Slipped Disc The inside track on classical music and related cultures Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:24:16 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Latest air woe: Irish airline throws a violinist off their flight Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:23:21 +0000 Aingeala De Búrca, who is based in Sweden, was trying to fly from Bristol to Dublin this week when an over-zealous attendant took a dislike to her instrument. Here’s the story in her own words.


On arriving at the gate, I was told that the violin had to go in the hold. No amount of pleading and explaining that it was fragile and would smash in the hold had any impact. I asked to speak to the cabin crew as they are usually cool. I was told I couldn’t. However, I managed to duck into the queue for the plane when the ground crew weren’t looking, skipped to the top (with permission from the folk in the queue) and got onboard. I put my violin in the overhead and sat down in my seat.

When the plane was fully boarded, the guy – the flight dispatcher/controller person (his name is Nick) came looking for me. He informed me that I had to get off the plane or he would call the police. He also told me he had the power to ban me from flying with the airline again. (I found out this morning that is not true). Faced with these threats, and not having any choice really, I left the plane. I made a little speech getting off to everyone. I wanted them to know it was because of my violin that I was being removed and they gave me a little round of applause. It was all really bonkers.

As I was leaving the plane, I asked the Aer Lingus/Stobart Air cabin crew for help and they said it was out of their hands. I felt they would have intervened if they could. I also think they should have tried.

It isn’t primarily an aer lingus issue. I have always found them helpful with the violin. It was the ground staff in Bristol, the people who do check-in and checking tickets at the gate. Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that check-in staff in many airports are often eager to inform me that my violin will go in the hold. I have never worried about it too much as I have confidence that cabin crew are usually ok.

I managed to get back this morning because I complained in the airport. Ironically it was the guy who threw me off who put me on a flight this morning. But not without an attitude of smiling passive-aggressive ‘look what a favour I’m doing you now’ and with a lot of veiled threats which forced me to stay quiet, resist the temptation to tell him what I really thought, in the hope that I would get onto a flight this morning. He kept referring to my ‘behaviour’ and ‘things that were said’, when all I had done was insist on my rights as a person with a valid ticket for a flight. As he continued to bully and threaten me, smiling all the time like he was a nice guy, I was powerless to do anything but go along with it and keep my opinion to myself. This bullying behaviour is completely unacceptable.

His name is Nick, and he works for Menzies, the company who are contracted by Aer Lingus to do the ground crew work. He wouldn’t give me his last name.

As a ‘favour’ to me, he told me that he would be on duty this morning and would ‘personally see to it’ that the violin was placed in the tail of the plane, and that he would place it there himself. I spent a sleepless night worrying about it.

Now that I am safely back, I am going to complain at the highest levels. It was a traumatic and humiliating experience. And what is my ‘crime’? Being a violinist who wants to have the freedom to travel to do my job. I have had enough of this, as many of us have.

Why should musicians be prevented from being able to travel for work by certain airlines, ground crew, and others? Who are they to decide how our precious instruments, the tools of our trade, should be treated? We are entitled to feel safe flying, to travel without fear of abuse or actual abuse. Imagine a business person having to put their computer in the hold? It would never happen.

I’m back in Dublin now, me and violin both intact. But I really am on a warpath. Any advice and help with spreading the word gratefully accepted!

We’ve asked Aer Lingus for a response. We are not holding our breath.

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A mezzo records Mahler’s songs. With a man’s face on her album… Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:46:05 +0000 The English mezzo-soprano Alice Coote has just released a set of three Mahler song cycles on the Dutch label Pentatone. I’m listening now and it’s very lovely. Tomorrow, I shall listen again.

But the cover shows a man’s face.

And he’s not even Mahler.

How do record labels reach these decisions?

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Can we take the kids to a sold-out concert? (Yes, we can) Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:38:24 +0000 Anthea Kreston‘s musical life in Berlin is one surprise after another…



This past weekend I came home at 2 pm, exhausted from life in general, but more specifically from a morning of teaching at the University of the Arts, practising for this week’s work in the Berlin Philharmonic, and a (seemingly) narrowly-survived maiden voyage sleepover (at one point, all three girls were in tears – one was tired, one was hungry, and one was lonely – all sad despite my carefully planned egg-carton painting, popcorn making and pine-cone badminton).  As I entered the house, eyes drooping, I saw my husband, cello in hand, dressed for his concert, and the girls in all sorts of finery – purses, wedding shoes and golden headbands, clearly planning on going to the Gendarmenmarkt for the Konzerthaus Orchestra concert. 

