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Laurie Niles

Violin Community News 2010, Op. 17

May 5, 2010 at 6:32 PM

It looks like violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, 33, will get back the 1741 Guarnerius del Gesu ("ex-Carrodus") she plays, according to Austrian central bank OeNB, which owns it, said an AFP report. The instrument, which was on loan to her from the Austrian bank, was seized last week by Swiss customs officers at the Zurich airport because she had not declared it upon entering the country. Whether or not a traveling artist who uses an instrument on loan is really legally compelled to do such a thing remains a puzzle for us....

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A West Coast Le Poisson Rouge? San Diego Symphony violinist John Stubbs has taken classical music out clubbing, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. After hearing a rock concert at a San Diego club called Anthology, Stubbs was inspired by the club's capacity to offer multi-media, and he immediately started thinking of ways to create a program filled with dance, film and live classical music. Stubbs, who also is conductor and music director of the California Ballet Company, formed a group called Luscious Noise, which will play a Mother's Day program this Sunday that explores theme of “spring,” with videos of Martha Graham dancing in Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” ballet, soprano Natalie Dessay singing Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Voices of Spring,” as well as live performances of the spring movement from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata for violin and piano, Sibelius’ “The Lover,” and works by Tchaikovsky and Mozart. 

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Violinist Herbert Baumel died in late April at the age of 90. He was a 1942 graduate of the Curtis Institute, concertmaster with the Philadelphia Opera Company from 1940 to 1942;  a first violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1942 to 1945; concertmaster with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic from 1945 to 1948 and also was concertmaster for the original 1964 Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” He also taught and conducted at Oregon State University. Here is a more detailed obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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What an inspiration! Violinist/violist Helen Gerald, who died Friday at the age of 91, played in the Amarillo Symphony from 1947 until 2009 – that's 63 years, and through seven conductors. In 1977, she co-founded Amarillo College's Suzuki String program with Suzanne Grooms. "Mrs. Gerald was such a nurturing teacher," former student Erica Swindell told the Amarillo Globe-News. "She cared so much about her students and set an example of what it meant to be an involved musician."

From Cecily Ward
Posted on May 5, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Hi!  Regarding travel with a borrowed instrument - I have been playing on and traveling with a borrowed violin for many years.  I have been required by the lender to travel with a document stating that I am permitted to cross borders with the instrument and that I use it for my professional work.  I have never needed to show this document - and in fact I've never been asked about my violin, but it is reassuring to have it in the case.



From Pauline Lerner
Posted on May 5, 2010 at 7:08 PM

One of my students does a lot of international travel.  He takes his violin with him, and he has never had a problem at an international border.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on May 5, 2010 at 11:16 PM

When you read the story it becomes clearer.  The issue was that the violinist has dual-nationality - Swiss and Austrian - and there is a very clear and strict rule in Switzerland that whenever you return to the country as a RESIDENT after some time abroad, you MUST declare if you have bought more than 300 Swiss francs worth of items while you were away, then the customs work out the tax and duties you have to pay.  I'm guessing she hadn't taken the violin home to Switzerland before and so didn't have the necessary paperwork with her to prove it was a loan etc.

I lived in Switzerland for about 6 months and when my boss and I went across the border to Germany to save loads of money doing the fortnightly grocery shop, we had to be really careful not to exceed the 300 Swiss franc total.  One time I bought a black concert dress while we were in Germany and my boss made me take ALL the labels off and destroy them then hide the dress at the bottom of the grocery bags before we crossed the border.  Naughty, I know...   Sometimes the customs would just stop random cars and strip them bare to check people had not smuggled stuff in.   Even if you were just a few francs over the limit they would fine you.

Strict place Switzerland, since this is a violin board I'll not tell the tale of getting into trouble with the residents in the apartment block because I had a bath after 10pm one night... <eyeroll> 

From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 6, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Interesting, Rosalind! Thank you for that insight.

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