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Laurie Niles

Violin Community News 2010, Op. 20

May 26, 2010 at 7:05 PM

Last week Sting was recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road studios, according to the UK Telegraph "It is, by some distance, the biggest band I’ve ever played with," he said in the article. After recording orchestral versions of his own songs, like "Englishman in New York," "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and "Next To You," Sting plans tour the United States and Europe with the orchestra. What is the tour called? Symphonicity, of course!

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This story caught my eye because it's about a student at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis, which is the same high school where my husband graduated. But what a neat story: it's about a football player named Ronald Gilbert, who is also a violinist. He started playing at his public middle school when the director promised a trip to Kings Island. But he hung on for more than just a trip to the amusement park, like the rest of us, he fell in love with the violin and kept it up, at the same time as he was the school's star defensive lineman on the football team. Next year he'll be going to Indiana University with a scholarship and a new violin purchased with donations collected by his friends. He plans to study music and law. Cool!

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Sadly, this is an all-too-familiar story: funding dries up for a music program at Schuylkill Valley Elementary School in Pennsylvania, and the third-grade students will not be able to go on with their musical studies, after four years of instruction. It happens everywhere: an enthusiastic group raises some money, gets some grants, runs a great program for several years, and then the program cannot be sustained. Music education needs full support, not just ad-hoc programs here and there. Yes, it raises kids' performance in school.. Music teaches skills related to math, to language, to physical coordination, but in an integrated way that only music can teach. Its absence in education means that generations of children go lacking. Did you learn your ABC's with a song? Most of us did. Music is an integral part of the way humans learn, and yet we think we can somehow cut to the chase of education by leaving out "frills" like music and arts and whittling our way straight to math and reading. It is not so.

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More on conductor Jorge Mester's abrupt departure from the Pasadena Symphony, here is an LA Times article about Tension at the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra. It's all is pretty messy; though symphony administrators contended that Mester announced his departure to musicians while negotiations were still underway; Mester's representative Diane Saldick told the LA Times that when Mester and his attorney met with orchestra leaders on May 11 to discuss his future, "they were advised that the board had 'unanimously' decided to terminate his contract." The LA musicians' union also alleges that one musician was let go for publicly expressing outrage over the situation with Mester.

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Performances by violinists this week:

Violinist Sergey Khachatryan played the Tchaikovsky concerto with the San Diego Symphony under conductor Jahja Ling on Friday: "Most violinists play Tchaikovsky’s concerto as a heroic struggle between soloist and orchestra, a musical surfer paddling up to a 30-foot wave and then riding it all the way home. What made Khachatryan’s rendition so unusual was his understated presence in the first two movements. He didn’t so much play his part as imply or suggest it, and oddly enough, that made his performance all the more compelling. He endowed his melodic lines with beauty and lyricism, coyly holding back in the bar or moving slightly ahead," said Christian Hertzog in a review on

Violinist Stefan Jackiw played the Sibelius Concerto with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic under conductor Joel Levine for the orchestra's season-closer last weekend. "Jackiw’s mastery was evident in countless ways, from his command of the opening movement’s complex cadenza to the ease with which he allowed the adagio’s opening melody to unfurl. No less impressive was the soloist’s insistence on exploring the full dynamic range. In passages that called for pianissimos, Jackiw enticed the listener in much the same way that a confidant might whisper a secret," said Rick Rogers in a review in The Oklahoman.

And last but not least, Toyota's violin-playing robot made the news this week, performing at the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, with a rather dispassionate rendering the Chinese folk song Mo Li Hua (jasmine flower). Are we about to be replaced by robots? Judge for yourself:

From Royce Faina
Posted on May 26, 2010 at 7:46 PM


I Love It!!!!!!

From Anne Horvath
Posted on May 26, 2010 at 8:32 PM

I've taught a footballer for some time now.  He's going off to college this fall, with a starting position on a D-3 football team, majoring in Pre-Med, with a huge scholarship.  He was offered a walk-on at an SEC D-1 team, with a full academic ride, but he wanted to actually play some more instead of riding the bench, so he turned them down.

This kid has been in all AP classes through four years of high school, made straight As, while keeping a rigorous workout/practice schedule.  I've let him slide a bit with his practicing during the fall football season, but he's kept up his violin playing, and he's been great fun to teach.  He's a nice kid from a good family.

I've been telling him for years that he's the only footballer that plays violin, but now I know there is at least one more...

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