Atlanta’s principal flute Christina Smith, locked out by her symphony bosses, has flown off on tour with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra after semi-detached Mathieu Dufour decided he did not want to blow out his last weeks with the CSO before joining the Berlin Philharmonic.

Here’s a first pic of Christina, rehearsing with Chicago principal oboe Eugene Izotov in Warsaw on Monday.

chicago flute



photo: (c)  Todd Rosenberg

h/t: Dianne Winsor

The second Toronto International Piano Competition opens next week. Juilliard’s Yoheved Kaplinsky is chairing the jury once again.

Five out of 24 contestants are her students; three belong to fellow-judge Fabio Bidini.

toronto piano


Kaplinsky’s students:

Maxwell Foster

Rachel Kudo
Brian Yuebing Lin
Yang Liu
Wenting Shi
Hyejin Kim
Rodolfo Leone
Jaemin Shin

How fair is that?


Meet Ann Meier Baker. She’s the new director of music and opera at the National Endowment for the Arts, starting January, announced today.

Until then she is president ad CEO of Chorus America. Be nice to Ann. Be very nice.

The musician is sure he knows the law. The cop is sure he knows better. This is only going one way, and that’s down.

musician subway

In a video uploaded to YouTube on Saturday, Lawrence and Leigh musician Andrew Kalleen is seen being assaulted and arrested by NYPD- even after knowing his rights and proving to the officer that he had not broken any laws. More here. Anybody want to bail him out?

Almost half a million people have watched by now.

We have first-night reports from our intrepid New York operagoers, Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E Milnes. For once, they had no trouble at all getting a premiere ticket.

Elizabeth writes: I was left with a great respect for the performers for persevering over a great deal of pressure and objection from the public, but an uncertainty on how I feel about the piece itself.  What put me at ease a bit at least, was seeing an Orthodox Jew in the lobby as we left explaining to other operagoers “No it isn’t supposed to be an actual retelling of the death of Klinghoffer, it’s an art meditation on the events.”  I appreciated seeing someone who I would have assumed was against the opera actually evaluating and appreciating the work.


cops in the met

Shawn writes: The only real disruption of the performance came during a brief break about 20 minutes into act one.  A single man somewhere down in Orchestra Left began screaming, “The Murder of Klinghoffer Will Never Be Forgiven!” over and over until he was ejected or left of his own accord.  I did find it of note that he waited until a musical break in the opera to stage his protest. As undisruptive as a disruption can be really.


Read their full reviews here.

The cellist Matt Haimovitz has sent us his experiences playing with the locked-out musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. read and reflect.


matta Haimovitz-Mark-Gresham-1024x640

photo (c) Mark Gresham


Hearing that I would be in town for a residency at Emory University, the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony reached out to me with the idea of an impromptu concert together. I have never before taken sides in a labor dispute, but my gut said, “Yes! In tumultuous times we need music more then ever, for the musicians, for the community, for music’s sake.”

Before confirming my participation, I polled some music industry folks whose expertise and opinions I respect. Nearly across the board I received stern warnings against participating in such a concert and “appearing to take sides” in the dispute. I was told “if you do this, you will never again be hired by a major symphony orchestra.”

I have never made life or artistic decisions based on that kind of consideration, so the warnings sounded hollow to me. … I do not profess to have any knowledge of the orchestra’s budget or deficit. Clearly there are issues to work out with the model. Will any symphony orchestra look the same 20 years from now? I doubt it, and I hope not. But I am a musician who is concerned about the priority and state of culture in our society today. If that debate were taking place, in good faith, with the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony, I would not have played. But it is not, and the decision to join them and make music was an easy one.”

I told my fellow musicians before we performed J.S. Bach, Osvaldo Golijov, David Sanford, Billy Strayhorn, Richard Prior, and Joseph Haydn, and I say it here: I am with you. Stand strong and lead us into the future as a role model for orchestras around the country. Stand up for the importance and relevance of music and culture in a time filled with the deafening noise of fear and mediocrity. I heard your voices and so did the audience on this night.

The evening following the performance with the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony, I was rehearsing a new concerto by composer/conductor Richard Prior at Emory University with the Emory Symphony Orchestra. Meters away, Amber Vinson, nurse-turned-Ebola-patient from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, was being escorted to the university hospital, by a surreal display of space-age sterility. On stage were young college faces concentrating on the shifting meters and new melodies of a freshly inked cello concerto, as just outside, a nurse was wrapped up in a cocoon, infected by a plague that could potentially kill millions. The proximity of a natural plague put everything that I had experienced the night before in a whole new light.

