String Academy

String Academy

The Jacobs School of Music Virtuosi

Hear (and see) the Violin Virtuosi perform!

Circling Around (2006) is a Documentary focused on the personal journeys of the Violin Virtuosi as students, musicians and friends as they study with the String Academy at Indiana University.

Buy the DVD

Mimi Zweig String Pedagogy

String Academy Director Mimi Zweig provides valuable tips for string teachers of all levels, string students, string pedagogy students, and parents!

Go to the website!
Mimi Zweig, Director
Brenda Brenner and Susan Moses, Co-Directors
 
 
The JSoM Virtuosi performed in Indianapolis with David Chan on October 20, 2013 as part of the Laureate Series of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (IVCI).  David Chan was the IVCI 1994 Bonze Medalist.  Read reviews of the performance here!

The JSoM Virtuosi toured Argentina and Brazil in June 2013.  They performed in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba, San Juan and Sao Paolo. Go to https://blogs.music.indiana.edu/string-academy to follow their adventures. 

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 carnegie Hall 2013

Quick Links:

About the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Virtuosi

The Indiana University String Academy Virtuosi is a unique collection of violinists between the ages of 12 and 18 who perform as soloists and as an ensemble. Their repertoire includes the music of Bach, Brahms, Bartok, Kreisler, Prokofiev, Vivaldi, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Arad, Telemann, Dinicu-Heifetz and many innovative contemporary compositions which have been written for the ensemble.

VV concertThe performers are gifted students who study at the String Academy at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. They live in Bloomington and commute from as far away as 250 miles.  Their intense musical curriculum includes weekly private lessons, chamber music, theory, master classes, and Virtuosi rehearsals.  The Virtuosi have performed throughout the world and recently concluded a three week tour of Argentina where they were enthusiastically embraced. Concerts have included a Carnegie Recital Hall debut concert, five successful tours of France, and performances in Japan, Sweden, Spain, and Italy.  National Public Radio programs From the Top and Prairie Home Companion have featured The Virtuosi on their nationwide programs. In 2006, Public Television released the Emmy nominated documentary entitled, Circling Around – The Violin Virtuosi, which has been aired throughout the United States.  Many of the students have won local, national and international competitions.  String Academy graduates are performing and teaching throughout the world.  Students that decide to pursue other careers take with them a unique love and understanding of music that can only be developed over many years of study.

 


The Violin Virtuosi prepare for an international tourViolin Virtuosi
The Violin Virtuosi in front of the Simon Building VV in front of Simon Building
The Violin Virtuosi "On the Move"VV on the move

 

Indiana University Violin Virtuosi: Denmark and Sweden
May/June 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Hello to everyone:
We leave tomorrow and will keep you updated.  Hopefully, the volcano will be on our side or we may spend the summer with 24 hours of sunlight in the “Northern Realms”.

Best wishes until soon, Mimi

Thursday, May 26, 2011
Hello to everyone:

We arrived in Copenhagen in good shape Limoafter dodging all the tornados and getting to Chicago in a stretch limo. We were met at the airport by our very nice host violin teachers, Shannon Hawes and Edith Code.  We are now sitting in Edith's apartment planning our days here and of course to include rehearsal time before the Saturday concert. The drive from the airport gave us the chance to see some of this beautiful city. It is all so civilized.

More soon, Mimi and the VV Gang

 

Friday, May 27, 2011
Hello to everyone....we have completed our first day in Copenhagen and I think all are ready to collapse into their beds.  The kids are learning to take the train from a suburb into the town (of course with a borrowed cell phone for emergencies).  It is interesting to note that there do not seem to be that many cars in this city of one million.  There are probably at least a million bicycles that are ready to run you over if one is not careful.  Also, trains are the way to get around. And yes, the feet...we have walked throughout most of the old town and today spent some time at Tivoli.  They say it is the main tourist attraction in this city, but my impression from the kids (at least this is what they tell me) is they were not too impressed.  It seems to be a big theme park with a few nice flowers and lots of rides.  After Ilya and I left for the Conservatory the kids went on the fast roller coaster and survived with all limbs intact. While I gave classes at the Royal Danish Conservatory, the VV rehearsed and at the end of the class

gave an impromptu  performance of P and A.  It is always heartwarming to see the reaction of people (and these are musicians) who have not heard the VV.  One violin teacher was brought to tears and was struck by the ability of the VV to communicate something beyond the notes.

