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Laurie Niles

Violin Community News 2010, Op. 5

February 10, 2010 at 9:13 PM

The 13th annual Sphinx Competition announced its 2010 winners last week in Detroit:

In the Senior Division:
First place: Violinist Gareth Johnson, 24, of Wellington, FL
Second place: Violist Paul Laraia, 20, of Boston, MA
Third place: Violinist John Sanderson, 20, of Bloomington, IN

Gareth Johnson

In the Junior Division:
First place:  Violinist Randall Goosby, 13, Bartlett, TN
Second place: Violist Andrew Gonzalez, 17, of Chesapeake VA
Third place: Cellist Anna Maria Litvinenko, 15, of Miami, FL

Randall Goosby

Detailed biographies of the semi-finalists can be found here. The competition was created in 1996 by violinist Aaron P. Dworkin, with the aim of increasing black and Latino participation in music schools and increasing the ranks among professional musicians and classical music audience members. Another aim has been to encourage works by Black and Latino composers. The first-place Senior Division winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize, solo appearances with major orchestras, performance with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at the Finals Concert, professional CD through Naxos label. The first-place Junior Division winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, solo appearances with major orchestras, performances with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra and at Finals Concert, national radio debut on From the Top. Here is the Detroit News story about the competition.

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Many have been mourning the closing of Moennig & Son in Philadelphia; here is another story about it, from ABC News.

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Last week some 400 amateur musicians had the chance to play with the Baltimore Symphony in a concert called Rusty Musicians With the BSO, a brain-child of conductor Marin Alsop. Among these musicians were a  number of V.commers, who have been talking about it since November. We even got a little mention in the Washington Post, which said: "The discussion board on has been abuzz with the debate of just how fast Alsop's tempo would be at the start of the Tchaikovsky movement, which is a knuckle-bender even for professional string players. (Alsop finally called up her label and asked them to make a download of her performance of the piece available to participants.) Ellen Pendleton Troyer, a violinist with the BSO, was impressed with the results. 'My stand partner was nailing everything,' she said." In sum: It would appear that a fun time was had by all. Kudos to Marin Alsop for thinking up an exciting and original way to reach out to the community.

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Andre Rieu's collection of Strauss waltzes, Forever Vienna, has just become the highest-ranking orchestral album ever, according to the BBC. Highest ranking on what chart? If you can tell, let me know; I searched in vain.

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Anne-Sophie Mutter was talking about the difficulties of being a world-class, globe-hopping violinist and mother, and she explained to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  "'The funny thing is that my wedded name is Wunderlich, and sometimes on my plane ticket they cannot print out my [complete] double name, so it says Mutter-Wunder,' she says with a hearty laugh." That would be "Wonder Mother" in German – she went on to say that music is simply part of who she is, as is motherhood.  Mutter was in town to play the Brahms Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony; here is a review.

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Flutist James Galway, 70, canceled an upcoming performance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and waiting in the wings was not another flutist, but Grammy-nominated violinist Caroline Goulding, age 17. The performance will be March 18-20; here is the information.

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The power of the arts to transform society – this will be the topic of conversation Feb. 18 at Carnegie Hall for an event called Arts Leadership in Focus. The event includes a panel discussion with El Sistema founder Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, LA Phil CEO Deborah Borda as well as other cultural and business leaders. An evening concert will feature violinists Joshua Bell and Julian Rachlin, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, musicians from El Sistema of Venezuela; and conductors Valery Gergiev and Carlos Miguel Prieto.

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When the review is entitled, Zing Went Her String we might all be able to guess what happened! But apparently violinist Lindsay Deutsch handled the situation with poise when her E string broke right at the beginning of "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" during a concert with the New West Symphony in Oxnard, Calif. Her performance included three pieces from "Schindler’s List" as well as the Gershwin/Alexander Courage "Fantasy on Themes from 'Porgy and Bess.'"

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on February 10, 2010 at 11:50 PM

Laurie, you are great at picking out interesting stories for us violinists.  Is Joshua Bell really CEO of the LA Philharmonic?  I followed your link, but I didn't see the information.  I wouldn't expect JB to be in that role, but if he really is,  I would admire him even more.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on February 11, 2010 at 2:42 AM

Pauline, no indeed! If you ever see something that wacky, it probably means I messed up the hyperlink, which is what happened here. It's fixed now!

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