The Menuhin Competition – the Olympics of the Violin – Takes Place in the U.S. for the First Time

Menuhin Competition in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas (June 27, 2013)  – The Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists will take place for the first time in the United States from Friday, February 21, 2014, through Sunday, March 2, 2014. The 10-day festival at the University of Texas at Austin Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music, in partnership with the College of Fine Arts and Texas Performing Arts, features a competition between some of the world’s best violinists under the age of 22 as well as concerts, master classes and community activities with elite-level national and international performers.

The week-and-a-half long celebration concludes with a Closing Gala Concert showcasing the acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra. The concert, conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero and featuring soloist Arabella Steinbacher, takes place at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 2, at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 West Riverside Drive. The Cleveland Orchestra, returning to Austin for the first time since 1976, is one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world.

The Menuhin Competition’s nine-member jury panel, who will each perform a concert and give a public master class, is comprised of some of the top musicians, performers and teachers in the international music community: Pamela Frank, Chair (USA), Joji Hattori, Vice-Chair (Japan), Olivier Charlier (France), Ilya Gringolts (Russia), David Kim (USA), Lü Siqing (China), Steinbacher (Germany) and the Butler School of Music’s own Anton Nel (South Africa/USA) and Brian Lewis (USA).

The Menuhin Competition, which has recently helped launch the careers of Julia Fischer, Nikolaj Znaider and Daishin Kashimoto, kicks off with an Opening Concert by the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday, February 21, at the Long Center. The Butler School of Music’s Director of Orchestral Activities, Gerhardt Zimmermann, conducts the concert that will feature soloists Nel, Charlier and Gringolts.

The Junior Finals at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 28, at the Butler School of Music’s Bates Recital Hall, 2406 Robert Dedman Drive, features the Zimmermann-conducted UT Symphony Orchestra along with competitors representing the world’s most talented violinists under the age of 22. The Senior Finals event at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at the Long Center features top young violinists accompanied by the Austin Symphony Orchestra and conductor Peter Bay, Music Director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Along with competitions and concerts, members of the Menuhin Competition jury and Cleveland Orchestra will teach master classes to competitors and University of Texas students at the Butler School of Music and Bates Recital Hall.

Glenn Richter, Interim Director of the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music, says the Menuhin Competition will increase Austin’s already rich standing as a classical music destination.

“With Austin serving as the first American host of the Menuhin Competition – which is to the violin like the Van Cliburn International Competition is to the piano – Austin will become an even more attractive destination city for classical music fans worldwide,” says Richter.

“You may think of Austin as the home of South by Southwest, Austin City Limits or even the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix race. Thanks to Texas Performing Arts, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, the Austin Symphony and our own University of Texas Butler School of Music, Austin is also a hub of innovation and excellence in the fine arts and classical music,” says Richter.

Tickets for the Opening Concert on February 21 and Closing Gala Concert with the Cleveland Orchestra on March 2 are available through a Texas Performing Arts 2013-2014 season subscription, which can be purchased by visiting or calling 512-471-4454. Individual event tickets for the Menuhin Competition will go on sale in September; visit for updates and details.

For additional information on the Menuhin Competition, go to

In the live music capital of the world, the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin offers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs addressing both the practical and theoretical disciplines that make the music industry so rich and diverse. The Butler School’s rich performance environment brings great music to both Austin and world stages, and access to the gifted faculty and students who engage their audiences.

What starts here changes the world. The World is listening.


Official Menuhin Competition Website

Menuhin Austin Competition

Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin Website

Like the Butler School of Music on Facebook

Follow the Butler School of Music on Twitter


Media Contact:

Steve Jansen
Program Coordinator
Butler School of Music
+1 512-471-1139

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

Former UT Professor and Cellist Paul Olefsky Dies at Age 87

Paul Olefsky

(courtesy of Hai Zhang-Olefsky)

At 11 a.m. Monday, June 10, 2013, the Butler School of Music’s Bates Hall, 2406 Robert Dedman Drive, is providing a memorial service for former faculty member Paul Olefsky. Attendees can park for free at the San Jacinto Garage, 2401 San Jacinto Boulevard; parking tickets will be validated following the service.

Dr. Paul Olefsky, a retired music professor at University of Texas at Austin and accomplished cellist, passed away on June 1, 2013. He was 87 years old.

Among his many professional accomplishments was becoming the youngest principal cellist in the history of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall under Eugene Ormandy.

In a concert review of Olefsky’s appearance at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times wrote, “Unquestionably, one of the finest cellist before the public today.”

He released many acclaimed recordings as concert cellist and conductor for the Amatius Classics; Americus Record, Monitor; Musical Heritage Society; Voice of America; and Vox labels.

In 1974, Olefsky landed at UT, where he spent nearly four decades mentoring students such as Louis Lowenstein, John Sant’Ambrogio, Carolyn Hopkins and Stephen Gates. Olefsky spearheaded an innovative chamber music program for UT’s Plan II, one of the first intensive fine-arts courses for the famed UT honors program.

