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Roses Are Read
t'sthattime of the seester again,
whn students take their final exams
- called, appropriately enough, "Fi-
With a mountairof work in front of
them, most students sit down and
plunge full-force into the act of com
plaining about their exam schedules.
No one is ever happy about their exam
schedule, because these schedules al-
most always include actual exams,
which students tend to dislike on the
grounds that they are uninterrupted
The time, really, is irrelevant. If it
involves something unpleasant, no time
is good. No one ever says, "You know,
2 p.m. Tuesday would be just perfect
for my root canal operation. Really,
that's just great. I couldn't be happier
But like street signs and beer para-
phernalia, exams must be taken by
college students. And so, as a public
service, I now offer you advice on how
to pass all your exams.
This advice maybe difficult for some
of you to listen to, because students
tend to assume that people in their
majorknow more than anyone else and
therefore shouldn't listen to others.
But listen to me anyway, because as an
English major, I know everything.
So here it is, with a special section
for every major, except some ...
The Portable Guide to Passing Ex-
History. This is tough because it
requires exact dates. But here's a hint:
The correct date is always in the past.
So when faced with the following po-
A) Oct. 4;,2004
B) April 11, 2211
C) Sept. 28, 1998
... be assured that the correct answer
When writing an essay, always throw
in a random war. "And then the Ger-
mans, bored with their own country,
invaded the French, who were unable
to fight guns with baguettes, although
they did manage to kill a number of
Germans through guerrilla rudeness."
Engineering. (lfyou have any friends
who are engineers, please read this to
them.) The best advice here is to write
down some complicated formula, fol-
lowed by 14 more complicated formu-
las, throw in random numbers, and
some more numbers, and some more
numbers, without ever indicating what
your actual answer is. Then, write your
professor a note next to the question:
"This is so obvious. I'mwasting my
time with this easy nnsense"
English. Always use the phrase, "As
we discussed in class :;."It doesn't
matter what comes afterthat.the pro-
fessor, who has not paid attention to a
single class discussion, will be hard-
pressed to deny that your theory was
English majors often have to do pa-
pers instead of taking exams. As a
result they spend hours in computing
centers. The first 90 percent of this
time is nothing but useless, mindless
procrastination - surfing the Net, e-
mailing, reading this column, etc.
PoliticalScience. Question everything.
The more conspiracy theories, the better.
"In all likelihood, the atomic bomb was
built by Stalin, who is still alive and
living next door to a certain Poli Sci TA.
He owes me a favor, by the way."
Music. To be honest, I have no idea
what music students have to do for
finals. Do they even have finals? How
does this work, exactly? Please, some-
one tell me. I'm kind of curious.
Art. Remember, all artists are tor-
tured and all art is a struggle. Thus, a
bad answer would be, "I think the
brilliance of this painting can be attrib-
uted to the cockiness of the artist. Van
Gogh was all that, and he knew it."
Pre-med. Whatever you do, don't
rule anything out. An ideal statement
would be, "While it could be the man's
heart, lungs, pancreas, brain or ankle,
it would be smart to check out his
gizzard as well."
Communication. This department
apparently is not important enough for
the University to keep it after this year,
fpts tie/ac/ in cl assical music
((~S' Ils NC iNC /l~lil(i
lease. Call him Gil. The 24-
year old violinist who will play
at Hill Auditorium tomorrow
night does not respond as well
to Mr. Shaham. In fact, sometimes he
doesn't respond to calls of "Mr.
Shaham" at all.
"No, I'm sorry. You can't speak to
Mr. Shaham this morning," he said last
week when I called at our scheduled
interview time. "Oh, wait. Are you look-
ing for me? I thought you were asking
for my father."
"I think it's so weird," he said of the
more formal title, which Shaham, an
internationally respected violin soloist,
seems deserving of. "Oh please," he
said, embarrassed at the thought. You
could almost hear his eyes rolling. "Oh
If there is a stuffy stereotype sur-
rounding classical musicians, rest as-
sured that Shaham does not fit the mold.
The dreamchild of every publicist,
Shaham sometimes practices in front of
the TV and has cartoon characters on
the lining of his tailcoat. The modest
violinist has been known to, on more
than one occasion, casually sneak in
with the last row of the violins after
soloing with an orchestra. And he's still
thrilled by the excitement of perform-
ing. "I always get nervous. Now, if I
don't get nervous, I get nervous be-
cause I'm not nervous."
