The Queen has awarded an honorary CBE to Gennady Rozhdestvensky, 82, doyen of Russian music, in recognition of his services to the art and to international relations. Gennady was the first Soviet-era conductor to be made music director of western orchestras, among them the BBCSO.

But he never let himself be a tool of the regime and courageously performed such non-conformist voices as Alfred Schnittke, in defiance of the apparat. His best work was done in Russia, but his spells abroad made him many friends and won wider recognition for Russian music.

The award was presented in Moscow by HRH Princess Anne.


A petition is going to be sent to the German government to prevent the site of the Weimar house where Bach composed some of the Brandenburg concertos from being wasted. You can read and sign it here (in English).


The foundations of his home and the original Renaissance vaulted cellar have been preserved underground and placed under heritage protection – but are yet still inaccessible. This is the only at least partially existing and, among all the Bach cities, the only location proven by records to have been a place where Johann Sebastian Bach composed and lived that has survived to the present day. bach's house

The press release is excessively puffy, but this may be a first. Has any Aussie before Nick ever been a GMD in Germany?


Australian Conductor Nicholas Milton appointed General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the State Theatre of Saarland, Germany

(Saarländisches Staatstheater), commencing with the 2014/15 season.

General Manager Dagmar Schlingmann engages a highly charismatic conductor with an outstanding international reputation after an extensive, rigorous international search process.

General Manager Dagmar Schlingmann has succeeded in engaging Nicholas Milton to be the new music director of the Saarland State Theatre. The Australian conductor will lead the Saarland State Orchestra from the summer of 2014. Nicholas Milton has established an outstanding international reputation for his charismatic stage presence and thrilling interpretations of an extensive repertoire spanning both concert and opera. Renowned for his dynamic conducting style, energy, and compelling musical integrity, the immediacy of Milton’s rapport with musicians continues to captivate orchestras and audiences alike.

“This is an exhilarating house with a proud and distinguished tradition, and one that I feel immensely proud to join as General Music Director and Chief Conductor (Generalmusikdirektor). In addition to its world-class orchestra, the singer ensemble is exquisite – and I am extremely excited at the prospect of the dazzling operatic and concert presentations that lie before us in the years ahead”, said Nicholas Milton on his position in Saarbrücken.

Saarland’s Culture Minister, Ulrich Commerçon welcomed the decision in favour of Milton. “The State Theatre of Saarland underwent a rigorous and comprehensive international search process. At the conclusion, it was absolutely convincing that Milton was the clear favourite from the more than 100 finalists for the position. He was selected as the preferred candidate with the overwhelming support of the musicians and singers, and the appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Board. I am delighted that we have been successful in engaging such a highly respected and experienced conductor to be the artistic director of the State Orchestra. With this appointment, the artistic direction team of Dagmar Schlingmann for the next years is now complete.”

“Nicholas Milton is an extremely passionate artist, who lives and breathes music. All of us were instantly impressed by his energy”, said General Manager Dagmar Schlingmann “Along with all of the experience he has gained as General Music Director in Jena, as Chief Conductor in Canberra, and as a guest conductor at major German theatres, he is also incredibly open, communicative and involved. He will profoundly shape the theatre and intends to work intensely on the profile of our concert activity, and that strongly appeals to me”, added Dagmar Schlingmann.

After pleasant and speedy negotiations, a contract for four years until 2018 was agreed upon, reported the Business and Commercial Director Dr. Matthias Almstedt. Preparation and planning for the new season commences immediately, even though Milton’s next commitments lie with guest engagements in Switzerland, Australia and, from March, a series of performances at the Komische Opera in Berlin. Opera Director Brigitte Heusinger added: “Already the collaboration with Nicholas Milton is extremely inspiring and imbued with confidence and trust, so that we have made extraordinary progress in our planning within a matter of a few days.”

Nicholas Milton eagerly awaits his future activities at the State Theatre:

“The State Orchestra of Saarland is an extraordinary and brilliant orchestra – clearly a cultural jewel in this charming and lovely city. I have heard the orchestra in a wide variety of repertoire and have been delighted to enjoy their wonderful stylistic differentiations across the broadest range of musical styles. Our recent work together was absolutely magical and inspiring for me as an artist and as a conductor. The orchestra’s flexibility, range of colour, energy, and inspiration were miraculous. Between orchestra, conductor, singers and chorus, we all felt an immediate and profound musical and spiritual connection and I was amazed and delighted by the astounding artistic integrity I experienced across every level of those performances by each and every person involved in the complicated and wondrous organism that is a thriving opera house, from the lead singers to the hard-working team back stage” said Nicholas Milton.