Paul Olefsky

(courtesy of Hai Zhang-Olefsky)

Olefsky’s UT students continue his legacy, teaching at premiere universities and music conservatories throughout the world and holding important positions in major symphony orchestras. Austin Symphony principal cellist, Douglas Harvey, was a protégé of Dr. Olefsky. His widow, Hai Zhang-Olefsky, also a UT alumna, is assistant professor of cello at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX.

Olefsky also created the first Feuermann International Cello Competition at UT and became an emeritus professor at the Butler School of Music in 2002. During his lifetime, Olefsky and his wife were members of the Littlefield Society and the University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council.

To honor his former teacher, Mr. Olefsky’s former student, Gregory L. McCoy, established the Paul Olefsky Cello Scholarship, an endowed scholarship that was approved by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System in 2012. The scholarship benefits The University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music.

In lieu of flowers and remembrances, contributions may be made to the Paul Olefsky Cello Scholarship fund to the following address: The University of Texas at Austin, Butler School of Music, 2406 Robert Dedman Drive, Stop E3100, Austin, TX 78712-1555, Attn: Development.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nathan Williams, Colette Valentine Recital Showcases the Work of Underrated Composer, John B. Hedges

John B. Hedges

John B. Hedges

Though he has worked with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern and the New Jersey Symphony, John B. Hedges remains a bit of an unknown.

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, Nathan Williams, Associate Professor of Clarinet at the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music, and Colette Valentine, Butler School of Music Lecturer of Collaborative Piano, will perform a Faculty Artist Recital at Jessen Auditorium. The evening will feature a piece by Hedges, who’s been a blues and rhythm-and-blues head for as long as he can remember.

“It’s been a part of my daily life since my dad first sat me at the piano and showed me how to move my hands from a I chord to a IV and to a V,” writes Hedges in the program notes for Gumbo, a clarinet sonatina that Williams and Valentine will present during the Tuesday-night concert. “And though the music has informed in various ways much of my own concert music, I had never conceived of transplanting my own piano playing overtly into a piano work in any ‘classical’ context.

“Playing R&B was something I did for myself, spontaneously. More of a friend than an idiom or style. Something to be enjoyed, not analyzed. Played, not composed. Plus…I always feared that it wouldn’t work,” continues Hedges.

Hedges, a graduate of Westminster Choir College and the Curtis Institute of Music, writes that his clarinetist friend Jose Franch-Ballester helped him to ditch his fears.

“One August evening in Philadelphia, after hearing me play and sing a rolling shuffle-style version of Rufus Thomas’ ‘Walkin’ the Dog,’ Jose, who is always looking to expand the already diverse musical world of his repertoire, immediately asked if I could write a concert piece for him that used that kind of American R&B feel.”

Long story short, the two improvised a bit and established some launching points for Hedges’ piece. He finagled with it some more and eventually premiered the composition at the Delaware Chamber Music Festival in June 2008.

Professor Longhair

Professor Longhair

“Since then, several other clarinetists and pianists have taken up the piece,” writes Hedges, who has also collaborated with fiction author Aimee Bender. “It’s immensely gratifying to know that the spontaneity of the piece seems to translate from player to player. It makes the challenge of the composition well worth it.”

About Gumbo, a shout-out to New Orleans-style grooves à la Professor Longhair and the Funky Meters, Hedges writes that the first movement is “a crab-like sonata form where the recap occurs in reverse, is a fast rolling, melodically-driven work, slipping in and out of a series of slightly varied rhythmic grooves with athletic lines and a cool sense of humor.”

Later, the piece transitions to a second movement that’s “a slow, deliberate quasi-chaconne, where the repeating chordal pattern is continuously developed in tandem with a lyrical clarinet line. The piece, vaguely reminiscent of a jazz funeral dirge, builds to an emotional fever pitch, the clarinet wailing over piano exclamations, before settling uneasily back into its meditative opening.

“The third movement is about raucous rhythmic play. The disjointed opening gives way to its more straightforward counterpoint as the piece takes off over the piano groove that inspired the whole work. Oscillating between that Professor Longhair feel and a Funky Meters groove as a second theme, this sonata-rondoish movement lays down a harmonic field on top of which the piano and clarinet throw improvisatory lines at each other.”

Wow. Do we really have to wait until Tuesday to hear it??

Nathan Williams and Colette Valentine will perform the works of Sergei Prokofiev, Robert Schumann, Butler School of Music Professor of Composition Dan Welcher and John B. Hedges at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at Jessen Auditorium, 21st Street and University Avenue.

For more information, visit the Butler School of Music calendar event page.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

Cultural Campus Concert Crawl 2013

concert crawl

The Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music and Austin’s Cultural Campus present a Cultural Campus Concert Crawl. On April 6, students from the Butler School of Music will perform short, informal chamber music concerts in five museums from Austin’s Cultural Campus. Each mini concert will feature a variety of chamber music masterworks, specifically chosen to respond to the art and ephemera exhibited at each museums. Concerts begin at 1 pm, and will repeat continuously, on the hour until 4 pm. Travel from museum to museum, and enjoy an inspiring afternoon of music, history, art, and fun.