Jaded, he's not. "I feel really lucky to
be doing what I'm doing now," Shaham
said. "This was sort ofal ways my dream,
to be a violinist and make some sort of
living at it."
If Shaham was just looking to make
"some sort of living," he must be
pleased. His dream has come true ten-
fold. He debuted with the Jerusalem
Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic
at age 10, and played with the New
York Philharmonic two years later. At
17, he was called out of a high school
English class and flown to London to
substitute for an ailing Itzhak Perlman.
Shaham has also performed with the
Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Or-
chestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic,
the Berlin Philharmonic and I'Orchestre
de Paris, among others. A tour with the
Moscow Philharmonic brought him to
Ann Arbor last March.
Arrogance might be excusable, cer-
tainly expected, for one with such a
resume - but Shaham shatters all ex-
"I really do feel I've been very lucky,"
he said. "I know that there are lots of
great musicians out there who maybe
haven't had the opportunities that I have.
I just feel very grateful to be doing what
Shaham was born in Illinois in 1971,
while his Israeli parents were visiting
professors at the University of Illinois.
The family returned to Israel in 1973
and moved to New York when Shaham
was 10 years old. There, as a scholar-
ship student in the Julliard Pre-College
Division, Shaham studied with Hyo
Kang, Jerns Ellerman and the esteemed
The son of a physicist and a geneti-
cist, Shaham was not a pre-programmed
child prodigy. Music was a self-chosen
profession. "I think music was sort of a
rebellion against the science thing," he
His parents were supportive but in-
sisted that Shaham keep his options
open. He attended a local high school in
New York, and took classes at Colum-
gradually, at first, as he earned recogni-
tion with every concert. He signed with
ICM, a major management agency,
around age 16, and records exclusively
on Deutsche Grammophon.
"I think I (play the violin) now for a
different reason than I did 10 years
ago," Shaham suggested. "When l was
really young it was like a sport, it was a
challenge. I wanted to learn new pieces
and to play better and better, and I just
wanted to be the best at it."
The music has taken on more'mean-
ing for Shaham. "When you feel that
it's going well, it's the best feeling in
the world," he explained. "When it's
not going well, it's about the worst
feeling in the world."
There are many times when he doesn't
play as well as he would like to. This
comes as a surprise after reading re-
views of his concerts, in which critics
applaud his style, technique and musi-
cality with abandon. He was once com-
pared, in one sentence, to the great
violinists Itzhak Perlman, Nathan
Milstein, Isaac Stern andJascha Heifetz
Shaham has received rave reviews
nearly across the board, though a dis-
senting opinion came over a year ago
from Bernard Holland of The New York
Times. "Mr. Shaham is in grave danger
of being taken over by the world of
entertainment. I hope music can get
him back," Hlolland wrote.
"Sometimes I really feel that in the
classical music world, people have lost
a littlebitofthe fun," Shaham remarked
cautiously. "And I've noticed that
people treat music like it's porcelain
china, saying 'oh yeah, we know it's
beautiful but we don't want to touch it
cuz it'll break...'
"Sometimes I think, especially for us
young musicians, that we need to shake
people up a little bit and start with
ourselves. We'll wake ourselves up a
little bit and bring a little more sense of
adventure to the concert hall."
The shaking has begufi. Earlier this
year, Shaham released his first music
video. Directed by Jem Cohen, director
of several R.E.M. videos, the clip was
an audio-visual recording of Shaham
and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
playing "Winter" from Vivaldi's "Th
Four Seasons." In the v ideo, images of-
Shaham and Orpheus are intercut by
stark, artsy black and white shots of
New Yorkers braving a brutal storm
and reciting the poem on which
Vivaldi's composition is based. Shahanm-
outdid his promoters by suggesting that
the "Four Seasons" video air, appropri-
ately, on the Weather Channel.
The video generated a slewofpublic-
ity for Shaham, including an appear-
ance on NBC's "Today" show, an inter
view in People magazine and a guest
appearance as a weatherman on a New
York newscast. Not everyone appreci-
ated Shaham's sense of artistic adven-
ture. Alex Ross of the New York Times
called this unorthodox alliance between
classical-music and popularmedia"pro-
motional hysteria." Sales of "The Four
Seasons" recording, which comes with
the video single on CD-ROM, are high..
The Weather Channel stint put
Shaham in the public eye and on 58
million television sets. Too old to be a
child prodigy any longer, Shaham's an
exuberant stand-out in today's growing
field ofyoung violinists, which includes
Midori, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg,
Joshua Bell and Sarah Chang.
The greatest challenge facing young