He’s 75 today.

Who knew?

Not many men are recognised the world over by their first name.

Far be it from this space to cavil at the power and the glory that was the Royal Wedding. 

The event was immaculate and uplifting, every component came in on cue, the chorus and musicians were outstanding and no-one left the Abbey or their living-room unmoved. And that’s before we even got to the street parties.

During the course of the ceremony I wondered what had happened to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Max holds the title of Master of the Queen’s Musick, a role that goes back to the 14th century and was formalised by Charles I in 1626. The sole duty of the title holder in modern times is to write music for royal occasions.
Yet nobody asked Max for a piece. Late in the day, they included two early works of his in the warm-ups, as guests were arriving in the Abbey. Max sat out the ceremony on his island fortress in the Orkneys, I’m told. He told the Telegraph he didn’t mind all that much not being asked to compose for the happy couple. 
But we should. If the Master doesn’t write for royal weddings, why keep the title? It should either be clarified for modern times or abolished as an anachronism. Don’t you think?

As I reported yesterday, the RLPO management are going ahead with a concert conducted by Roberto Minczuk, who has sacked half the musicians in the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, describing some of them as ‘amateurs’.

Tomorrow, the distinguished pianist Cristina Ortiz will give a concert in Rio with the dismissed musicians. She has asked me to post the following appeal to the RLPO in the hope that its management and musicians will reconsider the  Minczuk engagement.

Here is what she writes. 

Dear Norman 

I would so love if you’d pass on the following message to the current 
management of my very favourite provincial British Orchestra the RLPO 

Having only arrived in Rio to join the maligned body of musicians from 
the OSB in a protest performance next Saturday, it is with disbelief 
that I read the above statement from the RLPO. 

It is utterly lamentable that the inhuman behaviour by the OSB 
Foundation and its present chief conductor, is been considered an 
‘internal matter’:  the fact that any one leader in the world of Music 
— an Art form of the highest spiritual content — is allowed the power 
to dismiss so many dedicated professionals > is untenable and insane. 

Instead of complete and unashamed solidarity, we hear that this unjust 
madness has nothing to do with lack of integrity or ethics! 

Be aware, fellow musicians: it could happen to you all: if the 
opportunity of great financial profits — mainly undisclosed — were to 
arise, unlikely  though it may seem in the UK. 

It would have been heroic : the ‘last drop’ coming from your 
orchestra’s refusal to accommodate the  presence of a musician who 
needs to be shaken back into reality! 

Most cordially but yet feeling deceived and let-down, 

Cristina Ortiz 

Before anyone heard it at the wedding…. 



Royal Wedding Music
available online!


was confirmed yesterday morning on the official British Royal Blog that as
a central part of the Wedding Service for Prince William and Kate Middleton,
after the Anthem, the choirs will sing ‘Ubi Caritas’ by Welsh composer Paul
Mealor.  Mr Mealor is Reader in Composition at the University of Aberdeen, but his composing studio is on the Isle of
Anglesey, North Wales, close to the home of the
royal couple.


the service, because only religious texts are permitted,  Mealor  set the words
of the ancient hymn Ubi Caritas to a recent composition titled ‘Now Sleeps the
Crimson Petal’   The original work, in which Mealor set poems on the subject of
the Rose, the emblem of love and purity, has been recorded by the Con Anima
Chamber Choir, conducted by the composer, and is to appear on an album of choral
music (“Madrigali: Fire and Roses”) to be issued in the summer by Divine Art


As part
of the wedding celebrations,  Divine Art have released a digital-only EP of ‘Now
Sleeps the Crimson Petal’ which is available from today on iTunes, Amazon,
eMusic, Napster, Classics Online and all other good digital music sellers
including http://www.divineartrecords.com/CD/29002info.htm   

The case of the missing Lucerne Opera House is heading for the courts.