I desperately tried a combination of winking and wide eyed emphatic talking to “explain” that his concert was sold out, we couldn’t go, I had a student, I was starving, couldn’t stay standing for much longer, please please can we not go, etc. It fell to deaf ears, as the girls were set on it, and Jason had already gotten tickets. 

Considering my 5 minute turn-around, I was pleasantly surprised to find a cold, half-drunk cup of coffee from that morning (I hope), and I grabbed some other nearly-eatables (half-finished PBJ from the table, etc) and off we went. A fresh coat of deodorant and a new shirt was going to have to suffice. 

As we drove, Jason told the girls the entire story of the Miraculous Mandarin (Bartok’s incredible work, originally banned for its controversial content).  It sounded just like one of his regular “stories from head” that he tells the girls. They have about 10 different serials that he makes up night after night – from Spacegirl Meerb and Alien Tzip to Super Sisters and even a period private eye series. The Miraculous Mandarin is filled with bad guys, a bad girl, dancing, robbers, a glowing huge guy, and a final show-down complete with a hidden choir singing wordlessly as the Mandarin floats in a cloud of green gasses. Just up our alley.

As we walked up the red carpeted 29 steps to the magnificent Konzerthaus, I knew that this had been the right choice. The girls were wide-eyed at the chandeliers, the light-blue walls – the busts of composers lining the rectangular concert hall. The first half was Sibelius – “Valse Triste” and the violin concerto, performed by artist-in-residence Patricia Kopatchinskaja.  After intermission, the Bartok. 

The girls loved it – they liked how shiny the flute was, how the violinist’s dress looked really old, and how her hair was all messy, and how sometimes she turned completely around in a circle. They loved trying to find the secret choir (only to be completely excited to realize they were in street clothes and hidden in the audience).  They loved eating ice cream that had cookie dough in it, watching Dada play his cello, waving at him, clapping loudly, calling out “dada” instead of “bravo”, and eating middle-eastern food after. When the soloist passed our restaurant, the girls clapped, and she stopped to talk to the us. Then she hailed a cab – which was equally exciting.  And the bathroom in the restaurant has soap that smelled so good, they each took 6 squirts.  All of these details had equal weight for the girls, and altogether made for a great evening. 

My exhaustion just melted away as I saw the experience through their eyes – I am so happy that I lost the winking argument. 

This week I play again with Berlin – in a concert with no violins!  What a concept. Brahms, Turnage, and Dvorak. Jason and the girls will come, and I am sure they will enjoy the Brahms as much as they enjoy choosing their cake and eating it with mom at intermission. 


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A farewell to Lyon ends in dinner with Muti Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:24:34 +0000 Leonard Slatkin has conducted his final concerts as music director of the Orchestre National de Lyon (no connection to the city’s unhappy opera house).

On the farewell tour, he conducted the orchestra in Ravenna, Italy, where the town’s resident maestro kept him up at dinner past two in the morning…. as he does.

Here’s a happy pic of the Slatkins and the Mutis with a certain violinist squashed between.

Read Leonard’s full post here.

He has much to say about the recent Cliburn contest.

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Maestro undergoes surgery after falling off his bike Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:06:29 +0000 Tonight’s farewell to Linz by long-serving music director Dennis Russell Davies has been cancelled after the maestro suffered an accident while out on his bicycle.

Dennis, 73, is undergoing surgery this afternoon in Linz and is expected to make a full recovery. He will be replaced tomorrow in the scheduled repeat performance of Mahler 3 in Vienna by Francesco Angelico, chief conductor of the Tyrolean Landestheater.

DRD with best pal Phil Glass

The US conductor has been in charge of the Bruckner Orchestra for 15 years.

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Just in: New York Times beats London papers with first Otello review Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:55:55 +0000 It hurts to write this but the New York Times, at 10.45 this morning, beat the massed ranks of British broadsheets to post the first review of Jonas Kaufmann’s debut as Otello at Covent Garden.

