Violin and fiddle stuff


Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Fiddlerman Group Silent Night Project | Fiddlerman.

Any violinist or violist no matter what level, is invited to learn the parts and participate in the Fiddlerman’s international Silent Night group youtube project. All the parts for the project are available for download below. Your videos will be due sometime around the second week of December. :-)
Participating members will record themselves individually using an upcoming click track and send the files to Fiddlerman who will create a memorable combined youtube video that you can share with all your friends and loved ones just in time for Christmas.

Download the appropriate part or parts and learn them as well as you can. Participate in learning together with other members if you like via our forum. Post demo’s of yourself for critique, feedback, or just for the heck of it. If you have problems listening to the MP3 files on this page, simply right click (control click for Mac) on the file and choose “Save Link As” to save and play on your computer. Present tempo has been set to 60 bpm but may change (depending on incoming opinions) before the click-track is complete.

Record yourself using the soon to come click track in ear (not audible on the recording) and SPREND the file to (Do not email any files, they will be too big). If you have a Dropbox, Google drive or similar account feel free to send the link instead.
Please spread the word. The more the merrier.

If you don’t wish to be seen just record and send audio.  Fiddlerman will mix the parts first then add the video. Sending your video gives the rights to use the video as seen fit for a youtube project.

Demo tutorials of the violin parts by Fiddlerman soon to come.

Silent Night PDF sheet-music parts:

Violin parts:

Viola parts:

Click Track – coming soon

MP3 files from Finale file:

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

All interested violinists and violists are welcome to learn the parts arranged and available here on for the “Ghostbusters” International Youtube Project for Halloween 2012.
At the beginning of October members will record themselves individually using a click track and send the files to Fiddlerman who will create a memorable combined “Ghostbusters” International youtube video just in time to post to all your friends on Halloween.

Download the appropriate part or all the parts and learn them as well as you can.

Record yourself using the Ghostbusters click track in ear (not audible on the recording) and SPREND the file to (Do not email any files, they will be too big)
Deadline for turning in the audio or video files is for now, October 8th. Please spread the word to everyone you know that plays the violin. The more the merrier.

If you don’t wish to be seen just record audio.  I will mix the parts first then add the video. Sending a video gives the rights to use the video as seen fit for a youtube project.

Demo and help videos of the violin parts by Fiddlerman soon to come.

Everyone is welcome to participate in this fun and exciting project. I encourage you to recruit players to make this event even more fun.

Download any or all parts and choose the most appropriate one to record based on your capabilities.

Ghostbusters – Click Track

Ghostbusters – VIOLN

Ghostbusters – VIOLA

Midi parts:

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Stradivari honored at Library of Congress

In the 1930s, Gertrude Clarke Whittall donated five stringed instruments, made by famed Cremonese master craftsman Antonio Stradivari, to the Library of Congress.

Stradivarius Violins at the Library of Congress

Stradivarius instruments, especially Stradivarius violins, are known the world over for their exquisite beauty, unparalleled craftsmanship and extraordinary sound.

Six of the rare instruments are owned by the Library of Congress. Four of them were the star attractions at a recent concert honoring their creator, Antonio Stradivari.

Every December, the Library of Congress presents a special concert featuring rare stringed instruments from its famed musical collection. The concert marks the anniversary of Stradivari’s death.

A print of master violin maker Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) examining an instrument.A print of master violin maker Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) examining an instrument.

This year’s concert was performed by the Borromeo String Quartet, which played Franz Schubert’s Quartet no. 14 in D minor, “Death and the Maiden,” with four Stradivarius instruments; two violins, a viola and a cello.

Schubert’s Quartet was one of three compositions played with instruments from the library’s unique music collection, which includes six Stradivarius instruments.

Ann McLean, senior concert producer at the Library of Congress, chose Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” because she wanted “something beautiful to show off the rich, rare sound of the instruments.”

“And ‘Death and the Maiden,’” she says, “is just universally beloved.”

This year’s event also included Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata no. 7 in C minor, which was performed on another precious stringed instrument in the library’s collection, a Giuseppe Guarneri violin. It was played by the Borromeo Quartet’s first violinist Nicholas Kitchen, and pianist Seymour Lipkin.

Instrument collection

The Library of Congress instrument collection began in 1935 when five Stradivarius instruments were donated by Gertrude Clarke Whittall.

Since then, the library’s music division has acquired five additional rare stringed instruments, including a sixth Stradivarius, through donations. Those classic instruments are perfectly suited to modern compositions as well.

The memorial concert also featured Quartet no. 4 by composer, conductor and jazz historian, Gunther Schuller. The renowned composer says he doesn’t think about what the Stradivarius instruments do for him or his composition as much as what it means to the performers.

“Not everyone can hear the distinction between a Stradivari and another instrument, maybe a lesser-made violin, because those are very subtle differences. But, of course, the musicians really can feel that instantly.”

Schuller often marvels at the craftsmanship that went into the creation of the iconic instruments.

“There is this mystery that we still don’t quite know how Stradivarius and Guarneri and some of the other great violin makers did that. We’ve been researching that for, well, several hundred years now. And it’s all here in this wonderful Library of Congress.”

via Rare Violins Play Starring Role in Concert | Arts & Culture | English.

Saturday, October 1st, 2011 celebrates one year is very happy to announce that the site has been online for one year today October 1st, 2011.

I first decided I wanted to devote time to an online violin learning site about six months before actually doing it. It occurred to me that if done correctly I could help so many more violinists with each lesson than giving private lessons. I’ve always felt like everyone who wants to learn should be able to do so whether or not they are fortunate enough to be able to afford it. Internet is world wide as opposed to local and I love the idea of connecting to the entire world. Another thing that enticed me is knowing that whatever I produce now can theoretically remain indefinitely. It’s obvious that internet will continue to expand at great speeds.  One of the first things I did after deciding to start a site was to read a book about SEO search engine optimization, not having ever done anything like this before I wanted to know what I would be getting myself into and what I needed to do to get traffic to such a site.

I began by writing down ideas and future projects. There are no shortages of ideas and my list of things to do is extensive. The biggest problem is finding the time to do it all while also playing to make a living.  Fortunately revenue from adsense, Skype lessons and donations are on the rise giving me hopes for a sustainable future income to support my costs and time. One thing that came as an unexpected but positive surprise is that I have developed friendships with so many members and feel as though they are family. One of our upcoming projects are to make a Christmas video of Fiddlerman’s members playing a combination of “Carol Of The Bells” and “What Child Is This” which were voted on by our members on this forum thread. This video will be posted on Youtube and shows that we can work together even though we live so far apart. Some members are posting their progress and asking for constructive criticism on the forum.  This in essence is a close equivalent to a master class or private lesson though we do it with the greatest respect and appreciation towards each other and learn from others mistakes. I am very proud of how our members treat each other both with love and respect.

The famous “Cheap ViolinTest” started something special for It meant that a person could actually start learning the violin and not necessarily have to spend a lot of money. Theoretically one could buy a violin for $99 and get lessons for free online at or other helpful sites and youtube.  As a result of my test, Cecilio caught wind of my review and offered to send me instruments provided they could use the videos as they see fit. I of course said yes but made it completely clear that I would be 100% honest about the result, good or bad. This gave me an opportunity to give away more instruments to my visitors. It also allowed me to see what quality instruments are available for the low budget beginner. So far I have given away two violins and am giving away a different violin every other month for at least 5 more violins. Next giveaway will be on the 9th of October and aired live as usual on Fiddlerman TV at 11AM ECT. Hopefully another similar opportunity will come along enabling me to give away even more instruments. All giveaways and information on how to win have been posted in the news section of

As of today, gets between 400 and 600 unique visitors from around the globe every single day and the numbers are climbing fast. I, Pierre Holstein (Fiddlerman), thank everyone from the bottom of my heart, for all the support that you have given me and the site. Happy Fiddlerman Day!!!

via celebrates its first full year online | Fiddlerman.

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Lindsey Stirling is a young and unique hip hop violinist that not only plays fun original music on the fiddle but also finds a way to control her bow while dancing, jumping, and performing impressive gymnastic moves. Besides being a fantastic entertainer Lindsey also strives to help others.

I’ve really enjoyed watching you perform and for me it is obvious that you are on your way to great things. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your age, where you grew up and where you live? I grew up in Gilbert AZ, and I am now a 24 years old college student. I now live in Utah and I am in my senior year at BYU. I am studying to be a recreational therapist and I want to work with troubled teenage girls. I currently work at a residential treatment center helping teenage girls go through recovery and love it. It is such a rewarding job because I get to be a small part of helping someone rediscover the healthy side of themselves. I have found that music and finding passion in life is very helpful for this.

What gave you the idea of combining intensive dance and playing the violin? When I was a senior in high school I did several talent competitions in order to earn money for college and I got sick of being the boring act. Singers would sing upbeat show tunes, dancers would bring the house down with energetic, pop routines and I felt like I put everyone to sleep. I didn’t want to just impress my audience, I wanted them to have fun with me. So I started to write to beats and I began to choreograph my routines. They started extremely simple but as I have practiced… a ton! They’ve evolved.

What came first, dancing or fiddling?  I have always loved dance but my parents couldn’t afford both dance lessons and violin lessons. So my mom told me when I was six years old that I had to chose either dance or violin. I chose violin but I think it’s pretty funny that i went ahead and did both… I’ve actually never had a dance lesson. I learned how to moonwalk, and glide and c walk through looking up tutorials on Youtube, and other than that I just use to go to a lot of dance parties so… that’s where I learned my little moves.

How long have you been playing?  I’ve played the violin for over 18 years

Which style of dancing do you prefer?  I guess all I know is Lindsey Style. Ha ha, I don’t know I only know your basic moves you would use at a dance party but if I could learn any type of dance I would love to learn contemporary.

In your videos it is very obvious that you are extremely flexible and limber. What do you do to be able to bend like that or are you just naturally that way? I’m kinda a naturally flexible person. I don’t stretch at all but the more I do those moves as I practice and perform, the better they’ve gotten.

Most violinists struggle to keep their bow movements controlled with very little or no body movement.How do you keep bow control while jumping?  It’s all muscle memory. I just practice the songs really slowly as I put the choreography with it and my bow arm learns what parts of the song it needs to use more pressure and it learns where it can lighten up.

READ THE REST via Lindsey Stirling – a unique and original hip hop violinist and dancer | Fiddlerman.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011


Jamming is one of the most fun things to do on the fiddle. The blues is one of the most fun and easiest genres to jam to. I’ll show you how to play the blues even with the most basic technique and knowledge of the violin.These step by step videos and interactive audio files will give you the tools and knowledge necessary to start jamming real soon and enjoying yourself immensely right from the beginning. Download or play the interactive blues accompaniments by MGN right off my page and begin working on Fiddlermans blues exercises.

Learn to play the Blues VIDEO

via Lean to play the blues on the violin | Fiddlerman.

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Isn’t it hard for us to accept criticism, even so called “constructive criticism”? We tend to take our playing too personally as though it was a part of us.

In previous positions as concertmaster and section leader, I had to give great professional musicians criticism and witnessed how hard it was for some to take it.

Because of how critical we are, sharing our progress with others can be very difficult knowing that we could be judged the same way. We often know what we are doing wrong but must accept our imperfections to continue playing and performing.

Allthough we are in awe of great soloists we can still find flaws in their performances. Even they are not perfect. We enjoy their performances in part by choosing to hear the greatness and not focusing on the faults.
One way to accept criticism is to realize that no one is without fault and every one of us can improve.

