St Paul's Cathedral, as never seen before
The last scaffolding came down overnight and Wren’s masterpiece can be seen uncladded for the first time in 15 years, after a £40 million ($65m) renovation. It is said to look better than at any time since it opened in 1711 and its full power and glory will be experienced at a tercentenary ceremony on […]
Meet the naked orchestra … and vote for the next
Rumours have been flying all week around Valladolid that the radical director Calixto Bieito was going to require the orchestra to play naked through Carmen. I have a friend or two in that orchestra and was worried they might catch a chill. Fortunately, Calixto has other things on his mind – he needs two understudies […]
More work for no play at England's Arts Council
Just when you thought things could get no more dysfunctional in the world of arts cuts. you can trust the ACE to celebrate its own absurdity. With theatres, orchestras, arts companies and museums laying off experienced staff up and down the land, Liz Forgan’s Arts Council has announced four job vacancies for Relationship Managers in […]
Treasured 'Notting Hill' bookshop faces chop
I’m shocked to read that London’s Travel bookshop, where Hugh Grant wooed Julia Roberts, is being put on the block. The absentee owner lives in France and his children have no interest in continuing the business. I’m more than half-tempted to buy it myself, maybe in a consortium of friends. The Travel bookshop knows the […]
What do you expect of music critics?
In the July issue of The Strad (print only), I examine the highly stressed role of music critics in a shrinking media environment. At the heart of the matter is the question of expectation: what performers, editors and readers want to find in their daily review columns. Here’s a pull-quote from the column: Criticism is […]
Who's judging the Tchaikovsky contest?
There has been the usual mixture of uncertainty and last-minute changes about Valery Gergiev’s chairmanship of the Tchaikovsky Competition, but over the past 24 hours it does appear that the judging benches have been settled. In both piano and violin sections, Gergiev has tried as best as possible to recruit past winners in order to […]
Orchestra on the brink – will fold in a month unless it raises cash
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra of southwest Washington is the latest to hit the wall. It needs just $100,000 to meet its dues this month – but that’s one-fifth of what it makes in a year. The blight is spreading. Read more here. photo: Joel Davis/The Oregonian caption: The Vancouver Symphony practices in 2005 in the auditorium […]
The Napoleon conductor has died
Remember when Abba won Eurovision in 1974 with that ghastly song, Waterloo? The man who directed the orchestra had dressed up for the occasion as Napoleon. His name was Sven-Olof Walldoff and he’s just passed away, aged 82. He’s in here, somewhere. And Here’s some video.
Long-lost opera by the London Bach is getting back on stage
Highlight of the Leipzig Bach Festival next week is the first staging in centuries of Zanaida, by Johann Christian Bach, who spent the best years of his life in London from 1762 as music master to Queen Charlotte. He died here in 1782 and is buried in St Pancras. Zanaida is being conducted by David […]
The pianist whom Messiaen made into a priest
He was one of the leading pianists of the 1970s, recorded on Decca and generally regarded as a remarkable artist. Then he disappeared. Whatever became of Jean-Rodolphe Kars? The name leaped back to life last week as I reviewed a poor compilation of Liszt cuts and a quick round of research revealed the whole story. […]
Breaking: New head of Royal Ballet
Monica Mason is retiring this summer and there has been a worldwide search for a successor. I had a tip-off some months ago that they were going to appoint an insider, and indeed they have. The new boss is Kevin O’Hare, who has danced and desk-jocked in British ballet all his life. The press release […]