Sad news has just reached me that Moray McMillin has died.

He worked as sound engineer on tour with Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Public Image Ltd, and Suzanne Vega. But the toughest assignment on nine years of touring with Deep Purple was the 1999 Jon Lord-led gig that he engineered with the London Symphony Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall, conducted by Paul Mann.

After two RAH concerts and a famous recording, they went on to tour 40 concerts in South America, all the way through Europe, and in Japan.

Quite apart from the balancing problems there were temperamental inequalities between the two bands that had to be carefully managed. Moray, by all accounts, was brilliant.

Live at the Royal Albert Hall

I met him briefly once at Abbey Road. Lovely man. Sad to see him go. Expect more reminiscences later.

He died of lung cancer, aged (we think) 57. Donations, please, to The Hospice of Saint Francis, Spring Garden Lane, Berkhamsted, Herts, HP4 3GW.
01442 869553



It’s the orchestra of Extremadura in western Spain, almost toppling into Portugal. Artistic director is Jesus Amigo, of Bilbao.

It’s the only orchestra within miles, but it’s facing the chop. Perhaps because it’s relatively young, founded in 2000. Last in, first out.

Here’s its last-ditch appeal against execution.

From the You Couldn’t Make It Up Department comes news of a forthcoming encounter at the Barbican.

Apparently, razor-sharp James Rhodes Click to view Photo

is taking on super-cool Stephen Fry 

in a public wrestling match on the future of classical music. No holds barred.

I just had to tell you first, before Fry tweeted it to the universe.

Press release follows:


James Rhodes joins Stephen Fry for A Classical Affair in a run of typically mould-breaking gigs


26 September 2011 – Barbican


Maverick concert pianist James Rhodes teams up with Stephen Fry for a debate about the relevance of classical music in a busy autumn including three free lunchtime recitals at the Riflemaker Art Gallery and his first Australian tour


Stephen Fry and James Rhodes join forces for what promises to be an entertaining and passionate exploration of current perceptions around classical music. Often performing in T-shirt and jeans and bantering casually and candidly throughout his concerts, James has become known for his engaging, acclaimed and utterly unconventional approach to classical music. The Barbican event on 26 September, moderated by Sir David Tang, sees James both join the debate and illustrate it with performance in what could be an extraordinary evening.


In further unusual concerts in September, James performs the first ever free lunchtime concerts at the understatedly cool Riflemaker Art Gallery in Soho. Housed in an historic Grade 1 listed gunmaker’s workshop off Regent Street and renowned as an innovative gallery, Riflemaker presents an adventurous programme of arts. James’ free piano recital series takes place 14-16 September and includes works by Beethoven, Bach/Busoni and Blumenfeld.


Love Arts Leeds Festival seeks to harness the power of the arts to explore mental health issues. After his own struggle with such problems, James has a strong personal connection to this concert on 6 October. He then returns to the intimate Jazz Café in Camden on 11 October, after his success there at the HMV Next Big Thing Festival earlier this year.


James is also welcomed back to the Cheltenham Festival next month to perform in a one-off collaboration with writer A L Kennedy. Following James’ outstanding, sell-out debut in 2010 during which he performed a memorable encore using his ipad in place of sheet music, this event contains a creative mix of music, stand-up and conversation and will take place at The Salon on October 13.


Also in October, James embarks on his first Australian tour following the success of his debut Warner album Bullets & Lullabies reaching number one in the Australian iTunes download chart. James performs at the Melbourne International Arts Festival and then in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide.


In announcing the tour, Liza McLean of Kay and McLean Productions said: “I saw James perform recently in London and his charm and talent just blew me away! James wipes away the pretension that often surrounds classical music and gives you, no matter who you are, or what your upbringing, unequivocal permission just to sit back and have the music itself engulf you.”


James Rhodes:

The BBC has removed the offending term from the headline and opening sentence of today’s report on the judge’s verdict in the Yorkshire fiancee murder. Andrew Lindo was sent down for 22 years and was not referred to with the same prominence as ‘a music teacher’. See here.

I hope other media, like Sky (below), take note.

The range of press opinion on Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger at English National Opera has spanned the gamut from two stars to five.

Much of the negative comment has been subjective and tangential. One review in the Independent dealt mostly with decor. Another in the Financial Times claims the opera ‘makes the frankly unbelievable assumption that Nazi death camp guards were capable of guilt-attacks long after their victims were gassed.’ Has the glib Andrew Clark read none of the vast body of German memoirs and research on Holocaust perpetrators?

The least competent, for me, was Andrew Clements in The Guardian who, after dissing the opera, wrote that ‘Weinberg has become something of a crusade for (director David) Pountney’.