The musicians that I have had the most respect for in my life are the ones that don’t appear to be negatively affected by criticism and actually try to do what is suggested.I remember being impressed by opera star Dilber who was a soloist at a concert I played in Sweden a few years ago. She is extremely self critical, and spent time during the rehearsal asking orchestra musicians sitting close to her if a particular note was too high or too low, etc. She seemed sincerely concerned with doing the best job she possibly could, even though she is successful and well known.

Professional orchestra musicians are more used to divas who love to give instructions and very few that would accept advice. It’s true that big name soloists have earned the right to be pompous and that is understandable.

One of my life time goals is to become great at accepting criticism. The better we are at doing this, the more secure we are as individuals.Whenever I can accept critique without feeling bad, I am very proud of myself for doing so.

We can all learn faster if we are open to advice.

via The art of accepting constructive criticism | Fiddlerman.

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Congratulations goes to Bindy on winning the Cecilio Black Metallic Silent Violin.I received this email from Bindy (Pikachu) shortly after the drawing:

Hi Pierre! Thank you for the opportunity and your wonderful site. The community you’re building is fantastic. I learn something new on every visit. I’m super excited to have won the violin! I usually have such bad luck with these things.I’ve been playing violin since this March and picked it up because I needed a creative outlet. I’m really bad, so I’ll be using the junk out of my headphones so I can practice without waking people up. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t due to financial constraints and studies. Now that I’m out of school I can finally pursue it! I’m going to try and learn Spring on it first, simply because I got hooked after seeing someone play it with an electric violin on a J-drama. Then I can rock out with BURNING PASSION!Bindy S.

READ MORE via Congratulations Pikachu on winning the Cecilio Black Metallic Silent Black Violin | Fiddlerman.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Kenny Baker

Bluegrass fiddler Kenny Baker

Influential fiddler who played in Bill Monroe’s groundbreaking band

Bluegrass fiddler Kenny Baker has died at the age of 85. The son of an old-time fiddle player, Baker was born in Burdine, Kentucky. He took up guitar before becoming interested in the fiddle after listening to Western swing fiddler and bandleader Bob Wills and jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. After serving in the navy during World War II, he worked as a coal miner in eastern Kentucky while playing Western swing fiddle semi-professionally.

Baker made his professional breakthrough playing with country musician Don Gibson, and in 1957 began performing with bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe in his genre-defining Blue Grass Boys band. Monroe would often introduce Baker as ‘the greatest fiddler in bluegrass’. Baker left the group several times to return to mining, but rejoined in 1968 and stayed until 1984. He then began a long and successful partnership with dobro player Josh Graves.

Known for his smooth, tip-to-tip bowing style, Baker was also a prolific composer of fiddle tunes. In 1993 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

via The Strad – Bluegrass fiddler Kenny Baker dies – 13 July 2011.

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Amaryllis Quartet

Swiss–German quartet and Trio Rafale take top prizes in chamber music contest

Swiss–German quartet and Trio Rafale take top prizes in chamber music contest

The Amaryllis Quartet won first prize in the quartets division of the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. The Swiss–German quartet also took the overall grand prize. The Kelemen Quartet from Hungary took second prize and received the Musica Viva Australia Prize and the audience prize. Third prize went to the Attacca Quartet from the US.In the piano trios division, Trio Rafale from Switzerland took first prize. Second prize went to the Rhodes Piano Trio from the UK. Trio Paul Klee from France received third prize and the audience prize.

via The Strad – Amaryllis Quartet wins in Melbourne – 18 July 2011.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Successful funding drive averts threat of orchestras closure. The London Mozart Players, one of the UKs oldest chamber orchestras, has staved off the possibility of closure after a drive to raise urgent funds was a success. Two months after news emerged that the chamber orchestra was on the brink, its funding appeal is on track to reach its target of £50,000 by the end of July. The orchestras managing director Simon Funnell said that individual donations to the appeal had ranged from a few pounds to more than £5,000. The London borough of Croydon, where the ensemble has been based for over 20 years, has agreed to continue its support until March 2013, committing £180,000 over two years from April 2011.

via The Strad – Appeal saves London Mozart Players – 11 July 2011.

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Performers return old Italians after fears they may be seized overseas.

Czech musicians have had to return old Italian stringed instruments belonging to the Czech state to the vaults of the National Museum in Prague because of fears they could be impounded abroad. Among those affected are violinist Jan Talich and cellist Petr Prause of the Talich Quartet, who had to hand in their Stradivari violin and Grancino cello, although they will still be allowed to perform on the instruments in concerts within the Czech Republic.The move to recall the instruments and other valuable items of cultural heritage that are out on loan comes after developments in a long-running arbitration battle between the government and Diag Human, a blood plasma company. Courts in Vienna and Paris recently recognised a 2008 Czech arbitration court ruling that the government owed Diag Human $500m as compensation for claiming in 1992 that the company was suspected of illegal activities, resulting in it losing a government contract. In an attempt to enforce the claim, Austrian authorities seized two Czech paintings, together worth an estimated $877,000, from Viennas Belvedere Gallery. The Czech government, which refused to recognise the original 2008 ruling, is appealing the Vienna and Paris court rulings, but has moved swiftly to ensure that other valuable artworks and cultural assets cannot be used as collateral to force it to pay up.

via The Strad – Czech state recalls instruments – 23 June 2011.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

How an exciting new social phenomenon has the power to transform classical music.A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment and/or satire. Flash mobs are a recent social phenomenon. Some might say they go hand in hand with the fairly fatuous “planking” craze. Both have arisen from the ability to share something easily via technology – an act so seemingly random that it becomes entertainment.From mass public pillow fights to “silent discos” participants on the London Underground synced their portable music devices and silently danced for the unexpected viewing pleasure of bemused commuters, flash mobs have taken a variety of forms, but I would argue that they have an ability to serve a greater purpose. In particular I’ve taken an interest in the way classical music has been used in this context. It fits the bill perfectly; something that is widely perceived to belong in a concert hall, usually performed with a sense of formality to audiences who pay good money. Many people view classical music as a luxury. Taking it away from the revered theatres to the general public, free of charge and in a fun, surprising way is surely a good thing that’s bound to attract some attention.For us musos, there’s the thrill of being “in on it”. But interestingly, it’s not just amateur musicians getting into this social movement, and it goes far beyond busking. Professional ensembles around the world have seen it not only as a bit of fun, but a way of reaching the masses in a modern, relevant way.

via Classical flash mobs | Limelight Magazine.

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Lafayette Specialty School

Lafayette Specialty School fighting to save its orchestra

CHICAGO — The violin isn’t pretty, but its scratched frame has been well-loved by the girl who cradles it now, and those who played it before her. Her mother calls it her daughter’s “soul mate.”The instrument doesn’t belong to Nidalis Burgos. It is on loan from her school, where the seventh-grader packs it up each weekday to bring it home.LINK: Resilience! Student Overcomes Cancer, Homelessness To GraduateLINK: Priceless! Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Jacket Up For AuctionLINK: “The Wire” Creator To Eric Holder: End War On Drugs, Get New SeasonShe practices anywhere she can – in her bedroom, in the kitchen, on her back porch so she can hear the sound reverberate off the brick apartment buildings that line the alley. Usually, she warms up with “Ode to Joy,” her mother’s favorite song, and a fitting theme for a girl who truly seems to love playing.“Music brings a little peace to the mind,” the 13-year-old says.Her own frame is so tiny that she plays a violin that is three-quarters the standard size. But when she plays it, she feels big, powerful even.That is a common feeling among the 85 students who play in the after-school string orchestras at the Lafayette Specialty School, a public school in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, where more than 90 percent of the students come from poverty.Though gentrifying with occasional upscale condominium buildings, this is a place where it’s not always easy to be a kid, where gang members are often seen standing on street corners, and where too many students are witnesses to violence.“They live in one of the wealthiest cities and wealthiest nations in the world, and some of these students have barely anything,” principal Trisha Shrode says. “Some of them don’t have clean clothes. They don’t have items for school.”

READ MORE via Chicago School Fights To Save Its Orchestra | News One.

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

It can be tempting to neglect your instrument and do something more enjoyable for the moment such as watching a movie, hanging out on Facebook, playing online games, or perhaps taking an unnecessary nap.

Here are a few tips to help you stay motivated.

  • Leave your instrument out in plain site>
  • Listen to great music and performances.
  • Read through new pieces of music.
  • Find play along recordings or music to jam with.
  • Plan a performance.
  • Find a friend to play duets with.
  • Find musicians to motivate you on a forum or other social network.
  • Enroll in a competition.
  • Plan a chamber music party or jam session.
  • Record yourself.Join a community orchestra.
  • Find friends with mutual interests.
  • Set specific goals for your instrument.
  • Get a teacher. If you don’t have time for lessons every week, maybe every other week.

via How do you stay motivated? | Fiddlerman.

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Brits Tasmin Little

Brits Tasmin Little



Violinists dominate Classical BritsTasmin Little and Vilde Frang among award winnersTasmin Little and Vilde Frang were among the winners at the Classical Brit Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Little picked up the Critics Award for her 2010 recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto. Norwegian violinist Frang, 24, won the Newcomer Award. There was also success for André Rieu, whose Moonlight Serenade album with his Johann Strauss Orchestra was named Album of the Year.

via The Strad – Violinists dominate Classical Brits – 13 May 2011.

Vilde Frang

Vilde Frang violinist

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Cleveland Orchestra

Cleveland Orchestra's residency in Florida very controversial.

Now closing the fifth season of its annual residency in Miami, the Cleveland Orchestra has brought Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to public school children, master teachers to the University of Miami and top-flight performances of classics to the Adrienne Arsht Center.Yet the residency has also vacuumed up scarce philanthropic dollars at a time when South Florida arts organizations are cutting back while giving Miami audiences a parade of lowest-common-denominator works like Bolero and Pictures at an Exhibition.For three weeks each winter, the orchestra escapes the blustery shore of Lake Erie for the palm trees, sand and sun of South Florida, playing a three-program concert series at the Arsht Center, putting on children’s concerts – some offered free for Miami public school students — and engaging in an intense round of master classes, side-by-side performances, recitals and other events at the University of Miami and other institutions.The residency, which holds its final concerts of the year this weekend at the Arsht Center, is one of several the orchestra has developed to expand its audience and donor base beyond its Ohio home in a city that has lost 17 percent of its population over the past decade, according to Census data released last month. The other residency cities are New York, Vienna, Lucerne and Bloomington, Indiana.Opinions vary widely on the impact of the Miami residency.“I think it’s been great for Miami,” said Hector Fortun, a Miami insurance executive who serves on the board of the Musical Arts Association of Miami, the fundraising arm of the Miami residency. “You have one of the world’s best orchestras performing in Miami, with high-caliber music, visits to local schools, making a fabulous contribution. It’s another happening like the Super Bowl and the boat show.“People fly in from Puerto Rico, Venezuela. How lucky we are to have an orchestra of that caliber in Miami. Otherwise you’d have to go to Vienna to hear an orchestra that good.”But even with the orchestra’s busy community activities, many local musicians still see the three-week residency as a drag on South Florida’s arts scene—-weakening the incentive for establishing a local orchestra to replace the defunct Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and crowding out the fundraising efforts of local arts organizations.“The consensus from the musical community is that a three-week residency in no way can replace a local orchestra,” said Jeffrey Apana, an oboist and secretary-treasurer of the South Florida Musicians Association. “The Cleveland Orchestra comes for three weeks a season, and the money they’re making has been taken back to Cleveland and not spent in the local community. An orchestra in residency is not a substitute for a local orchestra. A local orchestra is part of the community and gives back to the community.”A local orchestra, Apana adds, would provide a pool of high-quality professionals to serve as music teachers, chamber music players and performers in opera and ballet orchestras. It would also provide opportunities for freelancers to work as replacements. And any money that it raises, it spends in the community.In the first three years of the Miami residency, the orchestra raised a total of $8,107,256 in South Florida, counting multi-year pledges, according to publicly available tax forms. Fundraising from last year and the current season has not yet been reported. The money goes toward paying part of the orchestra’s annual budget, which includes — at the high end — music director Franz Welser-Möst’s salary of $1,124,033 and concertmaster William Preucil’s salary of $467,212, according to 2008 tax forms. Welser-Möst volunteered to take a pay cut in 2009, during financial difficulties for the orchestra. A spokeswoman declined to provide updated figures, saying salaries were a confidential personnel matter.

