September 2007

Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 78

September 30, 2007 09:43

10/9/07 - The National Arts Centre, the Ottawa Chamber Music Society and Japan’s Nippon Music Foundation, supported by the Embassy of Japan in Canada, presents Encounter with Stradivari 2007, a musical performance featuring 12 rare violins played by world-renowned musicians.

The Tokyo String Quartet, made up of Canadian violinist Martin Beaver, violinist Kikuei Ikeda, violist Kazuhide Isomura and cellist Clive Greensmith, will perform on the famed set of instruments known as the “Paganini” quartet.

The other performers will be:

Violinist Akiko Suwanai on the 1714 “Dolphin” Strad
Violinist Sayaka Shoji on the 1715 “Joachim” Strad
Violinist Arabella Steinbacher on the 1716 “Booth” Strad
Violinist Viviane Hagner on the 1717 “Sasserno” Strad
Violinist Erik Schumann on the 1722 “Jupiter” Strad
Violinist Tamaki Kawakubo on the 1736 “Muntz”

Additionally, the Tokyo String Quartet’s violinist Kikuei Ikeda will also play the 1696 “Archinto” viola on loan from the Royal Academy of Music in London and cellist Danjulo Ishizaka will play the 1696 “Lord Aylesford” Strad cello.

The Nippon Music Foundation, one of the world’s largest holders of rare Italian violins made by Stradivari and Guarneri, purchases these priceless instruments and provides them to exceptional performers to help advance their artistic development. The concert in Ottawa, inspired by Pinchas Zukerman’s connections with the Nippon Music Foundation, will benefit the National Arts Centre Summer Music Institute.


9/26/07 – Missing Violin Alert: According to the Winnipeg Sun, Brandon, Manitoba, police have arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with a theft of an unusual violin from Brandon University's School of Music. “University student Kao Zhou left his antique violin in a practice room for about 30 minutes on Aug. 14 and returned to find the German-made instrument missing. The $30,000 violin, made in 1901, was not insured.

"It's pretty good news, but my violin is still missing," Zhou said yesterday of the arrest, adding he still holds out hope the instrument will be recovered.

The violin is brown with yellow tinges, and has a distinct marking reading "made in Germany, 1901" inside the body. The antique instrument's case was also stolen.
The suspect, whose name was not released, will appear in court on Oct. 17 to be charged with theft over $5,000.

Musician News

Shmuel Ashkenasi, first violin of the Vermeer Quartet, has joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music. Midori’s frequent recital partner, pianist Robert McDonald, has also joined the Curtis faculty.

Gregory Lee has been appointed concertmaster of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. A native of Sydney and currently assistant professor of violin at the University of Oklahoma, Lee studied at Queensland Conservatorium and subsequently at The Juilliard School and at the University of Michigan. The orchestra has also hired John Arnold as associate concertmaster, Diana Seitz as assistant concertmaster, Jonathan Ruck as principal cello and Royce McLarry as principal viola.

The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra has appointed Amy Oshiro to a one-year position as assistant concertmaster to replace Peter Otto, who is on leave of absence; she had previously held a section position in the first violins. Shawn Weil has accepted a section position in the first violins to fill the vacancy left by Oshiro’s appointment. Replacing Weil in the second violin section is John MacFarlane, who is also concertmaster of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra and Breckenridge Music Festival.

9/30/07 – Violinist Samuel Magad, retired concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony, will solo with the Northbrook (IL) Symphony in the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 1. He served with the CSO for 48 years, the last 35 as concertmaster. In addition, he is the founding music director of the Northbrook Symphony.

9/30/07 – Violinist Rachel Barton Pine is wrapping up her first trip to Singapore, where she gave a master class at the NUS Centre for the Arts, performed for the President of the Republic of Singapore, and gave a recital at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

9/29/07 – According to the Sofia News Agency, violinist Nigel Kennedy “staged an open rehearsal at the music school in Sofia, six days ahead of his much anticipated concert here.” This is Kennedy’s third time performing in Bulgaria. “The eccentric violinist will stage two concerts in the country, in Varna on October 3 and in Sofia on October 5, performing Beethoven and Mozart compositions.”

9/28/07 – Happy birthday to English violinist Chloe Hanslip, who celebrated her 20th birthday in Minnesota. She then made her Minnesota debut the next day in a recital program sponsored by the Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud.

Orchestra News

9/29/07 - Despite a citywide strike, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra planned to perform its season-opening concert in the Orpheum Theatre. The Orpheum is owned by the city, whose workers are on strike. Sarah Chang was to have played the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

9/27/07 - The Australian reports that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is “holding a clearance sale of tickets - with discounts of up to 60 percent - because of poor sales in its centenary year... Unpopular concert programs and a lack of star soloists may have cost the orchestra up to $1 million at the box office, [as] single ticket sales were down by 25 percent."

9/26/07Bloomberg reported that the New York Philharmonic and the union representing its 106 musicians agreed to a new five- year contract that will boost salaries and pension payments. “Players' minimum pay for the current season will rise 4.6 percent to $118,560 from $113,360, the orchestra said today in a statement. By the 2011-12 season, minimum annual salaries will increase to $140,400."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 77

September 27, 2007 08:51

Terence Tam wrote to me with the news that he has been appointed concertmaster of the Victoria Symphony in his native Canada. He will assume his new role in January 2008 after he completes his tenure as concertmaster of the Adelaide Symphony in Australia. A news release from the orchestra notes that Tam studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto where he was a double major with full scholarships in violin and piano.

Congratulations, Terence!


9/25/07 – The Seattle Times notes that it has been a month since the Seattle Symphony announced that it would become the first American orchestra with four permanent concertmasters. And now the season has begun. "Will it be a season of musical chairs, with inconsistent leadership and a series of communications challenges? Or one in which the four violinists energize the strings and the orchestra as a whole with new musical leadership?"

