After months of cogitation Mathieu Dufour, Principal Flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has submitted his regination, effective November 4, 2014, in order to join the Berlin Philharmonic in the same position in the new year. We hope he’s made the right choice.

Press release follows.  UPDATE: Why would he do that?


CHICAGO—Mathieu Dufour, Principal Flute, the Erika and Dietrich M. Gross Chair, of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has resigned his position with the CSO, effective November 4, 2014, in order to accept the position of Principal Flute at the Berlin Philharmonic. His tenure there begins in 2015.  

Dufour began his tenure with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as principal flute in 1999, appointed by then-music director Daniel Barenboim. Since then, Dufour has appeared numerous times as soloist, most recently in March 2014, giving the world premiere performances of Guillaume Connesson’s Flute Concerto, which was commissioned by the CSO.

Vanessa Moss, Vice President for Orchestra and Building Operations of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, said, “In the 15 years he has been with the CSO, Mathieu Dufour has made an extraordinary contribution to the artistry and musicianship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We wish him a long and successful career with the Berlin Philharmonic.”

Editor’s advisory: No musical content. But interesting for social media geeks.

A BBC business reporter has unearthed the source of hundreds of viral stories on the Internet, the ones you find yourself clicking on even though every fibre of your brain tells you it’s going to be rubbish.

The source of the virus is, apparently, a former digital online officer in the Israeli armed forces, where he presumably failed to influence world opinion. He’s more successful now.

Want to know how? You know what to do. Just… click here.



From darkening Istanbul:

The new General Manager of the Turkish State Opera and Ballet, Selman Ada, has issued shocking new rules for the corps de ballet – ‘a set of rules applicable to all personnel.’

Here’s the code: ‘Athletic wear, sleeveless cotton, shorts, tights, stretch jeans, sandals, slippers, spike-heeled shoes, evening dresses and so on, shall not be worn on the premises.’

This is one of many blows in the Islamic ruling party (AKP)’s clampdown on western performing arts. Here’s the article in Turkish (the headline reads: “Tights for ballet dancers forbidden!”).

Wave goodbye to Turkey as it heads back to the Dark Ages.

ballet turkey

UPDATE: We are told by native Turkish speakers that the new dress code may apply only to staff at the opera and ballet, not to artists on stage. If that were the case, it would amount to an obvious double standard. It would also amount to an unwarranted interference in the civil rights and freedoms of employees of the state opera and ballet.


This has been long expected, but shocking nonetheless.

The sweetener is that it amounts to only 7.5 percent of the newsroom staff.

The bitter aftertaste is that it will probably bite into culture. They’re also killing off an op-ed app because no-one reads them.

‘There is no magic bullet for the current financial plight of the news business, said executive editor Dean Baquet.

Read here.


new york times

When Andrzej Panufnik fled Warsaw in 1954 he became a non-person almost for the rest of his life.

Over the past quarter-century his music has been performed more and more, but there was still no public acknowledgement of his cultural importance.

That omission was aptly remedied today.

panufnik avenue2

Lady Camilla Panufnki and her son Jem Panufnik after the naming of the Andrzej Panufnik avenue in the Mokotow district of Warsaw. The avenue of trees leads to Andrzej’s grandparents’ beautiful old house, Palaczyk Szuster, which is now a centre for young musiciansThe President of Warsaw, Mrs. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz,  presided over the event in front of a distinguished audience, and the 4-trumpet fanfare from Panufnik’s Sinfonia Sacra was performed by musicians of the Warsaw Philharmonic as the ribbon was cut.

panufnik avenue


In an unusually lucid and utterly unequivocal statement of its current musical instruments policy, Air Canada declares that it will accept violas only as checked baggage – that is, shoved in the hold.

Violins ‘may be accepted (either) as carry-on or checked baggage’ depending on various circumstaces, such as the capacity of the plane or the mood of the clerk at the check-in desk. Equally, there is no guarantee that you can buy an extra seat for an instrument.

Read the bloody rules here and weep. Be warned. Keep for reference.

music airport 2

In general, other airlines that accept violins will also admit violas.

One of the city’s most-read commentators, Edwin Baumgartner, is bemoaning the lack of public outrage at the walkout of the opera’s music director, the resignation of another conductor and the lack of an understudy when Roberto Alagna fell sick in the middle of an opera.

Any other time, he laments, the mob would have been out on the opera forecourt baying for the blood of Director Dominique Meyer.

But Meyer, he complains, has tranquilised the media and its attendant mob with his Gallic charm. Vienna, he sighs, is no longer Vienna.

Read here and below.


Wien ist nicht mehr Wien. Wäre Wien noch Wien, würden Staatsopern-Stehplatz und Presse einmütig nach der Demission des Staatsopern-Direktors rufen.