The pianist Gabriela Montero goes public today on the disconnect between art in Venezuela and oppression. Raised in Venezuela before she moved as a child to the US, here is Gabriela’s powerful appeal.

UPDATE: When you have finished reading, here is Gustavo’s reply.

gabriela montero colours

I think the time has come for me as an ARTIST, VENEZUELAN, WOMAN AND MOTHER to write a letter to Jose Antonio Abreu and Gustavo Dudamel. I had not done it before out of affection and respect for Gustavo.

But I cannot remain silent any longer. Yesterday, while tens of thousands of peaceful protesters marched all over Venezuela to express their frustration, pain and desperation at the total civic,moral, physical, economic and human break down of Venezuela, and while the government armed militias, National Guard AND police attacked, killed, injured, imprisoned and disappeared many innocent victims, Gustavo and Christian Vazquez led the orchestra in a concert celebrating Youth Day and the 39 years of the birth of EL Sistema. They played a CONCERT while their people were being massacred.

I often use the analogy of the Titanic. The performing quartet sank with it while they continued to play their music. The music didn’t help. The music didn’t save them. Venezuela is sinking and El Sistema will sink with it. We have moved past the point of no return. Music, ambition and fame are worthless next to human suffering. They mean nothing when you are abused, injured and killed..

No more excuses. No more “Artists are above and beyond everything”.

No more ” We do it for the kids”. The 200.000 people who have been murdered in the last 15 years due to rampant violence and the opprobrious actions and language of the government, matter more than any instrument, any ideology, any profession, any amount of money, and any personal satisfaction or gain. Those same children are growing up in a country that is no longer a safe haven for them, and it is the responsibility of the leaders to shine light on the truth of the REAL situation in my country.

I love the musicians in El Sistema. Many of them are my friends and this has nothing to do with taking anything away from THEM, but the LEADERS have a moral duty to SPEAK UP and risk whatever is necessary in order to stand up against this dictatorship that we are now suppressed by.

Venezuela is on fire and it will continue to burn until the Cubans, the government and its beneficiaries give up power. I would ask you to read the news, but there is nothing in the news. The grip of the government is such that the world remains silent, blind and deaf to us..

LA lawyer E. Randol Schoenberg has waged art restitution cases against Austrian institutions and is president of the LA Holocaust Centre. But sometimes Vienna makes good. Here’s his post:

Ich bin Österreicher.

Today I was awarded Austrian citizenship. Last year Austria passed a new citizenship law (Section 64a Abs. 18 StbG) that allows children born between September 1, 1964 and August 31, 1983 to an Austrian mother to apply for citizenship. The deadline for application is April 30, 2014. Several years ago, my mother, who was born in New York in 1940 to parents who had fled from Austria, convinced the authorities that they should award her Austrian citizenship retroactively. I am not sure this was a normal application of the law, or if they made some exception for her. In any case, this meant that technically my mother was an Austrian citizen when I was born. Unfortunately for me, at the time of my birth, Austrian law did not allow a child to inherit citizenship from your mother.

As an aside, my father’s parents, also Viennese, had Czechoslovakian citizenship when they fled from Germany in 1933. Although my grandfather Arnold Schoenberg was born in Vienna in 1874, he was not able to obtain Austrian citizenship after World War I because of discriminatory anti-Semitic laws that prohibited “Eastern” Jews (from Hungary, Slovakia, Galicia, etc) from obtaining Austrian citizenship. Arnold had inherited from his father the status “zustaendig nach Pressburg” (meaning he had official residence rights only in Pressburg/Bratislava), so he automatically became a citizen of Czechoslovakia after WWI. More recent restitution laws have corrected this injustice, but not posthumously, so my father is not entitled to Austrian citizenship. So I had to rely on my mother’s status.

In any case, I applied under the new law, which was a bit cumbersome (FBI fingerprint reports, apostilled birth and marriage certificates, a biometric passport photo), and just today received my certificate awarding me retroactive Austrian citizenship. The good news is that I can now pass citizenship on to my children. The ones under 14 require only an application, while the older one first needs to pass a basic German test and a quiz on Austrian history. But once they are citizens, they can study and live anywhere in Europe. I figure that this might come in handy for them someday.

