A horrible rumour has been going around to the effect that Peter Oundjian, new music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, once played soccer for the England schoolboys team.

How bad is that? About as awful as vegetarian haggis, or pouring ginger ale in a 30 year-old malt. It would have gone down in Glasgow like a Mars bar fried in vomit.
Happily – and you can always rely on this site for good news – I am in a position to announce that Mr Oundjian never played for England.
I have it on the best authority that he played left midfield for Charterhouse school and was being scouted by Chelsea FC when a torn cartilage at 16 put an end to his dreams of glory and he went back to violin, chastened if not (excuse this) unbowed.
Chelsea’s loss is conducting’s gain. I guess they couldn’t afford him now he’s got HP as his agents.
Happy days.

A horrible rumour has been going around to the effect that Peter Oundjian, new music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, once played soccer for the England schoolboys team.

How bad is that? About as awful as vegetarian haggis, or pouring ginger ale in a 30 year-old malt. It would have gone down in Glasgow like a Mars bar fried in vomit.

Happily – and you can always rely on this site for good news – I am in a position to announce that Mr Oundjian never played for England.

I have it on the best authority that he played left midfield for Charterhouse school and was being scouted by Chelsea FC when a torn cartilage at 16 put an end to his dreams of glory and he went back to violin, chastened if not (excuse this) unbowed.

Chelsea’s loss is conducting’s gain. I guess they couldn’t afford him now he’s got HP as his agents.

Happy days.

Here’s a statement to EMI staff from CEO Roger Faxon. It is unusually clear and well-written – I see the hand of a good PR firm at work – and it gives a very upbeat view of the future.

There is, however, a huge flaw. I’ve posted it below, so you can first digest Faxon’s case, then consider the consequences.

In the last few minutes, we have announced that earlier today ownership of EMI passed from Terra Firma to Citigroup. The press release is attached for you here. It has been a long journey to this place. Much has changed at EMI and in our industry over the last three and a half years. What has not changed at EMI and never will is our fierce devotion to the artists and songwriters we represent. I believe that EMI, in both publishing and recorded music, is stronger today because of that commitment. Working together across both divisions, we are in the process of building a new business, a Global Rights Management business that will enable us to continue to deliver for successful outcomes for our artists and songwriters. We have the ability to shape our future and build a company that will not only survive but that will flourish in the years to come. Today’s change in ownership is but one step in that journey.

So how did this change of ownership take place?

Well, when a company’s value is less than its debts, one solution is to go through an administration process which allows the sale of the business in partial satisfaction of those debts. In our case it is not hard to see that our parent company Maltby Investments Limited (MIL) would never be able to repay the £3.4 billion it owed to Citi. With that being the case, it appointed an administrator who as an officer of the court was empowered to sell the EMI Group to Citi. This is sometimes called a “pre-pack” because it can be done in a matter of hours–and that’s exactly what happened here. EMI itself was never in administration. Where EMI came into the story was with its sale to Citi, which was followed by an immediate recapitalization of the company, which reduced our debt by 65%.

That’s how it happened, but what does new ownership mean for EMI?

Well first of all, it ends a struggle between our two principal stakeholders which has enveloped the business for most of the past two years. I’m sure that you’ll agree that the distraction has at times felt unbearable. We will now be able to put behind us the controversy of the Terra Firma-Citi court case, the cliff-hanging drama of the “will we or won’t we meet our covenant tests” and of course the never-ending press speculation. I, for one, welcome a respite from all that, though of course we will never be fully free of press speculation–we are EMI after all!

More importantly, this move finally puts EMI back on a solid financial footing. We have been burdened by an unsustainable level of debt which until today totaled close to £3.4 billion. With the change in ownership our debt has been dramatically reduced to £1.2 billion and we are sitting on more than £300 million in cash to boot. That gives us one of the most robust balance sheets in the industry. No one can any longer question our financial strength or our ability to compete head to head with our largest competitors. We already had a strong business–now we have the strong balance sheet to match.