The article offers more insights into the four: noted chamber musician and teacher Ani Kavafian, Detroit Symphony concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert, Milwaukee Symphony concertmaster Frank Almond and the Seattle Symphony's Maria Larionoff. Kavafian, who played the season opener, has a son who just graduated from an area university, so she was already fairly familiar with the city, for example.

The article also addresses the theory that the ultimate goal is to make Larionoff the sole concertmaster eventually. Music Director Gerard Schwarz refutes this suggestion.


9/25/07 – The parent of Minnesota Public Radio has bought a radio station in Miami. The question on everyone’s mind is whether they will convert the station to a classical format. "Miami is the largest city in the country that doesn't have a classical music service. It's also a larger city than most, and since we are one of the major classical music and arts producers in the world, and the largest in the United States, making sure we can get our programming out to people is key, and this was an opportunity to enhance our ability to send our programming to the major cities."

Musician News

10/4/07 – For the first time, From the Top will visit Bozeman, MT, to do a taping, which will also benefit the Classics for Kids Foundation.

9/26/07 – Violinist Vadim Repin performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Here is a link to hear Music Director and violinist Pinchas Zukerman talk about the concerto.

9/25/07 – Now that a new crop of MacArthur “geniuses” has been announced (including soprano Dawn Upshaw), the Chicago Tribune decided to check in with the Class of 2006, including jazz violinist Regina Carter. She is at work on several projects and says she's put her money away, but she's also "had to deal with people from her past trying to put the touch on her and show presenters trying to knock down her usual fee." The award consists of $100,000 per year for five years.

9/21/07 - The 9th International Pablo Sarasate Violin Contest was held in Pamplona, Spain last week. Here are the top prize winners:

First place - Yuki Manuela Janke (Germany),
Second place - Nadir Khashimov (Uzbekhistan), and
Third place - Roman Patocka (Czech Republic)

The list of special prize winners is online at the contest’s website. Vladimir Spivakov was the judges’ chairman.

9/19/07 – Violinist Daniel Hope of the Beaux Arts Trio is releasing his first solo CD for Deutsche Grammophon this month, the world premiere recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in its original form. He is also releasing a book this month, a German-language family memoir, reports The same item notes that Midori is a celebrity participant for First Book, an organization that encourages reading among low-income children by giving them books. Five hundred books will be donated in Midori’s name.

Orchestra News

The Japan Art Association has awarded its annual Grant for Young Artists to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an organization co-founded in 1999 by Daniel Barenboim and the late Edward Said with the goal of building mutual understanding between Israel and Arab countries. The association also named Barenboim as the music recipient of its prestigious Praemium Imperiale Arts Award, a prize of 15 million yen (approximately $125,000).

9/21/07 – According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The management and musicians of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra have a new two-year contract, reached a year before the old one expired. The players ratified the agreement in a 62 to 24 vote Thursday afternoon, just in time for Saturday's season-opening concert. ... The new contract is a supplement to the present one, which was to expire Sept. 7, 2008. The supplement deals only with economic issues. It grants the musicians wage increases of 1 percent a year, with somewhat more generous provisions for health insurance and pension payments." The new deal was completed in 90 minutes without a lawyer, and after meeting on Tuesday the musicians voted on Thursday. "The season will, as in recent years, be 42 weeks long. The new agreement also provides for a pension contribution of 5 percent of the base salary in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Management also agreed to increase the pay rate and pension contribution for replacement musicians who provide support throughout the concert season."

9/16/07 – The Modesto Symphony Orchestra is holding a Young Idol competition, reports the Modesto Bee. “More than 100 contestants who took the stage, competing for a chance to perform at the Holiday Pops concert Dec. 7 at the Gallo Center for the Arts." After a second round of 25 contestants, the judges pick 10 finalists whose demos and bios are posted on, the newspaper's website. "Readers then can vote for their favorites, with one hopeful being eliminated each week, similar to the Fox TV show ‘American Idol.' The winner will be announced Nov. 17."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 76

September 23, 2007 08:34

9/18/07 – The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that, last season, the Philadelphia Orchestra's new principal cellist, Hai-Ye Ni, was told that she was not being granted tenure by the orchestra, and would not be brought back for the 2007-08 season. It was a major blow for a cellist who has enjoyed a successful solo career and who had quit a section job with the New York Philharmonic to come to Philadelphia. "But a grievance was filed with the union, lawyers were called, conversations were had, and now she's back. Music director Christoph Eschenbach has agreed to extend her stay, giving her another year of probation."

Be sure to read the accompanying comments, too.


9/18/07 – The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph notes that Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University has enrolled its first official class of students this fall. It was about this time last year that Amy Schwartz Moretti resigned her position as concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony to lead the center.

“Seven professional musicians handpicked by McDuffie teach the inaugural class of eight students selected through an application and audition process, Moretti said. The center will reach its full capacity when it enrolls 26 students - 12 violins, six violas, six cellists and two double basses - and McDuffie said he expects to reach that mark within three years. ‘We are turning some students away at auditions, and the level is continuing to rise’, he wrote in an e-mail last week from Seoul, South Korea, where he was performing. ‘We will never go over the number of 26, maintaining the intimacy to concentrate on the comprehensive string curriculum we've put together’."


9/19/07 - "Ladies and gentlemen of the orchestra, be seated. Not so fast, says the conductor. Violins, you may take your places to my left, for the moment. Violas, let's see. Should you be on my right, or should the cellos go there? Basses, let me think. Winds, brasses and percussion, you know where you need to be. (Or do you?)" These days, there seem to be as many orchestral seating configurations as there are conductors. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wants to know how conductors decide where they want everyone to sit, and why does it matter?

Musician News

9/25/07 – Violinists Elena Urioste, Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, Robert Switala and Maia Cabeza will all give solo performances at the Sphinx Organization's annual gala at Carnegie Hall.