READS MORE via South Florida Classical Review » Blog Archive » After five years, the Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami residency remains both prized and controversial.

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra fearful of radiation risk from Japan

The Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra has cancelled a visit to South Korea amid concerns over the radiation risk from Japan. The orchestra was due to give two concerts at the Tongyeong International Music Festival, including tomorrow’s opening concert. Despite assurances from Korean authorities that radiation from Japan would not affect Korea, the orchestra announced midweek that it was pulling out of the festival. A spokesperson for the orchestra cited the changing situation in Japan and Austrian memories of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster’s radiation impact as reasons behind the cancellation.

via The Strad – Orchestra cancels Korea visit – 25 March 2011.

Friday, March 18th, 2011 has added yet another game to his collection.

Violin Fingering Game

Violin Fingering Game

People with absolutely no knowledge of playing the violin or fiddle can now learn to read music and use the violin fingerboard with the help of a simple game. Fiddlermans new game, VIOLIN FINGERING GAME,  also has an interactive finger pattern chart in 8 of the most popular key signatures which can help students familiarize themselves with the most popular finger patterns.

The new game consists of 3 levels. The first level is more for the beginner reader. It begins with one string at a time, ten guesses per string from the G to the E string. The correct string is even highlighted to help the learning process for the beginner.
The intermediate level is much more difficult and intended to help the eye to finger associate as well as correct position for correct string. Mistakes are sounded by a buzzer and game points reduce as time goes by for each guess.
To get a real high score one must be fast and able to see the key signature, notes and fingerboard at the same time.
The final level is extremely difficult when tempo increases to its maximum and difficult even for the professional. The game does not reflect ones real capability to read music but will help those with other type of reading problems.

Also check out Fiddlermans INTONATION GAME which can prove to be very challenging when the pitch differences are as little as 5 cents on some of the advance level challenges.

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Alina Ibragimova

Alina Ibragimova, violinist

Filmmakers will collaborate with Alina Ibragimova at Manchester International FestivalAlina Ibragimova is teaming up with influential filmmakers and animators the Brothers Quay for a programme of solo violin music at this years Manchester International Festival. Ibragimova will play works by Berio, Bach, Biber and Bartók in a promenade performance, leading audiences of 100 around the Chethams School of Music building. A specially commissioned stop-motion animated film by the Brothers Quay will accompany Ibragimovas playing of the Bartók Solo Violin Sonata.Eighteen performances of the programme are scheduled between 1 and 17 July.Ibragimova last played at the Manchester International Festival in 2009, when she performed solo Bach in an auditorium installation by Zaha Hadid Architects.

via The Strad – New Quay brothers film for violinist – 18 March 2011.

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

What happens when Cuban music collides with Haydns London Trio and a bunch of painted instruments?

A lot of hip-swinging fun. Thanks to everyone who came out to be a part of the First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square. This was a great opportunity for me to recycle a ten painted violins and a cello that I made in college and create a new performance piece out of them. Hearing Baroque music sparkle out of one of my paintings always reminds me of why I make art. I how visual art has a tactile permanence to it, and I love how music evaporates the second it is born. Its so much fun to put them together!

via POBL: Fun with Painted Violins.

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

New $10,000 grant for young players. Tarisio offers matching funds to musicians buying at its auctionsOnline auction specialist Tarisio has launched a scheme to help young string players buy instruments and bows. Its new grant programme will award up to $10,000 of matching funds towards the price of an instrument or bow purchased at a Tarisio auction. Musicians under 30 who are studying or have completed a music performance degree can apply for the grant, and one winner will be chosen for each of four Tarisio auctions across the year. The application deadline for the London auction in March is 24 February, and the deadline for the May auction in New York is 22 April.

via The Strad – New $10,000 grant for young players – 20 January 2011.

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Honolulu Symphony to be liquidated

110-year-old orchestra set for Chapter 7 bankruptcyA US judge has given the go-ahead for the Honolulu Symphonys bankruptcy case to be moved from Chapter 11 reorganisation to Chapter 7 liquidation, reports the Honolulu Star Advertiser. The decision effectively silences the 110-year-old orchestra, the countrys oldest symphonic ensemble west of the Rocky Mountains. The orchestra has been operating under Chapter 11 protection for the last year after cancelling all its concerts, citing a big drop in donations.

via The Strad – Honolulu Symphony to be liquidated – 14 December 2010.

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Violinist Eric Rosenblith dies

Eric Rosenblith dies at 90

world renown violinist Eric Rosenblith dies at the age of 90

Formerly the head of strings at Bostons New England Conservatory, he had most recently taught at the Longy School. Born in Vienna, Rosenblith studied with Jacques Thibaud in Paris and Carl Flesch in London. After fleeing Paris for New York in 1939, he continued his studes with Bronislaw Huberman, and made his New York debut in 1941. He served as concertmaster of the San Antonio and Indianapolis symphony orchestras, and played in the Jordan and Brandon quartets and the Fidelio Trio.Rosenblith joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory in 1968, and headed the strings programme there for 25 years, retiring in 2007. In 1997 he founded the International Musical Arts Institute and Festival in Fryeburg, Maine. In his later years Rosenblith updated and translated book one of Fleschs landmark pedagogy text The Art of Violin Playing, and in October of this year the Carl Fisher company published a distillation of Rosenbliths own teaching approach in a volume called Ah, You Play the Violin…: Thoughts Along the Path to Musical Artistry.

via The Strad – Violinist Eric Rosenblith dies – 22 December 2010.

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Dennis Lau electric fiddle idol in Malaysia

Christmas downtime with violinist Dennis Lau

Christmas downtime with violinist Dennis Lau

Dennis Lau is not just a familiar name in the music industry. He also heads Mosaic Music Entertainment and Mosaic Movie Productions.This assignment, to interview young violinist Dennis Lau, sent chills down the spine of a colleague who is an aspiring singer. Surely, she isn’t the only Malaysian who’s in awe of Dennis Lau. 25-year-old Lau is a force to be reckoned with in the local music industry. His album, DiversiFy, released last year, showcases his talent of merging classics, jazz and pop tunes that appeal to the masses. Add this talent with good genes, business insight and ambition, and a star is born.His burgeoning musical career aside, Lau currently heads Mosaic Music Entertainment, a company that provides various services related to event, and more recently Mosaic Movie Productions, which produced a short film in which Lau acted alongside Daphne Iking and Steve Yap. The film is a part of his recently launched limited edition album aptly titled DiversiFy Limited Edition.There is no doubt that this young lad is every inch an entrepreneur – the profit Mosaic Music Entertainment makes has over the years been the financial source that funds his musical aspirations, namely his album. Unsurprisingly, Lau was listed as one of CIMB Prestige’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’ personalities in 2009.Lau, who read music at University College Sedaya International UCSI under the Newcastle Australian Music Degree Programme, is no stranger to the music education business either. His mother was a piano teacher, and having learnt piano since age 3, he started teaching music at age 18. Despite his success, Lau shows no sign of slowing down. In the spirit of the holiday season, however, he takes some downtime to sit down with at his cosy home-cum-studio in Subang. READ ENTIRE ARTICLE via Malaysia Property portal, Classifieds, Listings, News, Home & Décor.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Bruce Simpson passed away Nov. 22 2010

Bruce Simpson passed away Nov. 22 2010

by: Mark Hicks / The Detroit News

Painting a watercolor portrait, designing a steering wheel, playing the violin in a community concert — Bruce Simpson could do it all.
“He was a man of many talents,” said his wife, Edwina. “Creativity was a real part of Bruce’s life.”
Mr. Simpson died Monday, Nov. 22, 2010, in hospice care after declining health. He was 89.
Born May 19, 1921, in Detroit, he attended Greenfield Village Schools, an experimental learning facility.
There, he began playing the violin, and once was loaned an Italian instrument owned by Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Co., relatives said.
Mr. Simpson later attended the Edison Institute and worked as a draftsman at Ford’s Willow Run plant.
After a stint at Michigan State University, he joined the Army Air Corps and served in such places as Canada and the Azores. While working as an air traffic control officer, he met Alice Wilhelm. They wed in 1946.
Earning a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Illinois, Mr. Simpson returned to Metro Detroit in 1947 and began working at Ford. He worked in cooling systems and oversaw the design of factory-installed safety features such as door locks, seat belts and steering wheels, relatives said. “He was also a person who would look at a problem and want to solve it,” his wife said. “He would figure out ways to solve it that were out of the box.”
Mr. Simpson retired in 1986 as an executive engineer of fuel economy and emissions.

Outside of work, a major passion was playing the violin. He spent a decade with a Plymouth music group and more than 40 years in the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, which he helped found in 1961.
Over the years, Mr. Simpson performed at many concerts and often spent summers taking music classes to hone his skills.
“He was really an accomplished violinist who played at every opportunity,” said Sandy Butler, president of the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra. “Music was very important to him.”
An avid skier and golfer, Mr. Simpson also loved traveling — including once tracing the 19th-century Lewis and Clark expedition through the West.
Some of his trips yielded more creativity: He painted watercolor portraits based on the photographs. “He just had a gift,” his wife said.
Other survivors include sons Dick, John, David, Tom; stepsons Michael Clay and Whit Clay; 12 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a sister, Charlotte Martin.
His first wife died in 1988.
Memorials may be made to the University of Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Attn: Courtney McDonald, 2101 Commonwealth Blvd., Suite D, Ann Arbor, MI 48105.
via Retired engineer, painter, violinist | | The Detroit News.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Intonation game

Fiddlerman's new Intonation Game

Fiddlerman’s new “Intonation Game” will help you learn to recognize intonation differences.
On the advanced level you are given as little as 5 cents differences between tones and are asked whether the note is too low, high or just right.
Use this game to better your intonation skills. Kids learn to perceive the concept of intonation much easier and quicker through playing this game.
Fiddlermans “Intonation Game”

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

British police launch appeal for stolen 300-year-old violin

British detectives have launched a public appeal for information after a South Korean musician was left distraught by the theft of her 314-year-old antique Stradivarius violin at a London railway station, reports said. Media reports said 32-year-old Min-Jin Kym, who has recently performed with the Philharmonic Orchestra, had been deeply upset by the theft of her precious violin and two extremely expensive bows, while she was eating a sandwich with a friend at Euston station.The instrument, made in 1696, was estimated to be worth around 1.2 million pounds USD 1.9 million the Guardian reported Tuesday.A reward of 15,000 pounds had been issued by Lark Insurance Broking Group, for anyone providing information leading to the violins recovery.”These items hold enormous sentimental and professional value for the victim, but although they are extremely valuable, it would be very difficult to sell them on as they are so rare and distinctive that they will be easily recognised as stolen property,” detective Andy Rose of British Transport Police BTP, said.

via British police launch appeal for stolen 300-year-old violin – World News, 100266.

