Michael Kustow was the first commissioning editor for arts on Britain’s Channel 4. Restless, eclectic, endlessly innovative, he broke the mould of top-down arts broadcasting on British television and replaced it with programming that was at once challenging and viewer-friendly.

The 1980s on Channel 4 were a golden age of arts broadcasting the like of which we shall not see again.

Michael who had been in poor health for some years, died on Friday aged 74.



portrait by Tom Phillips

A group of artists from the Baltic and former Soviet states have gathered in Helsinki this afternoon to play out their differences.

Here’s their manifesto:

We have decided to get together to remind each other that the only sustainable way to solve our conflicts is by working together. This is a statement on behalf of all people and peaceful development. 

We are facing huge shared challenges, so huge that we really do not need them to be further complicated by military encounters. If we want a chance to meet these challenges, we have to decide – today – to accept our differences. Not even our biggest disagreements justify abandoning peaceful, constructive practice. 

Our ensemble of players is gathered from many countries. There are also strong differences of opinion amongst us. Still, confronting our common goal, a successful musical performance, we are perfectly capable of focusing on working together. We are proof of people’s desire to do good and to create beauty. This time we are not here to solve our problems, but to build common ground on which to face them. 

Let us focus on giving the future a chance.


The concert is live-streamed here.

anna-liisa bezrodny




These are the players:

Participating artists

Aalto-Setälä Kerttu flute
Ahtinen Timo double bass
Ali-Mattila Teppo violin
Antola Iida soprano
Anttila Martti tenor
Batiashvili Lisa violin
Bezrodny Anna Liisa violin
Binder David trombone
Brostek Magdalena cello
Bugnot Thomas trumpet
Buinovschi Ion violin
Büchert Mads timpanist / percussionist
Chousovskii Anton violin
Coleman Amelia english horn / oboe
Dmitri Ermilov trumpet
Dmitrjev Aleksei bassoon
Eerola Inka violin
Ernesaks Greta cello
Franzon Johanna violin
Frostén Harri violin
Gil Shaked Agababa clarinet
Gorkun-Silén Iryna flute
Grans Peter double bass
Grans Pontus double bass
Gricius Tomas trumpet
Gustafsson Jan-Erik cello
Haikola Anna-Leena violin
Heikinheimo Siljamari violin
Helander Jaani cello
Hendricks Barbara vocal
Hoffström Anna violin
Hohti Hanna viola
Hohti Markus cello
Holmström Emil piano
Horttana Helmi violin
Hurttia Linnea violin
Hyväkkö Jarmo clarinet
Indermühle Nicolas tuba
Itoh Eri violin
Ivars Mikko cello
Juris Dani bass
Juutilainen Hanna flute
Juvonen Sirpa viola
Jämsä Henna clarinet
Kares Jenny flute/piccolo
Kaukola Ritva viola
Kauppinen Maiju violin
Kilpeläinen Atte viola
Kitaeva Maria violin
Kivistö Jenni violin
Kivivuori Kimmo viola
Klas Eri conductor
Koistinen Arto viola
Koivisto Juha-Pekka violin
Komsi Nuppu violin
Koponen Matti violin
Koskimies Minna piano
Kotka John trombone
Kumela Petri guitar
Kupiainen Heini piano
Kuusava Kati violin
Kuusisto Pekka violin
Kärnä Noora contrabassoon
Laivuori Jaakko viola
Lake Carly french horn
Larionov Oleg viola
Latvala Tero violin
Lehikoinen Lotte alto
Lehto Tuomas cello
Lehtola Jarno tenor
Luolajan-Mikkola Mikko-Ville violin
Maalismaa Eriikka violin
Maijala Lilli viola
Malmivaara Paula oboe
Mattila Elina cello
Mellberg Niklas teorbi
Murdvee Mikk violin
Mussafia Barbara cello
Mäkinen Pasi trombone
Nikula Heikki bassclarinet
Nironen Sirja cello
Nisonen Tanja french horn
Pajuoja Hannu french horn
Palola Erkki violin
Parviainen Hanna violin
Pensola Minna violin
Podyachev Ivan viola
Pulkamo Kaisa viola
Raikas Johannes contrabass
Rantanen Simo trumpet
Raulamo Jaakko cello
Resjan Valeria piano
Reskalenko Olga viola
Rintamäki Sirkku mezzosopraano
Rinta-Rahko Anna double bass
Ristiluoma Riitta-Liisa viola
Rouvali Santtu-Matias conductor
Ruskeepää Tuomas french horn
Saarikoski Mauri violin
Salminen Annu french horn
Sarantola Markus viola
Schweckendiek Nils conductor
Segerstam Leif conductor
Severeide Päivi harp
Silén Sebastian violin
Stasevska Dalia viola / conductor
Stasevski Lukas cello
Sundroos Pia violin
Suomela Soineli oboe / french horn
Suoranta Antti timp / perc
Söderblom Jan violin / conductor
Takacs Zoltan violin
Tikkanen Antti violin
Tollet Susanna alto
van Treeck Outi flute/piccolo
Unkari Erja violin
Vehmanen Heikki viola
Vilhjámsson Ari violin
Viitala Jussi cello
Vilkman Camilla viola
Virtanen Sini violin
Vähälä Anna violin
Wikström Tomi timp / perc
Willey Pietari timp / perc
Ylivuori Sakari bass
Åström-Tiula Annemarie violin