9/19/07 – The Tallahassee Democrat profiled British violinist Chloe Hanslip in advance of her solo recital at Florida State University this weekend. Her visit was to include a free string seminar with members of a local youth orchestra.

9/18/07 – Violinist Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio, former concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony, has joined the University of Nevada-Reno faculty as an assistant professor of violin. The university’s news release includes a look at Sant’Ambrogio’s family tree, which includes her father, John, principal cellist in St. Louis for 30 years, and her sister Sarah, cellist of the Eroica Trio.

9/16/07 – Ariana Kim is the new concertmaster of the Louisiana Philharmonic, reports The same article also provides a very encouraging picture of the LPO’s status two years after Hurricane Katrina, with the headline saying it all: “Gung-ho at the LPO.”

9/15/07 – For more on violinist Aaron Rosand’s $1.5 million pledge to the Curtis Institute of Music, read the New York Times’ account.

9/14/07 – Not surprisingly, man-of-the-hour Joshua Bell has scored another commercial hit: his new release of John Corigliano's Red Violin Concerto, based on the film’s score, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart.

Orchestra News

9/20/07 – According to the Orange County Register, "After arduous negotiations, the Pacific Symphony's management and the union representing the symphony's 88 musicians announced Wednesday that they have reached a tentative agreement on a five-year contract. The contract - the longest in the symphony's history - includes a 41.5 percent compounded increase in musicians' wages… The musicians argued that they were just barely earning cost-of-living increases, and the wages offered did not match comparable orchestras. Pacific Symphony musicians are part-time employees who earned an average of less than $25,000 per year, according to the union, the Orange County Musicians' Assoc….That threatened strike has now essentially been averted. By the end of five years, a musician who does regular service should earn more than $40,000. Most musicians do other jobs as well, such as Hollywood studio work.”

9/18/ notes that the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra voted last night to accept a new three-year contract which includes annual salary increases averaging 4.6%, the loosening of some work and scheduling rules and more flexibility in distributing concert recordings electronically. “The minimum annual salary for a Philadelphia Orchestra musician under the new agreement is now $119,600, a 4.6% increase, with a 4.4% raise to $124,800 in 2008-09 and a phased increase through the 2009-10 season that averages to 4.8%, for an annual salary level of $131,040 by the end of the contract term. The full complement of the orchestra is now 105 musicians and two librarians, up one from last year but still down two from the 2001-04 contract.”

9/13/07 – The Triangle Business Journal reports that "The musicians who make up the North Carolina Symphony have reached a new four-year deal with symphony management that will boost their wages and extend the length of the orchestra's season. Players will see minimum weekly wages rise by an average of 4 percent per year over the next four years, the symphony said, with the season growing in that time frame to 44 weeks from its current 41 weeks."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 75

September 20, 2007 16:41

Violinist Tomas Cotik wrote to let us know that he has been appointed a violinist with the Harrington String Quartet. The Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News reports that he has also been named concertmaster of the Amarillo Symphony and will teach violin at West Texas A&M University.

Congratulations, Tomas!


9/13/07 - Violinist Aaron Rosand and his wife, Monica Woo, have given $1.5 million to the Curtis Institute of Music to endow a chair in violin studies bearing Rosand's name. The Aaron Rosand Chair in Violin Studies will be held by Joseph Silverstein, a violin faculty member and conductor.

To endow the new chair, Rosand has given Curtis a significant interest in his violin, the valuable "Kochanski" Guarneri del Gesu violin of 1741. Rosand purchased the violin in 1957 and has used it continuously for 50 years. He has played the violin in countless concerts and on more than 35 CDs and DVDs. He called the instrument "the voice of my dreams." A Curtis graduate, Rosand has served on the institute's teaching staff for 25 years.


9/17/07 – The Kansas City Star notes the behind-the-scenes challenges luthiers face in procuring enough of the right kinds of wood to make violins and other stringed instruments: “The best tone woods are becoming unavailable or prohibitively expensive as the world’s forests succumb to overharvesting, illegal logging and pollution.”

But it’s impossible not to take issue with this statement: “Orchestras, bands and parlor pickers for two centuries have enjoyed affordable instruments made from the finest tone woods cut from old-growth forests.”

However, it’s always welcome when a metropolitan daily turns its lens on issues related to classical music.

Musician News

José Maria Blumenschein has been named associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, he is a founding member of the newly established Vertigo String Quartet. Dara Morales joined the orchestra in July as assistant principal second violin; she had previously held that title at the Utah Symphony and Opera and holds bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Marc Rovetti joined the violin section in June, having been a member of the New World Symphony, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Rothko String Quartet, and the Mark Morris Dance Group Ensemble.; he holds bachelor’s and master’s degree from The Juilliard School and an advanced certificate from New York University. Additionally, the orchestra hired or promoted three violists: Kirsten Johnson, Kerri Ryan and Marvin Moon.

Jason Posnock has been named concertmaster of the Asheville Symphony; a graduate of Princeton University and Carnegie Mellon University, he teaches at Brevard Music Center and is a regular substitute with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Violist Kara Poorbaugh has been appointed principal in the orchestra.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a new principal violist: Victor de Almeida Most recently principal viola in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, he had held that post with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra from 2002 to 2004 and was a regular substitute with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 2001 to 2004. De Almeida earned his bachelor’s degree and graduate performance diploma from the Peabody Institute of Music.

10/12/07 - Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg will solo with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in the Bruch Violin Concerto to open the orchestra’s new season.

9/17/07 – Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster William Preucil played a recital at Furman University, where he is a distinguished visiting professor of violin. Preucil joined the Furman music faculty in December 2006, and will use this concert to inaugurate his tenure at Furman. Preucil will visit Furman three times during each academic year, where he will present a public violin master class, teach private lessons to selected Furman students and coach the Hartness and Gladden String Quartets. Thomas Joiner, a Furman professor of violin, assisted.