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Accident led to violin making

Making music is in the blood of violinist Khris Ansin.

His grandmother, Winifred Broughton, taught violin for more than 60 years in Dunedin and his mother, Jocelyn Broughton, will be presented with a St Cecilia Examinations diploma in cello teaching tonight.

Mr Ansin will demonstrate another side to his music-making talents when he performs Paganini’s Violin Concerto No 4 in D Minor at the graduation ceremony on a violin he made himself.

The 19-year-old University of Otago performance and chemistry student was inspired to make the violin after an unfortunate incident last year.

“My original violin got run over by dad in the car,” he said yesterday.

Mr Ansin constructs the instruments from maple wood for the back and sides and spruce on the front.

“They take a couple of months to make, because I do everything from scratch. But, the secret to the tone of a violin is in the varnish,” he revealed.

His dream is to study at the home of violin-making in Cremona, Italy.

“I took my grandmother’s violin to a Christchurch maker to be valued. He said anyone who wanted to become a maker is crazy. There’s no money and it’s the hard life of a musician; full of anxiety and depression,” he grinned.

His favourite maker is 16th-century Italian craftsman Andrea Amati, who was the maker of the oldest violins still in existence.

“His violins sound so sweet. Like an angel playing.”

The concert and ceremony will be held from 7.30pm today in the Mornington Methodist Church.

via Accident led to violin making | Otago Daily Times Online News Keep Up to Date Local, National New Zealand & International News.

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Teen plays violin again after battling bone cancer

Joe Ginem is playing violin again after battling bone cancer

Florida violinist is thankful this Thanksgiving for every note he plays. The teen nearly lost his ability to play to cancer. But, as Erik Waxler reports, he never gave up on his music. When Joe Ginem plays the violin, nothing else seems to matter, “Its definitely my biggest passion.” Joe was coming into his own as a musician when four years ago, when he was 15, what started as a sore arm and shoulder, turned out to be a rare form of bone cancer.  Joe had osteosarcoma.”When my arm finally gave out, I couldnt lift anything. I couldnt even pick up a pencil,” Joe said. During a long tough year, there was no music for Joe, just hospitals, surgery and chemotherapy.  But he wasnt giving up. Not on his arm and not on his violin. Treatments at Tampas Moffit Cancer Center were successful, but there was a choice to make. “My surgeon gave me the option of being able to make daily tasks easier or being able to play the violin better. And I chose the musician route,” Joe recalls. So now, it may be a little more difficult to grab a cup of water, but he can play his violin again. Joes cancer is in remission. When he plays the violin there is  pain, but he says nothing like the pain that would have come without his music. Osteosarcoma typically develops in growing bones and is most often diagnosed in patients between the ages of 10 and 25.

via KUSI News Weather Sports San Diego – Teen plays violin again after battling bone cancer.

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Al Justice is learning to play violin in his forties

Al Justice learning to play violin in his forties

Al Justice is proof that learning to play violin in your forties is achievable.

Fiddlerman: What made you decide to play the fiddle?
Al: It was an accident. I went to the music store to buy banjo strings and bought a cheap beginner’s violin set on the fly.

F: How long ago was that?
A: This March it will be six years ago.

F: If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?
A: Just turned 50.

F: Did anyone tell you that you would not be able to learn violin this late in the game?
A: Yes. But I did not listen to them, because I have an extensive background in playing other instruments.

F: I believe in you Al.
A: Thanks-I’m not bragging, but I do too.

F: You seem like the learn it yourself kind of guy. What methods did you choose for learning to play violin?
A: I signed up immediately for lessons with Mary Beth Kirkpatrick, a first chair violinist with the WV symphony; and, went way virtual (online). I also had a world class coach on the side, Christine Carr McGuire, who graduated with honors from UCINN Conservatory.

F: How long did it take you before you felt like you actually could entertain on the fiddle?
A: LMAO – immediately.
Of course, I was wrong. :0
Once I was raising money busking for a Hurricane Katrina family at six months in with a badly damaged left hand.. I wore an old house coat, a straw hat, and had a neon sign that said for 50 cents I’ll play a song, for a dollar I won’t. I got lots of dollars.

F: You are obviously a busy man. How do you find time for violin in your busy schedule?
A: I make time. I’m in love.
I actually structure my life around practice.

F: What is the funnest thing that you have ever done with your fiddle, either by yourself or with a group?
A: Uh – probably the busking. When I play with various garage bands and people, I let loose rocking, completely fun and immersed.
I also like to call people that are special to me and play happy birthday to them. Stuff like that – I guess.

F: What is the most time that you have ever spent practicing? Either for a day or on a regular basis.
A: At least 6 hours in one day though the minimum I practice is an hour and a half.

F: That is extremely admirable. I’ve been playing since I was a child, but to learn a new instrument and give it that much effort is fantastic.
A: The violin smacked me square in the heart/face.

F: Do you plan on keeping this obsession up or will you find a new love?
A: I may learn to play the viola.
But no – I intend on staying focused, completely focused on the violin.
I am able to play the piano professionally already.

F: Ah, that explains a lot of things. You are a professional pianist.
A: In a way, yes. I competed playing in the “Air Force Tops in Blues” to world wide level.

F: What goals have you set for yourself as a violinist?
A: Just steady basic technical progress that will strengthen my left hand and continue my current progress of using the entire bow.
Also to play the Bach Double, Vivaldi, Fiocco, and others.

F: You seem to have it all figured out, I love it.
A: And rocking!!! Dang, I rocked last night.
I’m having this existential issue though. My teacher doesn’t want me digging in, and once I learned slow bow at the bridge, I’m a monster!!!!!

F: BTW, Digging in has a place in music as well. Just don’t do it when you shouldn’t be. Ponticello also has a nice place in rock and blues.
A: Ponticello is a new word for me.
F: That means to play on the bridge, not literally though. The ponticello sound is very metallic and suitable to lots of modern music, jazz and rock but was even used in Baroque music.

F: I’m glad you want to expand to multiple genres. It makes the violin so much more interesting.
A: I’ve been doing that since I was six. Think Tchaikovsky. Also storytelling.
You won’t get this, but think Appalachia meets Bartok.
I was playing slap-bass on the piano at the age of 10.
I’m using bow speed for volume and resonance.
But when I watch Roby Lakatos….

F: How about giving us “Al Justice’s best tip” for the want to be violinist out there.
A: Work your ass off! You might want to edit that. Maybe write “work your butt off some more”.
F: That’s OK, I’ll leave ass on there. I believe in freedom of speech.

F: Is there something in particular that you would like to share with us all based on your experience?
A: Music is a language that born musicians speak without reservation. Go there, and the violin will meet you. It is a conversational instrument that does not lie, nor like liars.

F: Great words of wisdom, Al. Thanks a million.

by: Pierre Holstein

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Orchestra soars with Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto

In the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra’s “All-Orchestral Oriental Delights” concert Saturday night at Memorial Auditorium, one piece soared above the others — the audience favorite, “The Butterfly Lovers” Violin Concerto, with its beautiful, heart-wrenching melodies delivered with such lyricism by the WFSO’s concertmaster, Kristin Van Cleve.It’s no wonder why the 26-minute work, by composers He Zhan-Hao and Chen Gang, has stood the test of time. The composition is based on an ancient “Romeo and Juliet”-like Chinese legend about two lovers who are only united after their deaths, when their spirits are transformed into butterflies. What’s interesting about the piece is that it was written for Western orchestras, but its solo violin speaks of Chinese musical traditions.Van Cleve was at her strongest when she played the slow, sad, lovers’ melody. Her portamento technique is without reproach.Slightly more challenging for Van Cleve seemed to be the quicker-paced sections of the work and those incessant spicattos. Still, Van Cleve, with the orchestra behind her, easily conveyed the emotional resonance of the work, and that emotion translated easily to the audience. She received a standing ovation at the end of the performance.The Candler Schaffer-led orchestra also debuted “In the Mind’s Eye — Images for Horns and Orchestra,” a composition the WFSO co-commissioned with the Indianapolis Symphony.Taking the spotlight for this piece were horn players William Scharnberg, Karen Houghton, Jason Lewis and Dennis Houghton. The three-movement work was inspired by the brush strokes in five different paintings. Each movement is distinctive and separate from one another.The first movement is an abstract piece that ends quite abruptly. It is dedicated to abstract expressionism and was inspired by contemporary artist Ingrid Calame. The second movement is much sadder, introspective and dramatically fluid, with strings whose sound keeps descending. It is based on Robert E. Weaver’s “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” and addresses the concept of faith. The third movement, the best movement of the work, deals with artists’ fascination with the light’s reflection, particularly on water. This is where the horn players really get to show their stuff — and they do in this magical movement, which begins grandly, exuberantly and optimistically.Horns were made for that kind of triumphant heralding sound, and it’s in this movement that the horns definitely get to do just that.The composition is not tied together from movement to movement, with no particular melody segueing the piece or bringing all the movements together.Scharnberg, Lewis, Karen Houghton and Dennis Houghton give it their all, though the orchestra overpowers them occasionally in the work. Still, they, too, received a standing ovation from the audience.The WFSO also turned in the 10-minute “In the Steppes of Central Asia” by Alexander Borodin, a piece depicting a caravan of Asians escorted by Russian troops. You can really hear the galumphing and trodding of the caravan with the sweeping sound of the orchestra piping in. The second half featured “The Pleasure Dome of Kubla-Khan” by Charles T. Griffes, a work brimming with mystery and drama. Again, the horn section wows in this piece as a wall of brass strongly and crisply delivers this work.It’s a shame this “All-Orchestral” concert wasn’t better attended. The “Butterfly Lovers” Violin Concerto wasn’t to be missed. And it was wonderful to hear some of the orchestra’s own musicians get the spotlight. Among the ranks of the WFSO are some talented musicians.Up next for the symphony is its Christmas concert Dec. 11 featuring The Living Christmas Card.

via Orchestra soars with Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto » Times Record News.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Check out Fiddlermans new free online violin and fiddle tuner. Not only is it practical and beautiful but also has 8 different preset sounds to choose from. Choose also from hundreds of tempos. Bookmark and use the metronome to practice as often as you want. Click here to view the metronome.

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Still playing the rebel

Nigel Kennedy is back and hes showing no signs of mellowing. Nigel Kennedy returns for a gig at Londons Tower Festival as his seminal Vivaldi album gets a 20th anniversary re-release. He still has the haircut, the attitude, and hes still angry – about conductors, the price of CDs, Palestine, country music, Margaret Thatcher, and much more. Jessica Duchen met him, and then partied…

At 52, Kennedy still works hard, plays hard and never stops dreaming up new projects over the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, and Nigel Kennedy is giving a special performance with his jazz quintet to mark the conclusion of the World Athletics Championships. “Berlin – nummer eins!” the mohican-crested renegade fiddler shouts to the crowd from a stage opposite the landmark. He takes a spoof bow, flapping his hands while pony-galloping forward and back, telling the crowd that this is “Shakespearean”. “Oh, Nigel,” his manager sighs, “what are you doing?”Later, after his trademark greeting, “monster!”, we settle in his dressing-room tent, Kennedy nursing an outsize tumbler of neat vodka, to discuss what he really is doing. At 52, outwardly the bad boy of the violin hasnt changed much since his ever-controversial recording of Vivaldis The Four Seasons 20 years ago, when it got into The Guinness Book of Records as the highest-selling classical album ever and caused near-apoplexy in the classical world.The record industry is marking the anniversary with a special re-release, but Kennedy has long since moved on. He works hard, plays hard – the night before hed been partying until 9am – and never stops dreaming up new projects. Some have been more successful than others; we dont hear much today about the re-branding experiment in which he tried abandoning his first name. But now the classical sphere is looming larger in his activities than it has for a while; its perhaps telling that he has chosen a manager, Terri Robson, who worked with Pavarotti.He wouldnt perform classical concertos in London for years, citing the orchestras lack of adequate rehearsal time, but last year he played the Elgar Violin Concerto at the Proms in a concert that sold out within a day. And even his detractors had to admit that in terms of violin playing hes one of the best in the business.

via Still playing the rebel: Nigel Kennedy is back and hes showing no signs of mellowing – Features, Classical – The Independent.