The great troubadour will turn 80 next month. In the new issue of Standpoint magazine, I write:

No musician has maintained a more assured equilibrium through good times and bad, riding the swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune and misfortune without falling prey to the temptation of an easy fix. 


At 80, Leonard Cohen stands above his generation as a seer of lasting things, of values received and passed on. Other musicians have emerged richer, more famous. Some still twist and shout on stage, escorting their mob of semi-retired fans into a seventh age of twilight care. Cohen stands up there unchanged, addressing his audience with unfailing courtesy and curiosity, with a sense of continued discovery. 

What is the source of that unerring strength?

Read on here.


Fascinating phone interview with Fiona Maddocks in today’s Observer here.

Rattle repeats that, come what may, he’s staying in Berlin after the job’s up in 2018.



Smug? They invented it.

berlin phil logo

Sad to report that neither of the countertenors got a sniff at the top prizes. The two high guys shared a $10,000 consolation slot.

The winners are:

Rachel Willis-Sørensen (US), 30, soprano


rachel willis-sorensen



and Mario Chang  (Guatemala), 28, tenor.

Mario Chang


Rachel has already sung major roles in big houses – Mimi in Bohème at Semperoper Dresden and Countess in The Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden. Mario has sung the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier at the Met.

Full lineup here.

Victoria Mallory, the original Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music, has died of pancreatic cancer. She was married to Mark Lambert, who played Henrik Egerman in the same production. Their daughter, Ramona Mallory Lambert, played Anne in the 2009 Broadway revival.

Another sad loss to the Sondheim family, so soon after the irreplaceable Elaine Strich.

victoria mallory


Message from Ivan Fischer:


Dear Friends, on this present tour I asked the Budapest Festival Orchestra to start a new life – to sing regularly. At the end of the Proms and elsewhere on tour we performed Abendständchen by Brahms as an encore only after three days of practice. 

Why? Because people should sing! Mothers should sing to their babies, children should sing in children’s choirs and adults should rediscover this wonderful communication tool. So we should set an example and start to show that it is possible to overcome fears and inhibitions.
If you want to hear our very first attempt, please scroll to the end of the symphony, ca 45 minutes on this link:



ivan fischer

Jonathan Mills, outgoing director of the ever-less-relevant Edinburgh Festival, is (we hear) front-runner to be head of the Australian National Gallery in Canberra.

jonathan mills


Nobody goes to Canberra.

I did it! Help ALS research and also other good causes and in memory of wonderful friends of the past, still present today in our hearts, like Hans Vonk, who died 10 years ago of ALS and Boris Pergamenschikow, who also died much too early 10 years ago.

lars vogt

Click here to watch.

George Lepauw, who failed to pay many of his Chicago performers last year, has ‘with a heavy heart’ announced the cancellation of next month’s festival. He is under a boycott warning from the musicians’ unions.

Cancellation here. Apology nowhere. Love? Doesn’t know what it means.


beethoven fest

Now the Met’s season is going ahead, opposition to its production of John Adams’s opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, has intensified. We have been forwarded a complaint by a Met supporter and a response by Ann Ziff, on behalf of the board of the Metropolitan Opera.

Read, and wonder.

The Death of Klinghoffer

Dear Ann and Members of the Board,


As a longstanding opera lover and patron of the Metropolitan Opera, I am writing to add my voice to the chorus of objection to your upcoming production of The Death of Klinghoffer.


I was shocked to be forwarded an email about the opera, including but not limited to the following:


In the opera’s libretto, there are passages that defame the Jews as a people. For example, the principal terrorist says, “Wherever poor men are gathered, they can find Jews getting fat. You know how to cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute where you have exploited, defame those you cheated, and break your own law with idolatry.” 

At one stage, the terrorist leader says to Klinghoffer, “America is one big Jew.”


The opening scene honors terrorists. It is set against a backdrop of graffiti on a wall proclaiming “Warsaw 1943, Bethlehem 2005,” implying a moral equivalence between the acts of the Nazis and current day Jews.


While I support artistic freedom, the language is inflammatory and dangerous, particularly in a time of rising anti-Semitism around the world. There is no artistry in such language: it is the language of hatred and violence, and such words do not belong on the stage of one of the world’s greatest and most respected opera houses.


As leaders of the Metropolitan Opera, you have the opportunity to take a stand for world peace by canceling this production, rather than giving a platform to the voices of terrorism and anti-Semitism.


Sincerely yours,


(name withheld)


The Death of Klinghoffer


Dear (name withheld)


Thank you for your email about The Death of Klinghoffer, which may have been influenced by what I believe to be a wholly unfair disinformation campaign about the opera led by some radical groups that would like to have it suppressed.  But the opera is neither anti-Semitic or pro-terrorist.  In fact, it is one of the greatest operas of the last twenty five years, composed by one of America’s leading composers.  Peter planned this presentation of Klinghoffer five years ago as part of an overall artistic initiative to introduce all three of John Adams’ major operatic works at the Met.  Previously, as I am sure you know, we have produced Adams’Doctor Atomic and his Nixon in China.


Klinghoffer is arguably Adam’s best opera of all.  Although tackling a very difficult subject, it is a towering work of composing genius.  In this new production, hailed by the critics when it was first presented in London two years ago, there is no ambiguity in the staging that the murder of an innocent man at the hands of terrorists was manifestly unjust.  The lines you cite from the libretto are the words of the terrorists, and taken within the context of the entire opera, are self-condemning hateful words meant to prove their bias and slanderous views.


While there have been some requests that we cancel the performances, many prominent patrons of the Met—both Jews and non-Jews—have voiced their support of our position to stand firm.  The Anti-Defamation League and the Klinghoffer daughters, themselves, have not called upon the Met to cancel its presentation, since they agree that Klinghoffer does not deserve to be suppressed.  We believe that it would cause the Met far greater harm if we were to cancel its presentation, since such an action would indicate that we have surrendered our artistic principles.


In the Board’s opinion, great art should not be the victim of political imperatives.  I appreciate your writing me and the Board about this issue, (name withheld).  And I am glad to know from your email that you also stand behind artistic freedom.


As always, thank you for supporting the Met.  I look forward to seeing you in the fall.


Best wishes,