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MUSIC AND DANCE NEWS

The Schoenfeld Sisters: Pedagogues & Gadabouts

June 09, 1985|DANIEL CARIAGA

During the academic year, violinist Alice Schoenfeld and her sister and musical partner, cellist Eleonore Schoenfeld, can be found at USC, teaching, coaching and minding the pedagogical store in the string department of the School of Music. Except of course for the times, usually in mid-fall, and again in January, when the duo schedules concert engagements in this country or in Europe.

But in the summertime, the Schoenfelds may turn up in any number of international settings.

In 1985, for instance, the duo appears in Arizona in mid-June, then travels to Canada for the Orford Festival in July. Later, the sisters go to West Germany to teach a two-week master class in chamber music. Separately, violinist Alice teaches at a weeklong festival near Garmisch (in Bavaria) in June; in July, cellist Eleonore commutes between the Brunswick Festival in Maine and a music camp in Troy, N.Y.

Isn't that a lot of hard work?

"Hard work?" answers Eleonore, excitedly. "No, no, no. Hard work is when you talk to the wall, and there is no response.

"Teaching enthusiastic young people who have come great distances to develop their talents and receive the advice of older colleagues--that's a pleasure. Tiring, perhaps, but not hard work."

As director of the Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists, held at USC since 1977, Eleonore Schoenfeld knows something about organizing annual master classes of international character.

The ninth seminar, which began Saturday and ends next Saturday , was to have been taught by Myung-Wha Chung, Raya Garbousova, Bernard Greenhouse and Stephen Kates.

Because of a recent appendectomy, Chung canceled her participation, and chief administrator Eleonore reorganized class schedules.

Though Schoenfeld stresses the Piatigorskian aspects and camaraderie of the weeklong seminar, she is the first to acknowledge that becoming one of the 12 chosen participants is "a competition, and a very fierce one."

However, once here, she says, the cellists--four chosen from international auditions, eight from the United States--"learn from each other as well as from the master teachers."

It is a philosophy that was embodied in the teaching of Gregor Piatigorsky himself. Eleven years ago, the legendary cellist created the Piatigorsky chair at USC; since his death in 1977, funds from that chair--as of last year, fully endowed--have been used to support the Piatigorsky Seminars. Director Schoenfeld says each seminar operates on a budget in excess of $50,000, an amount which provides all expenses for the 12 students attending, except, of course, for their instruments.

"It is a total scholarship," the director explains. "Everything is provided--pianists, housing, travel. This year, for instance, we have a staff of five pianists for the 12 cellists. But, in some years, we have employed 12 pianists, one for each participant."

The upper age limit is 26, with no lower age limit. Schoenfeld remembers participants in her tenure (she has been director since 1979) of age 16 and 17. In 1985, one of the cellists, Michael Sanderling of East Berlin--he is the son of conductor Kurt Sanderling--is 18.

All applicants submit tapes of their playing in the first step toward admittance. The second step for U.S. applicants is a live audition, in Los Angeles or New York, sometimes in Chicago. International applicants audition by tape at this step--"There is no advantage in that," says Schoenfeld. "Cellists from outside this country must really be better than the ones we hear in person."

"The important consideration here is potential. We accept no cellist who does not demonstrate the potential for a solo or orchestral career, or who is not already on the threshold of such a career."

In past years, as many as four recitals played by the master teachers kept the seminar in the public eye. This year, with Chung's cancellation, only one recital will be given. That is scheduled Thursday night at 8 in Bing Theater at USC, when Stephen Kates, assisted by pianist Doris Stevenson, offers a program including sonatas by Boccherini, Schubert and Chopin, and a set of variations by Paganini.

A seventh annual Dance Kaleidoscope will be presented by Los Angeles Area Dance Alliance (LAADA) at the outdoor John Anson Ford Theatre in Cahuenga Pass on the weekends June 21-23 and June 28-30 (see Salli Stevenson's Dancewatching column on Page 47).

The "festival of premieres" on opening night (Friday) will offer works by David Leahy, Ferne Ackerman, Nancy McCaleb, Jean Isaacs, Sandra Christensen, Yen Lu Wong, Martha Kalman and Mary Sue Vanderbur. Two subsequent programs will contain works by Dave Massey, Rebecca Steuermann, Hae Kyung Lee, Jho Jenkins and others.

Among the performing groups will be Westside Ballet, TNR/Moebius, LTD/UNLIMITED, Diamond Valley Dance Theatre and Angelita Concierto . All performances begin at 8 p.m. For brochure or information: (213) 465-1100.

PEOPLE: Edo de Waart recently received the first-prize commemorative plaque and $3,000 on behalf of the San Francisco Symphony after the orchestra won the 1985 Adventuresome Programming award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). De Waart accepted the prize in his final season as music director in San Francisco. It is the orchestra's fifth such award in the last six years.

Two top positions at the Joffrey II Dancers have been filled with the appointment of Richard Englund as director and Jeremy Blanton as associate director. Among their numerous dance credits, both were involved with American Ballet Theatre II--Englund as founding director and Blanton as a former associate director. The two succeed, respectively, Sally Bliss (who resigned as director last year) and Maria Grandy (who has become executive director of the Dance Notation Bureau).

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