I'm sure tomorrow's concert will be well attended.

Tomorrow is a concert day which means rehearsing, practicing, playing the concert and then an after concert party. By the way, how are the tornadoes doing?  Here it can be warm, cold, raining and warm again all within ½ hour.

More soon and best wishes, Mimi

Sunday, May 29, 2011
Sunday, not sure anymore of the date..

riverAnother day of new experiences and adventure...we all met very early at the Copenhagen train station to catch the train that took us across the water on a 7 mile long bridge to Malmo, Sweden. (Stefan, our host, told us that before the bridge opened a few years ago it was a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride.) This is an old picturesque town with many walking streets. The Palladium (concert hall, an old movie theater) is one of the best acoustical halls in which the VV have played. Fresco ceilings and wood floors and walls in a Greek theater design.  Within 45 minutes there was a rehearsal, snack and jumping into the concert attire...and tuning up.  With jet lag, train travel, 11 AM concert time (the VV are part of a music festival this weekend) and looking a little sleepy, I was not sure what to expect. But once again, you put these wonderful kids on the stage and they performed beautifully. With each concert I can see artistic growth.

After our concert we grabbed a bite to eat (food is simple, yet fresh and tasty) and went to the next concert of the festival which featured really excellent players from London. They played an exciting Franck Piano Quintet which Ilya will play at the Summer SA. Tonight is the last night with host families. This experience has been heartfelt on both ends. In a short time new bonds and friendships are made.

Stefan has arranged for us to tour Malmo on bikes tomorrow morning (if the weather will cooperate).  The afternoon will be spent at the Denmark Royal Conservatory where I will give a class and the VV will practice and perform again.
Time to get some sleep and best wishes to all, Mimi

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Hello to everyone...
We have had a few whirlwind days since the last letter.   Here is the blog from Monday night (May 30th) written on our trip from Malmo to Stockholm.

We are now on the fast train from Malmo to Stockholm after a day of touring Malmo, Mimi giving a very long class at the Malmo Conservatory, and the VV playing for the university students. It is interesting to interact with teachers and to find that they are caught in a catch 22. They have good jobs that are supported by the government with decent salaries, pensions, paid vacations, etc. Yet the government puts so many restrictions on their teaching curriculum which  limits the level of artistry the students can attain. (For example, lessons are restricted to 20 minutes even for the advanced students.)

bikeRiding bikes in Malmo was liberating. The sun was out for the first time and we sailed through the flat streets with ease admiring the  old buildings, interesting new buildings, and the part of the city that has been reclaimed from the sea. I am sending my IPad down the train for some VV contributions.

GREG: I'm having a great time. The food is not incredibly unique, but it is very fresh. The people have been great and I have been enjoying every minute.

Claire: Hi! How are you? I'm having a great time! We've been playing cards for the last two hours. See you soon, very soon!

Ann: Hello guys. I'm having a great time in Sweden! At the moment I'm riding on a train that is traveling along at 200 km per hour and am learning how to play euchrer. Overall, really enjoying the trip.

Brian: hey! Although it would be really cool for you to be with me here, I guess Claire has to be alone there. Thanks for getting Facebook, Mom! You know me, I've taken lots of pictures (going on three now!). The girls will surely post theirs at the end.) This train ride is Great; really comfy and relaxing! Hope you're doing well!!

Now it is really WED, June 1, 2011
Yesterday we had our whirlwind day in Stockholm beginning with the concert at the Lilla Academie.  This is the most famous school for pre college music students in Sweden.  The kids begin at age 5 after being identified as talented and continue to 19.  It is also one of the only schools in Sweden where students can get lessons longer than 20 minutes.  (It is a very strange system where the government makes all the laws regarding music, but doesn’t really know what it is all about..)

Leo Kowalski was at our concert (our many year summer String Academy student who lives in Stockholm) and after the concert (which was well received) he took us on a walking tour of the old city. It is a beautiful city and it was a stunning day (finally some sun and warmth).  The buildings from the 15th C that are massively built on the water gave us many photo opportunities.  Leo also took us to his favorite ice cream place, and yes, it was delish!

We got back on the train for the 4 hour ride to Falun which actually took 6 due to engine problems.  We arrived and were greeted at the train by a few old friends who took us to the hotel and then out for pizza.