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

The fiddle (or violin) is a very difficult instrument to learn. It’s also difficult to maintain: strings, the bow, and so on. While the experience may be very rewarding, some of us may just want to have fun with music. The folks at Smule are great with music-type Apps, and their latest is the Magic Fiddle.

It’s an application that emulates the sound of a fiddle. It sounds pretty nice, and the video above shows that it can be played to make some beautiful music.

Smule is the maker of the Ocarina and the popular I Am T-Pain App

At $2.99, it doesn’t sound like a bad deal.

Magic Fiddle

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

World class violinist Mark O’Connor plays Morehead State University

By Katie Brandenburg – The Independent/CNHI


Nov. 9, 2010 —     MOREHEAD – Violinist Mark O’Connor said he often gets the same goosebumps playing with students as he does playing with classical music greats such as Yo-Yo Ma.

“I get the same feeling from a good performance, and it doesn’t even have to be with someone who’s famous,” O’Connor said.

He’s been teaching and performing with students from elementary-aged children to adults at Morehead State University this week as the guest at the sixth Virginia R. Harpham Honor String Orchestra Clinic, said Gordon Towell, a professor of music in music education and jazz studies at Morehead.

“We’re just so excited to have an artist of this caliber,” he said.

O’Connor is a violinist and composer known for his ability to meld classical, jazz and folk violin playing into a style all his own.

This will be the third year that the clinic includes a guest artist, Towell said. Previous guests have been violinists Rachel Barton Pine and Sara Caswell, both of whom have worked with O’Connor in the past.

Towell said that when O’Connor’s name came up as possible guest his wife, Christina, suggested an unusual way of getting in touch with him — Facebook.

Christina Towell is O’Connor’s Facebook friend and that’s how Morehead initially contacted him. Gordon Towell said multiple grants funded O’Connor’s trip to Morehead.

Gordon Towell said O’Connor was an ideal guest to bring to the university for several reasons, including his emphasis on both traditional music and on education.

The Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead was a partner in bringing O’Connor to Morehead, and he has a strong background in traditional fiddling. He was a fiddling champion while a young teen.

Towell said preserving traditional styles of music is important, especially in areas such as Kentucky and West Virginia which are rich in different fiddle styles.

“Really it’s the history of the country, it’s the culture of the country,” Towell said.

O’Connor has also recently developed method for teaching and learning violin with and emphasis on American music.

He said he’s passionate about performing music and talks with pleasure about performing with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor, but has been putting increasing emphasis on teaching music as well with things such as his violin method and string camps.

“One of the last things you think about at that moment (of performance) is teaching, but teaching is integral to our legacy,” he said.

O’Connor worked and performed with students from elementary to college-level during his stay at Morehead, concluding with a performance with high school string students from across the tri-state on Saturday night. They performed two of his compositions “Liberty Bell” and “Strings and Threads,” Towell said. Schools he visited included Rowan County high school and middle school and McBrayer Elementary.

O’Connor said he enjoys working with a wide range of age groups.

“All the different groups are essential to making the community work,” he said.

But he said it’s particularly gratifying to work with high school-aged students because those students are on the verge of making important decisions about their future.

Music played an integral part of his vision for his future as a young man, O’Connor said. He grew up in a poor area and saw music as a way to escape and create a better life for himself.

“I knew that I wanted my music to try to get me out of the situation I was in,” he said.

O’Connor began his professional musical career by playing on other people’s recordings all the while developing a way to combine different styles of violin including folk, jazz and classical.

“It took a while to figure out how it all could be, sort of, put together,” he said.

Since then he’s become a Grammy award-winning musician who has created multiple albums and classical compositions.

Composition is one of the things O’Connor said he’s very passionate about. He said he takes inspiration from American people, cultures and landscapes but puts his own spin on those concepts.

“I like to sort of delve into big picture stuff,” he said.

O’Connor said there are definitely moments when he feels in awe of the situation he’s in and the people he’s around. He recalled one point when famous choreographer Twyla Tharp was chosen to speak about him at a ceremony honoring his work.

“Most of the time you deal with your own struggles and then you’re at a place where, boom, you don’t think anything could go wrong ever,” he said.

via World class violinist Mark O’Connor plays Morehead » Local News » The Morehead News.

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Musician Forgets Million-Dollar Violin on Train

A $1.4 million antique violin isnt something you want to accidentally forget on a train.  But thats just what happened to a panicked German musician on Friday night.After returning home to Munich from a chamber music tour in Asia, he got off at his stop without his most prized possession. Desperate, he informed the manager of his Munich music quartet, who immediately alerted the German Federal Police. An “immediate search,” brought triumph after a railway official found it on the train and put it in custody. A little later, the 45 year old musician was reunited with the precious 1748 Italian fiddle, which led him experience a panic attack and seek medical attention.  “He needed treatment from a doctor but it was nothing dramatic. He was just a bit nervous because he thought he had lost it,” said a police spokesman.See the Top 10 Most Expensive Auction ItemsThis isnt the first time a violin has been forgotten. Two and a half years ago the violinist Philippe Quint left his $3.4 million Stradivari in a taxi, a musician of the Oslo Symphony Orchestra also forgot his instrument during a visit to Salzburg on a snack stand, and a student left his expensive violin at a bus stop in Dortmund. All three were given back their instruments – but not all finders are honest. The violinist from Norway almost had to pay ransom money for the return, the finder of the Dortmund violin tried to flog it in a pawnshop. Only the New York taxi driver was honest.But it is music to NewsFeeds ears to hear the artist is back in Asia playing in his quartet on his prized instrument.

via Lost Luggage: Musician Forgets Million-Dollar Violin on Train – TIME NewsFeed.

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Jiri Novak: Violinist who eschewed a solo virtuoso career to lead the Smetana Quartet for more than 30 years

died Prague 10 September 2010

Jiri Novak, the leader of the celebrated Smetana Quartet, was considered to bethe foremost string-quartet leader of his time, and was one whose modesty concealed an enormous talent and profound musicianship.He was born in Horni Jeleni, some 125km east of Prague, and began violin studies at the age of six. Encouraged by his musical family, his early promise and natural ability brought him to the attention of eminent teachers in Prague including Karel Hoffmann, leader of the legendary Czech Quartet, and violinist Emil Leichner, founder member of the Czech Nonet.Attending the Prague Conservatoire from 1939, he graduated from its master class in 1948 and entered the new Academy of Music for study with Jaroslav Pekelsky until 1952. But by this time he had come to wider attention in Czech musical life to the extent that, even by 1945, the eminent Vaclav Talich had chosen him to be concertmaster of his Czech Chamber Orchestra, which position he held until 1948.Many expected Novak to embrace a career as a virtuoso soloist, but in 1947 he took the all-important decision to abandon a solo career to become the primarius. or leader, of the Smetana Quartet, which position he held with great success to the end of the quartets life, in 1989. Very occasionally he would be persuaded to take on a solo engagement and examples of this may be heard in a recording of Mozarts Violin Concerto No 4 in D KV 218 that he made in 1955 with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Vaclav Talich and the Paganini Violin Concerto in D with the Prague Symphony Orchestra under Václav Smetacek.The Smetana Quartet had been founded at the Prague Conservatory in 1945 with Jaroslav Rybensky as leader, but after little more than a year he took the viola chair when Vaclav Neumann decided to concentrate on conducting. At this point Jiri Novak joined as leader and so began a remarkable association.International recognition came in 1950 with a first tour to Poland, and in 1955 the Quartet toured Britain starting with a concert in the Royal Festival Hall. From then until the last tour here in 1987, the Quartet played in more than 75 British towns and cities, broadcasting regularly for the BBC and appearing also at every major music festival. All four players soon endeared themselves to audiences, and although Novak had the least-good command of English, he was never without people wishing to talk to him and with whom he managed to communicate, aided by his gentle manner and quiet sense of humour.

His contribution to the interpretative aspect of performance was as strong an input as that of his apparently more dominant colleagues. This I witnessed at first-hand when the Quartet were our guests. After breakfast they would retire to the music room and rehearse solidly until early afternoon. Ever self-critical, the playing was occasionally interrupted as debate, often heated, broke out over some point in a quartet they had been playing together for the past 40 years, thus ensuring that each performance was fresh, full of interest and musically rewarding. This was so even after thorough preparation at home where, each July and August they would repair to their summer homes in Lucany in northern Bohemia where the next season’s programmes would be diligently studied between times of relaxation with families. Here, too, Novak led by example with his consummate musicianship, his mild and non-controversial nature in marked contrast to the more voluble input of his three colleagues.

Novak’s technique was absolutely secure and his sound beautiful,conjured from his favourite instrument made by Premysl Otakar Spidlen, and for 10 years from a Stradivarius of 1729 (the “Libon”) loaned from the state collection. Aspects which coloured and marked his playing included his subtle control of vibrato, bow pressure and angle, coupled with an upright posture and relaxed approach even in the most difficult passages. Like the Quartet’s viola, Milan Skampa, he had perfect pitch, accuracy of intonation being central to both his playing and teaching.

In 1967 all four members of the Quartet were appointed professors of their instruments at the Prague Academy of Music, but Novak was perhaps the least sucessful in this role. As someone for whom playing the instrument had come naturally and without great difficulties, he often had problems understanding the difficulties of others and he could be uncompromising. Nevertheless, his even temperament and kindly nature meant that he was fondly regarded by colleagues and students, his own talents admired and appreciated. Among his successful pupils are Jiri Panocha (Panocha Quartet), Leos Cepicky (Wihan Quartet), Jan Kvapil (Talich Quartet) and Radek Krizanovsky (Apollon Quartet).

Very occasionally he was persuaded into the soloist’s role, playing both Bartok violin concertos, as well as that of Stravinsky, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Vaclav Neumann. After the final concerts of the Smetana Quartet in Prague and Brno in 1989, Novak retired from public life and was seldom seen at concerts, although he took a great interest in the career of his violinist daughter, Dagmar Virtova, whom he had successfully initially taught and with whom he would occasionally perform the Bach Concerto in D minor for two violins (BWV 1043). She is now a professional orchestral violinist.

In addition he joined old friends and colleagues, including the viola player Jaroslav Motlik and violoncellist Viktor Moucka, for occasional concerts. He also served on a number of international violin competition juries and in 1996 gave his last concert at Ceske Krumlov, part of which is preserved in a film about the members of the Smetana Quartet made by Jaromil Jires.

Jiri Novak, violinist, teacher and quartet leader: born Horni Jeleni, Czechoslovakia 5 September 1924; married 1964 Dagmar Dvoráková (one daughter); Passed away – Prague 10 September 2010

via Jiri Novak: Violinist who eschewed a solo virtuoso career to lead the Smetana Quartet for more than 30 years – Obituaries, News – The Independent.