Kleinigkeiten wie undiplomatische Aussprüche, einige unkluge Engagements und eine als unglücklich empfundene Werkauswahl hatten in der Vergangenheit Direktoren um die Publikums- und Kritikergunst gebracht. Keinem dieser Direktoren ist ein Generalmusikdirektor aus künstlerischen Gründen davongelaufen, keinem ein weiterer wichtiger Dirigent mit einer ähnlichen Begründung. Kaum eine Direktion verpflichtete dermaßen viele Sänger mit schöner, aber zu kleiner Stimme. Und dass eine Opernaufführung mit Ausschnitten zu Ende gebracht werden muss, weil ein Protagonist nicht mehr weiterkann, aber kein Ersatz gefunden wird, ist in den Annalen der Staatsoper auch kaum je (wann eigentlich?) verzeichnet worden. Es müsste Aufruhr herrschen am Stehplatz und in der Presse. Doch Wien ist offenbar nicht mehr Wien.

Ein Interview mit Meyer in der ORF2-Sendung “Wien heute” am Montag enthüllte indessen sein Geheimnis. Freundlich, ruhig und bescheiden gab er eigene Fehler zu. Und, ja, er will sich verbessern. Wann hört man das schon von einer Führungskraft? Er wird auch applaudieren, wenn der ihm abhanden gekommene Ex-Generalmusikdirektor Franz Welser-Möst beim Philharmonikerball dirigiert. Das war nicht der Opernimperatorenauftritt eines Ioan Holender, nicht der arrogant-kühle eines Lorin Maazel. Meyer wirkt so klug wie menschlich. Meyer ist einfach ungeheuer sympathisch. Auch mir. Obwohl ich finde, dass Wien etwas mehr Wien sein könnte.


The busy director has made a documentary about Seymour Bernstein, 87, a contented pianist who taught him how to cope with performance anxiety, and much else. “Seymour: An Introduction” is receiving its premiere at the 52nd New York Film Festival.

ethan hawke seymour bernstein

Nacole Palmer is an Atlanta-born soprano with an international career. She is worried about her hometown orchestra. Here’s what she has written to the ASO board:

I am writing this as a response to Jessie Ahuama-Jonas’ request for words from people who were molded by the ASO. I am undoubtedly one of those people, and I hope to tell you how the ASO and its people molded me into the human I am today.

Some of my earliest memories are of being in Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center. I grew up in southwest Atlanta–yes, the bad part. I also had a mother who not only loved live classical music and theater, but who was relentless in finding ways for us to experience it. So we ushered for what felt like every play and every concert that Atlanta could produce. We went to hundreds of performances–often two or three (or even four!) in a single weekend. We would usher at the ASO on Friday night and come back on Saturday morning for the coffee concert with the pre-concert talk from William Fred Scott. From the time I was five or six years old, I was holding programs to hand out to patrons, and then a few years after that I was showing them to their seats. Of course, the most exciting part was when the concert would start, and we would find an empty seat to sit in during the hush before the music would begin. There was so much music that filled my young ears! And such great music! Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven–what a wonderful experiential education for a young person. I remember leaning back into those soft chairs and swaying my head gently to the music that washed over my ears and heart and informed my soul. Sometimes, when I was little, I would fall asleep while listening, no matter how much I tried to stay awake; I remember coming in and out of consciousness to the transcendent sounds of the ASO, sometimes unsure of what was a dream and what sounds were real because it was all so beautiful.

At age six, I started singing in the Young Singers of Callanwolde (now called the Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde), and my official musical education began. Every year, the wonderful Robert Shaw presented his ‘Christmas with Robert Shaw’ concerts with the ASO and ASO Chorus, and Young Singers was the children’s choir that he invited to be a part of the concerts. Of course, at six I was too young to be on stage, but I remember wearing my Young Singers uniform as I ushered for those concerts, proudly telling people that I sang with that group, too. When I was old enough to sing with the ‘big kids,’ I sat in the front row–scarcely daring to move (because they had told us not to!), breathless with excitement and awe to be so near the Atlanta Symphony Chorus that sounded like heaven itself under Robert Shaw’s magical touch, to the Symphony Orchestra that sounded even more majestic from right in front of our noses, and across the stage from the Morehouse Glee Club, which literally rocked the hall with its incredible rendition of Betelehe-mu every night.

robert shaw nacole palmer

As I grew up, my commitment to music and specifically to singing grew stronger. A particularly formative experience was in high school, when I was lucky enough to be in the Robert Shaw High School Choral Workshop that performed at Spivey Hall. I still get tears in my eyes as I remember Mr. Shaw telling us the story of when he and his choir traveled to Russia and sang an impromptu Requiem (I think it was Brahms) at the request of a mother mourning the death of her young son who had died when the ground was still too frozen to bury him; Mr. Shaw, himself, was teary as he told this story of an event decades earlier, and I was in awe that such a Great Man as Robert Shaw was so humbled by the power of music and its ability to heal and touch people’s hearts that he would cry, so humbled that this music was what a grieving mother needed to comfort her in her hardest days that he spoke through tears about it decades later to a group of teenagers who needed to understand what the ‘power of music’ meant. Mr. Shaw spoke passionately about how music is not a means of self-promotion or accomplishment; rather, he spoke of how we, as musicians, are servants to the music, vessels through which the healing and beauty may travel on its way to the ears and hearts of others. Mr. Shaw’s argument for this vision of a musician was so powerful and transformative that I later could point to this experience as the turning point in my eventual decision to become a professional musician.<