Citi have made absolutely clear their support for our business and our strategy. They are committed to provide us with a stable and supportive environment to continue on our present course as we build that Global Rights Management business. That said, a music company–even one as great as EMI–doesn’t exactly sit comfortably in a giant financial services company like Citi. So while Citi is clear that they are under no time pressure to sell, and that they intend to stabilize the business, there is no doubt that in due course EMI will be up for sale just like it has been from the day Terra Firma bought it.

Most certainly, with the recent news about Warner Musicbeing up for sale, we will continue to be the subject of much speculation. The press will inevitably write that EMI will be broken up and sold in pieces. So, let me say this as clearly as I can: Global Rights Management is the future, and it takes both parts of the business working together to achieve that future. I have no doubt that the best possible way to yield the highest value for EMI is to keep our businesses together in pursuit of our strategy. As we move forward that will become evident even to the most sceptical observer. This is why I have every confidence that EMI will remain EMI for a very, very long time to come.

I’d also like to quash one other suggestion. Regardless of the country of origin of our owner, EMI remains a British company–both legally and spiritually. The history, tradition and heritage of this company cannot, and will not, be erased by a change in shareholding. We are EMI not because of who owns us, but because of who we are–the home of the greatest artists and songwriters of the past, present and future.

Finally, and most importantly, the change in ownership allows us to get back to doing what it is that so obsesses us, and what we’re all so good at–helping our artists and songwriters achieve the greatest possible success. This is, and needs to be, our sole focus. Nothing else is important. And it is full speed ahead. No one should worry about the future–it is in our hands. You should take comfort that Citi is committed to our success just as we are committed to the success of our artists and songwriters.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your continued support and dedication to EMI. That is what has made our incredible progress possible, in spite of the turmoil around us. It is that same support and dedication that will carry us forward as we forge a new business that can deliver real growth for EMI and success for the artists and writers that we are all privileged to represent.

                                                                              *

So nothing changes, right?
Rubbish. It
may be a different set of suits, but they have a clear priority to sell the show as soon as a good price can be achieved. EMI is Rule Britannia and ever more shall be so, sings Faxon. Rubbish.
EMI is now owned by a New York bank and will in all likelihood be sold to a Hollywood entertainment company. Its heritage and traditions now count for less than they did even to a raider like Guy Hands, who was at least, UK-based. 
As soon as the company is sold, the new owners will in all likelihood, dismantle the London centre and to hell with heritage. What’s to stop them?
What happened to Cadbury’s last year will happen to EMI next – and, while chocolate is important, music matters more.

Here’s a statement to EMI staff from CEO Roger Faxon. It is unusually clear and well-written – I see the hand of a good PR firm at work – and it gives a very upbeat view of the future.

There is, however, a huge flaw. I’ve posted it below, so you can first digest Faxon’s case, then consider the consequences.

In the last few minutes, we have announced that earlier today ownership of EMI passed from Terra Firma to Citigroup. The press release is attached for you here. It has been a long journey to this place. Much has changed at EMI and in our industry over the last three and a half years. What has not changed at EMI and never will is our fierce devotion to the artists and songwriters we represent. I believe that EMI, in both publishing and recorded music, is stronger today because of that commitment. Working together across both divisions, we are in the process of building a new business, a Global Rights Management business that will enable us to continue to deliver for successful outcomes for our artists and songwriters. We have the ability to shape our future and build a company that will not only survive but that will flourish in the years to come. Today’s change in ownership is but one step in that journey.

So how did this change of ownership take place?

Well, when a company’s value is less than its debts, one solution is to go through an administration process which allows the sale of the business in partial satisfaction of those debts. In our case it is not hard to see that our parent company Maltby Investments Limited (MIL) would never be able to repay the £3.4 billion it owed to Citi. With that being the case, it appointed an administrator who as an officer of the court was empowered to sell the EMI Group to Citi. This is sometimes called a “pre-pack” because it can be done in a matter of hours–and that’s exactly what happened here. EMI itself was never in administration. Where EMI came into the story was with its sale to Citi, which was followed by an immediate recapitalization of the company, which reduced our debt by 65%.

