Hats off to a pair of chums who start the week with a smart career move.
Peter Alward has become director of the Salzburg Easter Festival, carefully stepping over a hole where three million Euros used to be before his predecessor made off with it; and, even more carefully, recalibrating the balance of power between the founder’s widow, Eliette von Karajan, and its chief conductor, Simon Rattle.
Both know that Passion Pete is not a man to be underestimated. At EMI Classics, which he ran for a decade before the company was sold to hedge-trimmers, he was the only classical label boss to develop a new artists line – an initiative which introduced such young comets as Ian Bostridge, Thomas Ades, Alban Gerhardt, the Belcea quartet, Ittai Shapiro and Alisa Weilerstein. He was also very good at saying No – and meaning it – to big beasts of the podium. Salzburg is in for a good time.
Also on the up is composer John Woolrich, who is about to be named director of Dartington International Festival and Summer School in the rolling hills of Devon. Dartington has been run for the past 11 years by the ingenious Gavin Henderson, who kept spirits high and finances in order through one of the most prestigious contacts book in the kingdom. It was at Dartington that Piotr Anderszewski made his conducting debut and I achieved a rare concert billing in Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw.
John W has a tough act to follow, but he beat off a very strong shortlist and he is full of ideas. Those hills are going to ring with a remarkable diversity of sounds.