Orchestra News

9/16/07 - The Buffalo Philharmonic has re-upped music director JoAnn Falletta through 2013, and announced significant progress on a $30 million endowment drive that the orchestra hopes will give it long-term financial stability. The BPO also balanced its annual budget for the third year in a row, reports the Buffalo News.

9/15/07 - Canada’s leading orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, can learn from its rival in Montreal, opines the Toronto Star. “While our orchestra is clearly superior, the MSO – with its hype and light shows – simply has more pizzazzIt wasn't too long ago that the Montreal and Toronto symphonies were both in the grip of fiscal and artistic crisis. These days, each orchestra has a popular new music director, a newly invigorated sound, and at least a modicum of financial stability. But only the Montreal Symphony has really managed to create a citywide buzz around itself, and the Toronto Symphony could learn a lot from its Quebec counterpart about manufacturing public interest.”

9/13/07 - A tentative deal has been reached for a new musicians' contract at the Utah Symphony & Opera, with both sides agreeing to recommend ratification, according to the Deseret News.. Previously, the musicians had soundly rejected a proposal that management had called its "last, best, and final offer" to avert a work stoppage. The main sticking point had been wages - the US&O is one of the lowest-paid full-time orchestras in the US.

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 74

September 16, 2007 18:45

9/16/07 – Violinist Celeste Golden, 2006 Bronze Medalist of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, will perform with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. The IVCI newsletter informs us that “Celeste spent the summer at the Marlboro Festival, a chamber music festival in Vermont, where she worked with some of the biggest names in the chamber music world. She performed the Haydn Quartet Op. 77, No. 1 with Arnold Steinhardt (Guarneri Quartet), then Villa-Lobos Quartet No. 6 with Lucy Chapman (formerly of the Muir Quartet), and finally Beethoven Quartet Op. 59, No. 2 with Marcy Rosen (Mendelssohn String Quartet). Celeste wrote of her experience, ‘The Beethoven performance was the most memorable for me because we worked on that piece from the first week of the summer, and really clicked as a group. Also, supposedly it was the first time in 46 years that that piece had been performed in Marlboro, so it felt incredibly special, getting to share it with that audience’."

The newsletter also conducted a brief Q&A with Celeste:

Tell us something most people don't know about you: "I think I have a song to go along with every occasion. My life is a Broadway musical."

What kind of music do you listen to when you're not listening to classical music? "I have terrible taste in music. My most recent obsession is with American Idol. I love any kind of music to which I can sing or dance. Or both!"

Finish this sentence: If I were not going to be a professional violinist, I would like to earn my living as....."A star on Broadway! I possess neither the ability to act nor the ability to sing, but a girl can dream..."


Violinist Samuel Thompson wrote to let me know he is profiled in the September issue of International Musician, the monthly magazine of the American Federation of Musicians. The article’s focus is on the continuing efforts to rebuild New Orleans’ musical scene, and that much more still needs to be done.

Congratulations, Sam!

Musician News

Violinist Assia Dulgerska has been appointed assistant concertmaster of the Houston Symphony. Kiji Joh, second violin, and Haeri Ju, cello, are this year’s other new string hires.

Violinists Joseph D. Smith and Rachel Frankenfeld joined the Austin Symphony Orchestra for 2007-08. Violist Ames Asbell has also joined the orchestra.

Violinists Hyun Ok (Michelle) Kang and Sherry Hong, have been hired by the Indianapolis Symphony. Kang is a Seoul-born graduate of The Juilliard School, while Hong was most recently a member of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.
Joy Fellows has been named associate principal viola.

The Colburn School in Los Angeles has announced the appointment of the Calder Quartet to its Conservatory Division faculty. The quartet consists of Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violin; Jonathan Moerschel, viola; and Eric Beyers, cello.

9/27/07 – More from IVCI: 2006 Gold Medalist Augustin Hadelich will solo with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

9/12/07 - French-born violinist Jacques Israelievitch is stepping down as the concertmaster for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra after 20 years at the post, reports the CBC. "I've been considering retiring from orchestra life for a while. The end of my 20th season with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra seems to be the perfect time, being the longest concertmaster tenure in the orchestra's history," he says."I need more free time to pursue all the other musical activities that I love: conducting, solo and chamber music playing, teaching and recording."

Orchestra News

Music in the Mountains (Durango, Colo.) has announced the appointment of Guillermo Figueroa as music director and conductor. Also an accomplished violinist, Figueroa was for ten years was concertmaster of the New York City Ballet, but most recently has been music director of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (ongoing) and the Puerto Rico Symphony (just completed).

9/18/07 - The New York Philharmonic’s gala opening-night concert will be broadcast on Live From Lincoln Center. In addition, the program will be shown on a huge screen in Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza, free of charge. The all-Dvorák program will be conducted by Music Director Lorin Maazel and feature cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

9/12/07 – The Houston Chronicle discusses the Houston Symphony's "batch of 33 trading cards introduced as part of a promotion this summer at the symphony's outdoor concerts. ... Like baseball cards, the goal of the symphony cards is to introduce the players to the fans, or audience members as they are called in the halls that serve neither hot dogs nor Cracker Jack. But the idea remains the same: Create loyalty." The cards may not bring the musicians fame, "but the cards shine a spotlight on players who often seem hidden in a sea of black and white, said oboe player Colin Gatwood." They may also have the same inspirational effect on young musicians that baseball cards do on young athletes, suggests Gatwood.

9/5/07 - According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "the Haddonfield Symphony is rechristened Symphony in C. With a core audience in Cherry Hill [N.J.], growing interest from Philadelphia and a home concert hall at Rutgers University in Camden [N.J], orchestra officials are engineering an identity change that consigns to history geographic allegiances to Haddonfield." Stearns quotes Rossen Milanov, the orchestra's music director since 2000: "This started a few years ago when we realized the symphony isn't connected to one town ... C major is the key of optimism, brightness and light, things associated with our performances with young people." This comes at the same time as other changes, including a new shuttle bus service designed to address safety issues in Camden as well as a new radio partnership. "[Orchestra President Trevor] Orthmann noted that funding potential was one motivation for Symphony in C's new name. The neighborhood-minded orchestra holds summer music camps for Camden high school students and invites them to dress rehearsals, but the neighborhood feel of the old name was a minus for corporate and foundation fund-raising, he said."

