Yang Guo wins Bartok Viola Concerto Competition

Congratulations to Yang Guo, Student of Atar Arad winner of Bartok Viola Concerto Competition.  Runner-up was Luis Bellorin, student of Masumi Rostad. The concert is on April 23rd, 2014 with Philharmonic Orchestra, Carl St. Clair, conductor.

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DaXun Zhang featured on the cover of “The Strad” magazine

DaXun ZhangDouble bassist DaXun Zhang is featured on the cover of The Strad magazine’s February 2014 issue. The issue celebrates a new golden age of the double bass and includes interviews with six rising young bass players.

Zhang received his Artist Diploma at the Indiana University School of Music, where he studied with Lawrence Hurst.  He is currently the Associate Professor of Double Bass at the University of Texas at Austin.

 More info: http://www.thestrad.com/video/double-bassist-daxun-zhang-performs-dvo-k-s-cello-concerto

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Review: Thomas Riebl

By Peter Jacobi

Restructured instrument

  Thomas Riebl has for more than 30 years been a professor at the University Mozarteum Salzburg and, even longer than that, a practicing professional, giving concerts worldwide.  He’s recognized as a viola virtuoso but, in his case, not only with the normal, four-string model but also with a five-string version, one that extends the instrument’s range into cello territory.

  What got him so interested that he’d seek out a German luthier to create a five-string tenor viola was a single piece of music, Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata in A Minor.  The composer wrote the sonata for the arpeggione, a string instrument that had but a short life early in the 19th century.  It was a cross between a guitar and a cello, a music maker with six strings played like a cello, held between the knees and bowed.

  Today, musicians play the popular sonata on cello or viola or even violin.  Riebl, however, wanted to find a way to approximate the forgotten instrument with a reconstituted viola, one played like a viola but with a range that, in the lower notes, sounds like a cello.

  With such an instrument in hand, Riebl, of course, played the Schubert as his concert closer.  From what one heard, his quest for the five-string viola seemed well worth the effort.  The performance had a radiant luster; the lovely themes and developments gained resonance and a refreshed Viennese charm.  IU’s own Chih-Yi Chen partnered Riebl masterfully at the piano.

  Guest Riebl, who also gave a master class during his campus visit, opened the program with Bach’s Suite in G Major for Unaccompanied Cello, taking good care of all the arpeggios that dot the work.  In between the Bach and Schubert, he played a 2011 composition by the German Rudolf Jungwirth, “ELEGIE, hommage a Gerard Grisey,” remembering an avant garde French composer who died in 1998.  It proved an exercise mostly of plucking, squeaking and sawing that probably would have sounded much the same, no matter what instrument it was played upon, but Riebl appeared to play it with an honest passion.


© Herald Times 2014

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Jacobs grad named Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster

By Janelle Gelfand


Noah Bendix-Balgley, 29, who spent his high school years in Cincinnati, was named first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, the orchestra announced on Friday.  Bendix-Balgley, currently in his third season as concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, was born in North Carolina in 1984 and studied at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich.

Violinist Noah-Bendix-Balgley; photo by Nikolaj Lund.

Violinist Noah-Bendix-Balgley; photo by Nikolaj Lund.

Before that, he attended Cincinnati’s Seven Hills School and was concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“I have very fond memories of playing in the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, under Jose-Luis Novo,” Bendix-Balgley e-mailed on Tuesday. “It was my first real concertmaster experience. I played Scheherazade there for the first time, and performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 5 with the CSYO.”

The violinist added that he later reunited with Novo in the Beethoven Violin Concerto after Novo became music director of the Binghamton Philharmonic.

He has won numerous competitions and was a laureate of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels. The orchestra’s website reports that he often performs as a soloist and in chamber music ensembles and enjoys playing Klezmer music.

The concertmaster is second only to the maestro as a leader of the orchestra. His duties include performing as soloist with the orchestra, leading his section, providing bowings, tuning the orchestra in concert and generally setting the tone for the ensemble.

The Berliners have been led by Sir Simon Rattle since 2002.

He succeeds Guy Braunstein, who left the Berlin Philharmonic at the end of last season. In general, unlike American orchestras, European orchestras have more than one concertmaster. Two other first concertmasters are listed on the website.