Really? A crusade, Andrew Clements, is when European Christians kill thousands of Jews and Muslims on a rampage towards Palestine. What David Pountney has done is bravely and passionately to expose the ultimate legacy of those original crusades. To call his advocacy a ‘crusade’  is a travesty of English usage and common sense.

A music critic who reads no history, or dictionaries, cannot be trusted.

Deborah Orr, following up in The Guardian, wrote: ‘The Passenger (should) surely now be a landmark vehicle through which even Israel Palestine could be explored.’ Complete loss of critical perspective.

A total of 46 orchestras have now recorded Soldier of Orange, the Dutch resistance hymn, sending a message of support to their colleagues in Holland who face 60 percent cuts and the loss of several orchestras.

The latest video performance here is by the Israel Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta.

The Israel Phil played Rotterdam this week amid threats of disruption that never materialised. Only in London was their concert attacked by pro-Pal agitators. Sympathisers of the attack continue to pack the comment spaces of the Guardian newspaper.

53. Yossi interviewed in Rotterdam

Israeli player interviewed in Rotterdam

No. make that Korea move. So easy to misspell such nouns.

Five months after Deutsche Grammophon signed a 10-CD deal with the Seoul Philharmonic, EMI has roused itself from months of torpor and management change to announce the signing of a Korean pianist.

She’s HJ Lim, based in France and brought to market by HarrisonParrott, the folks who launched Hélène Grimaud (make that 15 ships).

Here she is.

South Korean, where 18 percent of all record sales are classical, has become the biggest growth market for declining classical labels.

Here’s the press release:









“This exceptionally gifted artist ignited an incomparably fiery pianistic space…with super-virtuoso sound images, spectacular and extremely bewitching…an incredible enchantment of possibilities of pianistic expressions, subtle and grandiose, magically performed by the phenomenal virtuoso.” Basellandschaftlicher Zeitung


Introducing HJ Lim – short film



21ST SEPTEMBER, 2011: EMI Classics is thrilled to announce that dynamic pianist HJ Lim has signed an exclusive recording contract with the label. Her first project under the new agreement will be a spectacular recording of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas. The sonatas, which have been curated by Lim into eight themes, will be released as four 2CD sets for release in January, April, July and October 2012.  A complete box set with a bonus DVD will also be available from October 2012.


Born in South Korea, HJ Lim (Hyun-Jung), 24, emigrated on her own to study in France at the age of 12.  At 15, she became youngest person to ever earn Diplome d’Etudes Musicales Complete (Normandy). She continued her studies, and graduated with First Prize and Highest Distinction from the Conservatoire National de Rouen and the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris. In 2007, she was awarded First Prize by unanimous decision at the FLAME International Piano Competition in Paris.


HJ, a Yamaha exclusive artist, first came to the world’s attention when – in order for her family to be able to watch her perform whilst they were home in Korea – she uploaded a video of a recital to YouTube. This personal act, designed to bridge the geographic divide between her native and adopted homes, generated unprecedented interest and nearly half a million views.


On joining EMI Classics, HJ writes, “Having grown up with the recordings of Callas, Cortot, Cziffra, Samson François and the Beethoven sonatas of Schnabel, EMI has represented classical music paradise for me. I am thrilled to be entering this paradise.”


Andrew Cornall, Vice President of A&R for EMI Classics, says, “It is rare to come across a young artist not only with real artistic maturity and depth of intellectual thought but also with a charismatic and virtuosic way of imparting both those talents. HJ Lim is one these artists and it will be a pleasure for EMI to travel her musical journeys with her.”


Maggie O’Herlihy, HJ’s manager at HarrisonParrott adds, “I am delighted HJ Lim has made EMI Classics her recording home. The range of projects she will tackle over the coming years with the support and vision of the EMI team will give this extraordinary artist the ideal platform on which to reach her ever growing number of followers worldwide.”


For her first recording, HJ has taken on one of the most monumental challenges in classical music, the complete Beethoven piano sonatas. Recorded on Yamaha’s Flagship CFX concert grand piano in July and August 2011, Lim has grouped the sonatas into eight themes including The Eternal Feminine, Assertion of an Inflexible Personality, Resignation and Action, Extremes in Collision and Destiny. She first performed the complete cycle over eight days in Paris during August 2010. Of the Beethoven Sonatas, Lim writes:

“A theoretical analysis of Beethoven’s sonatas has been done many times; my own emphasizes rather the emotional, human, spiritual and psychological. This is why I view these sonatas by Beethoven as the most intense diary, in which genius expresses, or even illustrates, all the facets of a life that is sometimes sublimated, and idealized, and often deeply moving by its realism.”