That’s how it happened, but what does new ownership mean for EMI?

Well first of all, it ends a struggle between our two principal stakeholders which has enveloped the business for most of the past two years. I’m sure that you’ll agree that the distraction has at times felt unbearable. We will now be able to put behind us the controversy of the Terra Firma-Citi court case, the cliff-hanging drama of the “will we or won’t we meet our covenant tests” and of course the never-ending press speculation. I, for one, welcome a respite from all that, though of course we will never be fully free of press speculation–we are EMI after all!

More importantly, this move finally puts EMI back on a solid financial footing. We have been burdened by an unsustainable level of debt which until today totaled close to £3.4 billion. With the change in ownership our debt has been dramatically reduced to £1.2 billion and we are sitting on more than £300 million in cash to boot. That gives us one of the most robust balance sheets in the industry. No one can any longer question our financial strength or our ability to compete head to head with our largest competitors. We already had a strong business–now we have the strong balance sheet to match.

Citi have made absolutely clear their support for our business and our strategy. They are committed to provide us with a stable and supportive environment to continue on our present course as we build that Global Rights Management business. That said, a music company–even one as great as EMI–doesn’t exactly sit comfortably in a giant financial services company like Citi. So while Citi is clear that they are under no time pressure to sell, and that they intend to stabilize the business, there is no doubt that in due course EMI will be up for sale just like it has been from the day Terra Firma bought it.

Most certainly, with the recent news about Warner Musicbeing up for sale, we will continue to be the subject of much speculation. The press will inevitably write that EMI will be broken up and sold in pieces. So, let me say this as clearly as I can: Global Rights Management is the future, and it takes both parts of the business working together to achieve that future. I have no doubt that the best possible way to yield the highest value for EMI is to keep our businesses together in pursuit of our strategy. As we move forward that will become evident even to the most sceptical observer. This is why I have every confidence that EMI will remain EMI for a very, very long time to come.

I’d also like to quash one other suggestion. Regardless of the country of origin of our owner, EMI remains a British company–both legally and spiritually. The history, tradition and heritage of this company cannot, and will not, be erased by a change in shareholding. We are EMI not because of who owns us, but because of who we are–the home of the greatest artists and songwriters of the past, present and future.

Finally, and most importantly, the change in ownership allows us to get back to doing what it is that so obsesses us, and what we’re all so good at–helping our artists and songwriters achieve the greatest possible success. This is, and needs to be, our sole focus. Nothing else is important. And it is full speed ahead. No one should worry about the future–it is in our hands. You should take comfort that Citi is committed to our success just as we are committed to the success of our artists and songwriters.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your continued support and dedication to EMI. That is what has made our incredible progress possible, in spite of the turmoil around us. It is that same support and dedication that will carry us forward as we forge a new business that can deliver real growth for EMI and success for the artists and writers that we are all privileged to represent.

                                                                              *

So nothing changes, right?
Rubbish. It
may be a different set of suits, but they have a clear priority to sell the show as soon as a good price can be achieved. EMI is Rule Britannia and ever more shall be so, sings Faxon. Rubbish.
EMI is now owned by a New York bank and will in all likelihood be sold to a Hollywood entertainment company. Its heritage and traditions now count for less than they did even to a raider like Guy Hands, who was at least, UK-based. 
As soon as the company is sold, the new owners will in all likelihood, dismantle the London centre and to hell with heritage. What’s to stop them?
What happened to Cadbury’s last year will happen to EMI next – and, while chocolate is important, music matters more.

The next step for Antonio Pappano, music director at Covent Garden and Santa Cecilia, has been one of the hottest traded commodities on the futures floor (and I can state this with added confidence since the bank now owns his record company).

