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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 60

July 29, 2007 at 6:21 PM

7/25/07 – Things have been looking up for the Nashville Symphony lately. But there’s been one lingering note of dissonance, reports the Nashville Scene: "Mary Kathryn Vanosdale, the NSO's longtime concertmaster, was forced to sit out the 2006-07 season because of an internal dispute."

But Vanosdale, concertmaster since 1988, "recently prevailed in a private arbitration case, and so she will reassume her old post as head of the first violin section starting in September." So what was the beef? The musicians are speculating that Vanosdale may have leaked details of the orchestra’s ongoing music director search prematurely.


7/26/07 - The Christian Science Monitor recently profiled Bob Childs, a luthier from Cambridge, Mass., whose “precise intuition makes him the go-to guy for New England folk-fiddlers and symphony players alike … Unlike many makers, who often leave their instruments in shops, Childs has never sold a violin on consignment. He crafts each $16,000 instrument with a person in mind -- who they are, how they play, what sound they need.”

Childs began playing at 18, and “took his fiddle to Maine, where he made furniture after college. When the instrument needed repair, he took it to Ivie Mann, a luthier in his 70s who’d never left the state. Mr. Mann invited Childs to be his first student.” Childs “gets new customers by referrals from old ones. And he’s collected the oldest and best of them in a band called Childsplay.”

With a Ph.D. in psychology, Childs also has a psychotherapy practice. “In some sense,” Moore observes, “it isn’t all that different from making violins. He listens for things without language and whittles away until a patient, like an instrument, finds a hidden voice.”

Musician News

8/11/07 - Violinist Leland Chen will play in the final concert at the 15th Grand Scottish Prom at Glamis Castle in Perthshire. On the program: Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, not to mention Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannon effects. According to the Perthshire Advertise, Chen was adopted by Scottish parents and won first prize at the Yehudi Menhuin International Violin Competition.

7/25/07 – Violinist Joseph Swensen earned a rave (and hyperbolic) review from the San Jose Mercury News for his part in a Tchaikovsky piano trio at Music@Menlo: “Swensen, after the first movement, was wiping the sweat off his violin and, as the next movement commenced, practically gasped for air while drawing down his bow, with huge strokes, like a tree-cutter, releasing those big melodies and their variations. Anyone who witnessed it would realize that classical music, when played with this level of commitment, is the real subversive music of our time, boiling away in the cultural underground.”

7/24/07 – The Ventura County Star profiled violinist Philip Ficsor in advance of the Sept.1 release date of his new CD of music by William Bolcom. Ficsor is a newly appointed professor of violin at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

7/24/07 – The new issue of the Roving Report, the From the Top newsletter, has been posted on the From the Top website. Highlights include an account by intern Caeli Smith of how she became From the Top’s Roving Reporter and an update on violinist/singer Heather Engebretson, whose unconventional From the Top performance of Praeludium and Allegro sparked controversy, and even, she noted gleefully, a discussion thread on about the performance’s merits—or lack thereof.

7/19/07 – Love among the vines: French conductor Stéphane Denève and his intended tied the knot in a Napa vineyard, reports Violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky played at the wedding.

Orchestra News

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has renewed the contract of Andrew Sewell as music director through September 2013. He has led the WCO since 2000.

7/24/07 – The Santa Fe Opera has named Edo de Waart its new chief conductor, reports “De Waart's initial contract at Santa Fe is for four years, and he will conduct at least one opera each summer, beginning with Britten's Billy Budd next year. With the title of Chief Conductor (rather than Music Director), de Waart will be primarily responsible for the company's orchestra….He succeeds Alan Gilbert, who stepped down as music director in May and who was named the next music director of the New York Philharmonic last week.”

7/23/07 – According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the good news is that the Seattle Symphony overcame a $2.5 million deficit to balance its books this season. "The downside to the news is that the symphony has not made any payments this season to the musicians' pension plan, said Timothy Hale, chairman of the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players' Organization. Under terms of the symphony's contract with its musicians, it owes the pension fund $1.154 million annually to be made in four quarterly payments. The first three have not been made, Hale said."

Other Music News

7/24/07 - The Orange County Register reports, “Orange County now has its very own college-level music conservatory. Partly just a name change, but also a signal of bigger aspirations, Chapman University in Orange has announced that its School of Music has been redesignated as its Conservatory of Music … The Chapman Conservatory, says [Chapman University College of Performing Arts Dean William] Hall, joins just 22 other such accredited institutions in the country, out of more than 700 music schools. In California, it becomes part of a small club that includes the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and conservatories at the Colburn School in Los Angeles and the University of the Pacific in Stockton.” Hall “has been busily interviewing prospective faculty. Among his recent hires for the conservatory are Robert Becker, longtime principal violist with the Pacific Symphony, who will head the strings program, and Grace Fong, a young, prize-winning pianist who will join the piano faculty.”

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on July 30, 2007 at 11:41 PM
I looked at the article in the San Jose Mercury News about the violinist who played in the Tchaik. THere was a picture next to the article. Maybe I'm totally out of focus today....but isn't there a woman playing violin and a man playing cello?

Out of my mind?
-Jennifer :)

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