9/5/07 – The St. Petersburg Times reports "Andrew Grams will be resident conductor of the Florida Orchestra for the 2007-08 season. Grams spent the past three seasons as assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra through the American Symphony Orchestra League's [American] Conducting Fellows Program ... Grams, 30, a Maryland native, is a violinist as well as conductor. He received a bachelor of music degree in violin performance from the Juilliard School in 1999. He was a member of the New York City Ballet Orchestra in 1998-2004 and has played with other orchestras, including The Cleveland Orchestra. He received a conducting degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in 2003.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 73

September 12, 2007 15:22

9/2/07 - The TinAlley String Quartet from Melbourne, Australia, has been awarded First Prize in the 2007 Banff International String Quartet Competition at the Banff Centre. First Prize includes a prize of $20,000 (CDN), a European and North American recital tour arranged by The Banff Centre, a quartet of custom bows by renowned bow maker François Malo, and a Banff Centre residency, including the production of a CD recorded and produced by the Centre’s Music & Sound program. The quartet consists of violinists Kristian Winther and Lerida Delbridge, violist Justin Williams and cellist Michelle Wood.

The other award winners included:

Second Prize ($12,000) — Zemlinsky Quartet (Czech Republic)
Third Prize ($8,000) — Ariel Quartet (Israel/U.S.)
Fourth Prize ($5,000) — Tokai Quartet (Canada)
Székely Prize ($3,000 awarded for the best performance of a Bartók quartet during the Recital round) — Ariel Quartet
Canadian Commission Prize ($2,000 awarded for the best performance of Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Dark Energy, commissioned for the competition) — Koryo String Quartet (U.S.)

Musician News

Violinist Aubrey Burdick has been hired to teach at the School for Strings of St. Clair County in Port Huron, Mich.

10/13/07 - Violinist Barnabás Kelemen, Gold Medal winner at the 2002 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, will open the 50th season of the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra. He will play the Sibelius Concerto.

10/13/07 – Violinist Gu Wenlei will make her Hong Kong with the Pan Asia Symphony Orchestra. She has an undergraduate degree from Juilliard, a master’s from Mannes, and a DMA from Indiana.

9/23/07 - Violinist Weigang Li of the Shanghai Quartet will solo with the Bard College Conservatory Chamber Orchestra in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216. The concert will celebrate the opening of a new science and computing center on campus.

9/9/07 – The Peoria Journal-Star profiled violinist Lara St. John in advance of the release of her Peoria Symphony appearance last weekend and her newest CD, “Bach: The Six Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo."

Orchestra News

9/20/07 - The Toronto Philharmonia will open their season with a performance that includes Stephen Casale’s completion of the Scherzo movement of Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8, D.759, "Unfinished," Casale's score, based on Schubert's piano sketch for the movement, was recorded in 1995, but it had not received a professional concert presentation until this year.

9/12/07San Francisco Classical Voice conducted a frank Q&A with the leadership at the Napa Valley Symphony, which has faced various crises in the past year. But, things may be looking up for the orchestra…

9/12/07 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers a look at the Pittsburgh Symphony: It has had financial difficulties in recent years, is waiting for a new music director, and is about to negotiate on a difficult new contract with its musicians. Still, ticket sales that are their best since 1998-99, and last fall got a $29.5 million pledge from the Richard Simmons family, the fifth-largest gift to an American orchestra. "The truth is, the 2007-08 season that starts this month could go a long way toward determining whether the organization can maintain the stride of a first-rate orchestra or fall behind."

9/11/07 – The Czech Philharmonic suddenly finds itself without a conductor: Zdenek Mácal has quit after its September 8 concert. "He reportedly decided to quit because he was angry over a review in the Prague newspaper Lidové noviny the previous day," says “While the CTK's English- and German-language reports don't indicate what the original review actually said, the German article did point out that Mácal has often been criticized for his conservative tastes in repertoire.”

9/11/07 – The Detroit Free Press reports: "The Detroit Symphony Orchestra released details of a new 3-year labor agreement that raises the musicians' total minimum compensation by 3.6% to $104,650 in the final years, while also cutting costs to help management cope with Michigan's stagnant economy. The result is a contract that the players say guarantees that the DSO will retain its current spot as one of the country's 10 best-paid orchestras. But concessions - including 3 unpaid weeks in the first year and 2 unpaid weeks in the second year - will save about $1 million. The contract also gives management more flexibility to devise new media projects, including television ventures and online streaming, that previously would have been prohibitively expensive. ... Key to the new deal is a provision that rolls the players' electronic media guarantee - extra money for radio broadcasts - into their annual base salary. ... In the new deal, players will also contribute to their health care costs for the first time."

9/11/07 – The Salt Lake City Tribune reports: “In an emergency meeting Monday, Utah Symphony and Opera musicians voted 64-8 to reject what had been termed the 'last, best and final' contract offer from management, just four days before the orchestra's first season concert on Friday." Violinist David Gray Porter is quoted as saying musicians are seeking salaries that would help maintain the symphony's artistic standard. "The Utah Symphony has always been - to use a silly metaphor - the little engine that could. We're not such a little engine anymore. Utah's a pretty big state, with a healthy economy. And if we're going to remain that paragon of artistic excellence, then we're really going to have to invest in musicians' salaries. We are caretakers of the artistic health of this organization."