Pappano has long made it clear that he wants to step down at the Royal Opera House after the 2013-14 season, marking the birth bicentenary of Wagner and Verdi and the centenary of Britten. By that time he will have put in 15 years as the ROH’s most hands-on conductor since George Solti in the 1960s.
So what next? He has been pencilled in as the next chief of the Met, succeeding James Levine, and as an obvious choice for La Scala as and when it finally gets its act together. But, from what I hear, both prospects are now distinctly on the back burner.
Pappano is happy in London. He is laying down conducting projects at Covent Garden for 2015 and beyond and generally acting in complete disregard of his agents’ career plans and the market expectations. And good for him, say one and all.

                                                             photo: Laurie Lewis/IMG, Lebrecht Music and Arts
But there is one area of movement in his life. 
Next month Pappano will be heard on Deutsche Grammophon, conducting a Pergolesi Stabat Mater in Rome with Anna Netrebko and Marianna Pizzolato. Pappano has been exclusive to EMI all his working life. Indeed, he was hired at Covent Garden by the EMI chairman at the time, Sir Colin Southgate. He’s house conductor at EMI, period. He renewed his contract as recently as last November.
So what’s he doing on DG? His contract allows him to make an occasional off-label recording, that’s the official line. It also means that EMI get an occasional shot at DG’s Netrebko, who recorded a sensational Rossini Stab Mat with Pappano last year. But that’s for the record.
Behind the scenes I hear that DG, alert to EMI’s troubles, are moving in for Pappano like a pack of dachshunds on heat. The revitalised Universal label needs an all-round conductor at the heart of its plans. Pappano fits the bill perfectly. They will make him an offer his agent will find hard to refuse. 
Citi-owned EMI could struggle to hold onto him. If Pappano goes, Citi will have a classical crisis on its hands. Be interesting to see how the bonus culture works when that happens.

The American conductor Kenneth Woods is about to present the sixth symphony as part of a complete Mahler cycle that is being staged in Wrexham, North Wales.

Now how brave is that?
Mahler wrote the sixth  for the best professionals of his time and collapsed in tears at their inability to achieve the effects he sought. A century later, the technicalities are within the grasp of practised amateurs but the language of the symphony and its embedded ambiguities require more study than hard-working people can usually spare in their leisure hours.
So hats off to Wrexham, and to Kenneth Woods, for their courage and determination. It’s on February 26. Don’t forget the date. The concert is sponsored by Cobalz, makers of an anti-Alzheimer’s drug.
Press release below.

                                                                                  photo: BBC



KENNETH WOODS’ 2011 REPLETE WITH
FRESH EXPERIENCES AND WORLD PREMIERES
1 February 2011 Mahler looms large for Kenneth in 2011, appropriately enough during the 100th anniversary year of the composer’s
death. On 26 February, he will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 with a most unlikely ensemble, the amateur but
eminently able Wrexham Symphony Orchestra who are ambitiously embarking on a complete Mahler cycle. Kenneth
is the ideal proponent to kick off Wrexham’s mammoth project, with the skill to motivate the musicians as well as
rally the community around an experience they’ve likely never encountered before. Whilst Music Director of the
Oregon East Symphony, an ensemble in a tiny American rodeo town long called the “most remotely situated
symphony orchestra on the planet,” Woods curated and conducted what came to be known as the “Redneck Mahler”
series. This highly unlikely undertaking quickly drew regional and national attention in the US music world.
For the first half of his Wrexham programme, Kenneth will present a lecture-demonstration on Mahler’s Sixth
Symphony with the orchestra on stage. The event, and the entire Wrexham Mahler project, is sponsored by Cobalz
Ltd., developer of the Alzheimer’s drug Cerefolin, with proceeds from the concerts funding research and social
support for the burgeoning epidemic of dementia.
Kenneth’s first recording of Mahler’s music is equally enterprising, having chosen Schoenberg’s chamber
arrangements of Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder ei

