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Laurie Niles

Violin Community News 2010, Op. 4

February 3, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Violinist Frank Huang was named the new concertmaster of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, to join the orchestra at the beginning of the 2010-11 season. Huang will leave his post at the Eastman School of Music as well as his position as first violinist of the Ying Quartet. Huang, who also was 2002 Laureate of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, is originally from the Houston area. "Growing up in Houston, I loved going to symphony performances, and I feel so honored to be able to come back now and actually be a part of them," Huang said in a press release.

Okay, which one of you was smooching Gerard Butler in Venice Beach, Calif.? 'fess up!

This is interesting: album sales figures are low enough for classical music that the sale of “200 or 300 units" are enough to land an album in the top 10 on Billboard Classical Charts, according to an article in the Washington Post which goes on to say:  “It's not exactly news that album sales in all genres have been declining for years. Nor is it news that classical recordings are not top sellers. 'The classical charts have always been looked at as in the 3-percenter club,' says Alex Miller, general manager of Sony Masterworks. 'Three percent of total music sales are in classical music.'"

– Are you wondering where you can find a list of all the Grammy winners in the Classical Music category? Well here is a nice, concise list for us, thank you Pauline Lerner for compiling it!

-- Speaking of the Grammys, the Emerson String Quartet won for its album, Intimate Letters, but it does not appear that any violin soloists won. Violinist Caroline Goulding, nominated for Best Solo Instrumental Performance (Without Orchestra) for her debut album, was a good sport, telling the Times Herald of Port Huron, “It gives me something to look forward to..I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate it at this point in my life." Violinist Philippe Quint also was nominated for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance for his recording of the Korngold concerto, but when he didn't receive it, he said he simply enjoyed the opportunity to see Elton John play live.

– I did watch the Grammys on Sunday night, and when a big, live string section came wheeling out behind Dave Matthews, three words came to my mind: “Yes, yes, yes!" I only wondered why some of the others opted for synthesized strings, what, you don't have the budget? It's always a mystery to me, why a vocal artist would go to the trouble of giving a high-profile performance or recording a tune for posterity, and then use synthesized strings instead of real string players. It's like setting your real diamond in a ring from a bubble gum machine.

– Rock 'n' roll Viper man Mark Wood announced his first-ever Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, which will be July 19 - July 25, 2010 at MidAmerican Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas and is open to students entering 7th grade or higher in fall 2010, college students, and adults of all ability levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced, professional, educators) .

-- Schools all over the United States are facing ugly budget cuts, but here is the story of an energized group of parents, students and educators who are determined to block cuts to the instrumental music programs in their district, Fairfax County. Students showed up for three days of budget hearings, carrying empty violin and trombone cases, and the Fairfax Arts Coalition for Education gathered 11,400 signatures on a petition and commissioned a cost-benefit analysis of the potential cuts.

– Here's a nice interview with Joshua Bell that came out last week in the Akron Beacon Journal. In the interview he said that his New Year's resolution was to take ping pong lessons, and he confessed, “'I can very easily give up the violin for a few days and don't miss it,' said Bell, who's also a big computer, PlayStation and Wii enthusiast. 'I'm not a workaholic, that's for sure. I enjoy the downtime.'"

– member Kimberlee Dodds Dray shared with me that “ is largely responsible for keeping me involved, giving me lessons when I couldn't afford them and helping me achieve a lifelong dream to play the Lark Ascending with an orchestra." Here is a video/news story that features Kimberlee, with her thoughts about coming back to the violin after a fairly long hiatus, and making a dream come true. Thanks to all who helped her along the way!

From Mendy Smith
Posted on February 4, 2010 at 1:00 AM


Welcome back to Houston Mr. Huang!

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