When a chorus singer had to give up her place ENO due to advancing multiple sclerosis, her colleague David Campbell could not stand still. He’s running the London Marathon to raise money for an MS centre.


david campbell


David explains he’s doing it ‘in aid of my colleague and friend Jenny Wilson-Best and the charity Revive MS Support which does so much to help and support her and many others living with Multiple Sclerosis. Jenny has been a regular member of ENO’s extra chorus for a many years and has inspired all of us with the way she has battled her illness while continuing to sing and perform opera for many of the leading companies. In 2011 she reluctantly decided to stop travelling from her home in Glasgow to London and instead concentrate on working for Scottish Opera, since then we at ENO have very much missed her wonderful artistry, her ready smile and rather mischievous sense of humour. A few weeks ago I travelled to Glasgow to visit Jenny and had a chance to look around Revive MS Support. The range of therapies and treatments they provide is hugely impressive, but what struck me even more was the friendly and very caring atmosphere that the staff provide. Jenny told me that she particularly appreciates having the opportunity to drop in and to simply talk with others living with MS – as well as their carers – and the chance, over a cup of tea, to swap experiences and provide mutual support to one another.’

To support David’s run you can donate online or text: DCJB – the amount – to 70070.

Previously on Slipped Disc: This record label chief is running for your life.

Or send texts? Or go on Facebook?

A colleague reports seeing players in the New York Philharmonic doing just that this morning.

Valery Gergiev has been known to read his phone screen while rehearsing the LSO.

Some players found that disrespectful – to them, and to the music.

Others feel it’s no different to using a smartphone in any other kind of work meeting.

So should all phones be surrendered at the stage door?

Your views, please…


new york philharmonic


The violinist, who requires wheelchair assistance, says he was abandoned by staff at Pearson airport and forced to carry his own baggage on crutches for a considerable distance. Oh, Canada…

Read more here. Video interview here.


We have been informed of the death last week of Ann Howard, a mezzo-soprano who performed and recorded in many important productions with English National Opera and other leading UK companies. She sang 250 Carmens and was a memorable Fricka.

Ann, who died on March 26th at her home in Surbiton, near London, was 79 years old.


ann howard

In the past few weeks we’ve heard the head of London’s South Bank announce that women are suffering discrimination in orchestras, a London college founding a special programme for women conductors and various antediluvian men protesting that women can’t conduct.

So along comes Nicola Benedetti with a refreshing dose of common sense and a ticking off for the dinosaurs.

She tells Radio Times:

‘Sixty years ago the world’s top violinists were overwhelmingly male.

‘Today, we have Julia Fischer, Janine Jansen, Lisa Batiashvili, Vilde Frang, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Alina Ibragimova … in fact, I could possibly list more top female violinists than males.

It really pisses me off when people attribute their rise to the ‘sex sells classical music’ thing.’

She adds: ‘Sexism is a worldwide problem but I think that classical music can be prouder of its integrity than many industries.’

Go, Nicky!

UPDATE: Here’s a manufactured response in old media by ‘a professor of marketing’ which cites Nigel Kennedy as a sex object.

nicola benedetti elgar

John O’Kane, once of the Royal Liverpool Phil, is the new head of Ireland’s music ensembles:

john o'kane




31 March 2014: Following a public competition, John O’Kane has been announced as the new Executive Director of RTÉ Orchestras, Quartet and Choirs.

Taking over from Aodan Ó Dubhghaill, Head of RTÉ lyric fm, who oversaw the role on a temporary basis, Mr O’Kane will head up RTÉ’s two orchestras – the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra – as well as, RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and RTÉ Cor na nÓg, and the newly announced RTÉ Contempo Quartet.

Says Jim Jennings, Managing Director of RTÉ Radio and RTÉ Orchestras: “John O’Kane comes to this key role with an outstanding record as a musician and within arts management. This appointment represents a return to working directly in the realm of producing and presenting high-quality music performances and John comes to RTÉ at a time of challenge and opportunity for our musical groups and choirs. The orchestras offered more live performances in 2013 than in 2012, despite pressure on funding and resources, and this output is testament to the energy and commitment from musicians and staff. I’m confident John will match this energy and I look forward to inspiring and adventurous programmes in the seasons to come.”