nes fahrenden Gesellen. The sessions of Mahler’s first and last

song cycles followed a November concert – hailed by the Stratford Herald as “Mahler of quite exceptional quality” –
with the Orchestra of the Swan, the innovative Stratford-based ensemble who named Kenneth Principal Guest
Conductor last year. The recording is due out on the Somm label in May 2011.
These projects fall in step with Kenneth’s lifelong involvement in the music of Mahler, beginning with his career as
an orchestral cellist. He has broadcast and written extensively about the composer, including Mahler, a Performers
Perspective, a blog specially commissioned by The Bridgewater Hall for the 2010 Manchester in Mahler Festival,
winner of a South Bank Sky Arts Award.
Kenneth’s discography grows further when Avie releases his second recording of music by Hans Gál – the worldpremiere
recording of Symphony No. 3, coupled with Robert Schumann’s Third Symphony, “Rhenish”, an apt
pairing given the continental Briton’s scholarship of Schumann’s works and his book written for the BBC Music
Guides, Schumann Orchestral Music. Kenneth’s first recording of Gál’s music also featured world-premiere
recordings, of two concertante works for violin and the Triptych for Orchestra. Conducting Northern Sinfonia,
Gramophone singled out Woods’ “highly polished account, with the orchestral playing throughout most assured.”
The recording of the Third Symphony is scheduled for release in June 2011.
Kenneth Woods, 2011 – page 2
In May, Kenneth celebrates the first anniversary of his conducting debut with the Orchestra of the Swan by
returning to their Spring Sounds Festival, which this year takes on an East meets West theme. On the 27th,
Kenneth will open Spring Sounds conducting two pinnacles of 20th-century American repertoire: Three Dance
Episodes from Copland’s Rodeo and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with pianist Viv Maclean. On the 28th, Kenneth
will conduct the European premiere of a Shakuhachi Concerto by James Schlefer – himself a Grand Master on the
Japanese flute who will be the evening’s soloist – and the world premiere of Haru No Umi, or “The Sea in Spring”,
by Michiyo Miyagi, a work for strings, shakuhachi and koto featuring Yumi Kurosawa, one of the most exciting
young performers of Japan’s national instrument.
In addition to his commitments with Orchestra of the Swan, Woods has guest conducted the BBC National Orchestra of
Wales and Northern Sinfonia, among others. As a commentator on music, Woods has been heard on BBC Radio 4’s
Today programme, NPR’s Morning Edition, and is widely read online, particularly on his engaging blog A View from
the Podium, one of the 25 most read classical music blogs. With a growing reputation for combining astute
performances and insights with frank opinions about modern musical life, Woods is swiftly making an indelible
impression on the UK’s musical audiences.
* * * * *
All media enquiries: Melanne Mueller, melanne@musiccointernational.com, 020 8542 4866

The American conductor Kenneth Woods is about to present the sixth symphony as part of a complete Mahler cycle that is being staged in Wrexham, North Wales.

Now how brave is that?
Mahler wrote the sixth  for the best professionals of his time and collapsed in tears at their inability to achieve the effects he sought. A century later, the technicalities are within the grasp of practised amateurs but the language of the symphony and its embedded ambiguities require more study than hard-working people can usually spare in their leisure hours.
So hats off to Wrexham, and to Kenneth Woods, for their courage and determination. It’s on February 26. Don’t forget the date. The concert is sponsored by Cobalz, makers of an anti-Alzheimer’s drug.
Press release below.