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Examining the many sides of a musical prodigy

Fifteen-year-old Anna JiEun Lee, who performs Saturday with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, is bubbly, extroverted and fun to talk to. But she is not only articulate beyond her years, she is gifted beyond them as well. In fact, there is something uncanny about her accomplishments: Soon after beginning her studies of the violin at the age of 4, she already was performing Paganini’s First Violin Concerto with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. At 5, she was the youngest diploma recipient at the New International Music Festival and Competition in Seoul, Korea. At 6, she was performing with Singapore’s Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra. At 11, she appeared on NPR’s “From the Top” and had won the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award for outstanding young musician.

Now 15, Lee’s almost frightening facility with the violin distinguishes her even at Juilliard, where she studies with Peoria Symphony Orchestra music director George Stelluto.

Nevertheless, Lee does not live by music alone. A few moments’ conversation reveals a wide-ranging, omnivorous mind, which recognizes that musical skill is nourished by wider experiences, and which is insatiably curious not only about music but also about what makes society – and by extension, individuals – tick.

“A lot in life is about psychology, the way we look at things,” Lee said recently in a telephone interview. “I could say something is a fact, but actually it would be my perception of a fact, my point of view. . . . I like to debate about philosophy. The way people think and why society works in a certain way.”

A favorite book of Lee’s is Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success,” a book that explores the strange intertwinings of birth, timing and culture that allow ambitious individuals from Mozart to the Beatles to cultivate a level of skill far beyond their competitors. Tenacity, not mere talent, is critical, Gladwell argues. In part, success boils down to a magic number: 10,000 hours of practice. What does Lee think of that?

“I haven’t counted – I’m afraid to count,” Lee said. “What if it’s not 10,000 yet? I think it’s very accurate in another sense. People become famous when they’re young, but they don’t peak until their 20s. I don’t think that just comes from 10,000 hours of practice but from experiences. When you’re young, you have instincts, and those instincts guide you the right way. After a period of time those instincts don’t suffice. You need something to pull on. You need your experiences. You need your emotions. You need a deeper understanding of what you’re doing and what you want to do and what’s going on around you.”

Born in Seoul, Korea, Lee grew up in a music-loving family and was already taking piano lessons when, at the age of 4, she decided to try the violin.

Her father, a violinist who taught the Suzuki method at the family’s Korean church, inspired her.

“We would wait around in church for an hour, a half an hour so my dad could finish his lesson,” Lee said. “I don’t personally recall this – apparently, I asked my parents if my dad could teach me the violin. I guess it was the environment I grew up in. My parents were always playing music around the house. Both my parents are very big music lovers. That’s kind of how I started.”

In part, her father’s example encouraged her to stick with the instrument. But there was more to it than that.

“In a way, it reflects my personality,” Lee said. “In my opinion, pianists are more solitary than string musicians. I think I’m more of a people person. The violin is notorious for high, screechy strings. In a way, I’m notorious for being very loud, very hyper and very bubbly. At the same, I think what is very special about the violin is the G string and the D string – the lower part. Even though we (string players) all share the G string in common, in my opinion it’s a lot more special on the violin. That’s why I say that the violin and I have very similar personalities. A lot of ups and downs. At the same time, very mellow.”

Her path to becoming a professional musician unfolded naturally.

“The more I think about it, the more I realize that there was never a point in my life when I thought, ‘This is what I want to do,’ ” Lee said. “I guess in a way, I was really naive. … It was a gradual kind of thing. I started performing at a very young age. I had tons and tons of support. That really helped me build my confidence and my charisma on stage. It was very gradual, very natural always to be performing.”

Lee met Stelluto four years ago when she was in Juilliard’s Pre-College Chamber Orchestra. In addition to studying performance, she also studies conducting with Stelluto.

Next weekend, Lee will perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 – a piece whose exuberance and depth Lee identifies with.

“This piece really captures the essence of Mozart,” Lee said. “It’s very lively, very happy, very cheerful. There is a youthful innocence and naivete that only Mozart could have. He wrote this when he was 19. He was youthful and naive. Throughout his life, no matter how hard things got, Mozart’s music is always cheerful. But at the same time, it’s not shallow. It’s not insignificant. There is something deeper to it. His overall structure is always very childlike and innocent. I think it kind of mirrors his personality. Who knows if this is true? But he’s notorious for fooling around and being a clown. In a way, his light-heartedness really comes through.”

Gary Panetta can be reached at 686-3132 or

via Examining the many sides of a musical prodigy – Peoria, IL –

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Sisters hooked on violin, karate

Sisters hooked on violin, karate

Sisters hooked on violin, karate

For sisters Kenya and Sabae Barrow, it is all about playing the violin and taking part in karate.They have been playing the violin for more than half their lives and there is no stopping them now.According to the sisters from St John, playing the violin was one way of keeping them “active”. While they have been involved in karate for just about a year, the sisters said they were very happy and they enjoyed it “just as much as playing the violin”.They have played at a number of events, including concerts and school functions. Kenya also had the opportunity of playing the National Anthem in the presence of Prime Minister David Thompson.Kenya, who is 11 years old, said whenever she played the musical instrument it made her feel good. But the violin is not all that she plays.“I like playing the violin. I do it because it is fun and I do karate because it can help me with getting a scholarship and help me defend myself. I also play netball. I am the goalkeeper for my team,” said Kenya, who will be attending the Christ Church Foundation School.Sabae is ten years old and attends the Hindsbury Primary School. She, like her sister, has been playing the violin for seven years now.“I like violin because it can get me a career. I just love playing the violin. If not violin it is karate. It is all about playing the violin and doing karate,” said the soon-to-be Class 4 student, who described herself as shy.Sabae said she occasionally “hangs with her friends” and played games with them. Her favourite dish is “gran gran’s cou cou and flying fish”. She hopes to become a singer.Kenya said she hopes to become an actress or a professional netball player. She admires actress Selena Gomez.“I am also considering doing athletics. My motivation is the fact that I can get better at what I do and reach the highest. I am hoping to play the violin in the international arena,” said Kenya enthusiastically.Their mother Dawn Barrow said she got her girls involved in playing the violin because she always admired those who played and she saw it as an extra activity for them.“I am extremely proud of my daughters. I get so overjoyed when I see them taking part. The feeling is hard to describe. I feel completely fulfilled. Sometimes there are challenging moments but I would think about all the opportunities they have and how they step up and accept a challenge head-on,” said Dawn.She said the “tiniest” moments were the best for her and she and their dad Errol gave all the support they could.“As long as they are happy and working towards a goal I am happy. I will do all I can to make sure they have all that they want to achieve their goals,” she said, noting that nothing came easily.Already, Kenya has completed four exams in violin while Sabae has completed two. Kenya plays with the Barbados National Youth Symphony Orchestra and they both do classes with Suzuki Music Barbados.Their violin teacher Katrina Forde said they were exceptional students. In fact, she said they had played well over the years and had “progressed nicely”. She was the one who suggested they take up karate.

via Sisters hooked on violin, karate — NationNews Barbados — Local, Regional and International News —

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Vienna Phil bassist dies in hiking accident

Tragedy strikes orchestra during tour of Japan

A bassist in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has died in a hiking accident. Georg Straka slipped and fell to his death while climbing Mount Fuji on a free day during the orchestra’s current tour of Japan. He was 41.

Born in Mödling, south of Vienna, in 1969, Straka studied bass with Johannes Auersperg at the University of Graz. He played in the Salzburg Mozarteum orchestra and, from 1996, in the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. He became a member of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1999.

via The Strad – Vienna Phil bassist dies in hiking accident – 05 November 2010.

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Berklees First Ever String Showcase – Bluegrass, Americana, jazz, swing, r&b, Roots and more

This is a guest blog written by Berklee student Jakub Trasak, the student to organize our schools first ever String Showcase – a concert highlighting the wide stylistic range of Berklees String Department. My name is Jakub Trasak. Im a seventh semester violin performance student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and I founded the colleges first ever String Showcase. If youre in the Boston area, come check it out tomorrow 11/4 at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, at 8:15 p.m. One big bonus for coming to the concert: you can win a Yamaha electric violin! Check out details at the links I provided after this post for more details!After being around Berklee for a couple semesters, I realized that every single department, except for the String Department, has at least one performance per year in our biggest venue, the Berklee Performance Center. I decided that this needed to change – the String Department needed a concert to feature the variety of creative string playing from all over the world that we study here at Berklee. Tomorrow, about twelve ensembles will perform bluegrass, Americana, r&b, swing, Irish, jazz and more styles at the showcase. Each ensemble has its own leader who was given creative control over their program segments – I wanted the feel of the concert to reflect my experience here lots of variety, musicians from all over the world, so the only limit I gave the ensemble leaders was a time limit. One ensemble Im really excited to hear is the Berklee World Strings, led by faculty member Eugene Friesen. Theyre going to feature students arrangements of classical pieces and students own compositions and arrangements. The performers will not only be “in” the concert, but theyre also featured as composers or arrangers of their acts. Growing up as a bluegrass violinist in Prague, a city steeped in classical tradition, I have a special appreciation for studying a broad vocabulary of musical styles. I started playing the violin at three. From three to five, I listened and played primarily bluegrass, mostly because my dad was a bluegrass violinist. He grew up in Northern Bohemia and heard bluegrass and roots music through friends. I took classical lessons as a kid to hone my technique, intonation and posture, but Ive always connected the most with bluegrass and roots music. After hearing legendary fiddler Mark OConnors CD, New Nashville Cats, in 1991, I knew I wanted to be a bluegrass musician. The album is amazing; it features so many different styles, but Mark is capable of playing them all on an extraordinary level. I fell in love with the CD, and I transcribed it and learned every tune. When I got ahold of Mark OConnors book, Championship Years, I saw Marks open invitation to the first ever session at at Mark OConnor Fiddle Camp that was to be held that summer 1993.I ended up attending Marks fiddle camp for 4 years. Each summer at camp gave me the chance to experience something different, to broaden my musicianship and to bring what I learned back to Europe. Its kind of funny that what I experienced at Mark OConnor Fiddle Camp is happening again at Berklee – talented musicians playing many different styles of music at a high level. Im so excited share all the different styles of music we study on strings here at Berklee with the public tomorrow night.Fore more information about the String Showcase, you can check out Berklees site HERE, and you can also check out a site I made for the concert HERE.

via Berklees First Ever String Showcase – Bluegrass, Americana, jazz, swing, r&b, Roots and more.

