It’s a new award, and it went today to saxophonist Alexander Bone of Darlington. ‘Life is very surreal at the moment, and I really can’t thank everyone enough!’ he writes.  Report here.


alexander bone

The main competition is reaching its climax. The semi-final will take place on 9 March 2014 at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff.  BBC Young Musician Final will take place on 18 May 2014 at Usher Hall, Edinburgh. It will be broadcast on BBC Four and Radio 3.

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During the final performance of Ariadne auf Naxos, August 31, 2001.

photo (c) Marion Kalter/Lebrecht Music&Arts

A Slipped Disc reader tells us:

A friend attending Friday night’s Los Angeles Philharmonic texted me to report that he “went to the fights and a symphony broke out.”  Apparently a backstage altercation during the Corligiano Symphony No. 1 became so loud that Gustavo Dudamel stopped the orchestra for several minutes until order was restored, then he started over.


We’ve received this clarification from a member of LAPO administration:
An intoxicated patron arrived after the start of the concert and was unhappy with the seating hold. He pushed past (and tried to strike) our ushers, past the sound hold through to the corridor behind the organ, just outside one of the audience entry doors to the orchestra view seating area. Our ushers blocked the door and he became very vocal, shouting and swearing at them. At this point you could hear raised voices inside the hall. It became increasingly distracting and at one point, the man tried to open the door. Gustavo stopped the concert and then left the stage. The ushers managed to move the patron away from the auditorium to the main foyer and he then left the premises. This all took place about eight minutes into the Corigliano that we were performing. It was over very quickly and Gustavo restarted the concert almost immediately.
These things happen in the best organised concert halls.

One of the most politically compromised wings of the United Nations has appointed a brilliant pianist – who happens to be a close associate of Vladimir Putin’s – as its goodwill ambassador. Denis Matsuev (left) is a wonderful artist. We wonder what he’s doing with discredited Unesco.

Press release here.

matsuev gergiev

Not every novice who steps into a concert hall feels as alien as our recent student visitor who couldn’t get a date.

One of the writers on The Anfield Wrap, an award-winning magazine that covers Liverpool Football Club, decided it was about time he checked out the other game in town – the Philharmonic. And what do you know? He absolutely  nailed it: And so know this: this music is neither dead nor dying. It’s being played with startling aggression and pride in most cities in the country, most cities in the world.

Here’s Neil Atkinson’s report. He really knows the score.




Ilyich Rivas, 20, has just made a bit of a splash as the London Philharmonic’s youngest conductor in living memory (the LPO never were the most daring of London orchestras). Taught by his father, former conductor in Denver, Colorado, and mentored by Vladimir Jurowski, Ilyich made his official LPO debut on Friday night. Any good? Jessica Duchen thinks so.

Ilyich Rivas2



My three-part Radio 3 series on how music shaped the Jews, how the Jews shaped music, goes live from 1845 London time tonight.

It contains sounds and ideas never aired before, including what we believe to be the oldest known melody associated with Jews.

Here’s the official BBC microsite. The twitter handle is #musicandthejews

And here’s a fuller outline in the JC.

leonard cohen israel

Lieven Bertels, director of the Sydney Festival, is one of countless artists and administrators who looked to Gerard Mortier, who died today for guidance, contacts and – above all – example. Lieven writes this tribute for Slipped Disc:

gerard mortier betty freeman

Vale Gerard Mortier (1943-2014)

Like so many others, as a student I adored his programming at our national opera La Monnaie/De Munt. I fondly remember the many Ursel und Karl-Ernst Herrmann productions, especially the magical Zauberflöte…

As a radio producer I was fascinated by his pan-European understanding of our history and cultural potential. Hie was omnipresent in the story of the birth of our beautiful Bruges Concertgebouw and he energetically supported our programming there.

The image I will remember of Gerard is that of the eternal promoter, the man who never ceases to believe in the beauty and the deeper values of performing arts, but is not afraid of rolling up his sleeves. On a dark winter evening he had attended a concert at our Concertgebouw in Bruges, driving from Duisburg. We held a small drinks function backstage for the conductor and soloist, from which, to my disappointment, he seemed to have disappeared… only to return 45 minutes later, all sweaty and out of breath because he had suddenly remembered he had two heavy boxes of freshly printed Ruhrtriennale brochures in the boot of his car which was of course parked right at the other side of town. Such was his dedication that he fetched them regardless, and singlehandedly gave each and every one of our guests his beautiful brochure.

From Brussels via the Salzburg Festival, the Ruhr Triennale and the Paris Opera to Teatro Real, his career is an example to us all.


gerard mortier betty freeman


Gerard Mortier, who died early today of cancer, was the most divisive, infuriating yet engaging personality in the opera world.



Depending on your viewpoint he was either (a) a wrecker of traditional values who imposed nonsensical interpretations on hallowed works, or (b) a brilliant innovator who saw the need to make the art he loved relevant for a video-driven era. Either way, he left no-one cold.

A baker’s son from Ghent, Gerard qualified as a lawyer and came to attention with a blistering denunciation of the opera in his home town in 1970. He went on to hold artistic posts at the opera houses of Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Frankfurt, before assisting in the relaunch of the Paris Opéra at the Bastille. He then returned home in 1980 as head of Belgium’s leading opera company, which he turned into a modernist laboratory. By now, he knew everyone worth knowing in the opera world. He never ceased networking, however, especially on behalf of young directors to whom he was the most considerate of mentors.

After a decade running La Monnaie in Brussels, he rode into Salzburg in 1991 as its post-Karajan saviour, flourishing a host of modern productions and infuriating almost everyone he met, including his closest allies. His co-director, Hans Landesmann, assured me that he could never trust Gerard’s word. Be that as it may, Gerard was always true to his own values and ferociously hostile to those who resisted him. He made enemies on a daily basis, and seemed proud of it.

But he was also charming, witty, attentive to his friends and occasionally brilliant – even at his most wrong-headed. The heart always rose when Gerard came on the phone. Whatever he might have to say, it would not be dull.

After Salzburg in 2001 (one newspaper greeted his departure with a mock-obituary), he went on to found the Ruhr triennale festival in Germany before being named director of the Opéra in Paris. Barely had he accepted this job than he agreed to head City Opera in New York. For a dazzling moment, it seemed the almighty Met was about to get a competitor. But Gerard withdrew within months, decrying lack of funds, and City Opera eventually collapsed.

After Paris, he moved in 2010 to the Teatro Real in Madrid. His valedication there – Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain – brought more operatic lustre to Spain than anyone could remember. It also vindicated all that Gerard had stood for – contemporary art, daring themes, cultural and sexual diversity, restless quest.

He drove opera into the 21st century, wherever that may lead.

May he rest in peace.





Dutch and Belgian media report the death early today of Gerard Mortier, one of the most flamboyant, contentious and original opera personalities of modern times. Gerard was 70. He had been stricken with pancreatic cancer this past year.

The shock is great. We mourn his passing.

For a first appreciation of a ‘brilliant, infuriating’ man, click here.

A protégé remembers Gerard here.


gerard mortier

Here’s Gerard himself, talking about his last creation, Brokeback Mountain:

And here’s a summary of his last interview.

A statement from Salzburg festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler:  “Gerard Mortier was a steadfast follower of the philosophy of Giuseppe di Lampedusa, who wrote in his novel Il Gattopardo: ‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change’.”