                                                                                  photo: BBC



KENNETH WOODS’ 2011 REPLETE WITH
FRESH EXPERIENCES AND WORLD PREMIERES
1 February 2011 Mahler looms large for Kenneth in 2011, appropriately enough during the 100th anniversary year of the composer’s
death. On 26 February, he will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 with a most unlikely ensemble, the amateur but
eminently able Wrexham Symphony Orchestra who are ambitiously embarking on a complete Mahler cycle. Kenneth
is the ideal proponent to kick off Wrexham’s mammoth project, with the skill to motivate the musicians as well as
rally the community around an experience they’ve likely never encountered before. Whilst Music Director of the
Oregon East Symphony, an ensemble in a tiny American rodeo town long called the “most remotely situated
symphony orchestra on the planet,” Woods curated and conducted what came to be known as the “Redneck Mahler”
series. This highly unlikely undertaking quickly drew regional and national attention in the US music world.
For the first half of his Wrexham programme, Kenneth will present a lecture-demonstration on Mahler’s Sixth
Symphony with the orchestra on stage. The event, and the entire Wrexham Mahler project, is sponsored by Cobalz
Ltd., developer of the Alzheimer’s drug Cerefolin, with proceeds from the concerts funding research and social
support for the burgeoning epidemic of dementia.
Kenneth’s first recording of Mahler’s music is equally enterprising, having chosen Schoenberg’s chamber
arrangements of Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder ei

nes fahrenden Gesellen. The sessions of Mahler’s first and last

song cycles followed a November concert – hailed by the Stratford Herald as “Mahler of quite exceptional quality” –
with the Orchestra of the Swan, the innovative Stratford-based ensemble who named Kenneth Principal Guest
Conductor last year. The recording is due out on the Somm label in May 2011.
These projects fall in step with Kenneth’s lifelong involvement in the music of Mahler, beginning with his career as
an orchestral cellist. He has broadcast and written extensively about the composer, including Mahler, a Performers
Perspective, a blog specially commissioned by The Bridgewater Hall for the 2010 Manchester in Mahler Festival,
winner of a South Bank Sky Arts Award.
Kenneth’s discography grows further when Avie releases his second recording of music by Hans Gál – the worldpremiere
recording of Symphony No. 3, coupled with Robert Schumann’s Third Symphony, “Rhenish”, an apt
pairing given the continental Briton’s scholarship of Schumann’s works and his book written for the BBC Music
Guides, Schumann Orchestral Music. Kenneth’s first recording of Gál’s music also featured world-premiere
recordings, of two concertante works for violin and the Triptych for Orchestra. Conducting Northern Sinfonia,
Gramophone singled out Woods’ “highly polished account, with the orchestral playing throughout most assured.”
The recording of the Third Symphony is scheduled for release in June 2011.
Kenneth Woods, 2011 – page 2
In May, Kenneth celebrates the first anniversary of his conducting debut with the Orchestra of the Swan by
returning to their Spring Sounds Festival, which this year takes on an East meets West theme. On the 27th,
Kenneth will open Spring Sounds conducting two pinnacles of 20th-century American repertoire: Three Dance
Episodes from Copland’s Rodeo and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with pianist Viv Maclean. On the 28th, Kenneth
will conduct the European premiere of a Shakuhachi Concerto by James Schlefer – himself a Grand Master on the
Japanese flute who will be the evening’s soloist – and the world premiere of Haru No Umi, or “The Sea in Spring”,
by Michiyo Miyagi, a work for strings, shakuhachi and koto featuring Yumi Kurosawa, one of the most exciting
young performers of Japan’s national instrument.
In addition to his commitments with Orchestra of the Swan, Woods has guest conducted the BBC National Orchestra of
Wales and Northern Sinfonia, among others. As a commentator on music, Woods has been heard on BBC Radio 4’s
Today programme, NPR’s Morning Edition, and is widely read online, particularly on his engaging blog A View from
the Podium, one of the 25 most read classical music blogs. With a growing reputation for combining astute
performances and insights with frank opinions about modern musical life, Woods is swiftly making an indelible
impression on the UK’s musical audiences.
* * * * *
All media enquiries: Melanne Mueller, melanne@musiccointernational.com, 020 8542 4866