Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why it's always a violinist

I spoke the other day with Yoon Jae Lee, the music director of the Old York Road Symphony, about the winners of the orchestra's annual youth soloist contest. (Link to the article is at left.) I made the point that winners usually seem to be either violinists or pianists, and to my surprise, he had an explanation ready. The competition is open to any instrumentalist, he said, but wind and brass players take longer to become real virtuosi, because young children lack the physical strength to produce a grownup sound from a trombone or a bassoon. They just don't have the lung power. Even smaller woodwinds like flute and clarinet require more breath and lip control than most children can muster.

This is not something I ever considered, so I can honestly say I learned something last week.

BTW, Old York Road is in Abington, Montgomery County, Pa. Look it up on Google maps.

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