We are now off to the conservatory for a day of practicing and walking around this picturesque small town, Falun.  All the ESTA (European String Teachers Association) people arrive from all over Europe today and I’m sure we will be making new friends.  Also, will see one of my old teachers (about 35 years ago….) from the Sienna Summer School, Bruno Giurana.

More very soon and lots of hellos from all of us, Mimi

Friday, June 3
Hello to all:
adThe last concert of our tour for ESTA was a huge success. The audience did not want the concert to be over and gave a rousing ovation. I was proud of each one of our VV and marveled at the artistic progress made over the week. The audience was made up of 350 string teachers from all over Europe who truly understood what the ingredients have to be to produce the VV results. Ilya has been our constant piano companion and given the VV confidence and artistry for which I am grateful. Sujin, our parent rep, has been a comfort and big help in putting all the details together.

Mimi will give some master classes tomorrow and then we will spend Saturday at the summer home of Sven David Sandstrom and Ann Marie Lysell who live close to Falun.  

It is now almost 1 AM and the sky is still light. Not much time for sleeping.

We will be home soon.
Best wishes, Mimi

Sunday, June 5, 2011
On the way home
Hello again...

This will be the last e mail of the Scandinavian blog…..

sandstromYesterday, we spent a magical afternoon at the country home of Sven David and Ann Marie Sandstrom. Sven David is composer laureate for Sweden and venerated by all.  We hopped on the local bus to get to this retreat and were met at the bus stop by our friends who waved the bus to a stop. This little village (Ann Marie grew up here and escaped to Stockholm at age 16 to study the violin) is the perfect quiet haven with forests, open space, cows, and hearing the wind russle through the pine trees.  Ann Marie prepared an exquisite lunch for us with barbecued meats, salads, cheeses, breads, fish and a sky that was blue with no clouds and a warm breeze. As we spent the afternoon outside, I could only think that this was a Renoir setting.  By the end of the afternoon we were all playing soccer (even us old ones). I cannot think of a better way for us to finish our adventure.

We left Falun this morning with sad good byes to many ESTA teachers and the sponsors. The VV were a big hit and to the last minute were being thanked for participating in this festival. We have been invited to some other exciting places in the world, but for now we are ready to be home. Our train to Arlanda was missing 4 train cars so many people with reservations were scrambling. I think the train conductor was wishing he had not come to work today. The train rolled into Arlanda (Stockholm's modern airport with beautiful wood flloors) and we literally walked a few feet to our hotel. Our departure gate is a 3 minute walk for us tomorrow morning (as opposed from our trying to get to Indy adventure dodging tornadoes). If all is on time we will see you tomorrow at 4:50.

Many best wishes,

Mimi

PS: The VV touched many lives on this tour and they come home enriched with new friendships and cultural understandings.

group


Indiana University Violin Virtuosi Tour of Argentina
May 25 - June 14, 2010

Tuesday: May 25
Hello to everyone...here is the latest e-mail list and we will see you in a few hours...no later than 3:15 at the airport.  Make sure you have your violins, passport, credit card/money and that you have copied your documents and left one copy at home.
More soon.  Mimi
 
Friday, May 28
Hello to everyone:
We are sitting in the very quaint Lobby of a Spanish looking small hotel in Tandil.  Tandil is a town a little larger than Bloomington in the middle of the pampas which means there is nothing between here and BA except millions of cows. (And yes, the beef is delicious)

After the concert in Tandil
after the concert in Tandil
 

Last night was our first concert and it was a major success.  The hall was packed and as usual, the audience did not know what to expect.  I was watching them and many had smiles across their faces from beginning to end.
And the kids...played great! Ren, Amy, Brian, Alex and Yoojin were the soloists.  The group’s pieces were engaging and heartfelt.
Concerts here begin at 9 PM which means 9:30.....and then after the concert we were hosted for a beautiful dinner.  One of the dishes consisted of stuffed (with a tuna puree) beets and peeled apples.  Ren/Joan are taking many pictures which we will send along.
Need to close now because our bus for Olivarria leaves in 5 minutes.
Everyone is feeling well and energetic.
More soon.  Mimi and the gang....

