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News and commentary about learning, playing and teaching the violin.


Woman Arrested in Connection with Destroying 54 Stringed Instruments and 70 Bows

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 18:25:59 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Fifty-four stringed instruments and 70 bows apparently were the victims in a bitter marital break-up between a dealer and collector/luthier. Though it occurred in 2014, Midori Kawamiya was arrested Tuesday in connection with the incident, according to numerous news accounts. Kawamiya is a 34-year-old instrument dealer who was arrested in Japan upon returning from China. Her Norwegian ex-husband is collector and luthier Daniel Olsen Chen, 62. Kawamiya admitted to breaking into Chen's workshop in Nagoya in 2014 while he was out of town, but she denied that she damaged the instruments, collectively worth around ¥105.9 million (about $950,000 USD), The Japan Times reported Wednesday. Chen, whose company is called Daniel Violins, in August 2016 posted the following video about the incident: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> The most valuable instrument in the collection was reportedly his own Amati, worth about $450,000, according to The Strad..

The Week in Reviews, Op. 190: Vadim Repin; Nicola Benedetti; Anne Akiko Meyers

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 21:39:26 GMT

By Laurie Niles: In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world. Vadim Repin performed the Sibelius with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • Chicago Tribune: "Repin went to the stillness and melancholy at the heart of the Sibelius concerto. The throb of the Siberian virtuoso's vibrato and the strength of his bow arm made the slow movement feel like a continuous cantabile line stretching to infinity. One could imagine a more note-perfect reading but few as communicative as this."
Vadim Repin. Photo by Gela Megrelidze.
Nicola Benedetti performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
  • The Arts Desk: "She didn’t disappoint, giving a performance of Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto that demonstrated all her strengths: precision, focus, variety of colour and mood, but above all the passion and conviction needed to make sense of this long and emotionally complex work."
  • The Telegraph: "It’s often played with a harshly intense tone, but Benedetti gave it an unaccustomed sweetness."
Anne Akiko Meyers gave a live premiere of the Samuel Jones Violin Concerto with the Eastern Music Festival.
  • Greensboro News & Record: "Throughout the work, Meyers’ lyric playing displayed the utmost tenderness, and her fervent playing was heartfelt. The fiendish technical passages? Not a problem for this player of super finesse and passion."
Angelo Xiang Yu performed Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Grant Park Orchestra.
  • Chicago Classical Review: "The Chinese violinist has an undeniably impressive technique and sailed through the outer movements’ challenges with sturdy musicianship and a sweet, beguiling tone."
Please support music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

Call for Art for My Next Album

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 21:14:56 GMT

By Hilary Hahn: Dear Friends, Here’s the news: My next album, to be released this fall, is a selection of favorite tracks from all 12 of my Deutsche Grammophon recordings, as well as recent live recordings of Mozart Sonata KV 379, Davidson’s “Blue Curve of the Earth,” and Richter’s “Mercy” (the latter two written for my Encores project). Here’s the ask: Would you take part in creating art for this album? Here’s why: For decades, I have been delighted by the artwork that fans have brought me after concerts all over the world — art made by everyone from four-year-old violin students to professional painters. I’m touched by the artistic output, and I strongly relate to your creativity. What phenomenal fans. I would love to showcase some of your visual art in connection with my recording history as a way of saying thanks and, “Look how wonderful these people are!”
Here are a few examples of the Fan Art I've received!
We have collected Fan Art on Facebook for several years and have been featuring artwork on Fridays. Many people have mailed physical artwork to my management company, and still many more continue to bring me artwork at concerts, which we have scanned. We will be looking through everything we already have for the album art, but I also want to give you a chance to get those creative juices flowing. If you are inspired to create something, you can post it on my Facebook page (we will contact you for a high resolution version) or mail to my management at IMG Artists, 7 West 54th St, New York, NY 10019 USA, before August 5, 2017. If you’ve already posted, we’d invite you to post again, just to make sure we don’t miss anything. Here are the terms:
  1. Yes, this is a quick turnaround!
  2. A modest fee will be paid to the artists of the works selected. You will also be credited in the album booklet and receive a signed copy of the CD. Those artists chosen will not own any rights to the artwork or the album content. Children should get their parents’ permission before submitting.
  3. This isn’t a call for a complete album cover, rather for art itself. Don’t worry about dimensions, layout, album title, or text. The album title and typography will be added over the cover artwork, but there are other possible locations for contributed artwork. Deutsche Grammophon’s design team may slightly alter the artwork due to technical requirements.
  4. We won’t feature hand-drawn replicas of previous album cover photos. Please refer to Instagram (@violincase) or YouTube materials if you’d like visual references for new artwork.
  5. We reserve the right to make final decisions on any use and placement.
Thanks, as ever, and I so look forward to seeing your art! - Hilary

