Steve Donoghue, a reviewer we trust on Open Letters Monthly, considers it a tour de force. Read review here.



The Scottish composer John McLeod, 80 this year and widely feted, was thrilled to learn that his work, The Sun Dances, was to receive a London premiere at the BBC Proms.

john Mcleod

photo (c) Wojtek Kutyla


The performance, by the BBC Scottish SO and Donald Runnicles, was all a composer could have wished for. The broadcast on BBC Radio 3 enabled the work to be heard in every home in the land and worldwide on the internet.

The cherry on the composer’s cake was a delayed broadcast of the concert on BBC4 television.

So imagine John’s dismay when he turned on the telly and found his work had been cut out of the BBC SSO concert. No time factors were involved. ‘There were 15 minutes left at the end before the next programme,’ John tells us, ‘and it was filled up with some nature documentary.’

Other composers have had the same experience. They get a work played at the Proms, but dropped off TV. John McLeod calls this ‘contemporary classical composer discrimination.’ He’s right. Last year they did the same to James MacMillan’s violin concerto.

The BBC are entirely wrong to censor contemporary music from the supposedly specialist TV channel. It is not just philistinism at work in TV. It’s a blatant waste of public money. We – through the BBC – paid for this premiere. By shutting it off TV, the BBC are not giving – or getting full value. What’s the excuse?

(Share this post on social media if you agree with its premise. Let’s save some poor composer’s work next year.)

Last Friday night, Peter Gelb announced a suspension of his lockout threat to give federal mediators a chance to save the Met. Over the weekend he agreed to open the books to an independent auditor. For the past week, a tense silence has prevailed at the Met. Talks have continued and discipline has been maintained by the three main unions so that there have been no substantive leaks.

But what now?

The week is coming to an end.

Will a deal be reached by the mediators that enables both sides to save face?

Or is it back into the bunkers?

Could go either way.


Nicholas Collon and his trendy Aurora Orchestra are going to perform Mozart’s 40th symphony from memory, in what is claimed to be a first at the Proms. Can you see the point? We can’t…

bbc proms

press release:

In what promises to be a unique concert experience the Aurora Orchestra and Chantage, under conductor Nicholas Collon, perform the world premiere of Benedict Mason’s Meld at the centre of an extraordinary Late Night Prom on Saturday 16 August which leaves behind many of the conventions of orchestral performance.

The concert opens with a performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 which the Aurora players will perform entirely from memory.  This is thought to be the first time a whole orchestral symphony has been performed without music in the 119-year history of the Proms.

The Mozart is followed by Dobrinka Tabakova’s Spinning a Yarn, which places the rustic hurdy-gurdy alongside a solo violin.

At the heart of the programme is Benedict Mason’s Meld, a major new work for nearly 150 performers which pushes the possibilities of the Royal Albert Hall to their farthest limits. Combining music with a sense of spectacle, Meld’s extraordinary score is a tour de force of orchestral and choral theatre as much as a pioneering musical achievement. The traditional standing places for Prommers in the Arena and Gallery of the Royal Albert Hall will not be available and Prommers will be allocated seats as part of the composer’s artistic vision. Mason’s wish is that the audience approach the piece with a totally open mind.

On the death of a great composer:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott:

A musical giant who changed the country’s music landscape forever.



David Barmby, former artistic director of Melbourne’s Recital Centre:

A Sydney child, I had the privilege to spend so much time with Peter Sculthorpe talking about music in his exquisite, white Georgian cottage in Woollahra.  He always drove a red MG MGB which was parked in the front garden of roses.  So much of what Australian music means across the world has been because of Peter’s creative work.  He was one of the first to propose that Australia should find its own voice from cultures in our geographic proximity:geographic proximity: Balinese gamelan, traditional music from Japan and especially the music of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
A recent interaction was to commission Peter to compose a work for the opening of the Melbourne Recital Centre in 2009, ‘Song of the Yarra’.  We spent many happy hours wondering what the Yarra River running through Melbourne looked and sounded like 250 years ago.
Apart from all of that, in the often vicious and depraved world of ‘the Arts’ in Australia, Peter was always a gentle Statesman.  We all sat together in his studio, in awe, and contemplated beauty.


sculthorpe lebrecht

Ross Edwards, composer:

He stopped (Australian composition) from being a pale reflection of what was going on in Europe. He showed us the possibility of realising, even before politicians, that we were part of Southeast Asia and that is where we should take note of what was going on culturally.

Simone Young, Intendant at Staatsoper Hamburg:

Very sad news that Peter Sculthorpe has died today. I’m conducting Brahms 4 with the students of ANAM tonight and we will all be thinking of him. A monument in the history of Australian music and a great man.

Never knowingly underhyped, the media down under are going doolally over Jonas Kaufmann.

‘Greatest since Pavarotti’?


kaufmann australia

Peter Sculthorpe, a composer who infused the western classical tradition with the indigenous sounds and ambience of his native Tasmania, has died at the age of 85.


peter sculthorpe

Sculthorpe’s international breakthrough came with the first Kronos Quartet album, which placed his eighth string quartet beside works by Philip Glass, Conlon Nancarrow, Aulis Sallinen and Jimi Hendrix. He wrote 18 quartets, all told, and a Sun Music series that is regularly performed.

His distinctive sound was nurtured at Oxford University, where he studied with the Viennese exile, Egon Wellesz. He returned to Australia in 1961, defining the musical language of his country as Patrick white did its literature and Sydney Nolan its art.

He died this morning at Wolper Jewish Hospital in Woollahra.

Interview here.

The coloratura soprano Cristina Deutekom died yesterday after a fall in her home. She was 82 and was renowned for a voice of exceptional clarity and precision.

Born in Amsterdam as Christine Engel, she sang in all the great international houses opposite the top tenors of the day: Bergonzi, Gedda, Domingo, Carreras and more. She was a famous Queen of the Night and she was becoming a great Turandot when a heart attack ended her stage career in 1986. A stroke in 2004 ended her successful masterclasses.

She married a boxer.

Rest her soul.