It emerged during hearings today of two musicians accused of sexually abusing students that the double-bass player Duncan McTier has been suspended by the Royal Academy of Music after being charged last month with four offences. he has pleaded not guilty.

DuncanMcTier_0487 with copyright

The conductor Nicholas Smith, also accused, did not enter a plea. His lawyer told the court he would plead not guilty.

The alleged offences date back in Smith’s case, to Chetham’s School in the 1970s and, in McTier’s, to the Royal Northern College of Music and Purcell’s School in the 1980s and 1990s.




domingo football

A bigger tenor, off the ball


pavarotti football

Classical Music magazine reports, quoting a BBC spokesperson, that the music station is about to suffer another ten job losses, mostly within ‘management, administration and support,’ whatever that means.

This will be the second round of cuts in as many years and, if one thing is certain, it will cull essential people rather than deadwood. BBC Radio needs to lose 60 jobs. Radio 3 must take its share.


radio days

In a move unusual for the discreet operations of German music, Stefan Blunier has made a public announcement of his resignation as general music director of the city of Bonn.

Blunier’s statement blames budgets cuts, ‘demotivating signals and the wanton destruction of yet another cultural institution.’

In Germany. Believe it.





His resignation takes effect two years from now.


Ich bedanke mich für die Unterstützung der Politik in den vergangenen 6 Jahren.

Nur durch die von der Stadt geschaffenen Rahmenbedingungen waren das positive

Erscheinungsbild und die Erfolge des Beethoven Orchester Bonn möglich:

Internationale Tourneen, Schallplattenpreise (u. a. vier ECHO KLASSIK Preise) und eine

momentane Rekordauslastung von 95% in den Konzerten. Ich wähnte mich auf einem

stringenten Weg im Hinblick auf die anstehenden Beethoven – Feierlichkeiten 2020, die

ich gerne mitgestaltet hätte.

Nun scheint sich aber ein politisch gewollter Umschwung zu konkretisieren:

Neben der erneuten Sparauflage in der Oper soll die Personalstärke des Beethoven

Orchester Bonn – einem Flaggschiff wie es Herr OB Nimptsch gerne öffentlich nennt – um

6 Stellen reduziert werden und auch dem Etat drohen weitere Einschnitte.

Dies kann ich nicht mit meinen künstlerischen Intentionen und meinem Sinn für Qualität

vereinbaren und werde deshalb ab dem Sommer 2016 als Generalmusikdirektor der

Stadt Bonn nicht mehr zur Verfügung stehen.

Die Nachhaltigkeit des demotivierenden Signals und die mutwillige Zerstörung einer

weiteren kulturell erfolgreichen Institution werden die Politik und die Verwaltung alleine

zu verantworten haben.

The cellist Alban Gerhardt has published a few tips on how a young string player should go about choosing and buying an instrument. There’s no general rule except: avoid sharks, frauds and dodgy teachers.

Alban’s father played in the Berlin Philharmonic in the 1950s when players were poorly paid and many of the instruments were matchbox. Then David Oistrakh came along and taught them a thing or two.

Read Alban here.


We cannot remember a greater spectacle on any London opera stage than ENO’s Benevenuto Cellini, which we saw last night. With more than 100 singers, jugglers, acrobats and children on stage and the chorus belting out Berlioz right into our faces, Terry Gilliam’s production flies so far over the top that it outsmarts and outbarnums any circus on earth – including Monty Python’s.

The jokes are, as you’d expect from a Python, sly and none too subtle. The singing is world-class – Michael Spyres in the title role, Corinne Winters as the hot-to-trot Teresa and Willard White as a magnificently political Pope.

corinne winters2


Taking into account the scale of the production, the comic effects were timed to the nanosecond and brilliantly executed, both on stage and above the audience’s heads. Compared to the tawdry samba dancing we saw in Trafalgar Square for the soccer World Cup launch, this was a fantastical blending of high performance and high art – the kind of thing you see more in your dreams than on any stage. Truly, the greatest show on earth this month.

Fortunate audiences in Rome and Amsterdam will get to see the co-pro show next season.  London tickets are all but sold out.

Now here’s a well-kept secret that slipped out last night between one interval drink and the next.


At the climax of the opera, Cellini has to forge the Pope’s new statue by dawn or be hanged by the neck until dead. Will he, won’t he? How do you get an audience to believe that the rising statue has been freshly forged in the burning fiery furnace?

Brows were furrowed, heads put together. ‘I know,’ cried someone. ‘Let’s talk to the guys who staged the spectacular show of the 2012 London Olympics. The one who made the towers of the satanic mills in the industrial revolution sequence.’