Saturday, May 29
A quick note to all of you.
We are in another small town, Olivarria, a five hour bus trip from BA.  This town has embraced the kids and they are doing what they can to make us feel welcome.  The concert last night was in a large theater with a beautiful warm sound.  Even though a little tired, (they simply did not listen to me when I suggested a short nap....maybe soon they will begin to understand the rigors of performing) they played wonderfully.  Yoojin is adding a special sparkle of artistry and experience to the group.
After the concert...guess what....a very festive 3 course meal which included empanadas (but not like the doughy ones we find in the US...very flaky and delicate), the meats, pastas, salads, and then the flans and ice creams for dessert.  The Mozarteum sponsors were all there and concerts are an occasion to celebrate.  As you can see by now, food is a central part of life here.
We are back to BA in a few hours (of course, after being treated to lunch) and then we meet our Mozarteum manager at the bus station and go to dinner.  (These are not the usual buses...they are what we wish we could have on airplanes...reclining seats, foot rests, TV, large spaces and we are on top of the double decker.)
That's it for now...time for breakfast.  Mimi

Saturday, May 29, 2010    on the bus back to BA….a few words from the VV:
YJ: Argentina is amazing… friendly people and especially GREAT FOOD! We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to share music with people.   To Jay: I miss you; hope the moving is going ok. I’m praying for you!!
Gregorio: The food has been one of the main highlights of this trip.  It has been wonderful to enjoy it and there is great variety of tastes and styles to choose from at every meal.  The people have also been very hospitable and moving, unlike many in the United States.  Although I am very tired, I wish that this trip would never end, of course with the exception of wanting to see my friends and family again.  I have had a wonderful time here and I am excited for the adventures still to come.
Johnny – Argentina is AMAZING so far.  I love getting to experience the different culture, people, places, and…food.  The food is wonderful.  It’s really fun to try all the new food, especially all the desserts.  The people here are really nice, and even though I can’t understand much of what they are saying… it’s been really fun getting to know them.  Of course, the music part of the trip is VERY cool.  Getting to play in a lot of cool places, and share our music with different people each time.  Having a great time here so far, but I miss my home and family too!
Amy - Argentina has been amazing.  The food is wonderful, fantastic, superb, dazzling, and exquisite!  Whatever…I can’t think of anything else to say because Misha and Alex keep pestering me on my writing skills and expertise……….but we are having a great time etc…… 
Alex- We have only been here for 3 days, but it seems like it has been so much longer. Every day is packed with things to do: bus rides, tours, rehearsing, eating at amazing restaurants – I can’t believe how much we have done so far. We are extremely lucky to have the one and only Carina Voly with us; her knowledge of Argentinean “do’s and don’ts” is invaluable. Hope all is well back in the states!
Brian – I can’t really think of anything to add here. Yoojin made a great summary of the trip, and the food (It’s Wonderful!!); there’s no way to best Amy in her poignant adjectives; and Alex made a really good point about Ms. Voly….her guidance is a Huge relief to us, she is amazing! I have had a fantastic time so far, it’s really hard to believe I could have so much fun in so little time. I am greatly looking forward to the next few days.  I’m sure it will be lovely!
Joan—As you already have figured out, this is probably the food capital of the world.  We are enjoying eating huge amounts of incredibly yummy foods.  (Dulce de leche is the key word!)  I am also enjoying eating vicariously through others.  The most impressive eating I witnessed was the monster mixed barbeque Alex and Brian shared, which included lots of exotic, as well as ordinary foods.  The first two concerts have been very warmly received.  The kids have been playing for very appreciative audiences.  Everyone sounds so beautiful.  Bravo to all!   
Charles:  What a pleasure to be associated with such a talented group of young people.  I am having a wonderful time playing the piano for the various soloists and the concerted group.  The audiences so far have been demonstrably responsive, and I anticipate a very successful round of concerts.  The kids are extremely well behaved, and all parents would be thrilled with the results of their excellent efforts.
Carina: What a treat to be going around with this wonderful group of people! I am glad to be able to share tips and information with everyone as a native, even if I’ve been away (returning periodically) for 25 years now! We are certainly enjoying a great reception (both socially and artistically), we are definitely getting to taste wonderful food, and the concerts have been just incredible, standing ovations in both places VV played. We’ll do some more sightseeing in the next few days, can’t wait!
Misha- Argentina is amazing!...um … Brian really says it all
Amy-I agree with Misha
Alex-I agree with Misha and Amy
John-I agree with Misha and Amy and Alex
Ren- I agree with Misha and Amy and Alex and John
YJ- I agree with Misha and Amy and Alex and John and Ren
Greg-I agree with Misha and Amy and Alex and John and Ren and YJ   
Ren:  Our time in Argentina so far has been nothing short of surreal.  Though it is a completely fresh and new experience for me, there is something about the people here that just makes one immediately feel “at home.” After arriving in Buenos Aires and checking into our hotel, we hit the streets and immediately got a taste of Argentina.   I’m not just talking about the food here either; just to smell the air and walk the streets is such a rich experience.
We have played two concerts so far, and it is such a blast to get on stage and play together.  I can speak on behalf of all of us that playing in Argentina, after eating incredible food and meeting such wonderful people gives us a certain new inspiration and energy.  Meeting with audience members after concerts, though the language barrier sometimes renders communication difficult, is a testament to how universal the “language” of music is.  Though so far I have been struggling to understand and speak Spanish, on this long bus ride between Olavarria and Buenos Aires several of us (John, Yoojin, Gregorio and I) have been learning and practicing new Spanish phrases.  I look forward to sharing more music, and maybe even a few ideas, thanks to my new Spanish phrases, with the gracious people of Argentina!
PS from Mimi:  A small PS….on leaving Olivarria 5 hours ago it was an emotional parting.  The kids worked themselves into the hearts of the sponsors and a few were so moved when we left they could not hide their tears.  Their youthfulness and accomplishments are being appreciated.
We are almost in BA (in time for a little practicing, and guess what….dinner.)