Johan Dalene Wins 2017 Cooper International Violin Competition

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 05:38:33 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Congratulations to violinist Johan Dalene, 16, of Norrköping, Sweden, who was awarded First Prize in the 2017 Cooper Competition following his performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Cleveland Symphony Friday night. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
A recording of Johan Dalene playing the last movement of the Tchaikovsky on another occasion, with Gothenburg Symphony in 2016
Here is the list of the top winners in the competition, which included a tie for second place:
  • First Prize ($20,000): Johan Dalene, 16, of Norrköping, Sweden
  • Second Prize ($7,500): Qing Yu Chen, 17, of New York, NY
  • Second Prize ($7,500): Christina Jihee Nam, 14, of West Chester, OH
All three Concerto Finalists were also offered full-tuition scholarships to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. "I saw the best Tchaikovsky Concerto that I’ve ever heard," said jury chair Gregory Fulkerson, after Dalene was named the winner. "I’ve been waiting 60 years to hear someone take the Tchaikovsky Concerto and understand the score so profoundly that he can take it to the world and interpret it in precisely the way the composer intended. It was simply spectacular." The finalists were narrowed down from a group of 23 violinists from eight countries who came to Oberlin to compete in the competition, which began July 15.. The competition is sponsored by Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Orchestra. Other prize winners were named on Wednesday night. Jury members include Gregory Fulkerson, Sibbi Bernhardsson, David Bowlin, Chenxing Huang, Haik Kazazyan, Marilyn McDonald, Mark Messenger, Jan Mark Sloman, Naoko Tanaka and Milan Vitek. Prizes to be awarded Friday include a $20,000 first prize; $10,000 second prize and $5,000 third prize. The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition, founded in 2010 and held at Oberlin, alternates annually between piano and violin. The competition is for musicians between the ages of 13 and 18.
Johan Dalene performs Friday with The Cleveland Orchestra in the 2017 The Thomas & Evon Cooper International Competition Finals. Photo by Roger Mastroianni. weekend vote: What is your favorite Mozart violin concerto?

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 05:03:47 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Hard to believe, but some of the most elegant concerti ever written for the violin were actually written by a 19-year-old, over the course of less than a year! That's right, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his five concertos at a rather young age, all in 1775. The most-played and most-studied of them are Concerti 3, 4, and 5. All have that Mozartian characteristic of sounding graceful and straightforward, while being deceptively difficult to play cleanly and in the proper style. Which of these concerti is your favorite? What are your favorite recordings of them? Do you have a favorite live performance that you attended? Please cast your vote and tell us about it in the comments. And, if there are any of these concerti you have not heard, below are a few videos. src="" frameborder="0" height="310" scrolling="auto" width="450"> Below is a lovely recording of Henryk Szeryng, playing Mozart concerti nos. 1, 2 and 3. The first one is at the beginning, followed by No. 2 at 21:14; and No. 3 at 42:04. What are your favorite recordings of Mozart concerti? width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Here are 4 and 5, too, in case you are in the mood to keep listening! (4 at the beginning, 5 at 23:54) width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> You might also like:

Elizabeth Faidley: Master Creator of Opportunities for Her Studio

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 04:04:23 GMT

By Heejin Weisbrod: One of my biggest struggles as a teacher is creating opportunities for my students that will not only reinforce the extensive training and investment required to excel in music, but will additionally be landmarks in the country of their growth. In a relentlessly competitive field, it is hard to create environments and space that encourage children to hone their skills while respecting and embracing their colleagues. It is a ceaseless challenge to reinforce the exponential discipline involved in music, while nurturing the eagerness that feeds most of our musical urges. Elizabeth Faidley, a violin teacher at the Manhattan School of Music, is a master at filling her studio with opportunities that meet these demands, all the time. Over the last year, she has hosted master classes with renown soloists Sarah Chang[...]

