Last week’s US top-selling classical album was the cellist Zuill Bailey’s release of Britten’s cello symphony.That fact is so striking on so many counts that we decided to do due diligence.

After all, Britten is not a best-seller even in England and Bailey is not his foremost interpreter by any length of chalk. However, 544 records sold in a week say he must be doing something right. And it is well known in the trade that Zuill Bailey carries stock and sells it after concerts.

Here’s the data our analysts came up with.


Volcano Concert


Over the last three weeks Zuill Bailey  sold 1,226 units in El Paso , TX out of 1,553 total units.


457 last week

449 week before

320 two weeks before


El Paso doesn’t rank in the top 100 outlets for classical on Soundscan.


Nobody else has that kind of success there.

Zuill Bailey is  Artistic Director of El Paso Pro-Musica (Texas). QED.We can prove that he sells more records than the music directors of the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra combined.

It’s Armenia.

A new pension law would leave artists much poorer, so theyve refused to rehearse or perform this week.

Tonight’s performance of the opera “Anoush” by A. Tigranian was cancelled with the audience already in the house.


armenia national opera strike


repin putin

You will have seen by now now the obligatory shots of Valery Gergiev and Denis Matsuev posing with the Great Leader and Teacher.

Less expected is this obsequious genuflection from the violinist Vadim Repin and his wife, the Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Zakharova (pictured).

Is is once again obligatory for Russian artists to pay homage to the Tsar?

gergiev putin


The European Parliament has voted to oblige airlines to allow musicians to carry small instruments on board and larger ones in the hold. The proposal has to be approved by the European Council before it acquires force of law, and I cannot see budget airlines like Ryanair allowing it to happen without hidden penalties. Or stop bucket shops like the Iberia subsidiary from forcing the Voce quartet (below) to remove instruments from their cases.

quatuor voce


However, it’s another small step in the right direction. The new law would require that ‘air carriers must accept smaller instruments into the passenger cabin and must clearly indicate the terms and conditions for the transport of larger instruments in the cargo hold.’


The Wigmore Hall’s Endowment Fund hit its target of £1 million today, which triggered a matching grant, a Catalyst Award, from Arts Council England.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of all those who contributed to our Endowment Fund Appeal,” commented Wigmore Hall’s Director, John Gilhooly. “Their gifts have enabled us to reach this pivotal moment in the Hall’s fundraising history. With more than £2 million already raised, the Wigmore Hall Endowment Fund is set for the long term… We hope to raise £7 million by 2020, an ambitious target but one to which we must aspire. With the additional income the Endowment Fund will provide, we can ensure that the Hall’s programme remains exciting and dynamic, always innovative and appealing to a wide audience.”

Wigmore Hall



Could she top the big top back on the opera stage?

Our opera ingenue Elizabeth Frayer went to see  Renée Fleming  moon-singing at the Met.

Read here.


And it’s not Andre Rieu or anything like him.

The London-based fusion group Clean Bandit is top of the UK singles chart for the third week with ‘Rather Be’. The song has almost 7 million youtube hits and strings are prominent in its sound mix.

The group – Jack and Luke Patterson, Grace Chatto and Milan Neil Amin-Smith – met as students at Cambridge, where Chatto was leading a string quartet. They took the name from a Russian phrase, meaning ‘complete bastard.

Listen. They’re good.

clean bandit

The Boston Symphony has announced an upcoming tour of China, its first since the ice-breaker visit of 1979.

Who’s conducting?

Who do you think? For some reason Lorin Maazel is the #1 choice of US orchs and Chinese promoters. We’ve noted his China popularity before but it does seem odd that Boston, which has a proud China link but no Maazel history, should choose him above all available maestros.

maazel masterclass

The Real is putting its big talking point opera online via Medici for three months. For free, apparently. But you have to register. Click here.


Violette Jacquet-Silberstein, a teenaged Auschwitz inmate who played in Alma Rose’s women’s orchestra and was later force-marched to Bergen-Belsen, has died, aged 88, in France.

She was just 14 when her family was put on a train from France to the killing centre. Her parents were immediately exterminated. Violette was saved by her ability to play an instrument.

Repatriated after the war, she bore witness to the evils of her time.

Violette Jacquet-Silberstein

Daniel Barenboim led a gala tribute this weekend for Hans Pischner, intendant of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in former East Berlin from 1963 to 1984. The centenarian was greeted by several former leaders of East Germany, where he was a trusted servant of the regime and president of its arts academy.

But he had enough independence at the opera to engage an Austrian music director, promote  Peter Schreier , Theo Adam , Anna Tomowa-Sintow as international stars and educate an influential generation of new directors.

A prisoner of war in Russia, he started out as a harpsichordist, accompanying David Oistrakh among others. His Bach recordings have been reissued as a 10-CD set.

Barenboim greeted him with a Schubert piano piece.


A weekend performance of Wayne McGregor’s ‘Tetractys — The Art of Fugue’ was cancelled at Covent Garden after the Royal Ballet’s new Bolshoi recruit Natalia Osipova sustained mild concussion during the Saturday matinee.

The RB posted this statement:

We are sorry to announce that tonight’s performance of Tetractys – The Art of Fugue will not go ahead, due to an injury sustained by Natalia Osipova during the matinee. Thiago Soares is also unwell.

It is clearly an unusual step to cancel a performance, but the complex nature of Tetractys – The Art of Fugue has made it impossible to rehearse a second cast in the time available.

We are hopeful that the cast will have recovered in time for the next performance of the mixed programme on Tuesday 11 February.

Rhapsody and Gloria will both go ahead tonight, but patrons will either have the option of leaving and requesting a full refund, or of staying for the two ballets and receiving a third of their money back.

We would like to apologize again for the inconvenience and disappointment caused.”

American Ballet Theatre

Photo: Rosalie O’Connor