My life as a classical singer has been both challenging and rewarding, as any life in the arts must be. I have sung in Moscow and Paris, Carnegie Hall and Westminster Abbey, and I have worried about how I would pay my rent for more months than I care to count. Being a professional musician means being committed to years of hard (and often unappreciated) work with no promise of commensurate pay, all in service to others and to the music itself. I know that the musicians of the ASO share this commitment because I have witnessed it first hand, practically since birth.

And so I ask you, board of the ASO and people of Atlanta, what is your commitment to the musicians, and what should it be? I believe that a society that is nurtured by art has a responsibility to support that art. The alternative is honestly that the art will die, because people cannot feed themselves with the beauty alone of the music and art they create. That’s reality. When we consider these questions, we are really asking ourselves what kind of society we want to be. Need I remind you that when we look back in history, each significant culture is defined by and remembered for its art? This is not a fluke or a mistake: arts and music are the very heart of a community and a culture. Please do not deprive Atlanta of its heart, of its most fine ambassador, of its ability to touch and reach the hearts of people through the finest music-making in the country. Please renew your commitment to the musicians who have sacrificed and created beauty and truth through music for your benefit. Not only do they deserve it, but so do you.

Most Sincerely,

Nacole Palmer

The combative pianist, 85, has been sharing his opinions with our San Francisco friend, Elijah Ho.



Exhibit A:

In daily newspapers, the role of today’s critic, somebody once said, is like ‘one who describes an accident to an eyewitness’. This day-after-the-event kind of reporting is no longer relevant. I mean, the event is gone, it’s one person’s subjective impression. I think critics back in Schumann’s day were leaders and teachers of their field. Today, you sometimes get a sports reporter who’s recruited because the music critic can’t make it, or the music critic will report on a program that was not played, stuff like that.

Exhibit B:

Too many young people today play their instruments most wonderfully – they have such command of their instrument – but it’s as though they’re speaking a foreign language, phonetically. They pronounce all the words, but they have no idea of what they’re saying. And I think that’s one of the big differences between the great artists of the time and this level of expertise that is constantly expanding and rising. As I’ve said for a long time, the level of mediocrity is constantly rising.

Read the full, wonderfully challenging interview right here.

From the Detroit News:

Before Slatkin’s arrival Tuesday, the International Arrivals area was atwitter with young musicians practicing “Happy Birthday” and passing out party hats and noisemakers.

“I’m very excited … it’s Maestro Slatkin’s 70th birthday,” said flutist Larry Williams, 15.

slatkin birthday

Take a look at this conductor’s schedule for the coming month.

He is scheduled to conduct almost every single night in October, in six different countries.

October 1 – Russia, St. Petersburg 

October 2 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 3 – Kazakhstan, Astana, 
October 4 – Kazakhstan, Astana 
5 October – Russia, Tomsk, 
October 6 and 7 – Russia, Vladivostok 
October 9 – Japan, Kumamoto 
October 10 – Japan, Fukuoka 
October 11 – Osaka, Japan 
October 12 – Japan, Ishikawa 
October 13 – Shanghai, China 
October 14 – Tokyo, Japan 
15 October – Tokyo, Japan 
October 16 – Japan, Nagoya, 
October 17 – Tokyo, Japan 
October 18 – Japan, Saitama 
October 19 – Russia, Khabarovsk 
October 20 – Russia, Kemerovo 
October 21 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 23 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 24 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 25 – Russia, Saint-Petersburg 
on October 26 – Germany, Frankfurt 
on October 27 – Austria, Vienna 
, October 28 – Austria, Vienna 
October 30 – Germany, Dortmund 
October 31 – Germany, Dortmund

The only nights he is not working are 8, 22 and 29, presumably because flight schedules did not permit. 

How much energy, originality and fluidity a musician can invest each and every performance when he does not have a single night’s rest in a month is a matter for musicians and audiences to judge.

But one thing is certain: Valery Gergiev is the last of the living Stakhanovites, a breed of men who sacrificed all to meet the Kremlin’s quota.

Step forward, Valery, and receive your Stalin Prize.

Russian President Putin presents a Hero of Labour award to Mariinsky theatre director Gergiev during an awards ceremony in St. Petersburg

Oh, happy days….

mravinsky mural