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Bregenz names Pountney’s successor

The Bregenz Festival - the one with a stage on the lake - was left in the lurch when David Pountney flitted off last month to head Welsh National Opera. Moving with a speed that would be envied by most football teams, it has installed Roland Geyer of the Theater an der Wien in his place. More here. He gets his feet under the desk in 2015. … [Read more...]

Breaking: sacked Welsh player wins on appeal

The oboist Murray 'Sandy' Johnston who took his dismissal by Welsh National Opera to court has succeeded in overturning the original verdict. His case will be heard again by a different panel. Johnston claimed he was unjustly treated by the former WNO music director Carlo Rizzi. He now has all to play for. PRESS RELEASE OBOIST DISMISSED BY WNO SUCCEEDS WITH APPEAL   Sandy Johnston, the former Principal Oboist of the Welsh National Opera has succeeded in his … [Read more...]

I’m thinking of tweeting the BBC Proms

Not in the Royal Albert Hall, of course. Except in intervals. But if I'm watching a concert on telly at home and it has failed to grip my ear or has thrown up an incident of general interest, why should I or anyone else wait for the time delay of a newspaper review to describe what happened? If it worked in the Royal Wedding, why not the Proms? It is surely high time for the concert world to adjust to social media? In the June issue of The Strad I raise the question of musicians … [Read more...]

A funny thing happened last night at the Coliseum

Ahead of Nico Muhly's new opera, Two Boys, the composer appeared on a panel with the polemicist Claire Fox and the writers Will Self and myself, with Christopher Cook in the chair, to discuss whether the internet was making monsters of us all. The opera, whose subject matter we were asked to avoid, deals with a child murder that may have been informed or provoked by web exposure. Will took the view, expressed in a video here, that the internet monsterizes. The rest of us, to a degree, … [Read more...]

First thing in my ears on Bobcat Day

I had trouble picking the day's first disc. Bob Dylan is 70 and I really don't want to be thrust back into all the mythology and false naivety. Far better to sample Barb Jungr's sophisticated re-interpretations of Dylan classics, with supple vocal and sensitive instrumentation. Yeah, that does the trick. … [Read more...]

Violin tragedy in Israel – more details emerge

It is reported on Hebrew websites (and here), and confirmed by mutual acquaintances, that the violinist Matan Givol took his own life shortly before he was due to play in a concert with the Tel Aviv Soloists. (Tel Aviv Trio: L to R Matan Givol, pianist Jonathan Aner and Matan’s brother, cellist Ira Givol) Matan had played in all rehearsals for Saturday's concert in Haifa with the German countertenor Andreas Scholl and his harpsichordist wife, Tamar Halperin. But on Sunday he failed to … [Read more...]

Will OSB crisis undercut Rio’s cultural ambitions?

The city of Rio de Janeiro is doubling its culture budget from $33 to $66 million, challenging the capital Brasilia for creative leadership. The plans include a renewal of the Cidade da Musica, abandoned in mid-construction. But who will play there if the Brazil Symphony Orchestra cannot resolve its dispute with the musicians it sacked and leading soloists maintain their boycott? Here's a report in The Arts Newspaper. … [Read more...]

How to kick-start a solo career

Robert Vijay Gupta has been playing violin in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra for the past four years and, while he talks of it as 'a dream come true' , is looking to upgrade to solo. Oh, and to play a 1716 Stradivarius, the one Nathan Milstein used to play. And to include new music from east and west on his debut album, some of it written by himself. He's not alone in those ambitions,  but he seems to be going about them in an original way. Take a look at the start-up video … [Read more...]

Breaking: violin tragedy in Israel

The death has been announced by Keshet Eilon of the violinist Matan Givol. He was 29 and a founding member of the Tel Aviv Trio. More details later. Here's the announcement. Here's some bio from the Jerusalem Music Centre: Born in Israel in 1982, Matan Givol has been awarded the America-Israel Cultural Foundation grants since the age of twelve. He has won the Wieniawski International Competition, the Clairmont Competition, the Israeli Radio Young Artist Competition and the … [Read more...]

Where’s the next Beethoven cycle?

As if it's not bad enough that they've just won the Premier League and the FA Cup, the city of Manchester is also getting a set of Beethoven symphonies next season. Those lucky Mankies. Not sure it's the first of the 21st century, tho. What about Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic? Beethoven, Bernstein and Beyond The Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder place Beethoven’s complete symphonies at the centre of their 2011/12 Manchester season Compelling repertoire … [Read more...]

Breaking: ENO puts Germans in the spotlight

The two big novelties in English National Opera's new seasons, just unveiled, are by composers barely known in Britain. Detlev Glanert, one of the most staged composers on the continent, chimes in with Caligula, which ought to be a spine-chiller. And Wolfgang Rihm is back with Jakob Lenz, an essay on alienation. John Adams (Death of Klinghoffer) and Damon Albarn (Doctor Dee) make up the pack of living composers. David Pountney will direct the UK premiere of … [Read more...]

New York Times accuses CAMI of passing off shoddy goods

Some mistake, surely? The Times, usually reserved for  musical puffery, is accusing the nation's biggest agency of touring dubious orchestras. The story is not new, not even recent, but it has been given a burst of energy by widening disgruntlement at some of the orchs that have been shuttling the boondocks. The Times, for once, has done a good piece of diligence. The results are here. Cami is not the only promulgator of dodgy orchestras, or the worst. It has done nothing illegal. If … [Read more...]

Breaking: Confessed fraudster finds new investor

Barrett Wissman, disgraced owner of the IMG classical artists agency, has bounced back. After copping a plea to securities fraud two years ago in New York and withdrawing from active management of the agency, he has just landed a major fish to help haul his business back into serious contention after a series of major setbacks. IMG represents many of the world's top conductors and singers, including John Adams, Antonio Pappano and Franz Welser-Möst. The new part-owner of IMG is a … [Read more...]

A chip falls off a musical dynasty

A friend rang to say that Harold Rubens has died, aged 92. He was a piano prodigy from Cardiff who played the Beethoven G majpr concerto with George Szell when he was 10 but never made a big career. His brother Cyril was a violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra. Sister Beryl (still alive) played viola at Welsh National Opera. The family celebrity was novelist Bernice who won the Booker prize for The Elected Member and wrote a profoundly true story of music teaching, Madame … [Read more...]

Come sing in my choir. No, come sing in mine!

Just when you thought television had run clean out of ideas, here's an original wheeze from ITV. It's called The Choir That Rocks and the aim is to excite people around the country to join together and sing pop music. Brilliant, right? Everyone should sing. It wards off depression and cures smoking. It's better for you than jogging. It puts you at the head of a supermarket queue (try it). The presenter of The Choir That Rocks, Caroline Redman Lusher, is classically trained and I'd be … [Read more...]

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