Concert Details below:

Blanton Museum of Art: Founded in 1963, the Blanton Museum of Art is one of the foremost university art museums in the country and holds the largest public collection in Central Texas. The Blanton is particularly well known for its collection of modern and contemporary American and Latin American art. Inspired by these collections, musicians from the Butler School are presenting the enchanting Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by the famous twentieth century Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, along with other sumptuous works for classical guitar and bassoon.

Address: 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

Harry Ransom Center: The Harry Ransom Center is cherished in Austin for offering fascinating exhibitions of literature, photography, film, art, and performing art. This spring they present a major exhibition of Arnold Newman’s photographs of innovators, celebrities, and cultural figures. One of Newman’s most iconic images features Igor Stravinsky at a grand piano. Taking inspiration from this photo, the Butler School of Music moves one of its priceless Steinways to the Ransom Center for a collection of chamber music pieces with piano, including the classic masterpiece “Arch Duke” trio by Beethoven.

Address: 300 West 21st Street Austin, Texas 78712

The Visual Arts Center: The Visual Arts Center (VAC) is a place where art exhibition and education intersect, drawing together a uniquely diverse community of students, faculty, guest artists, and creative voices from around the world. Situated in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin, on April 6th VAC visitors can explore the popular, annual exhibition of UT student work. The Butler School of Music also presents a concert of music by UT student composers. Come hear lively, colorful, fresh-off-the press chamber music, and discover a new generation of brilliant, young Longhorn artists, composers, and musicians.

Address: 2300 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78712

Texas Memorial Museum: Natural history with a Texas focus! Texas Memorial Museum is the place to see Texas dinosaurs and fossils, wildlife, and gems and minerals. Marvel at the 30-foot mosasaur that swam here when the area was covered with a shallow sea. Wonder at the Texas Pterosaur – largest flying creature ever found, with a wingspan of 40 feet. Gather beneath the Pterosaur on April 6th, as the Butler School presents a concert features musicians as archeologists, preforming 17th century music on replicas of antique instruments.

Address: 2400 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78705

LBJ Library and Center: The LBJ Library houses the historical documents, telephone recordings, video, artifacts and photographs of President Lyndon Johnson to let researchers and the public render their own verdict as to his place in history. The Library features three floors of interactive exhibits to educate visitors about legislation passed during LBJ’s years in the White House. To celebrate LBJ’s heroic legacy for African American civil rights, the Butler School presents a concert of jazz from the 1960s. Enjoy famous tunes by Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, brilliant African American composers that overcame oppression and segregation to change the history of music and American culture.

Address: 2313 Red River St, Austin, TX 78705

Posted in Uncategorized

Classical Reinvention’s Synthesis: Classical Music Concerts Can Be Fun. Honestly.

Classical Reinvention Synthesis

Classical Reinvention founder Jacqueline Perrin has made some progress in breaking down preconceptions about classical music’s sometimes formal and off-putting format. But there’s still work to do, says the University of Texas at Austin senior.

This could be a reason why she’s going all in with Synthesis, which might turn out to be Classical Reinvention’s swan song.

While the future of the two-year old concert presenting organization is up in the air, there aren’t any questions about the uniqueness that will be displayed during Classical Reinvention’s and Dance Action’s Synthesis, scheduled to debut Tuesday, March 26, during the Cohen New Works Festival at the Harry Ransom Center.

The production will feature a collaboration between musicians and dancers, including a horn quartet (Katie Evans, Reese Farnell, Megan Marshall, Michael Mikulka) playing two Claude Debussy pieces alongside movement artists. Afterwards, the singers of Collegium Musicum (co-directed by Phillip Bernard and Matt Jackfert) will present Guillaume Dufay’s Ave Maria Stella and Thomas Tallis’ O Nata Lux. Both performances take place in the HRC plaza.

From there, Synthesis moves to HRC’s side atrium, where Sam Johnson will run through selected movements from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 in G Major, followed by Ethan Greene’s electronic music-centric Inventions and Interludes in Iron for stereo fixed media.

The concert finishes with Zach Singer’s interpretation of Michael Mikulka’s To Summon Rain, Wind, Snow and Thunder inside of the HRC theater. Archival images from the center’s collection, including work from the current Arnold Newman: Masterclass exhibit, will be displayed alongside Mikulka sonic piece.

Perrin tells Polyphony that it has been a challenge organizing a production that will feature approximately 50 musicians and dancers. “It was a culture shock for many of the participants,” says Perrin about Sunday’s tech rehearsal that took five hours to complete.

“I’ve tried to present Classical Reinvention concerts that are structured more like popular concerts with classical content,” says the Butler School of Music piano performance major, who’s still in the decision-making process with her post-graduation plans (thus, the up-in-the-air status of Classical Reinvention). “I think the mission has stayed true since the beginning.”

Synthesis takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, and Friday, March 29, at the Cohen New Works Festival at the Harry Ransom Center, 300 West 21st Street. Tuesday’s post-concert program includes a talk-back session. For more information, check out the Classical Reinvention event page.

Posted in Uncategorized