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

September 12, 2007 at 10:22 PM

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."

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 12, 2007 at 10:50 PM
I like to think Lara St. John does everything I say. I emailed her website and said she should come down here and give a recital, and she did. Next I said she should record the whole S&P, and she did. What do y'all want her to do? Any requests?
From Bill Busen
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 12:03 AM
Can you set up a master class gig here at Champaign-Urbana around her Peoria gig? I'll cover it. Stefan Milenkovich and the Pacifica Quartet are faculty here - there's your headstart.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 4:45 AM
Probably can't. I think I blew the whole thing when I told her to get that Guadagnini that was in a mausoleum for 25 years. It was just a test.
From Marty Dalton
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 4:51 AM
can you ask her to marry me?
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 7:16 AM
Send me your picture and a 500 word essay on Why I Should be Lara St. John's Husband, and I'll try to get it to her somehow. I don't know why I restricted it to 500 words. Use as many words as you need. Somewhere in there try to get her phone number.
From Willie M
Posted on September 15, 2007 at 4:27 AM
Isn't that Wen-lei gu not Gu Wenlei

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