9/7/07 – The Associated Press reports on the latest addition to European Union noise regulations. "A European Union directive on noise abatement contains a provision that will limit the ‘noise' of symphony orchestras beginning next year. ... The main thrust of the EU noise directive is not aimed at symphonies. Meant to regulate noise levels in the work place, much of the six-page document deals with generalities more applicable to construction sites, factories and other traditional places of noise chaos." Musicians and conductors are concerned that the 85 decibel limit "for an average work day could hamper musical freedom." For comparison, "Trumpets push out 110 decibels during peak parts of Wagner's Ring Cycle, tubas 110 and trombones 108. Even violins have registered 109 decibels. And a flute at peak level near the right ear logs 118 decibels, substantially above the noise of a power drill heard close up." The wording of the directive may make it difficult to apply to orchestras, and it may be hard to measure exposure because "orchestras can produce peak sound levels substantially above the new EU limit while playing much below it at other times. And there are few ‘typical' work days. While pre-concert rehearsals can stretch from morning to evening, typical performances last little more than three hours."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 72

September 9, 2007 08:41

Musician News

Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music reports that Steven Moeckel, DMA student and concertmaster of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, has released Life Goes On, a recording of violin works by Don Freund, an IU composition professor. Freund, who performs as pianist on the CD, composed these works—ranging from folk to rock ‘n roll to classical-inspired—over a period of 25 years.

9/26/07 – Violinist Nicola Benedetti will solo in the world premiere of John Tavener's violin concerto Lalishri. Andrew Litton will the lead the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.

9/24/07 - The Pacifica Quartet will perform the Beethoven String Quartet cycle over eighteen free concerts during the fall and spring at Columbia University in New York. Their first performance, on September 24, will be of Opus 18, No. 3. The concerts will be free and held during the lunch hour period.

9/7/07 – The Washington Post notes that the Kronos Quartet will perform a 9/11 memorial concert. "Kronos Quartet's ‘Awakening,' which the group will perform Friday at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center [on the University of Maryland campus], premiered last fall, a sonic quilt inspired by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and woven from traditional and contemporary music from more than a dozen countries. “Violinist David Harrington muses: "Part of the work of Kronos all these years is extending what's available. ‘Awakening' is a good example, with music from Iraq, Iran, India and Uzbekistan."

9/4/07 - Violinist Anton Polezhayev has withdrawn the sex discrimination lawsuit he filed against the New York Philharmonic in July 2005, according to “Polezhayev, aged 29 when the lawsuit was filed, claimed the orchestra fired him in February 2005 for gender-biased reasons, as it granted tenure to or advanced at least seven female violinists. The Leningrad-born musician, who joined the orchestra's second-violin section in September 2002, told the Times that he failed his 17-month probation in spite of favorable assessments, including one in which, he claimed, personnel manager Carl R. Schiebler called his work ‘perfect’.''

Orchestra News

The Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra Association and Local 308 of the American Federation of Musicians have ratified a new contract that covers wages and work rules through June 30, 2010. Retroactive to July 1, 2007, it states that concert and rehearsal rates in the first year of the agreement will increase by 20 percent. In year two, concert rates will rise by an additional 8 percent and rehearsal rates by 10 percent. In the third year concert rates will go up by 7 percent and rehearsal rates by 10 percent. Pension payments will increase from 4 percent to 6 percent in year one, 8 percent in year two, and 10 percent in year three. The SBSOA has also agreed to begin contributing to the musicians’ Health and Welfare Fund. Travel compensation, which had not been adjusted during the last two contract cycles, will increase by approximately 100 percent.

9/7/07 - The New York Times reports that, when the Lucerne Festival Orchestra arrives at Carnegie Hall next month, the much-heralded Claudio Abbado will not be with them. “The Italian conductor said yesterday he had canceled all engagements in the near future because of poor health. ... Mr. Abbado, who is 74, gave no specifics about his condition but said he was following his doctors' advice." Abbado had surgery for cancer in 2000, and appeared fatigued at times during recent rehearsals in Lucerne, Switzerland, "but festival officials said he appeared stronger than in previous summers ... Mr. Abbado... had not conducted [at Carnegie Hall] since his last American tour, shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.”

9/7/07 – The Boston Symphony’s European tour is going very well, writes Jeremy Eichler in the Boston Globe. "I caught up with the orchestra in Berlin, where it played Monday night in the city's legendary Philharmonie and was broadcast live on German radio. I then followed the orchestra to Paris, where on Tuesday night, the musicians fanned out in crisp black tie across the stage of the city's Salle Pleyel in the fashionable eighth arrondissement…An electrifying reading of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra drew prolonged applause from the Berliners, who called [Music Director James] Levine back for seven curtain calls. ... In Paris, the program was Berlioz's ‘Damnation of Faust.' ... Five curtain calls later, the BSO was boarding large buses parked in front of the hall. Next stop: London."

9/6/07 – According to the
Detroit Free Press
, "Talks between musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra continued past 10 p.m. Wednesday as the two sides tried to hammer out a new musicians contract that would prevent the players from going on strike for the first time since 1987... The parties, joined for the first time by a state mediator, had not spoken since talks broke off a month ago. The previous contract expired Monday."

9/6/07 – The Nashville Symphony has named 38-year-old Giancarlo Guerrero as its next music director, reports The Tennessean. “Guerrero, whose star has been rising in recent years, has served as music director in Eugene, Oregon, and was a staff conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra. Nashville has been without a chief conductor since the death of Kenneth Schermerhorn in April 2005.”

9/5/07 - The Tulsa Symphony is about to start its second season. But there's a sudden change of leadership, according to the Tulsa World. "The orchestra's founder, retired neurosurgeon Frank Letcher, resigned his positions as the orchestra's executive director and chairman Thursday."

