The violinist Ruth Waterman should probably be a household name, such is the quality of her musicianship. But perhaps that is also the reason she isn't. Throughout her career she has chosen a route more individual than the mainstream concert circuit, one that has allowed her to focus in earnest on her first great passion - the music of Bach.
In the song Wamp Wamp (What It Do), American rapper Malice refers to a Jew who is a "tightwad". Malice, with his brother Pusha T, comprises the acclaimed hip-hop duo The Clipse. Since they specialise in overblown stories of crime escapades, the "tightwad" line is fairly tame in comparison to much of their other material, but it still stands out as a stark example of casual antisemitism.
Pinchas Zukerman is running late. So when he picks up the phone at his offices in Ottawa, Canada, where he has been music director and principal conductor of the National Arts Centre Orchestra since 1998, he is saving time by simultaneously eating a "Shabbat pie" and talking to me, both without apparent difficulty.
In Jack Liebeck's living room, two violin cases lie on the floor, stacks of classical CDs line the shelves and the score of Mendelssohn's violin concerto rests on the coffee table. It is not hard to guess what he does for a living.
One hallmark of the truly great violinists is a sound on the instrument that can be recognised at once as uniquely theirs. Vadim Gluzman has just such a tone, and not just because he plays the Stradivarius that once belonged to Leopold Auer, teacher of the legendary Jascha Heifetz. There is an all-out passion to Gluzman's playing, a gorgeousness that leaves you wanting more of it, fast.
A thriving contemporary music scene where performers play to enthusiastic young audiences? It seems unattainable. But not for the Meitar Chamber Ensemble. This award-winning young Israeli group, founded by pianist Amit Dolberg, consists of nine players who share a passion for contemporary music. They have been working together for seven years, yet their average age is still under 30.
It is 7am in Texas and Emanuel (Manny) Ax is off to the airport. Just hours earlier he gave an all-Schubert piano recital and he probably needed more sleep afterwards than he got; but he insists that he is happy to talk.