© Cincinnati.com 2014

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Jacobs alumna Kidd honored in memorial at MAC

By Alison Graham


IU alumna Sarah Kidd was the first woman to be accepted into the conducting program at the New England conservatory in 2012.

The 27-year-old Jacobs School of Music graduate grew up in Bloomington and cultivated her passion for music at Bloomington High School North.

The memorial for Sarah Kidd was held in the Musical Arts Center Lobby on Sunday. Kidd was a 2009 Jacobs School of Music graduate.

The memorial for Sarah Kidd was held in the Musical Arts Center Lobby on Sunday. Kidd was a 2009 Jacobs School of Music graduate.

Heavily involved with the music and band program in high school, she worked with the Musical Arts Center even before she became a student at IU. She graduated from Jacobs with a Music Performance degree in cello in 2009.

Her musical career began at the MAC, her father said. And on Sunday, the conductor’s journey ended there.

Friends and family held a memorial at the MAC to honor Kidd on Sunday after she died Jan. 28 from a cancer of unknown origin.

She was always working toward her goals, her father Gary Kidd said at the memorial.

He gave the introduction at Sunday’s ceremony, thanking everyone for coming and for the support his family had received from Sarah’s friends and loved ones.

As he stepped off the podium, wiping tears from his eyes, seven string players picked up their instruments and began to play composer Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.”

Previous professors, grade school friends and high school band directors filed up to the podium to offer their memories of Sarah.

Her dream was to become a great conductor, someone who could make incredible music with orchestras and pursue her passion.

She was pursuing a career in a male-dominated field, but that never stopped her, or even fazed her, when she stepped up to the podium before any performance, according to an article she wrote in March 2010 for the Juilliard Journal.

“Thanks to the women who have come before me, I was able to pursue my passion and imagine making music with great orchestras someday,” she wrote.

Jacobs only offers a master’s program in conducting. Sarah considered continuing her studies in Bloomington after graduation, but was persuaded otherwise by her conducting professor, David Effron.

Effron told her to pursue new experiences instead of staying in the town where she grew up.

“I thought that since she lived all her life in Bloomington, she should go and get a new viewpoint,” Effron said. “She already had an IU and Bloomington experience.”

After graduation, she moved to New York and was accepted to Juilliard to participate in the school’s conducting program.

“She made a big splash at Juilliard,” Effron said. “They really believed in her.”

At Juilliard, Effron said Kidd met many contacts in the conducting programs, which helped her make a name for herself.

Kidd received a Master of Music in 2011 from Juilliard and went on to become the first woman accepted into the conducting program at the New England Conservatory in 2012.

Of about 50 people who applied for the program, she was the only one admitted.

The application process is a difficult one, said Hugh Wolff, the head of the conducting program at NEC.

At the conducting audition, applicants have 25 minutes to conduct a 65-70 member orchestra in three different ensembles.

NEC professor David Loebel said she had a talent for conducting.

“I remember her audition very well, and you get this gut feeling within 30 seconds that she had what it takes,” Loebel said. “You can’t learn to have that. You are born with it.”

Kidd received her graduate diploma from NEC after one semester and went on to look for the next step in her career.

She married Richard Berg in May 2013 in San Antonio, where she saw many of her oldest friends for the last time.

“My last memory of her is perfect,” Kidd’s high school friend Caitlin White said. “Her and Richard floated away on the San Antonio canal. It was so beautiful then that I almost cried. I know that this is what I will be thinking about throughout the next few months.”

Six months after her wedding, everything stopped when she was diagnosed with stage four “cancer of unknown causes” last November, Wolff said.

Because the cancer was so far along, doctors could not tell where it had started.

Two and a half months later, Kidd died.

“The nature of her illness was so sudden and so drastic that people weren’t really able to comprehend it,” Wolff said. “It’s a huge loss to imagine that all of this potential is gone.”

Loebel said he believed Kidd was going to have a very bright future and that it was sad she would never receive the chance.

Despite her loss, friends and family celebrated her many accomplishments.

“What she did in her 27 years shows that if you want something badly enough, and you’re willing to put everything into it, you have a chance,” Effron said. “She was making a name for herself.”

Wolff said she was a wonderful example of talent, character, poise and someone who really went for it.