More tomorrow.  Mimi

Monday, May 31, 2010
Hello to all back home….yesterday was another day filled with new experiences.  We began (not so early since the VV seem to find to found energy at night…) with practicing (of course) and then a trip to a part of BA that hosts a craft fair which is next to the Mausoleum of important people.  (Saw the tomb of Eva Peron).  All the things in this fair are handmade by the artisans and it is difficult to resist bringing some things home with us.  We could not have ordered better weather.  The sky is blue and the air is crystal clear.  They are saying that this was the first day of winter, hence wearing the winter coats.
We then walked many blocks to the home of the Barretta’s.  This walk winds through neighborhoods that would lead you to believe you are in the middle of Paris.  They have a beautiful home with 2 pianos (since their daughter is Marina Hammond and son Phillip) which are played by Maria Elena B…a piano teacher and director of a music school in BA.  The audience for the concert was small but filled with musicians.  This gave us a chance to meet our fellow cohorts and discuss the difficulties of making a living as a musician in this country.  (It is difficult to understand how the people are so passionate about music, yet their ability to teach/study is hindered by the economics of the country.)
The kids rose to the occasion and played another beautiful concert.  Greg played his Scherzo for the first time and it was great!  Mrs. Barretta hosted a dinner filled with all kinds of Argentine specialties…empanadas and a typical dish made with hominy, meats and vegetables.  We made it back to the “ranch” (our sets of suites overlooking the Teatro Colon) and happily went to sleep….at least I did.
So, now it is MON and a few are still sound asleep gaining energy for today’s adventures which include playing for the BA Suzuki Program and a hosted dinner of a fan (rather wealthy) of Yoojin who will be taking us all to a Korean restaurant tonight.  So, let me close here for now and hope all are enjoying the summer weather up NORTH.   Best wishes, Mimi

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Hello to all:  Everything is well and fine in Buenos Aires.  Yesterday we interacted with the Suzuki Program in town.  There were not many people there, but the ones that were went away with knowing what can be possible.  Today, our last real day off, everyone practiced and then we hired a bus which took us to many interesting places in this magnificent city.  We explored different neighborhoods that had houses made of corrugated metals and many different vibrant colors.  All the streets are filled with shops selling souvenirs, leather goods, wool sweaters...like a bazaar.  Tomorrow, the last day in BA, is the important concert at Teatro REX.  This series has been going on for 51 years and every WED at 1 PM is a concert free and open to the public.  There are usually 2,000 people at this event.  Tomorrow night, Carina arranged for us to go to a Tango Show...the violinist was a student of Mr. Gingold at IU 20 years ago.  It is a small world and we are meeting people who know people we know, etc.
Everyone is healthy and happy.  I think the kids are sleeping enough, but they are so excited with all the new sights, sounds and smells.  Close bonds are evolving and all these gifted young people are broadening their horizons.  We still have 2 weeks to go.
More soon and I'm sure you guessed it....time to eat...
Mimi