We need music more then ever to appeal to the better side of our human nature. We need music to replace fear with hope, silence with harmony, to lift our spirits, to open our minds and hearts to the world around us. Music of all the art forms is where we can hear so many voices simultaneously come together as one whole. The fight being fought by the Atlanta Symphony is not only about the lives and livelihood of 100-or-so musicians. It is about the struggle to lift our culture out of the black hole of bottom lines. This should not be a fight between an accountant and a musician, or a corporation and orchestra. It should be a discussion about what the symphony orchestra can be as an integral part of the community’s consciousness. I am with you Atlanta Symphony.

(c) Matt Haimovitz/Slipped Disc

Liliana Perna, 46 was recovering from surgery when she suffered cardiac arrest at her home in Chieti.

She danced and choreographed with many Italian companies and at the Sanders Theater in Boston.

liliana perna-2

press release:

The Anatomy of Melancholy is a new opera from musician Finn Beames based on the classic text. It’s at Testbed1 in Battersea and runs this week.

This original opera, inspired by Robert Burton self-help manual (published in 1621) and performed by eight musicians and seven singers, will take an intimate look at historical and modern-day experiences of depression through song, speech and mobile live-feed video screens. Via the exploration of a young man’s experience of depression and his family’s responses, the production draws attention to both personal experiences of and approaches to mental health, and intends to draw attention to the links between mental and physical health.

The work has been written in collaboration with molecular psychiatrist Professor Jonathan Flint, Head of the Psychiatric Genetics Group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and accordingly includes cutting edge research on genetics and depression so there’s also something very interesting in how musicians and artists are working with health professionals and medical researchers to create new perspectives on research and make this information more accessible for a wider audience.


This 1986 Volvo belonged to Witold Lutoslawski. A nifty little model in its day.

Screenshot 2014-10-21 12.14.28

105k on the clock.. Details here.

Basle, never renowned for its easygoing ways, has decided to get tough on non-EU freelance musicians who play in the city orchestra and opera house. It has told them there will be no further work permits for those without a fulltime job.

Freelancers who can’t get a contract will have to leave town.


(picture from Basle Carnival)

Graeme McNaught, 54, a concert pianist and lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, walked free yesterday despite a conviction for menacing his former partner, the author, Janice Galloway.

The Sherriff’s Court had previously decided that five charges had been proven against McNaught – including the charge of stalking and ‘acting in a threatening and abusive manner and and placing Miss Galloway in a state of fear and alarm’.

However, the court set him free unconditionally and said it has no authority to order psychiatric treatment.

The Conservatoire has made no statement with regard to his future teaching activities.

graeme mcnaught



Ms Galloway issued the following statement last night:

I am extremely dismayed and, given that the police in Scotland are presently attempting to press for greater justice for victims of stalking, shocked that the Sheriff was left with no means to enforce any kind of order, despite his judgement upon the findings that Graeme McNaught did indeed commit the acts of harassment (stalking) with which he was charged. 

At the root of the impasse lies two psychiatric reports, commissioned by the court, which directly render any kind of order – medical or legal – possible. This in turn, with no reference to evidence or the history of the case, effectively leaves Mr McNaught free to continue his harassment of me, my publisher, my agency, my friends and, most importantly, my family with no way forward. Indeed, it has already (a matter of hours after the impasse) already started. It also leaves him free to insist upon reinstatement at the Royal Conservatoire where he is presently a teacher, although suspended by the conservatoire itself for the time being. The idea of vulnerable students, some with no great command of English, being placed with a man mentally unfit for trial” must be abhorrent to piano staff. 

It is at the least inappropriate that, at a time when the police struggle to place proper concern regarding harassment and the long-term psychological effects of stalking and harassment upon victims before courts (a ground-breaking initiative by Scottish Police), that the psychiatric profession remain in a position to sideline such efforts without appeal. 

After seventeen years of disruptive, spiteful, bizarre and sexually offensive behaviour, I am left with continuance of established harassment without even the intervention of a medical order as the reasonable decision of health professionals. Medically unfit to stand trial yet not being required to accept treatment makes an ill match. Something is badly out of step, and badly outwith the reach of justice. I have heard the Lord Advocate intends to look into cases of stalking and internet abuse, especially with regard to so-called “revenge porn”, in future. I hope so. 



This man want the show to go on.



This guy represents a wolf sanctuary.


The demonstrator on the right (in skullcap) calls the protest misguided.

Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing?


photos (c) Elizabeth Frayer/Slipped Disc