Born and educated in Belfast, John O’Kane studied music initially at Queen’s University and later at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. He worked for 13 years as a professional cellist, including a period as Associate Principal Cello with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and a spell with the Ulster Orchestra. With an interest in contemporary music, he formed and directed the specialist ensemble Sequenza in Belfast. Following a period working as a freelance cellist in Dublin with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Irish Chamber Orchestra, he returned to full time education to undertake an MBA at UCD and this led to his appointment in a number of roles within arts management. In 1998 he became CEO of Music Network and, in addition to artistic programming duties, undertook a number of key developmental initiatives including the Vogler Quartet in Sligo residency and authorship of what proved to be an influential feasibility study that first proposed the formation of a national system of publicly funded local music education services. He joined the Arts Council in 2003 and, as a member of the senior management team, led on significant developments to the council’s grant programmes and managed a number of high profile policy initiatives including the development of a new approach to regional Touring. Since 2007, he has been responsible for the council’s support for key performing arts areas including music, opera, theatre and dance and, since 2012, this role expanded to include the Council’s support for regional arts venues and festivals.

The Finnish conductor has responded coolly to a statement by her professor, Jorma Panula, that women were biologically disabled from becoming great conductors. His comments, reported by Slipped Disc, have aroused a conflagration across Finnish media. Ms Mälkki told the Helsingin Sanomat: ‘A few years ago, Jorma had a different opinion. I feel lucky that I got to study under his direction at the time.’

The conductor Anna-Maria Helsing, another Panula student, said: ‘This is difficult to take seriously. Surely in this profession one cannot talk about biology in the same way as some others.’



The centenary of Andrzej Panufnik, a Polish fugitive who settled in England in the mid-1950s, is driving a reassessment of his diverse, original and ever-restless music. One of the most revealing recordings so far is of the concerto he wrote for Milwaukee’s Bob Thompson (pictured) and an instrument that is seldom treated as seriously as its players think it deserves.

The timing, however, dictated the mood. While composing the concerto in 1983, Panufnik heard of the state murder in Poland of a Solidarity priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko. Against this backdrop, he created a work ‘in which the morose bassoon is a lone voice of sanity in a bleak landscape…’ Click here to read my album of the week on sinfinimus.com.


No boys were harmed in the making of this video…

Research at Michigan University suggests that the circadian rhythms that govern our sleep and waking patters are more complex than previously assumed. It had been thought that eight neurons controlled our body clocks. Now it seems the process is more chaotic.

‘The finding shows that instead of the entire orchestra following a single conductor, part of the orchestra is following a different conductor or not listening at all,’ says Orie Shafer, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

Now where have we heard that before?

boy conductor

Aside from his conducting studies in Vienna with Hans Swarowsky (who taught Abbado, Mehta and many more), Ed Forner also spent time with Nadia Boulanger, Igor Markevitch and Pierre Monteux – quite a roster of influences.

He worked at the Stadttheater, in Rendsburg, Germany, and with the orchestras of Netherlands Radio and Radio Madrid and Monte Carlo. In 1970, he took up teaching at Macalester College and became conductor of the St. Paul Civic Symphony. He later served as resident conductor of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and music director of Opera St. Paul.

Louis Edouard Forner died on March 20, aged 78.

ed forner

Lionel Bringuier, 27, incoming music director of the Zurich Tonhalle, has announced the appointment of a senior colleague as Creative Chair. The man he has chosen is Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Finnish maestro who brought Bringuier as his own assistant to the Los Angeles Philharmonic eight years ago.

This may seem a little cosy. The pair also share the same agent. On the other hand, they are engaged in constant creative discussions and it may be that Lionel felt a need to add ballast to his team for the conservative Zurich audience. Look on it as an insurance policy (they’re big on insurance beside Lake Zurich).

The potential drawback is that the need for cover may be perceived as lessening the music director’s authority. And a loss of courage by the Swiss, stunned by their daring in hiring so young a chief conductor.