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Sarah Michel

Sara the fiddler

A local fiddle champion

Nate Luscombe Ashley  Kohl CHICOPEE, Mass. Mass Appeal – For the first few years of her playing career in New England Fiddle contests, Sarah was known as the girl with the red hat. Eventually, it was her playing that was being recognized. Performing a medley of old time fiddle songs is Sarah Michel and hand drummer Keith DaSilva.She has entered and won over three hundred contests throughout New England and during her twenty year career… just wait until you hear this woman play!What is the difference between a fiddle and violin? Is there a difference?Its the same instrument. I call classical the serious music. Fiddle music is fun music.Everybody taps their feet. Like I said, its happy music. Its like caffeine. Have a little fiddle in the morning, forget the coffee.What made you pick up this instrument?My sister came home and we were talking about sisters earlier. She came home from school with one. Soon discovered it was not her favorite thing to do. I was about 3 and a half and I cried quite a bit and asked to play. Finally, my mother found a teacher for me. I started taking lessons. 30 years later, Im still playing.Theres not very many people that play the fiddle.Youd be surprised. There is quite a lot of great fiddlers here in the New England area.You see a lot of fiddlers at fairs because they have fiddle contests. I used to travel all over New England and play at fairs.Easy to learn, hard to learn?Depending on who you have for a teacher to start you off. They always say the younger the better, which is natural with anything that somebody a learning. But I have had students that were in their 80s that called me and said its my life-long dream to play and I have taught them. They have done pretty well.Do you play the classical?I sure do. I am actually classically trained with a method called the Suzuki method. I continued all through school and now I play classical mostly for weddings.Do they then get you with the wedding to play some fiddle music, too?I try to work that in because it does add a nice ending to the ceremony, so they walk out to a jig. Its always a lot of fun for them.Have you always played with a hand drummer?No. I have played with many accompaniments. We have been playing together five to six years now.How long did it take to produce these two cds?The first one called “Stories of a Fiddler”. It was done up in Barre, Vermont and took about a day to record it. Then I had somebody go in and play other instruments on it. “Wednesday Night Live” was recorded in Southampton about two years ago and that was a one-shot deal.Where do you want to go from here?I want to continue teaching in my studio in Southampton, Mass. Keith and I do a lot of performing at different nursing homes. We play for the veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers Home three times a month. We do preschools. We do anything. So I just want to keep on going the way I am and play as much as I can.I get that a lot for weddings. People have a special song. The most odd one was a KISS song. I cannot remember the name of it. It was many years ago. That was probably the oddest request for me.Actually a friend of mine got married this summer and they had a violin. At the very end, they walked out to the Final Countdown.Youre going to be playing at an event in Connecticut. Tell me about that event.That is called the Holiday ho ho ho-down. Ill have a full band with me that day, piano player and upright bass player and Keith will be there. Really having a fun time with the holidays, playing some Christmas carols and sing-alongs.Proceeds go to charity.

Click here for more about Sarah

via A local fiddle champion |

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Check out Fiddlermans new violin tuner

This violin tuner by FiddlerMan is not only easy to use but shows all four pegs, strings and written notes in treble clef as well. Click on any one of the 3 variables (pegs, strings, notes) to sound the correct tone. Click again to stop it or click on another note to change the tone. Simple and educational 🙂 Bookmark it and use it every time you tune.


Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Download a free PDF violin and fiddle goal planning form on

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Roland White Oregon States current Senior Fiddle Champion placed 2nd in the old Senior Division.

The Western Open Fiddle Contest was established in 1982 in Redding California and in 1996 was moved to Red Bluff where it has continued the Fiddling Tradition for a total of 28 years. Sponsored by the California State Fiddlers District #6, it has provided a contest for regional fiddle talent drawing competitors from California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Nevada. Fiddlers and families gather at the Tehama Fairgrounds in Red Bluff where for one weekend a year toe tapping fiddle music can be heard from all ages showcasing young children to senior citizens. Roland White resides in Bend Oregon where he performs for local events including fiddle music for weddings, parties, community benefits, camp outs, fundraisers, concerts and sessions. He also entertains for pubs and restaurants.In 2010 he established his music website Fiddlplay that Provides information on Central Oregon live music events and entertainment. The Fiddlplay web site has information on Fiddle lessons, Old Time fiddling, Celtic fiddle, violin and fiddle music resources for fiddlers students, folk musicians also offering private lessons for both Fiddle and Mandolin.He is scheduled to teach a class on Irish Fiddling at the Cascade School of Music in Bend for the Winter Session in 2011 where he recently participated in a Fiddle Sampler Class demonstrating Irish Music in the Fall Term.For information he can be reached for bookings at his website

via Oregon State Senior Fiddle Champ Roland White Places 2nd At The 28th Annual Nati by Dolphin Graphics And Music.

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Setting goals

In order to achieve goals in life we benefit more by planning, analyzing and executing our plans than we would otherwise. Here are a few areas you can plan that will help you to become the violinist, musician or person that you would like to be. Copy the list below, answer the questions, print your goals, put them up somewhere that you see everyday, and read them on a regular basis. Make a schedule based around your busy life and try to follow it. Reevaluate your plan regularly. With time you will notice change. A good investment is a digital recorder to compare your month to month progress and see the potential in your work.

via Setting goals to be a better violinist or fiddler | Fiddlerman.

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Czech marble violin displayed in Beijing

The marble violin by Czech sculptor Jan Rericha is put on display in Beijing as the local concert hall has received it into its exhibition, Rericha told CTK Friday.The original musical instrument, part of the Czech exhibition at the Shanghai Expo 2010, was accepted by Beijing Concert Hall, Rericha said.”It is a big achievement. I have never been to China, but I highly esteem this,” Rericha told CTK.The violin is put on display as a priceless exhibit in a glass cube on a pedestal in the concert hall, Rericha said, adding that this was the first foreign presentation of the instrument.The violin unveiled at the Expo 2010 is the fifth marble model. Its production took about three months. It was tuned by Czech violin virtuoso Jaroslav Sveceny who uses a similar instrument at his concerts.Rericha has also made a stony guitar used by Czech virtuoso Stepan Rak.Rericha says marble is a unique material suitable for the production of musical instruments.

via Czech marble violin displayed in Beijing | Prague Monitor.

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Glenfiddich piping and fiddle champions revealed

Nicola Auchnie was crowned winner of one of Scotland’s most prestigious music prizes, the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship, this weekend, with Angus MacColl triumphing in the Glenfiddich Piping Championship.

The two events took place at historic Blair Castle in Perthshire at the weekend, with the piping championship on the Saturday and the fiddle championship yesterday.

The fiddle championship, which celebrated its 21st anniversary this year, plucks its contestants from elite competitors. (As does the piping championship.)  All eight finalists were hand selected to compete following successes throughout the year.

Nicola, winner of this year’s fiddle championships said: “I’m overwhelmed to have won this year’s fiddle competition – even just to compete with so many great young musicians makes it a fantastic day.

“The Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship trophy is no doubt the most coveted of its kind and as we’ve seen is even known internationally, so it’s a fantastic honour to have won this year.”

Peter Gordon, chairman of William Grant and Sons Limited, said: “It’s been another great year for the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship and we have been delighted to see such great fiddle talent this year and every year.

“The competition continues to go from strength to strength and we are seeing a growth in popularity with visitors making the journey here from as far as Hawaii and Canada. We thank all our competitors, and also our support from visitors, for making it another memorable year.”

The fiddle competition brought a weekend of traditional music at Blair Castle, Perthshire, to a close, following the Glenfiddich Piping Championships yesterday.  Angus MacColl, from Benderloch, Oban won the prestigious piping title, after successfully impressing the judges in a day of competitive musical heats.

The Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships were established in 1989 to reward, encourage and stimulate the art of fiddle playing throughout the world.  Their introduction came after the already established and successful Glenfiddich Piping Championships which began in 1974 to inspire and stimulate the world’s finest individual pipers, and to seek the best overall exponents of the legendary ceol mor or piobaireachd (the great music) and ceol beag (the little music).

via Glenfiddich piping and fiddle champions revealed | Music: Latest News | STV Entertainment.

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Linden Quartet wins CAG competition

US–Canadian quartet nets contract with Concert Artists GuildThe Linden Quartet has won a two-year management contract with the New York-based Concert Artists Guild. The ensemble, which is studying under the Tokyo Quartet as the graduate quartet-in-residence at Yale University, received its award as one of three winners of the 2010 CAG Victor Elmaleh Competition.In 2009 the Linden Quartet was the gold medallist and grand prize winner at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. It also won the Coleman-Barstow prize at the 2009 Coleman National Chamber Ensemble Competition.

via The Strad – Linden Quartet wins CAG competition – 29 October 2010.

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Gidon Kremer and the art of the small orchestra

When Gidon Kremer, the great and inquiring Latvian violinist, turned 50 in 1997, he had already had his share of midlife crises, including putting down the violin for a brief period and going off on a personal quest to India. He’s not the red sports car type and already possessed a priceless violin. So he founded a chamber orchestra and named it after himself, Kremerata Baltica. His intention was to break down any musical barriers still standing, delve even more deeply into the essence of music than he already had, have a little fun and presumably get precise GPS bearings on the fountain of youth.Kremer has pretty much managed all of the above. His ensemble of young players from the Baltic has brought to vibrant life a treasury of spiritually intense Eastern European music with detours by way of Argentine New Tango, American and British Minimalism and Russo/Korean stand-up comedy. The Kremerata has this month added to its important discography not one but two profound, pioneering CDs on different labels. The players also tour restlessly: They will appear with Kremer on Monday at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.Thirteen years later, the average age of Kremerata’s players somehow remains 27. No need to talk about the future of classical music when Kremer boasts this renewable source of probing, versatile and, it so happens, exceptionally attractive young musicians.But if we are to talk about the future of classical music in America, sooner or later, the Knights will come up. Around the time that Kremer created his Kremerata, two music students in New York, the brothers Eric and Colin Jacobson, a violinist and cellist, organized informal chamber music evenings they called “The Knights of the Many-Sided Table.” This eventually turned into a Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra of young musicians with a modern sensibility, a wide repertory of works new and old, along with a crusading musical mission of bringing classical music into clubs.Colin conducts. Eric is concertmaster. The Knights too have a new CD. And the brothers will soon have a presence in Orange County as well. They are members of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, which will be in residence for the Laguna Beach Music Festival in February.For the full critics noterbook on these two exciting groups, click here.–Mark Swed

via Gidon Kremer and the art of the small orchestra | Culture Monster | Los Angeles Times.

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Charlie Daniels in concert

Folks in St. Luce County on the east coast of Florida, just north of Palm Beach had the opportunity to enjoy two great violin players this weekend February 27 & 28. One performing Max Bruchs Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor; and the other heating up the fiddle with The Devil Went Down to Georgia.Saturday night at the county fair Charlie Daniels burned down the barn. It was a cold and breezy 43, a temperature at which the people in south Florida just do not function well. The crowd all had jeans and wore their winter wear, but it wasnt until Charlie started playing that the crowd warmed up.Charlie showed no signs of the mild stroke he had suffered a few weeks ago while snowmobiling in Colorado. Each familiar favorite had the crowd roaring to its feet, but he really brought the house down with his rendition of Amazing Grace and the memory of Jonny Cash with Folsom Prison Blues.Its a little hard to box Charlies sound, but his self-described “southern rock” music gives a good picture: – a whole lot of country, – heavy on the rock and roll, – enough jazz to make it sizzle, especially from the keyboard Taz DiGregorio, – and a strong dose of old fashion boogie.A highlight at any fair is always the Budweiser Clydesdales prancing on parade or in their stalls. Of the many times the horses have amazed me, this was the first time I had seen “Bud” the Dalmatian up close. He was all curled up in the straw for protection from the cold, but was outside his house and a center of attention. Perhaps he was being shown with the horses since the commercial played which had him jumping brand wagons, to let the crowd know of his true loyalty.Sunday brought cool weather, but gorgeous Florida sunshine. Almost too beautiful a day to go inside the auditorium and listen to the Treasure Coast Symphony playing Modest Mussorgskys Night on Bald Mountain remember Disneys Fantasia and Franz Schubert, Symphony No. 8 in B minor.Lightning up the hall was the guest soloist, Valentin Mansurov. A musically gifted violist from Uzbekistan, he performed Bruchs Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor with both ease and fineness. During his performance he was naturally interwoven with the violin, at times his hands dancing over the strings, seemingly as if the music was coming out of the heart of the instrument. The balance with the orchestra was excellent and when the violin did a crescendo up the scales colliding with the orchestras forte burst, you could almost feel the floor rise.A great weekend in this part of the country for the violin call it a fiddle if the musics right. Charlie plays a real mean guitar and sings a sweet song, but when he picks up the fiddle; well, … the devil has not stopped running yet. When Mansurov put the violin to his chin, the devil knew not to even bother to come to town.

