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joerobson

2014 Inianapolis VSA Non-winners

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Now that the dust has settled around the competition the real impact of the meeting emerges.  Congratulations are due to those who rightfully took home prizes.  However the real work of VSA is education.  Seeing all that amazing work in the Competition Room, the range of discussions in the rooms and lobby, the formal discussions, the displayed instruments both new and old are what will sustain and encourage the work of violin making.

Aside from the "winners" what caught your eye, inspired you, or fired your imagination while you were attending the convention?

For me?  The back of Stephan von Baehr' cello....daring antiquing.  The ribs on Antoine Nedelec's violin..he can do more with less material than anyone.  Benjamin Ruth's latest violin...not in the competion room, but in the lobby.  A Santo Seraphin violin by a student from the Cremona School: Melina Polizzi...great varnish and great application.

on we go,

Joe

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Hi Joe, it was nice to meet you at the meeting, even if just in passing at your booth. 

 

 

Funny you should mention that Polizzi violin too; it caught my eye too since it was a different model from the usual strad/GDG models permeating the competition.  It had a nice straight finish.....quasi Venetian red as befits the model, and beautiful lines.  It played pretty nicely too.

 

In the same general area was Philip Ihle's long period strad copy.  I found it stunning.

 

In keeping with alternative models, I also liked George Yu's Brooking Amati copy....though I guess that doesn't count for the topic, as it won for workmanship and tone.  Still, it wasn't the usual strad/GDG.

 

Paul Crowley had a nice GDG model there which I found quite nice....though that also won something for tone, so maybe doesn't count either.

 

Stephan von Baehr's late GDG copy (Sainton?) in the "Hors" room was scary good, even among the other antiqued fiddles around it.  IMHO, even better than the instruments he entered in the competition. 

 

Also in the "Hors" room was a nice fiddle by Gonzalo Bayolo, a beautiful GDG model. 

 

 

Of course the fiddles of the winners and the usual suspects were spectacular, but since you asked about the non-winners....

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I had a friend, who is a good player tour the exhibit room with me, so I got a chance to step back and listen.  The Stephan von Baehr's  violin  was special, so nice.  I believe my favorite violin in the room was the Joseph Curtin.  What a beautiful piece of work.  I liked the sound of it the best of any fiddles in the room.  There were some great sounding fiddles. Some by famous makers that held up pretty well.  The exhibit room was fantastic, it was your chance to look at and play violins by several big name makers.  Violins that sell for huge money.  That room alone was well worth the trip.  

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I keep remembering more in the Hors room....

 

 

Silvio Levaggi had a beautiful pristine/unantiqued Wilton interpretation.  Sparkling, clear orange varnish.  Funny to see that model in straight form, since it is often interpreted in an antiqued manner.  It was powerful and responsive, throaty sound.

 

Ted Skreko's Gasparo style violas were appealing to me too.  Very rugged and earthy looking, quite natural and organic in appearance.

 

I also liked David Folland's Plowden fiddle, though I am biased since I play one of his fiddles.  He has gone to the dark side and antiques a lot these days.  I asked him about it, since he is known primarily for his straight stuff; he said that it is what musicians seem to want.

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What's a non-winner ? A loser ? The proper PC term is "partial winner".  :lol:

 

"Entrant"

 

While it is somewhat disappointing to come away with not even a certificate of merit for tone, it is also comforting to note that there are hundreds of other entrants in the same boat.  A partial list of the tone "non-winners" :

 

Francois Denis

Geoffry Ovington

Shan Jiang

Zoran Stilin

Jason Viseltear (but won gold medal for his viola)

Joe Thrift

Stephan Von Baehr (but silver medal for workmanship)

Peter Bingen

Andrew Carruthers

Andrew Ryan (but silver medal for workmanship)

Joseph Nagyvary

Michael Doran (but won gold medal for his cello)

Bill Sloan

Antoine Nedelec

 

... and more than 200 others.  Including me, and most other MN'er "entrants"

 

I wouldn't say that these violins sounded bad, but maybe not incredibly fabulous enough to get to the top... or whatever the tone judges were looking for that day.

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I also liked David Folland's Plowden fiddle, though I am biased since I play one of his fiddles.  He has gone to the dark side and antiques a lot these days.  I asked him about it, since he is known primarily for his straight stuff; he said that it is what musicians seem to want.

 

The 'dark side" !

Guffaw!

 

Yes, which for me, brings the argument past the "is it ethical" or "is it not cheating, faking the age?" or any other thing.

 

If its what players (customers) want, and you can do it - well, that's what you make.

In many ways "antiquing" really is considered "the dark side".

Once you start antiquing, though, it's much the same as "regular" varnishing... Simply a different "look". In many aspects, realistic antiquing is a worthy challenge .

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"Entrant"

 

While it is somewhat disappointing to come away with not even a certificate of merit for tone, 

 

 

You really shouldn't worry. The entire things is so vague as to be practically meaningless.

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Craig,

I agree...it is exciting to see established makers finding new methods to varnish...that STILL look like them.

Silvio is one of my favorite makers.  That clean Lord Wilton was unsettling to many folks...go Silvio!

Joe

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Vague and meaningless?  Hell, why didn't you tell me that before I bought the plane ticket and reserved the room?  You've been to so many of these events you could have shared your first hand experience with the rest of us poor fools.

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Vague and meaningless?  Hell, why didn't you tell me that before I bought the plane ticket and reserved the room?  You've been to so many of these events you could have shared your first hand experience with the rest of us poor fools.