Zachary Woolfe’s verdict: In front of a sold-out Royal Opera House here, Mr. Kaufmann made his debut in the part, and he calmly, confidently sang it for the ages. His sound inescapably evokes memories of live performances and classic recordings by Vinay, Vickers and other masters; in a single night he joined their company.

photos: Neil Libbert/Lebrecht Music&Arts

Only the freesheet Evening Standard got online faster.

Shame on the UK dailies.

LATER: The Telegraph is sceptical.

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First person: I adjusted Placido Domingo’s flies Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:42:16 +0000 The artist Norman Perryman tells a lovely story in a new blogpost of how he was obliged by Marta Domingo to ensure that her husband’s flies were not open before she approved a new portrait.

My patron flew me to Washington D.C., (where I had a suite right opposite the offices of the Watergate scandal) to show her my one metre square watercolour. She burst into tears. Yes! So far so good.

Then, back-stage at the Opera, all ready for a performance, Plácido took time to view the watercolour himself. He just beamed, made some very kind comments and insisted on adding his own signature. However, my wash of watercolour to show the flow of movement rising from bottom left across his pants and shirt didn’t sit well with his wife….

portrait (c) Norman Perryman/Lebrecht Music&Arts

Read on here.

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Nagano assistant wins Canadian orchestra Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:28:51 +0000 Dina Gilbert has been chosen as music director of the Kamloops Symphony in British Columbia.

She was assistant conductor to Kent Nagano at the Montreal Symphony from 2013-16 and is represented by the Tokyo agency, Kajimoto.

Photo: Nadia Zheng

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Boost for women composers in London and Liverpool Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:22:21 +0000 Work by ‘historic women composers’ are to be performed by four London orchestras in the coming seasons, thanks to a new booster fund. See press release below:

The Association of British Orchestras has announced the first recipients from a new fund, ‘Sirens’, with four awards made to UK orchestras for projects to raise the awareness of historic women composers.

Diana Ambache, whose generosity has made the scheme possible, said:

“The ABO Sirens programme aims to push towards fairness and a richer picture of our musical heritage. Good music is good music, and there’s plenty to enjoy, discover and rediscover with this scheme featuring fascinating and beautiful works by women from our history. This will change our musical appreciation to a much fuller experience.”

The Philharmonia Orchestra will include Maria Antonia Walpurgis’s Sinfonia to Talestri, Queen of the Amazon in their flagship Key Stage 2 concert and engagement project Orchestra Unwrapped. The funding will enable further exploration in schools of the extraordinary achievements of this German aristocrat-musician.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate the work of Dame Ethel Smyth during its 2019/20 season.  The virtuosic Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra will introduce the work of this composer, political activist and suffragette, to a new generation.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will perform works by Germaine Tailleferre and Cécile Chaminade in three performances in Liverpool and Preston in 2018, conducted by Jessica Cottis. The project will also include adult learning workshops, work with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company, including a conducting workshop with Cottis and composition workshops with female composers.

Southbank Sinfonia and conductor Rebecca Miller will celebrate Dorothy Howell, whose exhilarating music Henry Wood championed at the Proms, but was then lost to obscurity.  Selected pieces will be heard again in an open workshop in Autumn 2018 and consequent Spring 2019 concert, facilitated by access to a new family archive.

SIRENS The ABO Trust received a generous gift from Diana Ambache in 2016 to run a new fund, Sirens, which aims to raise awareness and appreciation of the music written by historical women from around the world. Annual grants will be allocated according to the range and value of each project. Each year over 10 years up to £19,000 will be shared between 4 to 5 projects for concerts, tours, recordings and education work deemed to be doing most to advance and promote the understanding of music by women.


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Two male leads drop out of Salzburg’s Lady Macbeth Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:55:20 +0000 The Italian Ferruccio Furlanetto has decided that Boris Ismailov in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is not for him. The Salzburg festival has called in a Bolshoi bass, Dmitry Ulyanov .

And the Russian tenor Maxim Aksenov has been replaced as Sergei in the Shostakovih opera by the American Brandon Jovanovich.

Nina Stemme sings the title role. Mariss Jansons conducts.

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