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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 62

August 5, 2007 at 5:34 PM

7/31/07 - Gramophone magazine has announced the ten finalists for its 2007 Artist of the Year Award and two violinists are among them: Julia Fischer and Vadim Repin

The editors have invited readers and listeners worldwide to vote for "the artist they feel has made the most significant impact on the classical music scene in the past 12 months" at also has more information.


7/30/07 – The Tacoma News Tribune reports, “Police and transit officials hope playing classical music at bus stops will shoo away unwanted gang activity. The first speakers are being installed at the Tacoma Mall Transit Center and should start piping classical music radio sometime this week … By playing classical music, Pierce Transit and the TPD hope to create an unpleasant environment for criminals and gangster-wannabes, [Lt. Kathy McAlpine] said … The approach is based on studies done in other cities that show that classical music deters negative behaviors at transit centers, [Pierce Transit public-safety official Rod] Baker said.” Psychologist Jacqueline Helfgott, chair of Seattle University’s Criminal Justice Department, “said the plan has the potential to work … ‘I don’t think classical music is a type that corresponds with criminal behavior,’ she said.”

Musician News

8/5/07 – Violinist Joshua Bell is playing at the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland this week. His performances include a program entitled “Homage to Ravi Shankar” with Anoushka Shankar and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

8/2/07 – The Virginian-Pilot ran this obituary of violinist Barbara Henley Siegert: “The story goes that [she] closed her math book one day after class, walked out and never went back. She knew what she wanted to do with her life, and it didn't involve geometry. Her first love was the violin, and she earned her living by playing music right up until her 80s. She died July 15 at age 92.”

7/31/07 – Fiddler Ruby Jane Smith of Columbus, Mississippi has received the 2007-08 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, the Commercial Dispatch reports (via “The violin was made by Jonathan Cooper of Maine in memory of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reported murdered in 2002. Pearl was an accomplished violinist and ardent music lover who had dreams of becoming a violinist before studying at Stanford University. The award, established in 2003, is given annually to two rising young musicians, and grants its recipients use of Cooper's specially made violin for one year. Now age 12, Smith at age 10 became the youngest fiddler invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.”

7/31/07 – Violinist Janell Yeo has been awarded Singapore’s HSBC Youth Excellence Award. Yeo, now 13, started playing violin when she was five. At age 10, she moved to UK alone to pursue her music development at the prestigious Purcell School. As part of the award, HSBC is donating $200,000 to the National Arts Council.

7/29/07 – Atlanta Symphony concertmaster Cecylia Arzewski is quoted in an Atlanta Journal Constitution article on pernambuco wood: “No other wood pulls enough 'color' or gives you the variation of timbre, the richness of sound," explains Arzewsk, who says she can't imagine playing with anything but pernambuco.”

Orchestra News

8/4/07 – The Boston Symphony had to scramble to find a conductor for this weekend’s concerts when Edo de Waart withdrew due to a back injury. notes that, happily, Boston Symphony music director James Levine, who two weeks ago was himself obliged to withdraw from performances at the Verbier Festival, was able to stand in for de Waart, since he was already on hand to conduct a BSO program the previous evening.

8/2/07 - The Boston Globe reviewed a concert by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra under Charles Ansbacher that included the premiere of David and ‘Old Ironsides’. The new work, by Boston composer Larry Thomas Bell, is “the latest in the group’s ongoing commissioning of kid-friendly works for narrator and ensemble [that] tells the true story of David DeBias, an African-American from Beacon Hill’s North Slope community of freemen, who joined the ship’s crew at the age of 8 and saw action in the War of 1812.” The music “starts out promisingly,” he writes. “But as the story goes to sea, so does the piece.” Also on the program was Julian Wachner’s setting of Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” a previous BLO commission that “combines music and narration far more cogently.”

8/1/07 – The Palm Beach Post reports on Boca Raton’s Florida Intergenerational Orchestra. “The orchestra’s mission is to ‘foster, nurture, and cultivate the love of music regardless of age and to create links and bonds across the generations in the process.’ The orchestra is open to musicians of all skill levels, and there are no auditions.” Conductor Lorraine Marks “said her love of music started at a young age … The idea for an Intergenerational Orchestra came from an experience Marks had as a child. The 14-year-old viola player was invited by a teacher to play with a group of elderly musicians. ‘They encouraged me so much, and each week I got better and better,’ Marks said. ‘In the process, I came out of my shell, and they gave me a reason to feel good about myself.’ ” Marks formed the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra in 1993. Ten year later she became orchestra director at a Boca Raton school, and in 2005 started the Florida Intergenerational Orchestra with help from her concertmaster, Maurice Kelhoffer.

7/29/07 – The Boston Globe profiled the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, a Boston-based orchestra whose players are medical professionals. “The LSO has a dual mission: medicine and music. The orchestra allows talented amateur musicians to strive for artistic excellence while supporting health-related nonprofit organizations through public performances.” The LSO was established in 1982 by members of the Harvard Medical School community, and has been awarded one of 2007 MetLife Awards for Excellence in Community Engagement for the ‘Healing Art of Music’ program. Music Director Jonathan McPhee “has long since gotten used to beepers and pagers going off in the middle of a rehearsal. But he has also gotten used to medical musicians who are focused, intelligent, and fearless.”

In July, the Mobile Symphony Orchestra launched its new “Big Red Ticket” outreach program by delivering vouchers for a free ticket “To a Whole New World of Music” to teachers at every school in Alabama’s Mobile, Baldwin, Clarke and Washington counties. The children will receive the vouchers once school resumes.

The Glens Falls (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra raised $7,100 for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury at its two free summer pops concerts. At intermission for each concert, members of the Symphony Board of Directors and friends passed the hat. A check was presented to Bob and Lee Woodruff on July 21 at their Lake George summer home. ABC Newsman Bob Woodruff was severely injured while reporting on the Iraq war in 2006. He and his wife Lee authored A Family's Journey of Love and Healing, a book chronicling his recovery from traumatic brain injury.

Other Music Issues

7/29/07 – Given the meteoric rise of LA Philharmonic music director designate Gustavo Dudamel, American newspapers have written extensively about Venezuela's El Sistema. Now, the Observer (UK) tackles the topic: "The road taken by Dudamel... is one along which some 270,000 young Venezuelans are now registered to aspire, playing music across a land seeded with 220 youth orchestras from the Andes to the Caribbean."

From Ben Clapton
Posted on August 6, 2007 at 5:55 AM
The main train station in Perth has been using Classical music to deter criminal activity for some time. However, I think it's slightly insulting to say that it creates an unpleasant atmosphere, even if it is unpleasant for the criminals. The goal should be to make it pleasant for the general public as well.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 6, 2007 at 6:29 AM
It'll work for a little while, but I predict the criminals will buy classical CDs and listen to them to build up their immunity, like they shock themselves with stun guns and snort mace.
From Sung-Duk Song
Posted on August 8, 2007 at 2:22 AM
I can fully understand the Tacoma News Tribune story. When I was the Artistic Director and Board Member for Tacoma Philharmonic Association, one of my biggest concerns was the safety of the public getting to and from the concert hall. It's so unfortunate that there were cases of audience patrons being robbed at gunpoint before and after concerts around the concert hall. After a few of those cases, I decided to convince the hall to split the costs of renting police officers specifically for the concert events. This helped tremendously with reducing the crime near the concert hall.

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