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Laurie Niles

Violin Community News 2010, Op. 19

May 19, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Conductor Jorge Mester will be leaving the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, after serving 25 years as music director. I can't pretend to be objective about this, I'm not. I have played, on and off, in the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra for many years, and conductor Jorge Mester has always made it a wonderful experience, with his fine musicianship, his rehearsal efficiency, his humor and his all-around good nature. Why is he leaving? There are a few versions of that, but it certainly has to do with the symphony's rocky finances, which took a deep plunge several years ago after the symphony combined with the Pasadena Pops and Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras. Here is LA Times reporter Mark Swed's account of Mester's last concert, which was last Saturday. During a standing ovation, Swed reports, violinist Julie Rogers stopped the applause to speak to the audience, calling Mester's departure "an insurmountable loss to the orchestra and the community. We play not because it’s our job but because it’s you," she said to Mester. Here is a letter to the editor of the Pasadena Star-News, which includes some interesting comments from Pasadena community members if you click on them, and here is a basic account by the LA Times of what happened.

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I recently received an e-mail from a friend with deep connections to the city of Nashville, who wanted to be sure his friends understood that Nashville "recently experienced catastrophic flooding in some areas that matches the devastation of hurricane Katrina." He went on: "I have a lot of friends in Nashville, and much of the public does not seem to be aware of how bad the flood damage has been." Well, here is a video peek inside Schermerhorn Symphony Center, where more than 20 feet of water filled the lower floors, damaging every room and destroying pianos and other equipment. To film the video, T.V. crews had to wear Hazmat suits and masks. Here is the link for the Red Cross of Tennessee, which is accepting donations for its efforts to help flood victims.

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Cincinnati College Conservatory violin professor Kurt Sassmannshaus (known as "Prof. S" on released his colorful violin method books for children in 2008, and this week The Sassmannshaus Tradition Viola Method is now available in English, published by Bärenreiter. The set includes four books.

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Performing this week:

Violinist and conductor Uto Ughi will perform Saturday at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center with pianist Alessandro Specchi. He will perform works by Pugnani, Beethoven, Paganini and Saint Saëns, using a 1744 Guarneri del Gesù and the 1701 "Kreutzer" Stradivari

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New recordings:

Yesterday violinist Regina Carter released her new recording Reverse Thread, her treatment of African folk-melodies, which is sometimes jazzy, sometimes minimalist, sometimes almost bluegrass-sounding. I've got it on the stereo right now – good stuff. The project was funded in large part from her 2006 MacArthur "Genius Grant" of $500,000. Here's a review, which also includes musical samples.

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers recorded the "Romance"by Dvorák, with Andrew Litton and the Philharmonia Orchestra, for a new recording by Sony called Dvorák Greatest Hits. If you just want to get her track alone, click here.

San Francisco-based violinist Jeremy Cohen, bassist Larry Dunlap, guitarist Dix Bruce and drummer Harold Jones pay tribute to the early 20th century jazz violinist Eddie South on a CD to be released on Tuesday, Music of Eddie South, according to this article in the Voice of America News.
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