A Day in the Life of a Freelance String Quartet

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:34:10 GMT

By Scott Slapin: Many people seem interested in the unvarnished, day-to-day lives of Classical musicians lately (note that Mozart in the Jungle was just recently approved for a fourth season), and that's what inspired me to write the music for an album that depicts A Day in the Life of a Freelance String Quartet. Beginning before any of our quartet members has awakened, there is the Series of Nightmares After a (the previous) Day of Gigs including traditional gig fare such as Pachelbel's Canon (which in the minor key sounds like the opening of Mahler #1), Handel's Hornpipe from the Water Music, Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, and Massenet's Meditation from Thais, as well as remnants from the previous day's bar mitzvah and subsequent party, all of which conspire at the end to crash a cocktail party.
The conscious day starts with playing one funeral and ends with playing another. In between are two in-school demonstrations with one four-movement piece that introduces each performer with his/her own movement and cadenza (of course to show off the instruments as well) and another one which acquaints the school audience with the different eras of western concert music from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. And since the Wistaria String Quartet and I are based in Hampshire County, Mass., there's even a piece about driving across the county from gig to gig. The album ends with the quartet enjoying a well-deserved and Well-Tempered Beer at the local pub. Many thanks to the Wistaria String Quartet for doing an excellent job with the music! They were really great to work with. They give a lot of premiere performances of new music, and over the next months they'll be playing some of this music on their concerts (the majority of which was written for them.) While writing this album, violist and friend Bernie Zaslav (1926-2016) found he was terminally ill. Bernie had a long and distinguished career in all areas of our Classical Music World, beginning in the Cleveland Orchestra under Szell, and ranging from playing the premieres of well-known Broadway shows to a long collaboration with his wife, the excellent pianist Naomi Zaslav, enriching the repertoire available for viola and piano. But Bernie spent most of his career playing string quartets. He was a member of (in alphabetical order) the Carnegie Quartet, the Composers Quartet, the Fine Arts String Quartet, the Kohon String Quartet, the Stanford String Quartet, and the Vermeer String Quartet. I was able to let him know that I would be dedicating this album of quartets to him, the idea of which he liked. With his interest in quartets and great sense of humor, I hope he would have enjoyed the resulting album as well. As I hope you might! Here are a few links: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> This is a link to the album itself at CDBaby This is a link to the sheet music at Violacentric Publications

Three Finalists Named in the 2017 Cooper Competition

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 06:37:46 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Three finalists were announced Wednesday, as well as 4th, 5th and 6th place laureates, in the 2017 Cooper Competition, sponsored by Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Orchestra. They are:
  • Qing Yu Chen, 17, of the U.S.
  • Johan Dalene, 16, of Sweden
  • Christina Jihee Nam, 14, of the U.S.
Each of the three finalists will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cleveland's Severance Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra, with Jahja Ling conducting. The concert will be broadcast live on Cleveland's WCLV 104.9 FM and streamed live on the Internet. Following the Recital Final Round on Wednesday, fourth, fifth and sixth prizes were awarded to violinists Zachary Brandon, 18, of the U.S.; Maya Anjali Buchanan, 17, of the U.S; and Kiarra Saito-Beckman, 18, of the U.S., respectively, who each received an award of $1,500. An Audience Favorite Prize of $500 also was awarded to Dalene. The finalists were narrowed down from a group of 23 violinists from eight countries who came to Oberlin to compete in the competition, which began July 15. Jury members include Gregory Fulkerson, Sibbi Bernhardsson, David Bowlin, Chenxing Huang, Haik Kazazyan, Marilyn McDonald, Mark Messenger, Jan Mark Sloman, Naoko Tanaka and Milan Vitek. Prizes to be awarded Friday include a $20,000 first prize; $10,000 second prize and $5,000 third prize. The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition, founded in 2010 and held at Oberlin, alternates annually between piano and violin. The competition is for musicians between the ages of 13 and 18.

