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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 17, No. 5 February 2012


by Crystal Chan, Lorena Jiménez Alonso, Philippe Michaud & Caroline Rodgers / February 1, 2012

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Fabien GabelFabien Gabel appointed new OSQ musical director
The Orchestre symphonique de Québec’s new musical director is Fabien Gabel. Born in Paris in 1975, Gabel is trained as a trumpet player. He won the 2004 Donatella FlickConducting Competition, allowing him to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra. Audiences will see him conduct the OSQ for the first time this August. PM

In memoriam: Pierre Rolland
Pierre Rolland passed away at the age of 80 onNovember 29, 2011. He was best known as the artistic director of the Pro Musica Society, a post he occupied for 25 years. He was a music professor at the Université de Montréal and a music journalist for Radio-Canada and Le Devoir. Rolland also played in the OSM from 1961-84 and founded the Pierre Rolland Ensemble. PM

Alexis Weissenberg passes away at 82
Pianist Alexis Weissenberg passed away on January 8 in Switzerland. He was 82 years old. The Bulgarian musician had been struggling with Parkinson’s disease for thirty years. Best known for his performances of Rachmaninoff and Bach, he began studying piano at only three years of age. He gave concerts around the world with artists such as George Szell and Herbert von Karajan. PM

Baroque revival pioneer dies
Gustav Leonhardt, a harpsichordist, organist, musicologist, and conductor, passed away at the age of 83 on January 16 at his home in Amsterdam. Suffering with cancer, he played his last concert at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris on December 12, 2011. He will be remembered as a pioneer of the Baroque revival and the teacher of many renowned musicians, including Bob van Asperen, Christopher Hogwood, Ton Koopman, Alan Curtis, and Geneviève Soly. CR

U.S. launches National Youth Orchestra
Taking cues from countries such as Canada (the NYOC was founded in 1960), the first National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America will convene in the summer of 2013. Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, Clive Gillinson, heads the initiative. Musicians aged 16 to 19 will be invited to Purchase College of the State University of New York to rehearse before embarking on a tour that includes Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, London, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. Valery Gergiev will conduct. CC

New Executive Director at the New York Philharmonic
Matthew VanBesien is the new Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He is replacing Zarin Mehta, brother of renowned conductor Zubin Mehta. His main task will be to repair the financial situation of the oldest ensemble in the United States—it has accumulated several million dollars in debt. Before being appointed to the position, he was head of Australia’s Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. PM

Stolen Israel Philharmonic documents for sale on eBay
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is requesting to join a suit in a Jerusalem court against Collector Meir Biezunski of Haifa, who is accused of stealing hundreds of valuable documents from Philharmonic Orchestra archives, Israel’s National Library, the Jewish National Fund and the state archives, and putting them up for sale on eBay. The IPO has supplied a list of 300 documents allegedly stolen from its archives, including original letters by Arthur Rubinstein and Yehudi Menuhin, concert programs from the 1930s and 1940s, and historic photos of orchestra musicians and conductors with the pope. LJA

Opera Boston Disbanded
On December 31, 2011, Opera Boston gave its last performance: a series of short sets as part of First Night in Boston (a free event, although sign up was required). The close was a result of a board vote on December 20, and was in response to financial problems. The fiscal year of 2011, ending July 31, saw the company’s largest deficit ever, of over $225,000. CC

French study: classical music speeds learning
A French study demonstrated that students who listened to classical music before taking a test received better grades. The study took place at the University of Caen Basse-Normandie with students in the sports psychology program. The class was divided into two groups. Each group watched a news report on athletics. The first group heard famous works of classical music while the other listened to no music. After fifteen minutes, the students answered a multiple-choice questionnaire based on class material. The students who had listened to pieces by Bach, Mozart and Tchaikovsky scored significantly higher than the students in the other group. One justification put forward by the scientists is that the emotions stirred up play an important part in the learning process. PM

Tétreault lent Strad cello
Stéphane Tétreault, an 18-year-old cello student at the Université de Montréal and LSM’s November 2011 calendar cover, has been lent the Countess of Stanlein, a 1707 ex-Paganini Stradivarius. It was donated by an unnamed "patroness of the arts from Montreal" who purchased it at auction for an unspecified amount that the dealer described as "a fair bit above" the minimum bid of $6 million. CC