One call did it. Matthew Whitehead, an English designer who is Creative Director of Airworks B.V. in Amersterdam, came up with the perfect solution for the mighty statue. Shall we tell you how he did it?

No. Pity to spoil the illusion. It’s a fantastic climax.

 beneveuto cellini





The great mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza has received the 10th Yehudi Menuhin award from the Queen of Spain, in the last days of her reign. The award recognises her educational work. Report here.

Teresa Berganza

The Smithsonian Institute has acquired – for most of the wrong reasons – the gown worn by opera diva Renee Fleming when she played the Super Bowl last year (you can watch her performance here).

renee fleming inauguration

So what have we here?

An object of artistic veneration? A significant piece of Americana? A religious relic? None of the above.

The official reason given by the Smithsonian: Museum curators love it when an object can tell a significant story. When an object can speak to many different stories, it’s a curatorial jackpot.

The real reason: They’re besotted with celebrity, regardless of content.

Read the curator’s justification here.

Surely it would have been more credible to present this gown alongside one of Renee’s more vivid opera costumes or concert gowns – just to show what she does in real life.

Within hours of receiving $17 million to support the work of music director Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has announced a second gift of $15 million to provide young people’s concerts and training programs.

The donation, by the Negaunee Foundation, is one of the largest it has ever given. To quote the press release: It supports a long-term goal of Riccardo Muti, Music Director of the CSO: to share classical music with more people—especially those who might not otherwise have access to it—and to strengthen the relationship of the CSO with communities. “Performances alone are not enough,” Maestro Muti said. “Having a treasure like this Orchestra, we have a responsibility to make it accessible to as many people as possible. This gift will ensure that the talents of the CSO will be shared throughout Chicago and around the world.”

This is an astonishing way for Deborah Rutter to round off her presidency of the orchestra before heading off to Washington to revive the Kennedy Center. It is also a tribute to the magnetism of Riccardo Muti, who has demonstrated his ability to excite philanthropists almost as much as he energises musicians. Happy days in the Windy City. Press release follows.



CHICAGO—The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) Board of Trustees announced today that the Chicago-based Negaunee Foundation has made a $15 million gift to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). One of the largest commitments in the institution’s 123-year history, it provides both annual operating support and endowment funds to support, in perpetuity, the work of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Institute for Learning, Access and Training, which will be known from now on as the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The mission of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO is to create and sustain connections to music for individuals and communities by sharing the extraordinary musical resources of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Through its educational, family and community programs, the Institute engages more than 200,000 children, teens and adults of diverse incomes and backgrounds each year.

Institute programs include concerts for children, families and school groups, such as Once Upon a Symphony and Family Matinees; curricula and programs for teachers and students such as Orchestra Explorers and Dream Out Loud; the Civic Orchestra of Chicago—the only pre-professional training ensemble affiliated with a major American orchestra—which offers frequent, free performances at Symphony Center and across Chicago and which celebrates its 95th anniversary this season; and low-cost and free rehearsals and performances, often led by Music Director Riccardo Muti. The Institute’s programs are an important expression of the CSO’s commitment to Citizen Musicianship – using the power of music to contribute to our culture, our communities, and the lives of others.

The $15 million gift from the Negaunee Foundation supports a long-term goal of Riccardo Muti, Music Director of the CSO: to share classical music with more people—especially those who might not otherwise have access to it—and to strengthen the relationship of the CSO with communities. “Performances alone are not enough,” Maestro Muti said. “Having a treasure like this Orchestra, we have a responsibility to make it accessible to as many people as possible. This gift will ensure that the talents of the CSO will be shared throughout Chicago and around the world.”  

Said CSOA President Deborah Rutter, “This commitment to the work of the Institute is truly remarkable. By endowing the work of the Institute in perpetuity, the Negaunee Foundation will significantly increase the CSO’s ability to use the power of music to transform and enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands in Greater Chicago and across the globe. The Foundation’s generosity will also allow the Institute to become ever more responsive to community needs while sustaining the Institute’s longstanding community, education, family and training programs, including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. We could not be more grateful to Negaunee.”

The Negaunee Foundation was created in 1987 to celebrate the arts and education in greater Chicagoland. It has a long history of support for the CSO and the Institute’s programs, having been a major donor to the CSO since the early 1990’s. Negaunee has been one of the largest annual supporters of the Institute in recent years. The Institute was founded in 2008 to integrate, highlight and expand the CSO’s longstanding and wide-ranging education and engagement programs. Since its founding, the Institute has been led by CSOA Vice President Charles Grode with the guidance of the Institute Board.