Briefly, and in order not to tangle myself in legal ribbons, a very rich German called Engelhorn promised more than $100 million to the Swiss lakeside town to build a flexible, modern opera house, styled a Salle Modulable. He died, and the trust controlling his estate won’t give the money. So the Swiss are suing.
Lucerne is not a poor town. Nor is anyone else in the story (especially the lawyers).
If there’s a morality tale here, please tell me. Try as I might, I can’t find it.
Here’s the Lucerne press release:



Press release

Salle Modulable Foundation files a suit against Butterfield


Lucerne, April 29,
2011 –
The Salle Modulable
Foundation is taking legal action against Butterfield Trust Ltd. (Butterfield)
after the latter arbitrarily withdrew its commitment to provide financing. The
Foundation has filed a corresponding request for conciliatory hearing against
Butterfield with the Lucerne Justice of Peace. At a press conference, to be
held at 11 a.m. in the KKL Luzern, Hubert Achermann, Chairman of the Salle
Modulable Foundation, and Michael Haefliger, Delegate of the Salle Modulable
Foundation, will give the media more information and will be available for
questions and interviews.


In a letter dated August 23, 2007, Butterfield, referring
to discussions held with Christof Engelhorn, confirmed its willingness to
support the construction of a modern music theater in Lucerne with the
provision of up to CHF 120 million. Christof Engelhorn had agreed to this
support via a Bermuda-based trust founded by him and represented by Butterfield
as trustee. This agreement was based on a project study for a “Salle Modulable”
financed by Mr Engelhorn and implemented by the Lucerne Festival. He was keen
on the idea of helping his adopted home city of Lucerne become an innovative
cultural center for modern musical theater of major international repute.


Financing commitment
confirmed on several occasions

Up until his death in August 2010, Christof Engelhorn
had given no cause to doubt his intention to finance this project. The trustee
Butterfield, too, confirmed the commitment of the Butterfield Trust in several
letters. In addition to the location – Lucerne – and the maximum amount to be
provided, the only conditions for the financing were the provision of a
feasibility study and a sustainable operating concept, as the financial support
was to be restricted exclusively to project planning and construction. Work on
the project, run by the Salle Modulable Foundation, which had been set up in
April 2008, progressed at a fast pace thanks to the funds totaling CHF 5.75
million that had been transferred by Butterfield from February 2008 onward.


For three years, representatives of the city and
canton of Lucerne, together with the Lucerne-based cultural institutions the
Lucerne Festival, Lucerne Theater and the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra as well as
the Lucerne School of Music, were committed to developing a concept for a music
theater in Lucerne that offered flexibility and cutting-edge technology. All
those involved recognized the potential such a project had for the cultural
life of Lucerne, but also for the general positioning of the city and the
Lucerne region:

With the integration of the musical theater
sector, the internationally successful Lucerne Festival has the ideal
enhancement to its concept, a move which also reinforces its position in
international competition.

The Lucerne Theater solves its existing
infrastructural problems efficiently and is able to develop further, in
artistic terms, as a multi-sector establishment.

The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra receives the
infrastructural support necessary to deliver high-quality musical theater.

Lucerne is to be home to a cultural center of
major international repute that is unique worldwide, thus making the city even
more attractive, and boosting tourism and the economy.




All conditions met

In December 2010, the project development organization
founded for this purpose unveiled its overall concept, which shows detailed
proof of the project’s feasibility at the Lido site, and is being jointly
supported by the representatives of the city and canton of Lucerne and the
Salle Modulable Foundation. The concept estimates an investment volume of CHF
157 million, taking account of Butterfield’s contribution of CHF 120 million.
The overall concept also includes a realistic and sustainable operating plan,
meaning that the conditions for Butterfield’s financing commitment are met.


Trustee reneges
arbitrarily on commitment and disregards the wishes of the trust settlor

For this reason, the Salle Modulable Foundation is not
prepared to accept Butterfield’s withdrawal of its commitment to provide
financing, made on specious grounds in October 2010, shortly after the death of
Christof Engelhorn. There is no substantive reason for this. Moreover, it was
done expressly against the wishes of Christof Engelhorn, initiator of the
project and settlor of the trust. The Foundation has therefore decided to
challenge the arbitrary withdrawal of the commitment to provide financing and
to claim the outstanding amount, totaling CHF 114.25 million, from the
Butterfield Trust through the courts. The Foundation has filed a corresponding
request for conciliatory hearing with the Lucerne Justice of Peace.


Foundation to fight
for its rights

The Foundation only decided to take this step after
due deliberation and intensive consultation with legal experts in Switzerland,
England and Bermuda. After receiving clarification from said experts, it is
convinced that it is worth fighting for the project, not just as a matter of
principle, but also in view of the legal situation. This being said, the
Foundation also understands that cultural planning in Lucerne must go on. As
Butterfield’s binding commitment to provide financing for the construction of a
new music theater in Lucerne was not connected to any timetable, a successful
outcome of the proceedings would still be beneficial for Lucerne and its
cultural institutions, even if it did not come until a later point in time.


Hubert Achermann, Chairman of the Salle Modulable
Foundation: “It is with great regret that we have to resort to this measure. We
would gladly have avoided it, but Butterfield have left us with no choice.
Based on the committed support of Christof Engelhorn and the binding commitment
from the trustee, we have worked, together with the city and canton of Lucerne
as well as Lucerne’s major cultural institutions, for the past three years in a
most professional manner to realize the idea of a modern music theater for
Lucerne. We owe it to our partners, the city, the region and, last but not
least, to Christof Engelhorn himself, to fight for this idea.”


Information about
press conference today at 11 a.m. in the KKL Luzern, Club Room 3 + 4

Hubert Achermann, Chairman of the Salle Modulable Foundation,
and Michael Haefliger, Delegate of the Salle Modulable Foundation, will be
providing further information on this matter at an event for interested media
representatives to be held today at 11 a.m. in the KKL Luzern. They will also
be available for questions and interviews. Media representatives are invited to
submit their interview questions to the Foundation’s Media Officer: Andreas
Hildenbrand, Tel. +41 79 468 92 35.



The Nippon Music Foundation has put one of its most exclusive violins up for sale to raise money for earthquake and tsunami relief. The Lady Blunt Stradivarius was bought for around $10 million in 2008 and is expected to fetch at least as much at auction in June via online dealers, Tarisio. The Lady Blunt, once owned by a descendant of Lord Byron, dates from 1721, prime period for the Stradivarius workshop in Cremona.

It is one of 16 Stradivarius instruments owned by the Foundation. Most are loaned out for concert use to eminent soloists around the world. The rest are listed here.

Which do you want first? The 44 musicians fired by the Brazil Symphony Orchestra (OSB) will give a free concert this Saturday with Cristina Ortiz as soloist at the Salao Leopoldo Miguez – a protest of the best kind against an authoritarian management and conductor. Put yours hands together, please, and let’s hear it for Cristina and the honest musicians of Rio.

Less happy news comes from Liverpool, where the orchestra intends to go ahead with its concert in May with OSB conductor Roberto Minczuk. The official line from the RLPO is: ‘We have no comment to make on what is an internal matter for another organisation in another country. Mr Minczuk’s engagement will go ahead as scheduled.’
Whether the musicians of Liverpool agree with this policy will have to be tested as and when Mr Minczuk shows up. I will keep you posted. I may even go there to check him out.

According to Italian news agencies, Susanna Mälkki broke an age-old taboo when she led the world premiere of Luca Francesconi’s opera Quartet. The work, based on a Heiner Müller, derives from Les Liaisons Dangereuses and runs til May 7.

Could that really be true? Has Scala run 11 years into the 21st century before allowing a woman to do what they have been doing the world over for two generations? Apparently so.

Big hand for Susanna. No hand at all for La Scala

The Schwetzingen Festival is staging the world premiere tonight of a new opera by Georg Friedrich Haas, the contemporary Austrian composer. Titled Bluthaus (Blood House), it describes the sale of a house where two murders were committed. ‘We waded in blood,’ said librettist Klaus Händel. Others are drawing explicit comparisons with the Kampusch child rape and abduction scandal. It sounds like exploitation opera at its worst.

Sarah Wegener sings the heroine, Nadja.

The Klimt painting restored this week to its rightful owners after 70 years of Nazi dispossession has untold connections to the Gustav Mahler story.

Victor Zuckerkandl, the original owner, was a property developer in Vienna who built, among other amenities, the strikingly modernist sanatorium at Purkersdorf. 
Sanatorium PurkersdorfDer WandelgangVeranda
photo: http://www.alma-mahler.com/engl/gallery/spielort_wien.html
His brother, the anatomist Emil Zuckerkandl, was married to the media heiress and art critic Berta; both were close personal friends of Mahler’s. It may safely be assumed that Berta introduced Victor to Josef Hoffman, who designed the sanatorium as well as several gifts that Mahler commissioned for his wife, Alma. It would have been through Berta, too, that Viktor in 1914 purchased from Gustav Klimt his latest painting, Litzlberg am Attersee.
When Viktor died in 1927, the painting passed to his sister, Amalie, who lived nearby in Purkersdorf. Amalie had married into the Redlich family, who were lifelong friends of Mahler’s; he last stayed with them during the summer of Das Lied von der Erde. Amalie and her daughter Mathilde were deported and murdered by the Nazis in 1941 and their property sequestered. Amalie was listed in Nazi records as a sanatorium owner. The painting wound up in the hands of a private collector, who gave it to the Salzburg museum.
Sanatorium Purkersdorf
Corridor at Purkersdorf, designed by Hoffmann.

The Klimt scene would have been familiar to Mahler; it depicted the lake beside which he composed his third symphony. The Salzburg Museum has now agreed to restore the painting to Amalie’s grandson, in exchange for a $1 million gift for an Amalie Redlich annexe at the museum.

For more on the Klimts, the Zukerkandls and the Redlichs, see Why Mahler?

In a first wobble since the Philadelphia Orchestra went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, principal clarinet Ricardo Morales is moving to Manhattan at the end of next season, writes philly.com

Although he’ll be around til summer of 2012, the announcement is a blow for Philly morale. Soloists of Ricardo’s calibre are hard to come by.
His wife, Amy Oshiro, plays violin in the orchestra.
Here’s his c.v.

RICARDO MORALES joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal clarinet in 2003. Prior to this he was principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, a position he assumed at the age of 21. He has also served as principal clarinet of the Florida Symphony. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Morales began his studies at the Escuela Libre de Musica along with his five siblings, who are all distinguished musicians. He continued his studies at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Indiana University, where he received his artist diploma.

Morales has been a featured soloist with many orchestras, including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Flemish Radio, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Columbus symphonies; he has also appeared on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Concert Series. He made his solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2004.

An active chamber musician, Morales has performed in the MET Chamber Ensemble series at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, and the Kennedy Center, on NBC’s The Today Show, and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He is highly sought after for his recitals and master classes, which have taken him throughout North America and Europe. In addition he currently serves on the faculties of the Juilliard School and Temple University.

Morales’ debut solo recording, French Portraits, is available on Boston Records. He has joined forces with acoustician and instrument maker Morrie Backun to create MoBa, a company of top-of-the-line clarinet accessories, including mouthpieces, bells, and barrels.


A tweet from Oslo tells me that EMI are about to announce a 4-CD deal with the latest Nordic dazzler, the young, blonde trumpet player, Tine Thing Helseth.

Trouble is, EMI already have a young, blonde trumpet player in Alison Balsom.

There is, as Maynard Keynes once wrote, a limit to the public demand for records by young blonde trumpet players.
Which leaves me wondering whether EMI is shrewdly trying to corner an unspotted market. Or whether is has bitten off one trumpet more than it can chew.
Maybe those Citibankers who own EMI know a Thing or two?