via Call It a Fiddle Or a Violin, Both Sound Great on a Weekend in Florida.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Steve Lopez on Nathaniel Anthony Ayers

Steve Lopez has chronicled the life of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a homeless musician with schizophrenia who sleeps each night on one of skid row’s most dangerous streets, in his columns listed here.

via Steve Lopez on Nathaniel Anthony Ayers –

Friday, October 29th, 2010

FORT MYERS. Fla. – Celebrated violinist Reiko Niiya will present “Shall We Dance – Reiko & Friends”, a concert to benefit the Southwest Florida Symphony Society on November 6, 2010 at the Royal Palm Yacht Club in Fort Myers. The concert, scheduled from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., is a celebration of favorite classical and pops music to be performed by Niiya and her musician friends.As Concertmaster, Niiya is a popular entertainer both within and outside the Southwest Florida Symphony. With her charming and delightful sense of humor and warmth, Niiya calls upon audience members for surprising interaction with the musicians. Audience members are free to get up and dance or just sit back and enjoy the music. Music to be performed that evening includes “The Blue Danube Waltz” and “Shall We Dance” from “The King and I”.The concert is $50.00 per person. To attend, please make a check payable to the Southwest Florida Symphony Society and mail to Nancy Hamann at 6542 Plantation Pines Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33966- 1321. She can be contacted at 239-768-3275. Checks must be received by November 3rd.

via Celebrated violinist Reiko Niiya will present Shall We Dance – Reiko & Friends.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra receives $20m gift

Funding will be used to increase access for younger audiences

The Cleveland Orchestra will put a gift of $20m towards the creation of a new Center for Future Audiences. The money has been pledged by the Maltz Family Foundation to support the orchestra’s plans to increase accessibility for young people. The orchestra has set itself the goal of having the youngest audiences in the country by the time of its centenary in 2018.

The new audience centre will be funded through a $60m endowment, led by the Maltz family’s gift. Among the centre’s programmes will be to offer subsidised tickets to a broad audience including young professionals, and to provide free tickets for children and younger people.

via The Strad – Cleveland Orchestra receives $20m gift – 27 October 2010.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Miss Ireland Fiddles Her Way To The Head Of The Miss World 2010 Betting With Violin Performance

Miss Ireland Emma Waldron was already fancied by many to do well in Miss World 2010 and now she has shown she has talent to go alongside her stunning looks.

Emma put down a marker and and saw her odds slashed by Paddy Power to just 6/1 after wowing judges in Sanya China with her electrifying violin playing. Onlookers were visibly impressed with her fiddle rendition of a Chinese song, and an Irish Reel and further pleased the crowd by addressing them in their native tongue. She was the winner of Miss Talent and has now secured herself a place in the final fifteen.

Sharon McHugh, spokesperson for Paddy Power said: “Talented Emma has proved that she’s not just a pretty face and she’s now one of the firm favourites to steal the crown on Saturday night.”

The favourite for the 60th Miss World Final is Miss Norway who has also been the subject of a big gamble after she won Miss World Top Model. She can be backed at a best price of 13/8 with SkyBet. Other girls expected to do well on the night are Miss Russia at 14/1 with Bet 365 and William Hill and Miss Brazil at 14/1 with Boylesports.

Bookmakers Bet 365, Boylesports, Paddy Power and Victor Chandler have current Miss World odds and all offer free bets for new customers. The Miss World contest will take place on Saturday 30th October in the city of Sanya, located in China’s Hainan province. To place your Miss World Pageant bet click any of the highlighted names above.

via Miss Ireland Fiddles Her Way To The Head Of The Miss World 2010 Betting With Violin Performance.

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers has purchased the “ex-Molitor” Stradivarius violin for $3.6 million.

The fiddle once belonged to Napoleon, according to a number of sources, and to a general in Napoleons amry, Count Gabriel-Jean-Joseph Molitor, thus the name. The violin more recently was on long-term loan to Jascha Brodsky, through the Curtis Institute. Meyers will play it for the first time in public this weekend, when she performs the Barber Concerto with the Pasadena Symphony. The purchase price apparently broke a record, the previous record being set by the “Hammer” Stradivarius, which sold for $3.54 million at Christies, New York, in 2006. Tarisio clearly is pleased!

via Violin Community News 2010, Op. 25.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Vibrato – when and how much?

Posted on October 26, 2010 by Fiddlerman

Vibrato is one of the violinists greatest expression tool when used correctly. Many argue as to how much and how often one should vibrate. Basically we should vibrate more when playing romantic music and tighter when playing classical music. When playing baroque music it is a great idea not to vibrate at all. Many believe this to be boring while I think it adds imagination to expressing ourselves in other ways. We’re forced to do more with the right hand when we can’t take advantage of vibrato as an expression tool. We must do more with phrasing and dynamics instead. This can make playing baroque music much more interesting and creative and even educational.Basic rules:Vibrate wider on the lower notes and tighter on the high ones.Do not vibrate more than the leader of the section in an orchestra.Vibrate more on accents and downbeats in classical music.Vibrate from the tone and downwards for correct intonation.Don’t play some notes with and some without vibrato unless intentionally thought out.Try to vary your vibrato as much as possible and save the most intensive vibrato for the most expressive phrases to avoid being Fiddlerman

via violinist blogs | Fiddlerman.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Why Sherlock Holmes played the violin

For me, one of the best things on the radio, apart from the World Service, is Mark Tully’s Something Understood. Quirky, original, imaginative, quite uninterested in the “ratings”, it is always a pleasure to listen to – even if it is broadcast at an awkward hour: 6.05 on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday was called “Sleeping on it” and Tully used it to explore all those aspects of thought which do not rely on the rational intelligence: intuition, dreams, impressions, the unconscious and so on.

The broadcast opened with a reference to Sherlock Holmes and how he played the violin as a relaxation from his highly advanced cognitive processes – and as a way of allowing inspiration to help solve the crimes he is investigating. Then there was a wonderful quotation from Rilke: “Everything is gestation and bringing forth… beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence… That alone is living the artist’s life, waiting with patience and humility…” Didn’t St Paul also talk about this kind of gestation?

Mozart, it seems, was able to harness both sides of his mind, the creative, intuitive side and the conscious, rational side, at the same time. According to Tully, mystics, poets and artists have always understood the Bible’s words: “Be still and know that I am God.” He thinks that scientists are just beginning to catch up on this aspect of the mind. I have to admit that the public utterances of Richard Dawkins have given me little confidence that this is the case (though a scientific friend tells me that his book Unweaving the Rainbow is very poetical). Humility is in order here, as shown by Tully’s quote from the physicist Richard Feynman: “It does no harm to the mystery to understand a little about it.”

Following the broadcast I happened to read a crime novel by the Catholic Herald’s own writer-in-residence (and books editor), Stav Sherez. Entitled The Black Monastery and set on a Greek island, it encompasses mystery, long-buried secrets, the horror that sin and evil can unleash and a few original twists of its author’s own. The very contemporary heroine, Kitty, gazes at a massive granite cross and yearns “so much to believe in something greater than the world in front of her”. I should warn readers that the book is not for bedtime reading.

And how did I find a link between the civilised reveries of Mark Tully, with his intimations and ruminations, and the darker revelations of The Black Monastery? Reader, I slept on it.

via Why Sherlock Holmes played the violin |

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Violin playing improves childrens reading levels

Playing the violin as an extra-curricular activity could help improve childrens reading levels, it has been suggested.Christina Patterson, writing for The Independent, said that not only does playing a musical instrument help to broaden a childs mind, it can also improve their performance in the classroom.She explained some 84 per cent of school children who took up the violin prior to a recent assessment saw their reading levels rise by two levels.Similarly, 75 per cent of pupils saw their abilities in the field of mathematics improve.Ms Patterson said: “Its so obvious that children can do anything if we teach them how to do it that it almost doesnt seem worth saying.”She added how she was moved by a recent performance by Lambeth schoolchildren at London’s Royal Festival Hall, where they “beautifully” recited musical variations of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and other such school classics.Londons Music Education Fund has recently been launched by Mayor Boris Johnson, with the initiative aimed at providing encouragement to more youngsters to pick up musical instruments

via Violin playing improves childrens reading levels | News at

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Charlottesville violin maker crafts instrument worthy of ancient master

The musician and the violin-maker endured the final agonizing throes of anticipation in silence.More than a year had passed since they hand-selected a slab of aged Engleman spruce with the hope of transforming it into a musical work of art. Now the moment was at hand when the instrument would speak for the first time.Internationally celebrated concert violinist Max Rabinovitsj tuned the strings as violin-maker Oded Kishony watched. Then with a sure, graceful movement of the bow across the taut strings, the violin came to life.As Rabinovitsjs fingers flitted along the fingerboard, the musical notes soared from the dark register of sound into the exquisitely sheer upper range. The trills and flourishes immediately announced to the trained ears of the two men that a violin worthy of the ancient Landolfi violin that had inspired it had come into existence………… more

via Charlottesville violin maker crafts instrument worthy of ancient master | Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Scientists Learns Secrets of Strad Violin

It’s likely that even Joseph Nagyvary doesn’t know exactly when the obsession began to take over his life.

Perhaps it goes back to 1957, when as a young Hungarian refugee in Switzerland he was allowed to take lessons on Albert Einstein’s old violin. Or perhaps it was the first time he heard the extraordinary tones of a Stradivarius violin, and began to wonder why the work of one craftsman has not been surpassed in more than two centuries.

He admits he never became a great violinist. “I only play the slow tunes,” he quips.

But he thinks he has discovered the secrets that allowed Antonio Stradivari to turn out such incredible instruments in his shop in Cremona, Italy.

The old master himself probably never understood all of those secrets, Nagyvary says, and that’s the reason his craftsmanship died with him in 1737. He didn’t know exactly what to pass on to his sons.

Bug-Free Wood

Many years ago Nagyvary turned his attention to science. He is now a biochemist at Texas A&M University, where he has researched such things as nucleic acids and cancer, but the 66-year-old professor never gave up on his first love.

For more than a quarter of a century, he has published dozens of papers explaining his theories about Stradivari. He even makes his own violins, which many experts say rival those of the old master.

Nagyvary says he began traveling down that long road in the 1960s, while he was in northern Italy. He noticed that wood artifacts in museums from the early 18th century frequently showed damage from wood-boring insects. They looked like “Swiss cheese,” he says.

“But I discovered that [wooden objects from] the cities of Cremona and Venice had no, or very little, wood infestation from that period,” he says.

It seemed clear to Nagyvary that someone in Cremona had come up with some way of protecting wood from the insects, and the technique was used by everybody who worked with wood, including Stradivari.

Nagyvary began experimenting with all types of preservatives, including borax. It seemed likely that borax would have been used because it was known as an insecticide long before the 18th century.

via Scientists Learns Secrets of Strad Violin – ABC News.

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Londoner breaks violin speed record

Oliver Lewis plays fastest ever Flight of the Bumblebee on live TV

A violinist from London has broken the record for the fastest performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Oliver Lewis played the piece live on BBC children’s show Blue Peter in a time of 1 minute 3.35 seconds, knocking nearly a second off the previous record. A Guinness World Records official was in the studio to witness the performance.

via The Strad – Londoner breaks violin speed record – 20 October 2010.