flag center
Flag center

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Hello to everyone on this WED evening.  The VV performed at the REX Theater on their 1 PM concert Series for the Mozarteum.  The place was packed and it holds thousands of people.  The kids were totally up for this concert and played beautifully from beginning to end.  The audience responded with bravos and standing ovation and they even loved the encore Tango played by Gringos.  The VV stated that this was their most exciting concert to date (and for some maybe in their lives).   There were many musicians at the concert and quite a few students who had heard us previously and they came back for more.  Maria Elena (our host of SUN night) was also there.
Other events of the day....we took our clothes to the laundry where they were washed and folded for us...wouldn't this be nice to have back home.
Now, we are off to a night of Tango music.  The violinist was a student of Mr. Gingold 20 years ago and he helped arrange this for us.
Our days in BA are almost over and they have been filled with many rich experiences.  The people here are passionate about music and very kind.
Tomorrow, we visit Teatro Colon which officially opens tomorrow night...but we will be in Rosario, the home town of Ernesto Bitteti.  Apparently our concert is almost sold out.  Tomorrow begins a test of tour ability.  Many concerts and travelling in the next days.
Ren has taken about 1200 pictures to date so we have a well documented adventure.
All kids are holding up beautifully.  More soon and best wishes to all, Mimi

Friday, June 4, 2010
Hello to everyone...it is very early for us because we are catching our bus to Esperanza very soon.  We had an amazing day yesterday.  It began in BA with a tour of the Teatro Colon which was scheduled to open last night for the first time in 4 years after renovations.  The orchestra rehearsal was supposed to begin at 10:30 but the crew was still putting things in place such as plaster, paint, dust removal, etc.  Looked like a scene from a Fellini movie.  By 11:10 the Maestro gave the downbeat and off they were.  The Teatro is a stunning hall modeled after La Scala.  The marble, gold, chandeliers are only what pictures can show (and there will be many).  Now I know why Argentines have reverence in their voice when they say Teatro Colon...maybe next time we are here we will play there.
 
Then, we got on our bus and drove 4.5 hours through very flat land with only cows and horses until we arrived in Rosario, the hometown of Ernesto and Graciella Bitteti.  All of a sudden there is a large city of one million people with another gorgeous Teatro.  Even though the VV are getting tired, they performed like true pros and were inspired by the hall.  Of course, Greg ran up the 6 or 7 stories to the very top of the hall during the rehearsal.  He looked like the Phantom of the Opera.  Thanks to Ernesto and Graciella (whose family we saw) the hall was almost completely full.
 
More soon because we are trying to close the suitcases (and by the way, next time we are bringing half size suitcases for all the parents that packed for their children....)
 
Have a good day and more soon.  Mimi

Sunday, June 6, 2010
Hello to everyone:
It has been a couple of days since the last e mail because we have been very busy.  We had another memorable experience in the little town of Esperanza which was settled in the middle of the 19th C by Germans and Swiss emigrants who were lured to work the land….of which there is endless.  It is now a prosperous town of 40,000 with manufacturing, farming (lots of dairy products) and university.  Our concert was hosted by the Fundacion Ramseyer Dayer.  The VV connection was made for us by Ernesto Bitteti whose neighbor in Madrid used to live in Esperanza.  The family donated their beautiful home which is now an art gallery displaying a different exhibition every month and sponsoring concerts.  This was also the first of two places for home stays for the VV.  Again the experiences were memorable.  Ren stayed in a home with a pet Boa (good thing she likes these animals), Brian stayed with a family who now knows his favorite card games and more.  By the time we left 24 hours later, close friendships had been made.  The concert was packed and people loved it.   The VV are able to feed off the energy of the audiences. 
After not much sleep we got on our bus for the drive to Cordoba where we arrived at 7 PM last night.  Our reception in Cordoba was very moving.  All the violinists from the Conservatorio came to meet the bus and played a welcoming tune, and then all of us received at least 30 kisses in a row.  (One kiss on the cheek is the traditional greeting in Argentina.)  Within minutes the VV rehearsed the Vivaldi A Concerto with the Cordoba gang and this will be the joint piece on our concert today.  No day is complete without a party which was hosted by the parents and the Cordoba violinists.   This is our 2nd home stay town and I’m hoping all the VV made it home last night to get some sleep.  I don’t think people in this country need much sleep.  They embrace life and live every minute intensely.
Our concert is at 5 PM today and I’m sure it will be festive.  Our host here is a remarkable young man, Fernando Pinero.  He teaches Suzuki Violin and directs the program as well as playing in the Cordoba Symphony.  There has been a Suzuki program in this town for 40 years.  Fernando loves his work and is a man of the world who tries to make the world a better place with his violin teaching, playing and teacher training.  We can see that he inspires his 22 teachers in the program and we could see how he was so excited that we are here.  Us grown=ups  were talking about this yesterday…there was such a genuine excitement with the young people and teachers here upon our arrival and it was something they had been planning for a long time.  I’m not sure if we have this same sense of embracing events and meeting new people back home possibly because we have become somewhat blasé.  We can talk about this topic later…but for now, I’m off to give classes and get ready for the concert.
Best wishes to all, Mimi

