Week in Review: Summer of Change, Op. 9

August 3, 2020, 7:45 PM · You’ve heard of the three B’s? Well, how about the three P’s? Perlman, Podger, and Perruchon. This week, we travel to Itzhak Perlman’s virtual music program and then onto a virtual masterclass with baroque violinist Rachel Podger. Heading to Germany, we get some absolutely wild dance music from two members of the Berlin Philharmonic. In a "how did I miss this?" moment, we go back in time to a virtual July 4th celebration, complete with virtuosic fireworks. And, in case you’ve lost hope these days, your spirits will be lifted by a group of string-playing youngsters who literally bring their music to those in isolation.

Op. 9 collage

What’s better than one Perlman?

Well, two, of course! Here we have Edward Elgar's masterpiece, "The Snow," featuring Itzhak Perlman playing both violin parts, chorus master Patrick Romano, pianist Jun Cho, and the Perlman Music Program (PMP) chorus. More than 50 students, alumni, and faculty came together virtually for this special performance. (Visit perlmanmusicprogram.org/ through August 10 to view the entire camp-ending gala.)

Podger virtually visits Texas

Famed British baroque violinist Rachel Podger gave two master classes to students of Ronald Houston’s JDR Music Academy in Texas. Seven students performed for Rachel and approximately 65 students virtually viewed each class. Rachel offered insights into technique, style, and form. Ron says, "Rachel has always been one of my truly favorite violinists and not a day goes by without my talking about her to my students. So I thought I would give it a try to get her here!" (And it worked! Proving that it never hurts to ask.)

And, now we present, Perruchon

Ludwig Quandt, the Berlin Philharmonic’s First Principal Cellist and his colleague, timpanist Wieland Welzel perform Étienne Perruchon’s riveting 5 Danses dogoriennes. Recorded in the empty Berlin Philharmonie, the piece showcases the enormous talents of both performers, as well as the infectious rhythms within the score. (French composer Perruchon is known primarily for his film scores.)

The (viola) power of giving back

Speaking of Ron Houston, his group ViolaPower! performed outside, and socially-distanced, for residents of the Carrolton Health and Rehabilitation Center. The young ViolaPower students have been looking for ways to provide music to those in need. This performance is but one example. (Ron says the kids are trying to "keep music alive in all our hearts." Way to go, all of you!

Two Zhous are even better than one

I’m not sure how I missed this, but in the spirit of "it’s never too late for a two-man version of Stars & Stripes," enjoy violinist Hao Zhou, who creates his own two-man orchestra. (This stand-up-and-cheer arrangement is courtesy of another movie maestro, Bruce Dukov.)

Other performances of note

Here are a few updates and reminders about musical events you can view and participate in online:

World Bach Competition: Boulder Bach Festival launches a worldwide event taking place August 1-15 online. The competition has attracted 273 musicians from 39 countries, all performing personal renditions of works by J.S. Bach. All videos will appear on Boulder Bach Festival’s YouTube Channel as separate playlists representing twelve diverse categories that range from Professional to Community, and Instrumental to Vocal. Cash prizes will be awarded. Audience Favorite distinctions will be determined by YouTube “thumbs ups” on the videos.

Miró Quartet's Beethoven Cycle: The final evenings of the complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets are approaching. Thursday, August 6: String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130, Grosse Fuge in B-flat major, Op. 133; Friday, August 7: String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131; Saturday, August 8: String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135, String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130: VI. Finale: Allegro (alternate finale). All concerts begin at 5:30 p.m. PT (6:30 p.m. MT, 7:30 p.m. CT, 8:30 p.m. ET). Tickets are available at OurConcerts.live and are $20 for individual concerts. Following each livestream, the performance will remain online for on-demand viewing for 24 hours for ticket holders.

Stefan’s Sessions: Violinist Stefan Jackiw will launch his first online session August 8, focusing on the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. Each movement will be performed by a different violinist and Stefan will then do a deep dive into the musical and technical aspects of this masterpiece. There is no charge to attend, but you must register here. (Registered participants will receive specific starting time and log-in information.)

Summer of change ideas welcome

With large-scale concerts and symphony performances almost universally on hiatus, we've put "The Week in Reviews" on hold and instead bring you this roundup of "summer of change" activities. If you’d like to share links of socially-distanced performances, teaching experiences, camps, or master classes you’ve enjoyed, please do so in the comments or e-mail me for possible inclusion in a later opus.


August 4, 2020 at 07:59 PM · Oh my! Two Perlmans are better than one! Absolutely wonderful! I loved seeing and hearing the next generation of singers and of course Perlman has done so much to promote the next generation of musicians with the Perlman Music Center.

I'm not a violinist but still found Rachel Podger's master class fascinating. What a wonderful way she has of giving constructive criticism. And Diana - did you notice that her first outfit matched the items on the shelves behind her! Shelves Diana!

The ViolaPower was so uplifting and the two Zhous were marvelous. Once again, thank you to the marvelous tech that is enabling us to do this!

There is so much talent that we would never see these days so thank you for showcasing so much of it. Please continue!

August 5, 2020 at 12:58 AM · Joe: I love that Perlman includes singing in his camp! And I agree about Ms. Podger. I found her discussion of bow weight to balance limited vibrato incredibly interesting. (And, yes, she appears to be wearing a blouse from the Wedgwood Collection! She is perfectly coordinated!) Glad you liked the selections. As always, I greatly appreciated your comment!

August 5, 2020 at 05:08 AM · Thank you, Diana, for bringing the insights and joy of Rachel Podger to your column. Hearing her talk about music put a smile on my face. As she described the energy and emphasis coming through her wrist, I felt connected to the 17th century. She’s very kind and humble, and boy, can she play the violin.

August 5, 2020 at 06:56 PM · Hello Diana!

It is heartwarming to see the video of the parking lot concert even though I of course was part of it. These residents of the Carrollton Health and Rehabilitation Center are starved of many things during these times. It proves that there is endless need for musicians and that we are all here to serve! At the center, they have regular worship at least twice a week and multitudes of visitors and events every week. This all stopped abruptly in March. ViolaPower brought worship, sunshine and hope to these residents. We are certain to do it again. It is also amazing to see the humility and grace that our students showed at this event!

As for Rachel, she is someone I have admired for a long time. Her playing is second to none and also is her knowledge. She was so respectful and inspiring to our class. Way to go Rachel!! Can't wait till she "comes" back to see us.


August 5, 2020 at 11:39 PM · Paul: Rachel Podger really does have tremendous insights! I agree with your assessment that she is kind, humble, and quite the player!

Ron: You have inspired me so many times since the pandemic began with what you are doing with and for your students. Bringing Rachel Podger to Texas "virtually" was a stroke of genius. And the kids playing at the rehabilitation center was beyond moving. Thank you!

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