Orchestra News

Image of an Assyrian Orchestra, from a slab in the British Museum, dating from 7th century BC. There are 7 portable harps, a dulcimer, two double flutes, and a drum.

Detroit: Drew McManus posts some recent not-so-great news about the possible binding arbitration deal the DSO musicians wanted to begin negotiation with DSO management.

Philadelphia: Management have been threatening Chapter 11 for the Philadelphia Orchestra.



Honolulu: Drew also posts a link to the Liquidation Auction of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra which filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy last year after 110 years running.

Louisville: Despite the overturned Chapter 11 for the Louisville Orchestra, there are still difficulties as the LEO outlines very well.  Also notice that the Louisville Orchestra have effectively shut down the Louisville Orchestra Musicians Association website which is one of the reasons we’ve been seeing Keep Louisville Symphonic in our parts.

Brazil: Brazil Symphony Orchestra to re-audition the whole orchestra???

In other news related to my research.  Last weekend as I was working on my database for ethnic orchestras (see my post Music of the Whole World: The ABCs of Intercultural Music) I was just stunned with the numbers of organizations I’ve been coming up with.  After 1990 it almost seems like an exponential blossoming of ensembles and increasingly larger and larger ensembles (this is just for North America).

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Alternative Strings and the New Golden Age of String Playing

Alternative Strings
Julie Lyonn Lieberman’s Alternative Strings by Amadeus Press (2004)

For some time ASTA (American String Teacher’s Association) has been focusing on training string music teachers to develop Alternative String programs.  Last year I had decided that I need to formally join the organization (which I haven’t done yet but still intend on doing) so that I can be better informed about the programs, literature and techniques being created by those involved in the organization.

ASTA apparently has an “Alternative Styles Award competition” which I learned about after reading Rory Williams “Report from an ASTA Roundtable: ASTA roundtable finds alternative-styles education moving a step ahead—slowly” in the Strings magazine from the conference in Georgia in 2009.  Here’s what sparked my interest in the organization:

Vighnesh Viswanathan, 14, milled about the exhibit hall with his father and sister at the 2009 American String Teachers Association National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. What set him apart from the several hundred teachers, dealers, and performers that visited that day in mid-March was not just his age, but his name badge, which proudly proclaimed “winner.”

“It’s for the Alternative Styles Awards competition,” he said, smiling from ear to ear.

One of 12 string players chosen out of 35 applicants, Viswanathan, of Westford, Massachusetts, won the Junior Division of the “Recognition of Established Traditions” category. His specialty: Carnatic (Indian) violin.

“He studies classical music, too,” his father says.

Viswanathan is part of a growing number of bilingual string players—those who can play both classical and alternative styles—who are seeking a well-rounded education. But nearly a decade after ASTA first embraced alternative styles as a viable pedagogy, the question remains whether teachers and institutions—from the elementary to the graduate level—can accommodate these students.

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Adjudicating KMEA State Solo & Ensemble Festival

Kentucky Music Educators Association
Kentucky Music Educators Association

It’s that time of year again.  A few weeks ago many of my cello students and cello students I work with took part in the ISSMA Solo and Ensemble Contest (Indiana State School Music Association) at the regional level and tomorrow many of them will be going to the state level in Indianapolis.  While I would normally try to make it to as many of their performances as possible, as I feel it is just as important for teachers to hear their students perform as it may be fore them to hear their teachers perform, I will be judging the regional level of the KMEA State Solo & Ensemble Festival (Kentucky Music Educators Association).

This means being at Atherton High School by 7:30 in the morning (which isn’t a problem) and listening to roughly seven hours worth of student musicians of varying levels perform.  This year, however, I get to judge the cellos so that’s a plus (last year I judged ensembles) as it would be great to hear more of the students from the other side of the river (we call our side of the river the “Sunny Side of Louisville“) as I really have little idea what the levels are like.

It’s going to be a long, but in the end, rewarding day.