The concert in Cordoba

Concert in Cordoba

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
It is now TU morning and hopefully all the kids are still sound asleep.  Yesterday we had the longest bus ride of the trip and we arrived in San Juan, the capital of the province of San Juan.  But first a little about this past SUN.  The concert in Cordoba was very special because we shared a few pieces with the Suzuki Program.  There were at least 60 additional violinists on the stage for the Vivaldi A Minor Concerto and Allegro (with the most adorable looking children.)  Violin playing is alive and well in this city, the 2nd largest in Argentina.  The torch is being carried by Fernand Pinero who is an exceptional man with a passion for the violin, music and young people.  Our concert hall was a challenge…a beautiful church (but not being used as such) with a reverberation of 7 sec as Charles pointed out with horror.  With 500 people at the concert, the reverb was reduced to possibly 5 sec.  The VV rises to every occasion and tempos, dynamics, etc. were changed to reflect the hall.  Again, the audience embraced the VV and did not want to see them leave.  Fernando and I began discussing a possible visit by the Cordoba students to Bloomington in a few years where they can be in residence for a few weeks.  We’ll talk about this one….

Then came the bus ride (10 hours of it), but much of it through beautiful country.  We finally hit the foothills of the Andes and drove on windy roads with spectacular views.  Then came the desert plateau and we arrived in this large city, again coming from no civilization.  As we drove along, we were periodically stopped by the police who needed a little bribe (a few pesos) in order for us to continue our journey…but we made it safe and sound into the hands of our San Juan sponsors who then took us to the usual 11 PM dinner.

Today is a relaxed day with a 9:30 concert and then dinner.  You may not recognize us when we get off the airplane next week.  Hope all is well in Bloomington and we have one week to go.
Best, Mimi

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
A quick hello to all....our bus leaves in 10 minutes for Mendoza where we will meet up with David Jacobs.  I know that I am looking forward to seeing this famous wine country...but we´ll keep all the minors in check.
Last night we had our San Juan concert which almost was almost unable to begin.... even late.  Joan, Ren and Carina tried to get from their hotel room to ground floor and the elevator got stuck someplace.  We were running up and down the stairs looking for them and finally they were manually hauled down....
We arrived in San Juan on Tu night and our sponsors were not even sure about our credibility.  They could not define who-what we are and were worried that we would BOMB......Somehow management in BA did not give them enough details, but the best part about after the concert is seeing their gratification and amazement of the VV´s.  One host spent 24 years in Berlin and said she had never heard anything like this before...they were visibly moved, and the kids came through again.  Our dinner began at midnight with the delicious 3 courses (for sure we will be unrecognizable on return) and we were in bed by at least 2 AM.  So now, we are waiting for the VV to make it down to the lobby to catch our bus.  Next report from Mendoza.  Best to all, Mimi