Cell phone interrupts NY Phil
A ringing cell phone interrupted the tail end of a New York Philharmonic performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on January 10. Not, unfortunately, an unusual occurrence today, but what conductor Alan Gilbert did in response was definitely unusual. He stopped the orchestra, turned around, and asked that the phone be turned off. Finally a man turned it off. CC

Aretha’s reality show will search for opera star
Aretha Franklin is planning a reality television show to find a top singer of tomorrow. The genre isn’t soul or pop, however: it’s opera. One to three winners will be signed onto her label and given help in starting a career in opera. Participants are asked to send a demo of a classic aria, 8-by-10 headshot, and resumé to Franklin, who will be the judge. Franklin says she is looking for “just the classical aspirants, just the people who are actively studying… [someone] who is very close to being accomplished.” CC

The OFC seeks new players
The Orchestre de la Francophonie is recruiting. Auditions for the summer session will be held from March 18 to 22. Musicians interested in living this unique experience should send their applications by March 1. More details at www.ofc-canada.com CR

GMQ Board Renewed
All outgoing members of the board of the Guild of Musicians in Quebec have been reappointed for another term until March 2015. They are: Luc Fortin, President; Éric Lefebvre, Secretary-Treasurer; Genevieve Plant, Vice-President, Montreal; Jacques Bourget, Vice-President, Quebec CC

 Strads Vs Modern Violins
A double-blind test held during the Eighth International Violin Competition of Indianapolis iin 2010, which draws internationally renowned violinists as jurors as well as competitors from across the globe, seems to prove that violinists can’t tell the difference between a modern violin and a Stradivarius. One of the judges, Ariane Todes, who edits the string magazine The Strad and spent one hour playing six top fiddles—three moderns, two Stradivaris and a ‘Guarneri del Gesù,’ said: “The data clusters around a popular modern instrument and an unpopular Stradivari force one to consider the preconceptions that are so hardwired.” LJA

Translation: Ariadne Lih, Rebecca Anne Clark

Bintner wins OSM competition
by Caroline Rodgers

Gordon Bintner, a bass-baritone from Saskatchewan, has won the OSM Standard Life Competition Grand Prize. He will receive a $10,000 scholarship, the Espace-musique prize—including a professional recording at a Radio-Canada studio and live broadcasting of the concert on the Espace musique radio station—a recital at the National Arts Centre, a Chilean tour in the summer of 2012, and other recitals in the Canadian provinces.
For its 72nd year, the OSM Competition greeted competitors in three categories: voice, woodwind and brass. In the brass category, the winner is trombone player Vanessa Fralick, 25, from Ontario. In the woodwind category, the winner is clarinet player Eric Abramovitz, 18, from Quebec City. The second prizes fell to baritone Geoffrey Sirett, 27, and oboe player Vincent Boilard, 23, both from Quebec City.
The OSM Standard Life Competition is open only to Canadian participants. This year, it distributed more than $100,000 of scholarships and prizes.

Spotlight on the blue note: Prix d’Europe 2012
by Marc Chénard

The Quebec Prix d’Europe competition, devoted to the promotion of musical renewal in Quebec, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011. Managed since the beginning by the Académie de Musique du Québec (founded in 1875), the contest to take place in mid-June this year at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur will include a new section: the Concours de jazz Oliver Jones. “The idea had been around for a while,” explains Lise Boucher, president of the event’s administrative committee, “but everything fell into place last summer. First of all, we approached Mr. Jones for his permission and he agreed right off the bat. Next, we consulted education circles (music faculties) to establish rules” (they are downloadable, see the link below). “At this time, we are spreading the word about the event in the milieu as well as selecting the jury; we will announce its members shortly.”
Like the other two Prix d’Europe competitions for performers and composers this contest is destined for musicians between 18 and 30 who are residents of Quebec. After a pre-screening process using the recordings submitted with applications, those selected will perform onstage in semi-final and final tests. Notably, however, the ensembles are required as much to show their knowledge of the repertoire—standards, of course—as to play original compositions. The winner will be awarded a $5000 prize, a sum called “modest” by Boucher, who hopes to increase it over time pending on the success of the competition. Aspiring jazzmen and women, to your instruments!

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