 

I was talking about the idea of measuring tone in prize order. What are you talking about ?

And the reason I didn't tell you anything is because you did not ask.

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The entire things is so vague as to be practically meaningless.

 

I was talking about the idea of measuring tone in prize order. What are you talking about ?

 

There is definitely a random factor in play, as can be seen in the scoring of each judge (spreadsheet can be accessed by VSA members).  I noticed that there was some correlation between one judges scoring an instrument well, and other judges scoring that same instrument well... but not a certainty.  Plenty of instruments score highest by one judge scored lowest by another.

 

But then there's the little anomaly of Jeff Phillips scoring a gold medal in violin for 3 years in a row.  Such a feat should be virtually impossible if true randomness was a dominating factor

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  I noticed that there was some correlation between one judges scoring an instrument well, and other judges scoring that same instrument well... but not a certainty.  Plenty of instruments score highest by one judge scored lowest by another.

 

 

It reminds me a bit about that anomaly in F1 races, years ago, when one could become F1 Champion without winning a single race. And I think one did. :)

 

When it comes to building, I am quite sure that the judges do a fine job. But to judge tone in such short a time, given the standard I mean, it's surely prone to huge mishaps.

By the way, if it's not a secret, who where the tone judges ?

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But then there's the little anomaly of Jeff Phillips scoring a gold medal in violin for 3 years in a row.  Such a feat should be virtually impossible if true randomness was a dominating factor

 

Randomness is lumpy so it would be unreasonable to expect if this sort of thing had NOT happened

 

Oded

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After seeing, playing, and hearing Jeff Phillips' fiddle, there was no question in my mind that the double gold was well deserved. And after hearing Colin Gallahue's fiddle played by Jimmy Lin, in conjunction with the Titian Strad, I will confess that I liked the tone of Colin's fiddle just a little more than the Strad (sacrilege!)

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Oded,

I will send you a copy of the list of entrants.

 

Carl,

We have mined the vein of opinion about judging and judges at violin making competition many times.  Though interesting the point is, at least for the moment, moot. There is a world of interest and creativity to be enjoyed at these meetings which is quite distant from the choosing of winners.

Forgive my old man memory on the subject, but have you recently attended a VSA competition? 

on we go,

Joe

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There is definitely a random factor in play, as can be seen in the scoring of each judge (spreadsheet can be accessed by VSA members). I noticed that there was some correlation between one judges scoring an instrument well, and other judges scoring that same instrument well... but not a certainty. Plenty of instruments score highest by one judge scored lowest by another.

But then there's the little anomaly of Jeff Phillips scoring a gold medal in violin for 3 years in a row. Such a feat should be virtually impossible if true randomness was a dominating factor

This is the first time the entire spreadsheet of scores is available to VSA members and competitors, not just personal scores. I am curious if the competitors feel the extra figures give more insight towards their future making.

I must say, this was the highest level of making I have ever seen in a competition by a large margin.

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Carl,

We have mined the vein of opinion about judging and judges at violin making competition many times.  Though interesting the point is, at least for the moment, moot. There is a world of interest and creativity to be enjoyed at these meetings which is quite distant from the choosing of winners.

Forgive my old man memory on the subject, but have you recently attended a VSA competition? 

on we go,

Joe

 

Nope. It would be pointless : I'm not a maker and couldn't appreciate  workmanship at that level - it'd be lost on me. My interest is how violins sound ( otherwise I like them new :) ) and that's why I am curious who were the tone judges. In a violin playing competition it'd be phony if "the public" couldn't know who the judges were.

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Nope. It would be pointless : I'm not a maker and couldn't appreciate  workmanship at that level - it'd be lost on me. My interest is how violins sound ( otherwise I like them new :) ) and that's why I am curious who were the tone judges. In a violin playing competition it'd be phony if "the public" couldn't know who the judges were.

Carl,

The workmanship and tone judges are public knowledge and are available on the VSA web site.

 

Jerry,

I agree.  The level of skill and commitment evident in the Competition room was the best ever.

Joe

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VSA TONE JUDGES

 

VIOLIN

 

Chiun-Teng Cheng

 

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

 

Chiun-Teng Cheng Rare Violins

 

 

Austin Hartman

 

Professor, University of Indianapolis

 

Founder, Biava Quartet

 

 

Mark Kaplan

 

Professor, Indiana University

 

 

VIOLA

 

 

Nokuthula Ngwenyama

 

President, American Viola Society

 

Director, Primrose Competition (and past winner)

 

 

Michael Strauss

 

Professor, Oberlin Conservatory

 

 

Stephen Wyrczynski

 

Professor and String Dept Chair, Indiana University

 

 

CELLO

 

 

Marjorie Hanna

 

Principal Cellist, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra

 

 

Perry Scott

 

Associate Principal, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

 

 

Peter Stumpf

 

Professor, Indiana University

 

Ex-Principal, LA Philharmonic

 

 

BASS

 

 

Ju Fang Liu

 

Principal, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

 

 

David Murray

 

Principal, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra

 

 

Kurt Muroki

 

Professor, University of Indiana, SUNY Stony Brook

 

 

QUARTET

 

 

Johannes String Quartet:

 

- Soovin Kim (Winner of Paganini Violin Competition)

 

- Jessica Lee (Winner of Concert Artists Guild Competition)

 

- Choong-Jin Chang (Principal violist, Philadelphia Orchestra)

 

- Peter Stumpf (Prof Indiana University, ex-Principal of LA Philharmonic)

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