“If you have a dream or an ambition, really test yourself to see how far you can take it,” he said. “That’s what Sarah did.”


© Indiana Daily Student 2014

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Eliot R. Heaton wins Violin Concerto Competition

elit heatonEliot R. Heaton is the winner of this semester’s Violin Concerto Competition. A 2013 graduate of the double-degree program at Oberlin College and Conservatory, Heaton is currently a master’s student in the studio of Kevork Mardirossian.

A native of Geneva, N.Y., Heaton began his violin studies when he was three. He was very active in the music community of upstate New York, soloing with area ensembles including the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Penfield Symphony, and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, in which he also served as concertmaster.


While working toward his majors in history and violin performance at Oberlin, Heaton enjoyed a vigorous performance schedule. He led the conservatory’s renowned Contemporary Music Ensemble in many performances, including world premieres of works by Benjamin Broening, Charles Wourninen, and Peter Shikele. In addition to his work with new music, Heaton served as concertmaster for the Oberlin Symphony and Chamber orchestras and performed as a soloist with the Oberlin Sinfonietta.


He can be heard locally in his capacity as assistant concertmaster of both the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra.

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Noah Bendix-Balgley (BM, ’06) named first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic

R8A8305Jacobs alumnus Noah Bendix-Balgley recently won the audition for first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic on February 14, 2014. Bendix-Balgley is currently concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Bendix-Balgley earned his bachelor’s of music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with Mauricio Fuks. He has won numerous competitions and was a laureate of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels. In addition to his activities with the orchestra, he often performs as a soloist and in chamber music ensembles.
Read More: http://triblive.com/aande/music/5598042-74/music-symphony-concertmaster#axzz2tcPGgdEd

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Mourning the Death of Sarah Kidd (1986-2014)

Sarah KiddYou are invited to add your thoughts and memories of Sarah at the end of this page.

* New: The Memorial for Sarah Kidd will be held Sunday, February 16th, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center Lobby.  Remembrances and Music will be from 2:30 to 3:30 with a reception to follow.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Sarah Knapp Kidd, a 2009 JSOM graduate. Sarah died of cancer on January 28th.

Sarah grew up in Bloomington and played cello and piano. While at IU, she studied cello with Helga Winold, and worked with Conductor David Effron. After graduating from IU, Sarah went to Juilliard to study conducting and in 2011, received a Master of Music in orchestral conducting under James DePriest. She was the first woman accepted into the selective conducting program at NEC, and she studied with Calderwood Director of Orchestras Hugh Wolff. Although as a woman Sarah was a minority in the field of conducting, she did not find gender to be an issue. In an article she wrote for The Juilliard Journal in 2010, she stated: “I view my gender as just another variable: because I’m female, my gestures will have a slightly different effect. Every conductor has to figure out what works for him or her, and in this regard, I don’t feel like my gender gives me any real disadvantage.”

Sarah KiddBesides investing an incredible amount of energy in her studies, Sarah worked countless hours on the backstage crew for the JSOM operas and ballets. Sarah had an incredible zest for living and love of life.  She was brilliant, dedicated, kind, and quirky.  It is not too much to say that everyone who knew her loved her and she will be greatly missed.

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Ensembles from near and far perform at IU

By Peter Jacobi

The visitors came bearing gifts on period instruments.  The locals performed on instruments as we’ve come to know and hear them. Offering concerts in Indiana University’s Auer Hall, both ensembles scored: the London Haydn Quartet on Thursday evening in chamber works of Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart; the Jacobs School faculty combine on Friday in viola quintets of Mozart.

The London Four

Fresh from a performance in New York City’s Morgan Library just two nights earlier, the London Haydn Quartet repeated the repertoire here, making a strong case for using gut strings and Classical age bows to play music originally written for such specifications. Founded in 2000, the ensemble — violinists Catherine Manson and Michael Gurevich, violist James Boyd and cellist Pierre Doumenge — opened with a composition by their idol and namesake, Haydn, his String Quartet in B-Flat Major, Opus 50, Number 1.

Emotional and technical unity marked the reading, from an opening section that harmonically foreshadows more dissonant music of times to come through movements that sound like Haydn in his happier mode, warm and buoyant. The gut strings brought a welcome mellowness to the performance.

