While public attention is drawn to SWR’s attempt to abolish one of the broadcast orchestra, a former head of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra calls for a national dialogue on the workings of public orchestras.

Read here (auf Deutsch).

andreas richter

A reader has asked us to post the following appeal:


The tragic story of Frances Andrade and the revelations over the past year of sexual abuse at some of our most prestigious schools of music have stirred up painful memories for me dating from forty years ago.


frances andrade



In the 1970s, I studied piano at the Watford School of Music  and was sexually abused over a four-year period by one of the teachers there. The abuse ended when my parents received a letter in the middle of term, stating that the man was no longer able to teach at Watford School of Music and I was then taught by someone else.

However, my abuser continued to teach at the Royal College of Music until 1995 when, I have since learned, he was convicted of a sexual offence. He died in 2004 and his obituary appeared in several daily newspapers.

The experience affected me deeply and stunted my emotional and sexual development. I became withdrawn, anxious and angry. For many years I was unable to form healthy, intimate relationships and bouts of deep depression have been a regular feature of my life.

As a result of intensive psychotherapy, I have been able to appreciate for the first time the seriousness of the damage I suffered but also to realise that I was not, as I used to think, to blame for what happened to me all those years ago. I know I am not my abuser’s only victim and if one of you is reading this, or if any of what I have written resonates with your own experience or knowledge of sexual abuse at either the Watford School of Music or the Royal College of Music in the period before 1995 it would be good to hear from you.

I thank Norman Lebrecht for allowing me to tell my story on his blog. I do so not merely as an attempt to reach some closure on this painful episode, but hopefully to encourage other victims to tell their stories too.





Elizabeth Lewis Celeste was on track to make an international opera career when a series of strokes set her back. Looking around, she saw how tough it was for young singers to get into major companies. So she opened a starter company in Vancouver. Here’s her story:



Opera di Concertisti e Meraviglie is an independent opera company, artist run, producing opera in concert, and partially staged productions.
Elizabeth Lewis Celeste founded the company on Aug 29th, 2012, after noticing how little paid work was available to recent graduates, in fact most opportunities require singers to pay-to-perform.
The company focuses on giving singers a chance to perform a role for the first time in a supportive low-stress environment. All of the singers come from top music schools across the US and Canada, including McGill University, UBC, and Indiana University. Some are emerging and are recent graduates and others are returning, like myself, after a period of spending time away from music Many have performed with large companies such as the Vancouver Opera, and Pacific Opera Victoria, and with local companies such as Burnaby Lyric, and City Opera Vancouver, as well as orchestras across North America and Europe.
opera vancouver
Elizabeth, a student of Metropolitan Opera Star, Bill Neill and Indiana University’s Costanza Cuccaro had the typical young singer’s start, winning her regional competitions (NATS, CMC, awarded “Most Promising Young Singer” at the Eastern Washington MET Auditions, being selected for prestigious programs such as the Sutherland Masterclasses at Britten-Pears, and singing with orchestras across North America and the UK) before running into some serious health complications. “In 2005, I was told I would never work again and for several years I didn’t”. Though the reason at the time was still unknown, the doctors later found it to be a result of a double whammy of  small recurring strokes – TIA, caused by a hereditary heart condition, and diabetes, not the disease of choice for a young woman with a life long phobia of needles.
After working closely with her doctor, she went back to school for a year to refresh, before creating Opera di Concertisti. “Having been on a disability income, I knew first hand what it is like to not be able to attend events, or afford some of the necessary training programs that create contacts for classical musicians, which is the main reason I decided to structure my company the way I did”.
It has been a long path back to working again as a musician, and certainly it gives one a very different perspective on music. In 2013, Elizabeth was a Semi-Finalist at the New York Oratorio Competition, and now teaches part-time at Columbia College in Vancouver, in addition to running Opera di Concertisti. She recently sang as a soloist with the Handel Society in a pairing of Micheal Haydn’s Requiem in C minor, and J. Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.
In its first year Opera di Concertisti produced 7 shows; three operas in concert: Rigoletto, La Traviata, La Fille du Regiment, two concerts of opera excerpts, and two seasonal shows including a performance of the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes for Valentine’s Day. The company employed 13 singers, and two pianists.
For MOSTLY MOZART, a selection of excerpts from some of the great Mozart Opera, we are offering a Cinderella Ticket Program to people who can’t usually afford to attend arts events. To qualify need proof of either income assistance or govn’t disability assistance. We are kicking off this program by offering 100 Cinderella Tickets for free!For tickets call 1-800-838-3006 for Mostly Mozart Opera (Opera di Concertisti) 25/18 snacks and pop provided at intermissionEvent links:


Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has seized powers to rule by decree for the next 12 months. The Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero today published the first open protest at the destruction of her country’s flimsy democracy. It’s the country’s National Anthem,in C minor.


This is how.

h/t: David Hutchings

Ed Milliband’s choice of Desert Island Discs – assuming it was his own and not some psephological committee’s – is shocking not for its bad taste but for its numbing banality. Every single song the Labour leader is a piece of public furniture, familiar to passing dogs on Comfort FM. Not one reveals an original mind, let alone a quirk.

There is nothing wrong with Ed’s songs in musical terms. But they seem to have been chosen not for any musical reason so much as for what they might represent in political terms – freedom, equality, struggle, strength of purpose – and what they might achieve among the electorate.

From that perspective, Ed is pitching for middle-class, multicultural, thirty-something voters who go to France and Florida for their summer hols. How vapid is that? How utterly dull.

ed milliband

Ed’s discs:

– Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

– Hubert Parry – Jerusalem (lone classical pick)

– Paul Robeson – Ballad of Joe Hill

– A-ha – Take On Me

– Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline

– Robbie Williams – Angels

– Josh Ritter – Change of Time

– Edith Piaf – Je Ne Regrette Rien

They’ve solved the missing tenor problem in Berlin’s sold-out Trovatore. The new Manrico singing opposite Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo (baritone) will be Gaston Rivero, a Uruguayan-American working mostly on the German circuit.


gaston rivero

In other news German tabloids are reporting that Netrebko is single again.


Bernard Parmegiani, who has died aged 85, was a groundbreaking electronic composer in France. Among other achievements, he wrote the earworm that was played to passengers in the Paris international airport from 1971 to 2005.

Steven Spielberg and John Williams were there to see Fox rename a site on its lot after a major film composer. The Lionel Newman Music Building honours the Oscar-winning composer of the Hello Dolly score, not to mention M*A*S*H and more. Read here.

spielberg williams