If anyone else is in the same boat, I urge you to contact your nearest Austrian consulate and get your application in before the April 30 deadline.

randol schoenberg


Thrilled to hear that David Lan, head of the Young Vic, has been appointed advisor to the embryonic arts centre that is supposed to rise on the site of the 9/11 attacks.

The New York Times, which breaks the appointment, fails to share much of David’s track record at the Vic. Downwind from the snazzy Old Vic, he has been pushing a modernist agenda for more than a decade, bringing back Becket, staging a Birtiwstle opera, premiering unknown playwrights and giving the late Patrice Chereau his only production in Britain.

Clearly, New York Times readers don’t know what they’ve got but, by chance or design, they’ve got a good’un.

david lan



No sooner does Barack Obama name Jane Chu as head of the National Endowment for the Arts than one of her Clinton-era predecessors, the actress Jane Alexander, loses her job and her life in the TV series, The Blacklist,’ starring James Spader. She  played the head of a secret CIA organization who is shot by Spader, a Hannibal Lechter character working for the US government.

Jane One, as she must now be known, was a damned good head of NEA. ‘ We all liked her and wish she had stayed longer,’ says one former DC arts chief.

jane alexander

We hear that Cologne is about to announce a new general music director of opera and the Gürzenich orchestra.  The new broom is Francois-Xavier Roth, the Frenchman who has been fighting for the past two years to block the merger of his SWR Freiburg orchestra with Stuttgart’s.

Francois will take over in Cologne in September 2015 but (we hear) is sticking with Freiburg for one year beyond that in a bid to ensure its survival. The long campaign – involving such luminaries as Pierre Boulez and Michael Gielen – is starting to pay off and the SWR bosses are showing stress fractures.

Congratulations to Cologne’s progressive management for picking such a combative conductor and to Francois for sticking with the SWR fight.

francois-xavier roth

This is a cool appopintment. After the abortive tenure of Broadway producer Rocco Landesman, who baled out a year early, the new candidate to head the National Endowment for the Arts is Dr Jane Chu, president and CEO of the outstandingly bold and successful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. She has degrees in piano playing and music education. A positive choice.

kauffmann center kansas

This one can’t even spell ‘Juilliard’. But it won’t stop gullible parents believing the random rankings, or the schools themselves boasting of their ranking.

This one (click) includes Trinity-Laban and the Paris Conservatoire, for heaven’s sake… See also here.

royal academy of music

If it weren’t for the Christian market, there might be no classical record business worth praying for. Publicity whoops follow.


decca's nuns


The Benedictines of Mary Soar to New Heights with New Recording Lent At EphesusReleased February 11th On Decca/De Montfort Music

Album Dominates Multiple Amazon and iTunes Charts First Day Of Release Following Feature Story on NPR’s Morning Edition 


#1 iTunes Classical Chart

#20 iTunes Overall Music Chart

#1 Amazon Classical Chart

#3 Amazon Overall Music Chart

#1 Amazon Christian Chart

#2 Amazon Movers & Shakers Chart

February 12, 2014 – (New York, NY) — Benedictines of Mary have once again captured the hearts of the masses with their contemplative and pure music on their new recording, Lent at Ephesus, released yesterday on DeMontfort Music/Decca. Lent At Ephesus features poignant chants, intricate harmonies and rousing hymns of glory and redemption, encapsulating the reflective season of Lent. The reclusive group of Sisters offered NPR’s Morning Edition a rare glimpse into their music making process, for an endearing story that aired February 11th, documenting their “Monastic Life At The Top Of The Charts.”

Our well-informed source at the troubled English music school reports that a staff member has been suspended amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with a female pupil.

It is believed this is the second time an investigation has been called into this staff member. On the last occasion he was cleared by the former Head, Peter Crook.

Attempts have been made to hush up the latest incident. Nothing has been announced to the school community.

According to our informant, more than a dozen pupils have left the school in recent months. We have been unable to obtain independent verification of this report. The school faces a public hearing in May over the victimisation of a former teacher, Ian Macmillan, and the unfair dismissal of his partner, the former director of music, Quentin Poole.