It’s Alfie Boe on the breakfast promo trail. Watch here.

Not sure about the remedy. It never worked for Björling.

Still, at least Alfie has stopped abusing opera and its singers.


alfie boe

The conductor, 72, was received today at the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis.

The Middle East was discussed. ‘It was very cordial,’ said Barenboim.

It was the first meeting between the two South Americans.

Barenboim had several encounters with the music-loving Pope Benedict.



Bernd Loebe, intendant of Frankfurt Oper, has let it be known that music director Sebastian Weigle is renewing his contract until 2023.

The weekend saw the final performance of the stalwart Norwegian baritone Terje Stensvold, who is 71. After a solid career in Oslo, Stensvol (l.) sang Wotan in Germany at the age of 61 and gave more than 100 performances in this role.


A reminiscence by Joel Cohen of the Boston Camerata, exclusive to Slipped Disc:


I had the enormous good fortune of meeting Duke Ellington backstage at the Newport Jazz Festival, about an hour before his history-making set and the famous Paul Gonsalves solo. Ellington played his Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, Gonsalves took a long, long white-hot solo, the crowd went wild, and Ellington’s career was re-launched.

duke ellington newport

I was a socially immature fourteen and I watched him charm into helplessness the middle-aged, Jewish-liberal lesbian lady whose charge I was. “Well, I could never have imagined,” said the Duke, “that my good friend Judge Handel had such an elegant, magnificently beautiful daughter.” He crooned this to her before offering me his signature on the Festival program book [How I wish, how I wish, I still had that book. There were autographs as well from Basie and Jimmy Rushing, who wrote “Thanks for asking,” and others].

Wide-eyed, I took all of this in and filed it away for future reflection.

I must have 15 Ellington CD’s in my collection, but oddly enough not the Newport concert. I think the near-riot in the audience must have scared me — I was only a little kid after all.

I guess along with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen, Ellington ties as the most powerful musical personality I ever managed to encounter. But neither of those two French worthies ever gave me a lesson in how to seduce a pretty woman.

I did not realize at that point in my life what an incredible privilege I was exercising. Ms. Handel was welcomed backstage, and greeted with affection, because her B and B was one of the few to lodge black musicians and to treat them with exactly the same dignity and respect as the white guests. The guests at her Bella Vista Lodge, where my family stayed, included pianist Hazel Scott, and the Basie drummer Sonny Payne, whose dynamism and rhythmic energy fascinated me.

The beautiful, elegant Ms. Scott, who was married to Harlem preacher/politician/power broker Adam Clayton Powell, confided to my mother that she preferred when on the road to go on Sunday mornings to Catholic mass rather than to a Protestant service, where she risked being turned away because of her color.

James Erb was founding conductor of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, which he directed from 1971 to 2007.

He made terrific settings of the 110 Magnificats of Orlando di Lasso and is most widely known for choral versions of core Americana.

james erb

Holly Mulcahy, concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, writes:

My fondest memories as a member of the Richmond Symphony were of Jim Erb and his family. During my first couple years I rented a room with the Erbs and they took me in as one of their family members. Winters would be warmed with and old recording of a symphonic great, a fire every night, with wood Jim chopped himself earlier in the day.

Jim and I bonded as fellow musicians and friends as we were both from Colorado, both huge fans of Bugs Bunny, and both fans of a good debate about music (I usually lost). Upon hearing I’d never heard of the great Beethoven work, Missa Solemnis, Jim went crazy, yelling “WHAT?! This cannot be!!!” and shoved 3 different CDs at me to go listen to immediately.

His passion for continual learning about and experiencing music was contagious for me. His drive to never stop writing about, performing, and listening was a good role model for all of us. I’m grateful to have called him a friend, mentor, and example. But like most musicians that pass, Jim will live on through the music he taught, wrote, and shared. May he rest in peace and may his love of music continue to be passed on and on…

Obit here.

Oliver Janes, 23 has been named lead clarinet of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

His grandfather John Fuest was Principal Clarinet with the CBSO from 1955 to 1970.


Oliver janes  FUEST11

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The pre-release copy has just landed on the mat. The staff are ripping it open, dying to check those Russian umlauts.


netrebko strauss 4 last songs

Don’t get me started on Alkan. He’s been an obsession of mine for half a lifetime, and for more than musical reasons. We share a common ancestry among Alsatian Jews and a plethora of cultural affinities.

Charles-Valentin Alkan was a 20th century composer who had the misfortune to live in the 19th, one who anticipated musical ideas that we now ascribe to Mahler and, in some cases, to Zemlinsky and Schoenberg.

Long story.

Suffice it to say that when I was sent a recording of Alkan’s music on an undernourished instrument of his time, my instant reaction was rejection.

Guess what? It’s Album of the Week on Read here.


To kick off the 150th birthday year of Jean Sibelius, the Vienna Philharmonic planned to play n New Year’s Day the Finnish composer’s famous Valse triste.

What they apparently forgot is that Sibelius lived to the age of 91 and is still in copyright.

When his publishers quite reasonably asked for a royalty that reflected the concert’s audience of 60 million in 73 countries, the mean team of the Vienna Philhamornic issued this notice:

“Die Wiener Philharmoniker bedauern außerordentlich, das bereits bekanntgegebene Programm des Neujahrskonzertes 2015 abändern zu müssen. Das im Gedenken an den 150. Geburtstag von Jean Sibelius angesetzte Werk Valse triste wird wegen unannehmbarer Forderungen des Verlages im Rahmen des Neujahrskonzertes 2015 nicht aufgeführt werden.” 

In other words, we’ve changed the rpogramme.

The amount requested by the publisher was 4,000 Euros. The Vienna Phil refused to pay more than 2,000. The orch recently trousered a million dollars from Sibelius’s near-compatriot (the composer was half-Swedish), the Birgit  Nilsson Foundation.

Have they no shame? Absolutely none.

vienna phil

h/t: Tero-Pekka Hennell

UPDATE: Now read the publisher’s response here.

Parents have been notified today that David Thomas is leaving because ‘he has found the role less enjoyable and satisfying’.

Outsiders might suspect that the prolonged culture of cover-up and civil war might have something to do with it.

Thomas will have spent three years at the Purcell. He leaves at the end of next August to become master of music at Winchester.

The chairman of governors says they are ‘very sorry to be losing David’.

Letter from the Chairman of Governors 2014-11-17 (1)

The Purcell School finds itself even deeper in the mire.


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The quote comes from Jonathan Meese, the 2016 Parsifal director who has just been fired by the hereditary Wagner women.

They must be taken with a pinch of salt, given Meese’s own Nazified antics.



However, some of his comments cut close to the bone.

Meese tells Der Spiegel:

– Bayreuth has not been about art for a long time.

– It’s about self-preservation, power and the battle against declining relevance.

– The Wagner women are hypocritical and cynical.


“Es geht in Bayreuth schon lange nicht mehr um Kunst. Es geht um Selbsterhalt, Macht und den Kampf gegen die sinkende Relevanz”. In Bayreuth herrsche eine “Kultur von Befehl und Gehorsam”; Meese sprach auch von Einschüchterungsversuchen. Die Leitung der Festspiele sei “verlogen und zynisch”.

Song of the Lark has been taking a fine toothcomb to the Minnesota Orchestra tax returns.


Among the small print she finds that the organisation carried on selling concert tickets during the notorious lockout year (to whom? the Martians?) and that it paid the president, Michael Henson, a handsome bonus for running the orchestra without any musicians.

It’s an Alice in Wonderland story. Read here.

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Reader’s question: Why do you publish only half of Henson’s face?

Slipped Disc: For his own protection.