9/2/07 - The Arizona Republic (Phoenix) notes that the Phoenix Symphony is celebrating its 60th anniversary. “In the beginning, "the 77 musicians held their first rehearsal Sept. 18, 1947, in the North High School band room. That season, orchestra members were paid $1.50 for each rehearsal, and $5 for performances. The first performance was a sellout ... The review in The Arizona Republic was a rave ... They came to Symphony Hall in 1972 with their first important conductor, Mexican-born Eduardo Mata." Subsequent music directors included Theo Alcantara and Hermann Michael before current Music Director Michael Christie was appointed in 2005. Nilsen points out that "with a budget of $11.7 million, the symphony is the largest performing-arts organization in the state, and it has run in the black for four straight years.”

Other Music News

9/4/07 – Hugo Chavez obviously believes in the power of the press, according to The Guardian (UK). "The Venezuelan leader announced the creation of 'Misión Música', a government-funded effort to give tuition and instruments to 1 million impoverished children. He made the announcement on his Sunday television show, Aló Presidente, after reading out rapturous British reviews of the youth orchestra's performances last month at London's Royal Albert Hall."

9/4/07 - The Los Angeles Times notes that all is not well at the Colburn School, a Southern California musical fixture, where the school "has a big, new building, a new president, 100 live-in students at its Colburn Conservatory of Music, and a fight on its hands. Parents of the 1,500-plus kids attending the Colburn's popular community-based School of Performing Arts division say they're being shortchanged as attention is shifting to professional training for the conservatory students."

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 71

September 5, 2007 09:26

I received a note from member Igor Pikayzen, currently of the Juilliard School, announcing the results of the International Violin Competition Kloster-Schontal in Schontal, Germany.

Here are the results:

1st prize - Dalia Kuznecovaite (Lithuania)
2nd prize (shared) - Igor Pikayzen (Russia)
2nd prize (shared) - Triin Ruubel (Estonia)
4th prize - Ji Min Lim (Korea)
5th prize - Liya Yakupova (Russia)

Prize for best interpretation of the Bach work - Igor Pikayzen
Prize for best interpretation of the Brahms sonata - Triin Ruubel
Prize for the best interpretation of the virtuoso work - Ayaka Tabuchi

Congratulations, Igor!


10/12-14/07 - The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston is hosting a conference to “create a national focus on new career models in classical music performance.” The conference will feature the ensemble eighth blackbird, the Chiara String Quartet, and Dr. Shoshana Dobrow, an expert in “the dynamics of career phenomena.” The forum will bring together student leaders from many of the nation’s top music schools and conservatories. For more information, contact publicist Laura Grant at 978-208-0552 or

Musician News

9/8/07 – Violinist Alex Markov will perform at Couture Fashion Week in New York City. In addition to playing his classical violin, Markov will also perform on a custom electric violin created for him by designer James V. Remington.

9/4/07 – The Shanghai Quartet appeared in recital at Bard College with cellist Hai-Ye Ni.

9/2/07 – The Halifax Chronicle Herald outlined the undergraduate audition process of local violinist Celeste Williams, who is off to the Mozarteum in Salzburg this week. She offers an interesting comparison between the collegial atmosphere in Salzburg versus a more cutthroat approach in the States.

9/1/07 – The Philadelphia Inquirer noted the passing of Margarita Zarraga O'Donnell, 91, a violinist and music teacher. “Mrs. O'Donnell began to study music when she was 7, after a man carrying a violin knocked on her parents' door in Fishtown and offered lessons. She was selected by her father from family's seven children to take the lessons, said her granddaughter, Margarite Zettervall.”

9/1/07 – Nightline profiled bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss, noting that she received her first violin at the age of five and began by studying classical music. The ABC News website includes a video clip of Krauss performing.

8/31/07 – Jazz violinist Regina Carter opened the Detroit International Jazz Festival, along with Herbie Hancock. According to the Detroit Free Press, “Carter is a bit of a throwback. Her solos are unstudied constructions with clear melodic phrasing and hot, on-the-beat swing. Playing with little vibrato and bluesy slides, she recalled the pre-bop violinist Stuff Smith, even on a slick bebop blues by Lucky Thompson. Still, there was less fire Friday than I’ve heard from her in the past. She rarely sounded relaxed, and had to restart the ballad, Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess, because of on-stage feedback.”

8/30/07 – The International Herald-Tribune profiled luthier Geoffrey Allison. Actually, that’s Sergeant Geoffrey Allison, at least until next year, when he plans to retire from the military and support himself as a luthier. He even worked on instruments while serving as a medic in Iraq.

Orchestra News

9/5/07 - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra will honor the memory of Sir Georg Solti, its music director from 1969 to 1991, with a free musical tribute in the Solti Gardens on the tenth anniversary of his death. The one-hour event will include a performance by members of the CSO’s brass section. Also planned in the conductor’s memory are a free CSO performance of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” Overture in Millennium Park on September 9; the dedication to Sir Georg of Bernard Haitink’s October 18 program in Symphony Center; and a special BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra radio broadcast on October 21, which would have been Sir Georg’s 95th birthday. And here’s what the Chicago Tribune had to say about Solti’s legacy: “It seems clear today that when Georg Solti and his fellow podium titans Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein departed the scene, something in the classical music culture vanished along with them…Solti was not only the last superstar conductor. He added his own Dionysian intensity to the Apollonian foundation set down by his predecessors Fritz Reiner and Jean Martinon. The result, mellowed and refined by Daniel Barenboim in the years subsequent to Solti, is the superbly flexible ensemble of virtuoso musicians we know today."

9/4/07 – The Baltimore Sun is bullish on Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony, offering a positive assessment of her interim tenure as music director and the orchestra’s return to commercial recording. “Sony Classical [has just] release[d] the orchestra's first commercial recording in eight years, a powerhouse performance of John Corigliano's Red Violin Concerto, splendidly recorded live at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall last June.” Joshua Bell is the soloist; the article includes video from the performance.