The Well Aging Fiddler – First Lesson

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 12:30:14 GMT

By Michael Kennedy: I took a seat on the city bus with my new violin in its case. I’m 68 years old and I’m on my way to my first violin lesson. I’m excited. I’ve been down a lot of roads in my life, and this is a first. That’s important. At my age, anytime something comes up that is a first – it’s a big deal. A young guy was sitting next to me. He looked up from his cellphone and saw my violin case. “What orchestra are you with?” “Um…. excuse me?” “That’s a violin, right?” “Yes.” “So what orchestra do you play in? Oregon Symphony?” “Well, actually I’m on my way to my first lesson.” “What?” “I’m a beginner. I’m going to my first lesson.” “Seriously? At your age? Ha! Well… good luck, dude.” He turned away from me and looked at his cellphone. I would have said something witty and devastating in return, but I’m the type of person who often needs five minutes to think of a snappy retort. I’m sure I would have come up with something that would have left him in tears and the other passengers would have applauded my impressive rhetorical skills, but the bus stopped and the guy got off. I let it go and looked out the window. So, I’m going to my first violin lesson. The big question in my mind was a simple one – what should I expect to happen over the next hour? What was this entire experience going to be like? We’ve all been in situations like this one. We’ve all stepped into experiences where we have little more than a vague notion of what is going to happen. How do we get through it? In his book, The Empty Space, British theater and film director, Peter Brook discusses what happens on the first day of the rehearsal of a play. “The purpose of anything you do on the first day is to get you through to the second one.” Wise advice. Taking that example a step further, it’s important to realize what happens on the first day of any activity is almost secondary to the situation because everything is new. Beginnings are often filled with so much mental noise it is difficult to focus on the actual task at hand. Too many questions fill everyone’s mind. What is does the room look like? Do I stand? Sit? What should I wear? Who is this person I’m working with? Will we get along? Will I understand what I’m being asked to do? Can I ask questions? Will my questions sound stupid? The list goes on and on. Indeed, there is often so much going on in everyone’s head it is amazing we get through the hour in one piece. This is true of the first day of a class in a school, the first meeting of a group, the first day of a new job, the first day of basketball practice, and definitely with the first lesson with a private violin teacher. The first day can be constructive, hopefully encouraging, somewhat awkward, and frequently unfocused. As a former teacher I’ll let you in on a little secret. Often, the most nervous person in the room is the teacher. More often than not, they are asking themselves the same questions you are. How am I coming across? Am I dressed appropriately? Who is this person? Will we get along? Did I bring everything I need? Do I have enough material to go a full hour? Will I know the answers to questions? This list goes on and on. So how do you handle all of that? There are two general ways to approach the hour. The first way is to treat the lesson as the most important thing in your life. Create a make or break situation in your mind and get all stressed and panicked about it. Become a basket case. Your adrenaline will be pumping, your focus will be shattered, and in the end, because you don’t know how to play a violin, you’ll most likely be disappointed. So, that’s probably not a good way to deal with the situation. The second way is to remember this little mantra – Here I am, I’m going to do the best I can, and we’ll simply see h[...]

Fiddle and Jazz Improvisation Jams from Creative Strings Workshop (VIDEOS)

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 02:49:56 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Here are a few more highlights from Creative Strings Workshop, Christian Howe's jazz improvisation camp which I attended a few weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio. One night we all watched various groups of faculty performing live at a casual jam session at Natalie's Pizza in Columbus, Ohio. What a treat! They performed in so many different styles: traditional fiddle; singing and playing, slow jazz, free improvisation and even some jazz improv on a Bach fugue. First is an overview, with excerpts from several performances: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> The above video features violinist/mandolist/singer Andy Reiner (who has a full video for the song he sings, Music All Around, in which he is playing while skiing down a hill!); violinist Diana Ladio; cellist Adam Spiers; violinist Jason Anick and in the last clip, Creative Strings director Christian Howes. In the video below is a merging of Baroque and jazz, with violinists Jason Anick and Eli Bishop performing a live improvisation on Bach's G minor fugue: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> You might also like: