Narek Hakhnazaryan, the Armenian soloist who was humiliated by a Russian conductor, won gold in the cello.

No first prize for violin – silver medal shared between Itamar Zorman (Israel) and Sergei Dogadin (Russia).

Daniil Trifonov won the hotly contested piano gold.


Two South Koreans – Sun Young Seo and Jong Min Park – won the two vocal awards. Is Korea now the hottest musical nursery on earth?

They’ve halved the subsidy for the national youth orchestra…. sheer, mindless vandalism.

NYJOS Audience Feedback

Story here in Classical Music.

He’s Ludovic Morlot, 38, a Frenchman who’s about to become chief condcutor in Seattle. Hope he enjoys the commute.

No offence, but I have a funny feeling that Glyndebourne got the better deal.

Ludovic Morlot

photo: Sussie Ahlburg


Here’s the press release.

French conductor Ludovic Morlot will take up the post of Chief Conductor at La Monnaie/de Munt from 1 January 2012. The contract will be for a period of five years, with the option to extend until the end of the second term of the General Director of La Monnaie, Peter de Caluwe (2019).

Ludovic Morlot (born in 1973) is Music Director of the Seattle Symphony, a position he will combine from 2012 with his role as Chief Conductor at La Monnaie.

During the 2010/11 season, Ludovic conducted acclaimed performances of Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias at Opéra National de Lyon and Opéra Comique in Paris. His first season in Seattle includes a gala concert with Renée Fleming and two performances of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust. He has also collaborated with many other distinguished singers including Barbara Hannigan, Dawn Upshaw, Jessye Norman and Thomas Hampson.

Ludovic Morlot is currently in Australia, conducting the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras for the first time. Other recent debuts have included the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic and NDR Hamburg. A highlight of next season will be Ludovic’s performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has a very close relationship: two subscription weeks and a tour to the west coast of America including performances in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He also regularly conducts the New York Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestras.

His position at La Monnaie will allow him to develop his career as a conductor of opera and add to his already impressive work with symphony orchestras. During his first full season at La Monnaie, his performances will include the Bruneau Requiem as well as his first Pélleas et Mélisande.

Peter de Caluwe: “I am proud of Ludovic Morlot’s nomination, without doubt one of the greatest talents amongst the new generation of conductors. I am pleased that an artist with such an impressive international reputation will be at the helm of the Monnaie Symphony Orchestra. His experience with the major international orchestras will give without doubt, a positive input for our musicians. I look forward to our future collaboration together in both orchestral and operatic performances.”

Ludovic Morlot: “It is such a privilege to be associated with La Monnaie as its new Chief Conductor. I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to collaborate with this wonderful orchestra in both concert and opera productions and to work closely with Peter de Caluwe and his excellent artistic and administrative teams. I am so much looking forward to working with the players, singers and you all and feel extremely honoured and excited as we embark on this musical journey together.”


Glyndebourne has just announced Robin Ticciati to succeed Vladimir Jurowski as music director.

That’s brave – he’s only 28. But it’s also sound. He has been working well with Glyndebourne Touring Opera.

Robin Ticciati

He starts in 2014. Congrats to all.


This is video of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Myung Whun Chung

and this is the Metropole Orkest, with Jules Buckley (in Dutch)

Soldier of Orange

The singer-songwriter has signed on with my publishers, Faber & Faber. Here’s an entry-point video interview.

‘My breakthrough really came where I stopped thinking I had to be profound,’ he says.

The next thing he’s expected to do is read Why Mahler?

The architect Renzo Piano yesterday presented final designs for the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center, which will include a 1400-seat hall for the national opera and nice new stacks for the national library, reports Architectual Record.

Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center

Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center

Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center

photos: courtesy Renzo Piano Building Workshop, all rights reserved

The $803 million project is privately funded, but will be turned over to the Greek government on scheduled completion, in 2015.

The timing of the announcement, as the country hunkers down for deep cuts and more demos after the latest IMF bailout, was decidedly dubious. A case of private-wealth hubris, perhaps. Shouldn’t the local oligarchs be doing more to save the national economy?

Even more questionable is whether any Greek government will be able to afford to run the new facility in four years’ time.

After all, many of the 2004 Athens Olympic sites have been allowed to fall into dereliction.

photo: (c) Daily Mail, all rights reserved

You can see Renzo Piano explain his vision on this video. Scroll in four minutes to skip the Greek preamble. ‘Everything becomes magic, everything is beautiful,’ says Renzo. Tell that to the pensionless crowds outside Parliament.


The music director of the New York Philharmonic has written to the orchestra’s publicity department, also known as the New York Times, vowing to restore the free summer concerts in Central Park.

“I am making a personal promise that these beloved free concerts will return next summer and continue for many years to come,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Times on Wednesday.

Er, hello? Mr Gilbert is music director of the orchestra. He does not control the budgets. He does not know who the next president of the orchestra is going to be (or, if he does, he isn’t telling) and he has no authority to bind the incoming executive to an irrevocable pledge.

If the concerts don’t happen next summer and ever after, what then? Will Mr Gilbert resign? Let’s see…

The incident involving Mark Gorenstein and the Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan at the Tchaikovsky competition has brought in a shoal of mails about the way some Russian conductors treat their musicians these days, effectively as old-style commissars.

One case in particular stands out. I have deleted the names in the following mail, since the individual (AB) concerned refuses to respond to my contact request, but the conditions described  may be considered fairly typical for Russian orchestras in 2011. The mail is written by a well-known international soloist, who has spoken to many musicians in this orchestra and has no personal axe to grind. Read on, and despair.

The comment at the Tchaikovsky competition is actually pretty mild compared to what happens in rehearsal here every day. AB swears, screams and humiliates musicians beyond belief. What he has been known to say and shout to people in rehearsal is horrifying.

The orchestral salaries come mostly from the presidential grant, which by law is distributed by the Director as he pleases. So each player is guaranteed around 3000 rubles a month (about £70) and for the rest AB runs a penalty system. If someone plays too early, or too late, or in the wrong part of the bow, there is a penalty deducted from their salary. This can range from a quarter to a half of a monthly income of the musician. Sometimes if one person makes a mistake, the whole section is penalised. When someone does something AB considers wrong, he likes to stop the orchestra and say ‘you will see how much that cost you the next time you put your card in a cash-machine’. It has also been known to happen, that if musicians show too much respect for guest conductors, they again get fined.

People are very easily fired – AB has fired many people, sometimes even after a first rehearsal, because he didn’t like the way someone looked at him. And unfortunately in Russia, there is nothing one can do – no musicians’ unions, no one to complain to. AB is very much supported by YB, a relative of his, formerly Minister of xxxxx in Russia and now on another high position in the government’s xxxxxx department.

Right in the beginning, when he took over the orchestra, after the first concerts a few Russian critics wrote negative reviews about him. After those, a Moscow journalist received a vile and violently threatening phonecall from a close family member of AB. This led to all major journalists of Moscow announce a boycott to him, and they have refrained from writing about him for around eight years now. Sometimes he pays for some articles in less significant newspapers, and those are always full of praise.

The conductor is Alexander Prior. Here‘s the vid.

The long-running calamity at the Brazil Symphony Orchestra took an ugly twist today when the senior composer, Marlos Nobre, found that the OSB had put one of his works on their programme next season. Mr Nobre referred back to a public ban he had proclaimed on the orchestra and its contentious conductor, Roberto Minczuk. Then he let fly, in a letter to the director, which gets personal from the start:

Dear Eleazar de Carvalho Filho,

I confess that I feel myself in a very strange situation, when I write this name that immediately lead
me to evoke my great friend – your father Eleazar de Carvalho,
master of the Brazilian conductors, whose memory I evoke here as an
example. As the conductor of the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra, that
conductor – your father – does not always found flowers and
caresses. The exercise of conducting an orchestra sometimes is a hard,
painful and exhausting task, what your father once confided me, when
we both were professors (he taught conducting and I composition) in
the renowned Yale University, in the USA. But never – and I repeat
-, never the great, the very great Eleazar de Carvalho was carried
away by rancor, hurt and disputes about to summarily dismiss the
musicians of his orchestra. And, you see, even supported by his name
and reputation, his unique and unquestionable authority earned that
time, he probably could do it without major troubles.

When an eventual confrontation in face of his musicians took place,
your father – our Eleazar – the greatest Brazilian conductor of
all time, had the humility, wisdom and prudence to leave with heads
held high and never promote a fratricidal war, a personal vendetta. He
looked farther, not only to his career, but for the survival of a
sacred mark, the label “Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira”. Whether
your father already was great, enormous artistically and humanly, he
then became a giant, a wise, an enlightened person. And from there,
from his departure from the OSB, his masterful career steps to reach
that no conductor yet reached in Brazil, in the United States and in
Europe, today.
So, I’m sad – I confess to you, Eleazar Filho –, since, like
Roberto, I knew you when you were still a boy, in your mother’s
arms, the composer Jocy de Oliveira, colleague of mine. I saw you,
Eleazar Filho, to reach, adult, ascend the highest positions in the
financial administration of our country, especially in the BNDES,
justly favoring many musical events, moved by love for music, surely
transmitted by your father, Eleazar, and your mother, Jocy .
Now I see you and Roberto, those boys who I knew in my youth, I see
you both despising the great lesson that should be the example – the
myth of you both – as father and great conductor.

Instead of this consanguinity, Roberto and you, Eleazar Filho,
promote, together, the most impressive breakdown in music that we know
in the history of our country. I don’t understand, I cannot hardly
comprehend how you both – Eleazar and Roberto – cannot see that
you are fomenting one of the most rampages against the institution
itself that was handed to you both to be preserved and carried
forward. There’s a clamant irony when reading in your own name –
Eleazar de Carvalho Filho – the presence of a moral, musical and
artistic heritage that all of us desired to be preserved.
What is more serious in musical environment of Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, Europe, USA, the youngest and the oldest musicians, the
greatest personalities of music in Brazil and other countries are
perplexed in face of a an absolutely inedited fact: you, Roberto and
Eleazar, remain undaunted, ignoring everyone and everything, you both
don’t listen to the voices outside you, and, I ask myself: shall be
you hear the inner voices, the deep voices of your consciousnesses?

Doubtless, the musical Brazil is in grave danger, not only because of
30 or 40 dismissals and the abandonment of their families, the
perplexity of their sons and grandchildren, too. But because of
Brazilian young musicians who cannot, should not be confronted,
discouraged early in their lives. Yes, how do you think, Eleazar and
Roberto, the Brazilian musical youth is reacting to all of this?
We already saw the courageous attitude, the unbelievable burning
behaviour of those OSB Youth Orchestra’s young musicians waking up
to don’t insult you, Roberto, but to deafly and silently protest,
denying to play under pure and explicit coercion.

Oh, my God, who can make music, think about music under coercion,
disenchantment, hopelessness, no matter it is?
Oh, my God, where are we, in which territory, country, culture,
place, cultural desert, exposed to the most depressing situation in
face of international organizations that directly repudiate this sadly
famous “Brazilian case”?

We must not, we don’t want, we cannot be explicitly famous because
of such clamorously negative situation, unfortunately stark, carried
to the point that simply no one can predict its outcome. What is
known, what feels good is that, it is not for anyone else.
And now, a lack of respect (and uniquely personal in this case):
after my public letter to you, Roberto, published everywhere, blogs
and newspapers in Brazil and in the world, the FOSB, without my
authorization, still includes in its season announced now, a music
composed by myself, though I expressly banned it! Yeah, I’m in my
right! So, it seemed to be a regrettable personal affront.

Now, some musicians pressed for reasons do not get me to imagine or
speculate, sold their souls to the devil after they publicly decried
the dismissals and the situation and the current direction of FOSB,
forgetting that they themselves are and will be the executioners of

Therefore, I, Marlos Nobre, request you: do not confuse me with them
– who are deserters from a holy war. Please, at least respect me to
be respected in the minimum of respect that remains throughout this
marathon of errors and unfortunate situation to which is being exposed
Marlos Nobre,
Rio de Janeiro, June 28th, 2011.