Beethoven’s D Major Quartet, Opus 18, Number 3, seemed also to benefit from the gentler tonal quality.  Though the score contains moments of volatility, its mood tends toward the introspective, thanks to the dominant Andante con moto, a lengthy and lovely movement with a poetic glow. The clarity and quiet intensity of its execution were admirable and embracing.

For the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, K.581, the London Haydn clan welcomed a frequent collaborator, clarinetist Erich Hoeprich, who serves as part-time adjunct lecturer in the Jacobs School’s Early Music Department. For his part in the performance, Hoeprich chose a basset clarinet, an instrument with greater range than the modern, and, oh, how sublimely its warm tones blended with the strings. The result was radiant: a gorgeous Mozart masterpiece played elegantly and luminously. A treat.

Mozart Quintets

Mozart wrote six viola quintets, meaning works for string quartet and added viola.  Three of them — the C Major, K.515; G Major, K.516, and D Major, K.593 — made up Friday’s program, performed by esteemed Jacobs faculty: violinists Jorja Fleezanis and Grigory Kalinovsky, violists Edward Gazouleas and Stephen Wyrczynski, and cellist Peter Stumpf.

Both the violinists and violists switched chairs during the evening to share leadership chores, but no matter who sat where, the music one heard was delicious. It was Mozart, after all, and Mozart realized by musicians of stature and profound sensitivity.

As a package, this was a concert for closing one’s eyes, so to be wafted away, certainly away from the cold and bluster outside. Not that Mozart didn’t supply a variety of expressions and impressions; he did. But the overarching aura created was calming. And surely there was proof that, as Mozart undoubtedly intended, the addition of a viola broadens and enriches the instrumental weave. The K.515 holds a host of excitements; the K.516, a melancholy; the K.593, an operatic quality in the Andante and a brisk and witty conclusion that Rossini might have later listened to in developing his own inimitable style. The musicians treated them all with care and obvious devotion.


© Herald Times 2014

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Steffen Zeichner (BM, ’11) featured as concertmaster in critically acclaimed album

Steffen&George Benson2Steffen Zeichner (BM ’11, Violin) was the Concertmaster for George Benson’s album Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, which has been recognized in USA Today’s “Music Critics’ List of 10 Favorite Albums of 2013″ and  DownBeat Magazine’s January 2014 listing of the “Best Albums of 2013.” The album, which features violin solos by Steffen on tracks such as “Smile,” “Nature Boy,” and “When I Fall In Love,” has received much critical praise. The International Review of Music raved that “the album’s as close to perfect as humans get,” and The American Tune Tribune noted that it was “a tribute that makes you want to hear the originals again without really needing to… the… Orchestra…is superb.”  Brenda Nelson-Strauss, Head of Collections at the Archives of African American Music at Indiana University, said of the album in BlackGrooves.org: “There have been many tributes to Nat King Cole, but George Benson’s is definitely one of the best.”

Steffen’s principal violin professor at the Jacobs School of Music was Henryk Kowalski. He also studied violin with Federico Agostini and Jorja Fleezanis, as well as jazz with Distinguished Professor David N. Baker. He is currently a Henry Mancini Institute Fellow at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, where he received his Masters of Music last spring. He is now working on his DMA as a graduate teaching assistant studying with Jacobs alumnus Glenn Basham (MM, ’87).

Steffen performs a wide variety of musical genres in diverse settings, including symphonic music with the Naples, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, chamber music, and jazz with various small ensembles, one of which opened for Stanley Clarke at this year’s Miami/Nice Jazz Festival in November, and another that performed at the Narnia, Italy, 2012 Summer International Festival. He has soloed with artists such as the Miami Saxophone Quartet, and, as a member of the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra he accompanied artists such as Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer in their recent Florida Premiere of Meyer’s Double Concerto,  Gloria Estefan with Shelly Berg on her PBS special this past summer, and Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Terence Blanchard, Dave Grusin, Mark O’Connor, and Eric Owens in the Young Arts “Jazz and the Philharmonic” live concert last year that will air as an upcoming PBS special. He also conducts youth ensembles at a community arts program in the Miami area where he provides private violin instruction.

More information here: http://blackgrooves.org/george-benson-inspiration-a-tribute-to-nat-king-cole/

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