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The cult of El Sistema keeps playing on

A new book cheers the spread of an orchestra movement that can’t quite be pinned down

We Are Still Far From Eradicating Gender Bias in Music, Folks

I like to believe that in the field of music we are making serious progress towards eradicating gender bias. Blind (internet) tests have shown that nobody listening to a performance of a piece of music can tell the gender of the person performing it. Show More Summary

Why was San Francisco Symphony beheaded?

Nobody on any side is saying much. Brent Assink’s letter to staff, telling them he was leaving after 18 years as executive director, made it clear between the lines that he was doing so unwillingly. Assink, 61, has no other job lined up, or even a clear idea whether he wants to stay in the […]

Ethel Smyth The Boatswain's Mate receives a welcome first recording

Ethel Smyth The Boatswain's Mate; Nadine Benjamin, Edward Lee, Jeremy Huw Williams, Lontano Ensemble, Odaline de la Martinez; Retrospect Opera Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Sep 19 2016 Star rating: 4.0 First recording for Ethel Smyth's charming fourth opera Remarkably, this is only the second of Ethel Smyth's six operas to make it to disc. Show More Summary

Breaking: Major record company shuts down

We have been notified of the closure of Launch Music International Ltd (LMI), an important service provider and distributor of small classical labels. The company, based in Staffordshire, will cease trading by the end of October. Its labels include Somm, Priory, Guild, Clarinet Classics, Music&Media, Quartz, Nonclassical and Stone. Its founder, Philip Hateley, has decided […]

The LPO’s Munich concert was even emptier than we thought

Official reports claimed that the Gasteig hall was half-full for the London Philharmonic’s ‘Bartok for Europe’ concert on Monday. A reliable source in Munich paints a much worse scenario. It appears there were fewer than 150 people in a hall of 2,387 seats. Worse, many of these were ‘paper’ – people who had been invited […]

Now the Times calls out Gergiev for non-rehearsal

Last week, a Munich critic broke silence over the unrehearsed state of concerts conducted by Valery Gergiev, who is music director of the city’s philharmonic orchestra. The London Times has now chimed in. Critic Anna Picard writes today: It seems reasonable to assume that everyone on stage at the Cadogan Hall knew the notes in […]

Philadelphia mourns an influential bass

Peter Dobrin reports: Any Philadelphia Orchestra-goer for more than four decades could look to the double bass section and reliably set eyes on a tall man with a big double bass and a warm smile. “Lee” to many, Emilio Gravagno will be missed. Gravagno, 82, played in the orchestra from 1967 to 2009. He was a […]

Sicklist: Currentzis leaves Zurich in a fluster

The flamoybant Russian-based conductor has called in sick, ‘with great regret’, on a new production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. His last-minute replacement is Maxim Emelyanychev, 27, leader of Il Pomo d’Oro ensemble.

The singing side of Shimon Peres

If there is one thing that made Shimon Peres happy it was people coming around to sing to him. The former Israeli prime minister and president, who has died at the age of 93, spent the last third of his life pursuing a peace settlement with the Palestinians. His efforts were widely applauded. On his […]

Locklair, Bednall & Hewitt Jones: Showcase concert for the Otakar Kraus Music Trust

I recently reviewed Convivium Records new disc of music by the American composer Dan Locklair performed by Sospiri, conducted by Christopher Watson and there is now a chance to hear the performers in Locklair's music as part of a concert at Merton College Chapel, Oxford on Saturday 1 October 2016. Show More Summary

New York audience applauds ode to North Korean leader

17 hours agoMusic / Classical : Slipped Disc

Among the bizarre stories of 2016, this one takes the last biscuit in the Pyongyang tin. The musicians, it seems, were just doing a day’s work. But who were the audience that paid good money to hear a pick-up orchestra conducted by a sworn supporter of the Dear Leader, who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey? […]

Signal plays Reich at Miller

17 hours agoMusic / Classical : Sequenza21

Opening Night at Miller Theater On September 15, Ensemble Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman, presented an all-Steve Reich program to open the season at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. There was a sold out crowd, populated both by contemporary music devotees and over 200 Columbia students. Reich turns eighty later this year, and this is one […]

San Francisco Symphony chief: Why I quit

17 hours agoMusic / Classical : Slipped Disc

Brent Assink, executive director of the San Franciso Symphony for the past 18 years, announced his resignation today. Here’s what he told his staff: Dear members of the Administrative team, With great gratitude and appreciation for each of you, I am writing to let you know that I have decided to resign my position at […]

Così, cosà...'s a wonderful word, tra-la-la-la [=> Marx Brothers]. Meanwhile, the ambiguity of the great Così fan tutte is laid on with the proverbial trowel at Covent Garden. I've reviewed it here for the Critics' Circle reviews site. And found it...a bit così-cosà.Just to add, though: it has had a lingering aftertaste. Show More Summary

London orchestra plays to near-empty Munich hall

21 hours agoMusic / Classical : Slipped Disc

It appears the organisers of a Bartok for Europe series forgot to promote the concerts. This is the audience that greeted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Vladimir Jurowski and soloist  Valery Afanassiev, yesterday (Monday) evening. Or correspondent in the hall thought the oncert was terrific, albeit somewhat private.   right-click on image to enlarge it […]

The hottest Elisir in history

21 hours agoMusic / Classical : Slipped Disc

This is the celebrated unwritten shower scene from Donizeti’s comic opera. (Do not try this at home without a rubber mat. takes no responsibility for slipped discs and other contingent injuries.) The scene features in Damiano Michieletto’s new Valencia production. Show More Summary

Did you ever see Menuhin play Churchill’s cigar box?

23 hours agoMusic / Classical : Slipped Disc

A violin made from one of Sir Winston Churchill’s old cigar boxes received its first airing in a US broadcast by Yehudi Menuhin in April 1958. Made by the English violin maker William Robinson (1880-1960), it is coming up for sale next month.

Just in: UK trio wins Holland’s biggest prize

23 hours agoMusic / Classical : Slipped Disc

We’ve just been notified that the Busch Trio, founded in London four years ago, has been awarded the 50,000-Euro Kersjesprijs, the biggest chamber music award in the Netherlands. The trio – pianist Omri Epstein, violinist Mathieu van Bellen, cellist Ori Epstein – is named after Adolf Busch, whose  1783 G.B. Guadagnini violin is played by Mathieu. The […]

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