Concert Hall
concert hall
 

Friday, June 11, 2010
Hello again and it is another quick e mail.  We are ready to leave for Salta-Jujuy and this is a plane ride.  We just found out that there is a 30 pound limit for this flight so we are all consolidating into very small bags.  Our wonderful bus drivers will take our monster suitcases back to BA and we´ll pick them up on MON on our way home.
Yesterday was another magical day with David Jacobs.  The VV performed at an 0ld theater with great acoustics for 400 high school kids.  It is a type of concert that we all love to do because there is constant interaction with the audience.  We chose a program with lots of variety and after the concert the stage was flooded with kids who wanted autographs and who gave lots of kisses.
The bus then took us to the David Jacobs Winery which is in a gorgeous location at the foot of the Andes and our outdoor feast was spread out like a wedding for the royalty.  Meat had been cooking by a fire for 5 hours expertly handled by a gaucho, the waiters were running around pouring wine for David´s  first output and with trays of cheeses, nuts, fruits, etc.  We then sat down at 4 round tables and were served an extraordinary meal.  We were surrounded by his 3 tame dogs (which were taken from the street and given a generous home) his pet goat, and 2 horses.  Pictures will give a better feeling for this day.  We all went away in love with David who is engaging, curious and generous beyond description.....
 
We wonder how our adventures can continue, but we are off to the North (closer to the equator) for our last 2 concerts.  We will be met by Mozarteum hosts who will have to tear themselves away from the soccer games that are beginning today.  This country is going crazy!!!!
 
We are off and more later.   Best wishes, Mimi

Mendoza
Mendoza

Saturday, June 12, 2010
Hello on a SAT night.  Tonight we have a 10 PM concert (the usual bedtime time) which means most likely the concert will begin at 10:15.  There is a house party afterwards and I’m sure we will see a beautiful home in Jujuy. (not to worry…the kids are still napping with a few hours to go) We arrived here late last night after a grueling 12 hour journey from Mendoza.  There are no direct flights or roads in Argentina, so we flew back to BA and then to Salta, and then a 2 hour bus ride to Jujuy.  When we arrived, the Mozarteum committee was at the hotel to greet us with a bouquet of carnations and a booklet of Jujuy for each of us.  It has been continually heartwarming to see what care and attention people in Argentina are taking to make us feel welcome.  They are genuinely excited that we are here and embrace us warmly.  We were taken to dinner in a typical restaurant of the region.  We are now in northern Argentina close to Bolivia.  The food is different than the more European food of the middle of this country.  They use quinoa as a staple in the diet along with stews made with many different spices.  The people here look less European and more Bolivian/Peruvian….again so many interesting faces.

This morning we rehearsed in a beautiful theater with a piano that Charles loves, a B Steinway.  This hall again is modeled after Teatro Colon and has a warm yet projected sound.  The ladies committee then loaded us in their cars for a 25 min. trip out of town into the mountains where we had lunch at a hotel spa.  The views were breathtaking and very different from the flat pampas that we have been driving through.  Of course, lunch took a long time and for the 2nd time Alex’s lunch arrived as we needed to leave.  Good thing he is a fast eater.  We were raced back to the Teatro where the local Youth Orchestra played a few pieces for us…traditional music of the area.  It is beautiful folk music played with much enthusiasm and with little knowledge of how to really play their instruments.  The VV then played P and A, Hoe Down, and Libertango for them with a rousing reception.  We invited all the kids to our concert and I think many will be there.

Thank goodness Argentina won their game today at the World Cup.  During the game, we could walk down the streets with not a soul around.  After the first and only goal, there were howls from the population.  All the kids are dressed in blue and white with blue and white stripes on their faces.  What a day and more to come.

SUN we are off to our last concert in Salta and then the long journey home begins on MON.  More soon.  Best wishes, Mimi

Sunday/Monday June 14/15, 2010

Hello to everyone with the last e-mail from Argentina.  The last concert finished tonight at midnight in Salta, a beautiful city in the mountains and with again a very passionate musical community.  The VV for the last time as we know them in this guise played their hearts out.  It was an exhilarating and sad occasion.  For many it was their last VV concert and they are off to the next chapter of their lives.  It was also the end of our 3 week magical adventure.  There are many sights, sounds and friendships we will take with us as we make the long journey home and we all know our lives have been broadened.

Salta

Salta

Tomorrow (or in just 5 hours) we take a flight to BA where we will be met by Miguel, our beloved bus driver.  He will take us wherever we will like to go in BA before we catch our flight to the US.  I'm sure that all the VV will want to spend their last pesos on a big shopping spree. 
We will see everyone on TU morning.  Best wishes and see you soon.  Mimi