Archive | Culture

Claudio Abbado

Remembering Claudio Abbado

Renowned Italian conductor Claudio Abbado passed away yesterday at the age of 80. You can read about his life here. The greatest conductors know exactly what they want the music to sound like. Through unwavering conviction, they inspire the musicians of the orchestra to share their vision. Great conductors don’t practice in front of a […]

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Nutcracker

Nutcracker Season

Nutcracker season is in full swing here in Richmond. My orchestra, the Richmond Symphony, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker thirteen times through December 23. Richmond Ballet’s long-term dedication to live music in the orchestra pit is commendable and elevates their already excellent productions. There is no replacement for the power and emotional punch of live music. Canned music […]

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Vibrating Strings

Have you ever wondered what a vibrating violin string looks like in slow motion? Here is an interesting demonstration from the Discovery Channel. Notice that the E and G strings are vibrating sympathetically with the bowed A and D strings. As string players, our goal is always to draw the most resonant sound from the […]

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Following the Ninth

A new film is out which explores the legacy of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven’s Final Symphony, directed by Kerry Candaele, highlights the timelessness of the music and its political and social significance. From Pinochet’s Chile to Tiananmen Square to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the final movement’s Ode to Joy has emerged as […]

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Jack Benny Shows Off His Strad

Following up on my post, Jack Benny and the Violin, here are two more funny violin-centered comedy clips. First, Jack Benny demonstrates the subtle differences between a Stradivarius and an average violin: Comedy aside, Strads really don’t play themselves. It takes time to learn exactly how to make these violins sing. Many violinists comment on the endless […]

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Disney Hall

The Concert Hall as a Civic Icon

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall, the gleaming, iconic home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, designed by Frank Gehry. The hall is more than a monument to a world class orchestra in the middle of a world class city. It’s a reminder that, like sports, music is […]

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Remembering Douglas Lowry

As an alumnus of the Eastman School of Music, I was saddened to hear that Eastman’s Dean Emeritus, Douglas Lowry passed away yesterday. I never met Lowry, but I knew that he was a respected composer. He served as Dean from 2007 up until last week and presided over several significant building projects at Eastman. These included […]

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An Orchestra and Its Community

Great orchestras gradually develop a unique sound and style of playing. This process takes place over time as conductors come and go, leaving their mark and new players are gradually assimilated. In the days when I was traveling between many orchestras as a free-lance violinist I could sense the “soul” of each organization. The ongoing […]

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large money

Cheapening Broadway

Ticket prices and the profits generated by Broadway shows continue to soar but how does the experience compare with what audiences were getting fifty years ago? This question came to mind after a recent conversation I had with a student, following her attendance of Troika Entertainment’s touring production of West Side Story. Initially excited to see a live […]

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Jack Benny and the Violin

Here are a few of Jack Benny’s classic comedy routines featuring the violin. In his performances, Benny was know for his “bad” violin playing. In reality, he was a competent violinist and the owner of a Stradivarius. Through the years, Jack Benny’s guests included Isaac Stern and Jascha Heifetz. His show broke racial barriers in the […]

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The Listeners' Club

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