9/2/07 – The Fort Worth Star-Telegram previewed the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's season-opening program this weekend, which features Leila Josefowicz performing John Adams's 1993 Violin Concerto. "As a new music specialist who has performed the work many times, Josefowicz says that its reception with audiences is quite unusual for contemporary music. ‘After each concert, a lot of people come up to me and say, "This is my first classical music concert" and can't say enough how much they love this piece,' she says. ‘It goes against the cliché of people not knowing or liking new music' ... The 30-minute concerto's fast-slow-fast structure and its first movement cadenza are among its few classical conventions. Otherwise, Adams' writing for the solo violin has an improvisatory quality, particularly in the first movement. ‘It's very much like John Coltrane,' Josefowicz says. ‘But at the same time [the violin part] needs to fit in very precisely with the orchestra.' "

8/31/07 - Bargaining teams representing the San Antonio Symphony and its musicians reached agreement Friday on a four-year contract that gives more work weeks and money to the orchestra and extensive broadcast rights to the symphony, reports the San Antonio Express-News. “The previous three-year contract, under which minimum base pay was $1,000 a week for 26 weeks last season, expired at midnight Friday. Under the new agreement, base pay starts at $1,000 a week for 27 weeks for the 2007-08 season and rises to $1,045 a week for 30 weeks in the 2010-11 season.”

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Violin News & Gossip, Op. 3, No. 70

September 2, 2007 12:23

Happy belated birthday to Itzhak Perlman, who celebrated his 62nd birthday on 8/31/07!


8/31/07 - The cello is becoming the preferred instrument among many experimental rock bands, forward-thinking composers, and promoters of avant-garde concert series, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor. “This past June, at the Bang on a Can Marathon, an annual festival of new music in New York, cellists were the backbone of several of the headlining groups including Real Quiet, a chamber trio consisting of cello, piano, and percussion; Odd Appetite, a cello and percussion duo inspired by Balinese gamelan and South Indian music; and the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the organization's house band, which features the amplified cello of Wendy Sutter.”

According to the article, “rock musicians are becoming more aware of the cello's range and see it as an alternative to the violin, with its folk fiddling or jazz associations. ‘Because it's not saddled with bluegrass, “le jazz hot,” or any of those things the violin has, you can put the cello into an indie-rock situation and it doesn't have baggage’, says [cellist Erik] Friedlander, who has performed with indie-rockers such as the Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice.”

Musician News

David Torns has been named assistant conductor of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. A San Diego native who holds degrees in violin performance and orchestral conducting from the Blair School of Music and West Virginia University, respectively, Torns came to Baton Rouge in 2003 as music director of the BRSO’s Louisiana Youth Orchestras.

The Amarillo Symphony has announced the appointment of twelve new musicians for 2007-08, including Daina Redpath, assistant principal second violin and Noah Littlejohn, assistant principal cello.

9/3/07 – Violinist Christopher Karp will perform in the traditional Karp Family Labor Day Concert that opens the concert season at the University of Wisconsin School of Music each year. But this year, he’ll be playing piano, not violin. The program includes Liszt's Second Elegy for Cello and Piano (cellist son Parry and pianist father Howard); the third movement from Georges Enescu's Sonata No. 2 in C major for cello and piano (Parry & Howard); Liszt's Grand Concert Piece on Themes from Mendelssohn's Songs without Words for two pianos (husband and wife pianists Howard and Frances Karp); Joel Hoffman's Cello Sonata (Parry and brother Christopher, who usually plays violin); and Ernest Bloch's Suite for Viola and Piano performed by son Parry and mother Frances. Part of the program is dedicated to UW violinist Vartan Manoogian, who died unexpectedly in July.

8/30/07 – This weekend, teen violinist Eugene Ugorski will play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the San Diego Symphony Summer Pops, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. In 2002, then a preteen, Ugorski played a single movement of the work with the orchestra.

8/30/07 - Internationally renowned violinist and recording artist Chee-Yun has been named Artist in Residence at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas, effective in August 2007. She served as Guest Artist in Residence at the Meadows School for the spring 2007 semester.

8/27/07 – The Associated Press ran a local interest story about a Michigan violinist, Julie Ann Code, and her journey toward finding the right violin. In her case, it was a 1914 violin by G.W. Palmer, a local luthier.

8/26/07The Scotsman is reporting the news that will “break countless male hearts”: “Nicola Benedetti has found love. Scotland's most famous classical musician has admitted in an exclusive interview with Scotland on Sunday that she is ‘not entirely single’. The glamorous 20-year-old has said in the past that she was simply too busy for any romance - she practises her violin for six hours a day - and speculated that boys might be intimidated by her fame and talent.”

Orchestra News

8/30/07 – The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that neither side gave ground this week when contract talks resumed between the San Antonio Symphony's management and musicians. The current contract expires this weekend, and musicians have already authorized their leaders to call a strike at any time after that. In the short term, it appears that talks will continue, but little progress is evident. “Under the current contract, base salary this season is $1,000 a week for 26 weeks. Management's current offer would pay $1,040 a week for 28 weeks in the final year of a three-year contract.”

8/29/07 – According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has launched a new $400 million fund-raising campaign, "the largest in the organization's history. The campaign would pay for renovations at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and would boost the organization's endowment, which, at about $400 million, is already the biggest in the orchestra world." BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe "said …that the BSO plans to replace the Symphony Hall floor and to uncover and restore windows above the second balcony ... Social spaces ... will be renovated. Backstage, the cramped locker rooms for performers will be upgraded, and Symphony Hall's mechanical systems largely replaced.”

8/29/07 – reports that the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is selling on eBay a bundle of tickets to its gala opener with Yo-Yo Ma next month, which has been sold out since April. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the orchestra's education programs. “The winning bidder will receive two tickets to the performance (valued at C$300), two tickets to the gala reception (C$350) and two backstage passes; bidding starts at C$350. In May, the orchestra auctioned off a similar package on eBay for over C$1,000. Bidding started at C$300 and included a pair of concert tickets, limousine service and a backstage pass for the same concert.”

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