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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 6, No. 1

Youth Education The Violin, King of the Orchestra

by Lucie Renaud / September 1, 2000

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Although the violin is a little fellow, you notice it right away Try to imagine the Montreal Symphony Orchestra without a violin section or the chamber group Amati ensembe without violins! Irish jigs, such as Lord of the Dance, or the traditional French-Canadian and Scottish reels heard in Canada) depend of fiddlers to bring them to life. In the world of jazz, violinist Stephane Grapelli is the best known and in pop music, most romantic tunes (think of the Titanic theme song) would be far less touching without the string section.

* Fiddler on the Roof is a 1971 classic based on the Broadway musical of the same name. Seeing it for the tenth time will still make you laugh. A contagious experience!

Violin notes

* Violinmaker Jean-Marc Forget will attend the Mont Tremblant Music Festival on September 2 and 3. On the program: stringed instrument workshops and an exhibition of period instruments. Free entry.

* The "little violins" of Jean Cousineau are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year. This violin school takes children starting at age _ve. A number of graduates now have international careers, among them Angèle Dubeau, Martin Chalifour (concert master in the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra) and Chantal Juillet. On September 2, there will be a special concert at Tremblant featuring a student orchestra made up of current students and graduates. Cousineau is reviving a previous tradition, whereby the entire family will rise very early to play a string quartet. A good way to start the day! (Free Admission.)

* If you'd like to test your violin knowledge, visit Stringstuff Quiz at . Good luck!

* Technologically speaking, violins never stop improving. We've had electric violins, much prized by jazz and popular musicians. Now we have the silent violin, very futuristic-looking. You'll be able to practice all day and night without having the neighbours banging on the walls!

* Another gadget much appreciated by students (and their teachers) is the "Rainbow." No, it's not a wand to bring the rain, but a bow with bowstrings dyed the seven colours of the rainbow (one or three at a time), making it possible to separate the bow sections. Another model uses regular bowstrings with a bow-handle that glows in the dark. For insomniacs?! Info (506) 384-4371

Check next month's La Scena for young violin prodigies. A must!

[Translated by Jane Brierley]

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