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Laurie Niles

Violin Community News 2010, Op. 10

March 17, 2010 at 7:13 PM

It's been a difficult week for a number of violinists who received notice that they must return violins lent to them by Southern California collector Peter Mandell. Among these violinists is Lindsay Deutsch, who was told that she must return the 1742 Sanctus Seraphin, which she has been playing for seven years, by April 19. "It's a very special violin, it's the best violin I've ever had the opportunity to play on," Lindsay said. "Back when I first started playing it, it was shocking to see how much of a difference it could make how good a violin could be." Without the violin, Lindsay has many concerts to play, but "I absolutely don't have a piece of wood to play on," she said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. It's your worst nightmare come true." She said she welcomes any leads!

* * *

The American String Teachers Association and Coda Bow are  taking applications through March 31 for a program in which they will donate carbon fiber bows to string programs throughout the United States. It looks like you need to be a member of ASTA to qualify.

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Haitian violinist Romel Joseph has been released from the hospital, and this CNN story includes some video of him trying the violin again.

And speaking of the Haiti earthquake, the Chiara String Quartet will give a concert at 5:30 p.m. April 2 (Good Friday) at Trinity Church in Boston, to benefit earthquake victims. (Click here for information on the concert.)

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What is a violin? If you have any friends who are clueless about this, The Guardian (UK) put together this little explainer for the uninitiated, explaining, among other things, that "Violins don't have to be sappy and straight-laced. Loving hands can saw out a sound full of blood and rust."


* * *

Have you ever had an "earworm," that is, a tune that just won't escape your head? According to this article in the New York Times, "some people, like musicians, women and the worry-prone, are more susceptible than others." Hmmm, that gets me on three counts. (What is the worst earworm you can have? I nominate this!)

* * *

A singing string quartet? The Real Vocal String Quartet, founded by former Turtle Island String quartet violinist Irene Sazer , does just that, according to a feature in the San Francisco Examiner.  The classically-trained foursome plays a mix of African, Brazilian, Balkan and bluegrass music.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on March 17, 2010 at 9:39 PM

 Here is my nomination for ear worm

From Anne Horvath
Posted on March 17, 2010 at 11:01 PM

I had this stuck in my head all day:

until I fired up my recording of Elgar's Caractacus.  THAT took care of business! 

It is so nice to be on vacation...

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on March 17, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Why did the violinists have to return the violins to the collector apparently so suddenly?   It makes me upset when I read about things like that - you'd think there could be a longer period of notice given in such situations so musicians have a decent opportunity to seek out replacement instruments.  (We all know how hard it is to find that "special" violin, no matter what level of player one is...)

From Laurie Niles
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 12:53 AM

Hi Rosalind, I'm still piecing that together; I think it's a complicated situation in which there are more people involved than the collector himself. He had been in a bad accident (motorcycle, I think) some time ago, requiring considerable recovery. There may be some circumstances related to that, which have contributed to this situation.

From Steve Wyrick
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 3:26 AM

Here's a link to KQED's recent "California Report" segment on the Real Vocal String quartet: .  Nice stuff; hope I get a chance to hear them live soon.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 3:26 AM

All those earworms are bad, but I think Laurie's is rock bottom. 

I had a personal involvement with "It's a Small World."  Years ago, one of my friends adopted a baby girl from Brazil.  When the child was christened, my friend asked me and another friend, who is a good singer and guitarist, to play some music.  She had a list of requested songs, and "It's a Small World" was on it.  After agonizing over the issue for a while, we told her that we simply could not play it.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 4:53 AM

No doubt, Small World is...yikes. Anne, where did you find that dancing, it cracked me up!

From Alice Kowalski
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 11:02 AM

I am a worry-prone violinist woman, so I guess it isn´t surprising I have music stuck in my head all the time. Right now its Bach, and I can´t say I mind it.

From Laurie Trlak
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 12:52 PM

I think that would have  to be about the worst! I'm kind of sorry I listened to it! I may have to pull up one of my favorite "earworms" (Orinoco Flow) just to the sound of that one out of  my head!

From Anne Horvath
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Uh, Laurie, I found it on the Youtube.

No ear worms, but this one is for Laurie:



From Laurie Niles
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 9:19 PM

Anne, this is extremely good news. My sister won't have to send it to me on dry ice! (I couldn't believe she did that, what a good sis!)

From Terez Mertes
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 11:28 PM

 Oh, Pauline, your "Small World" story is hilarious, although doggone it, there it is, in my head, now.


I must confess that, out of fear, I am not listening to anyone's earworm, particularly Laurie's. I'm very earworm-prone. My husband has never had this happen to him. Which of us is stranger?!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on March 18, 2010 at 11:31 PM

 And on a more somber note, ugh, poor Lindsay Deutch and any other violinists affected. Sad times... : (

From Anne Horvath
Posted on March 19, 2010 at 2:45 AM

Gee, no one ever sends me Graeter's on dry ice (and if they did, I would be MOST GRAETFUL!) but since Louisville, The Aged Ps, Graeter's parlors, and those well-stocked Kroger stores are a mere 5 1/2 hours away, I get to indulge in the Chocolate Chocolate Chip every now and then...

Graet news though!

(Smiles right here)


From Rosalind Porter
Posted on March 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Laurie - I do hope you are able to find out more background info on the violins having to be returned to the Mandell Collection.  I reckon that the more publicity, the more likely it might be that some generous donors will step forward to help out those who've been affected.  E.g.  if, as I kind of suspect, the violins have to be sold, there could be people out there who'd be willing to make the investment and continue to lend them out to the players.

Sympathies  go out to all those affected... 

From Oliver Bedford
Posted on March 22, 2010 at 11:14 PM

Yes, it 's a pity so little notice was given of the need to return instruments, but it seems there were urgent pressures on the owner.

However, there are many good instruments by less famous makers available at reasonable prices. Perhaps US players facing the loss of their loan instruments could visit the forthcoming auctions at Tarisio, Christies and Skinner. They may find that you don't have to have a Guarneri or a Stradivari in order to sound beautiful! In the meantime, could they borrow or rent an adequate instrument for a few weeks?

I don't want to sound moralistic, but are there perhaps some possible lessons here?

1) Always have a spare (even if inexpensive) violin;

2) Avoid the popular misconception that only very old and expensive violins by famous makers sound any good. There have been plenty of "behind screen" sound tests where the audience couldn't tell the difference between a Ferrari violin and a Chevy violin, or even thought the Chevy sounded better. I once went to a concert where two Italian soloists were playing a Vivaldi double concerto, one on the famous "Tuscan" Stradivari of 1690 and the other on a modern bright red and shiny violin (probably Italian I admit), and the tonal character and colour of the latter was much more impressive than the suave but not very colourful sound coming from the Stradivari.

3) If you are so fortunate as to have the loan of a world-famous violin, remember that 99.999% of violin players are not so lucky, and be prepared to rejoin at any moment the world of mere mortals who have to scrimp and save and buy their own! 

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