take on “adorably bad” musicians. He specifically mentions Scotland’s Really Terrible Orchestra and the Portsmouth Sinfonia. But be warned: The article includes an audio file of the notorious, uh, renowned soprano Florence Foster Jenkins assaulting the Queen of the Night aria.

From Eugene Chan
Posted on June 21, 2007 at 1:18 AM
"... its prestige has fallen dramatically" – no kidding it has. At least on the piano side of things, the Queen Elisabeth is close to replacing the Tchaikovsky in the big three (the other two being the Cliburn and, of course, the Chopin). I wonder if this is happening in terms of the violin, as well.
From Robert Berentz
Posted on June 21, 2007 at 1:10 PM
Enjoyed Alex DePue
From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 21, 2007 at 3:54 PM
I am so sad by the impending breakup of the Guarneri SQ, but at least Arnold Steinhardt will have time to write more books. Hopefully, many more books!
From Jasmine Reese
Posted on June 21, 2007 at 4:33 PM
The Bad orchestra sounds like my kind of orchestra. YES!!!!!!

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