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Stephen Fine

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  1. The mission of the chamber music festival I work with is bringing chamber music to rural locations that lack access to classical music. We've been doing it for a decade now. My experience is working with audiences who've often never heard a viola before. So... I'm tellin' ya. In my experience, the more rural, the more accepting and thoughtful. My theory is that it's a combination of enthusiasm for and scarcity of art in these out-of-the-way places, but also I find the people in places with limited access to internet/television have longer attention spans. I promise you, many would, indeed, miss the Messiah if it was only every 5 years, but many, like you, would rather have something else. And almost everyone, in my experience, will have a good time, even if the music is thorny and unfamiliar, so long as they are properly prepared for the event. The preparation part is important. Last year I took a course on arts management through Coursera and the University of Maryland taught by Michael Kaiser (who ran a few of the USA's important arts institutions) called The Cycle that reinforced my view that catering to the audience can only occur after you first invest in the art and artists. I think it's the correct approach for arts institutions of any size.
  2. This is a legend... In my experience, audiences will take what you give them and enjoy it so long as you prepare them well. Whether it's a thorny classic (e.g. Bartok String Quartet #3) or a new classic (say, a string quartet by Caroline Shaw or Jessie Montgomery), audiences are extremely accepting. I think orchestra admins think they need to program boring because there are loud complainers and the squeaky wheels get the grease. I just don't think that data backs up that approach. The loud complainers are not the majority. (And many people who think of themselves as only wanting to hear music from 100-300 years ago simply don't know how much they will enjoy modern and contemporary composers.) It is the job of the artists to lead the way. We cannot simply supply what our audiences demand, that's how we've gotten into this mess. (On the other hand, if all you ever do is challenge your audience and provide no context or comfort, that's probably even worse.) Programming is tough.
  3. Pinky was just repeating old stereotypes he heard in his youth. Rather stupid and racist of him. Obviously, he knows better. He's been teaching in fancy music schools long enough to recognize that, in fact, the Korean music education system is one of the best in the world. Korean and Korean-American students are overrepresented in the world's top music schools and orchestras. No idea why he would stoop to using racist stereotypes when he could just be ageist instead. "Kids these days don't sing," would have rung very true to me. I think kids aren't singing nearly enough in school. Meanwhile, KPOP is taking the world by storm.
  4. Well, ya learn something every day. It's how Mozart wrote it. It gives the viola a brighter sound, more tension and all those open strings. (I love the piece in normal tuning, but playing it scordatura as intended is a wonderful musical experience.)
  5. Only one way to find out... Mozart has the viola tune up a half step in the Sinfonia Concertante in Eb. The technical term for alternate tuning is scordatura if you want to do some research on your options. You don't have to stop at moving down a half-step. You could (for example) tune Gb-Db-Ab-Db, giving yourself two Db drone options.
  6. I get the impression from almost every single purchaser that they are not buying these instruments from violin shops.
  7. Agreed. I think an interesting question could be, "Should dealers who encounter fake labels add explanatory labels of their own?" On the question of honesty and dealers, my experience has been rather good and, heck, I bought my main viola from Machold. I wouldn't say that luthiers have a worse reputation than any other business where sales is a key component.
  8. "I've done the math and the ideal interior volume of a viola is..." The high bridge is so you can clear the bouts with the bow?
  9. Interesting, thanks, SAS, and welcome to the board.
  10. I'll tell ya, my 45.1 cm tenor viola is plenty big and has a distinctive and lovely tenore sound.. It's modeled after the Ashmolean's 1592 Amati. Careful building too gigantic.
  11. You've resurrected a decades-old thread! And you've linked to a set of 6 (!) strings for £36. That's about the same price as a set of 4 Thomastik Dominant violin strings. But they are expensive for guitar strings, I guess.
  12. Hard to say if it will hold its value without knowing its value. Lately (past decade), nice Roth instruments have increased in value, so you're not buying at a trough in the market.
  13. Oof, sorry. I thought they allowed a certain number of free articles per month.
  14. I thought that The Washington Post tribute to Midori was a good read.
  15. Great post! Thank you. I've had the experience of asking a colleague to stop practicing with a metronome too.
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