Jacques Barrot, president of the Festival de La Chaise-Dieu, has collapsed and died on the Paris Métro at the Sablons station, near Neuilly. He was 77.

Barrot served as a minister in several French governments under Giscard d’Estaing and Chirac. He rose to become European Commissioner for Justice in 2008, despite having been convicted of embezzling government funds in 2000 and funneling them to his party.

The international music festival was his retirement hobby.


She has been making waves at the keyboard, first as Riccardo Muti’s rehearsal assistant, more recently leading her own productions from the harpsichord. Many in the biz think Speranza Scappucci is in for a big baton career. Numerous agents have been bidding for her hand.

Speranza has chosen Stephen Wright at ICA to manage her worldwide.



rachmaninov piano

Tomorrow night in Naples Rachmaninov’s ghost will appear and give a “live” recital at Teatro Mediterraneo.

It’s an idea conceived by the Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda together with Julius Tuomisto, CEO of the Finnish software company Delicode. Through tech wizardry, Rachmaninov’s ghost will be seen performing 11 pieces that were recorded by the composer on piano rolls. Prosseda will then interview Rachmaninov on stage.

The animated 3D image of Rachmaninov’s ghost has been realized by Delicode, using its own softwares Ni-Mate and Z-Vector. The animated speaking face of Rachmaninov was realized by the Italian computer graphic artist Adriano Mestichella.

‘This project,’ says Prosseda, ‘has been conceived to bring classical music to people beyond the traditional audience. Only the 2 or 3 percent of the population normally attends piano recitals, and our goal is to reach the other 98 percent, using an innovative and attractive format, but still focusing on great music.’

The Ghost Concert is the opening event of PianocityNapoli, an innovative festival based on the pianocity format developed by Andreas Kern, which will present 200 piano recitals and 300 pianists in Napoli in three days between Dec. 5th and 7th.

Our New York operavores, Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn Milnes, have been to the Met’s Meistersinger. They’re on aspirin for the rest of the week.

And they raise the interesting question of who, exactly, is paying the tenor. Read here.



A remote control interview with fans.

Everything is wrong with this. Every replaced word, every musical perversion of an immortal song.

leonard cohen israel

UPDATE: Very glad to report that Leonard Cohen’s lawyers have taken the video down. Things happen, thanks to Slipped Disc.

However, another version survives on Youtube.

The Italian press is full of speculation, based on remarks attributed to one of the maestro’s sons that the proposal ‘has been discussed within family, after a phone conversation between dad and prime minister Renzi’.

Rumours abound that President Giorgio Napolitano (pictured), who is almost 90, will resign before the month is out.

But the idea that a conductor at the height of his powers will give it all up for ceremonial pomp and circumstance is patently absurd.

Muti, we fell sure, will give the same response as Kurt Masur did around 1990 when he was mooted for the German presidency: ‘I’m too busy.’

Of course, if they offered to make him Pope….


riccardo-muti napolitano

The fullest and most closely observed account of the soloist’s outburst at a coughing child has been published by the critic Evan Dickerson on the MusicOMH site. Evan writes:

The interval between the two movements was marked by extended and full-throated audience coughing, which noticeably irritated Chung. Just as Chung was about to resume playing a child coughed repeatedly in the slip stalls, prompting Chung to suggest that the parent bring the child back to a concert when older. Even if Chung was somewhat on edge at that moment, her interjection did nothing to calm the situation as shortly after this I witnessed a parent and two young children voluntarily exit the hall. Throughout the remainder of the concert Chung was to repeatedly fling glances towards where they had been sitting.

But the concert’s over. Is there a lasting aftermath, other than poor reviews?

Well, Kyung Wha’s well-planned, strongly supported and long-desired comeback has been painfully stopped in its tracks. It is impossible not to feel sympathy for her. She should not be demonised for unguarded remarks made at a moment of high tension. Let’s hope she bounces back.

However, there will be consequences:

– some young persons may never be seen again at a classical concert.

– some artists won’t change their attitude towards the paying public.

– the public image of classical music as forbidding, restrictive, elitist, user-unfriendly, uncomfortable, potentially embarrassing and generally up itself has been massively reinforced.


kyung wha chung rfh 2014


David Pountney outlines his storytelling vision for Chicago’s upcoming Ring here.



Seventeen out of 30 admin staff at the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra have signed a letter charging chief executive Park Hyun-jung with abusing their human rights. Ms Park, 52, is accused of abusive language and sexual harassment.

‘This statement is our cri de coeur from the employees who feel like they are standing on the edge of a cliff,’ they write. ‘The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra is a valuable cultural asset for Seoul’s citizenry. Because of one person, this cultural organization is shattering to pieces.’

She is alleged to have told one staff member: ‘if any damages occur in regard to the orchestra, you will have to sell your organs, because you won’t be able to pay [that debt] on your salary.’

Young female employees were ordered to ‘go out and sell records wearing miniskirts.’ Thirteen admin staff have left in the past two years.

There has been no response yet from Ms Park, whose contract runs to 2016.

park seoul


The top selling classical albums in the US last week were (according to Nielsen Soundscan):

1 Christmas at Downton (Warner)    6610 units

2 Ultimate Bocelli (Decca)                   3740

3 Andre Rieu (Decca)                             1736

4 Glass piano etudes (OMM)                 937


glass namekawa

5 C’mas in Harvard Square (Decca)    832

6 Trio Medieval (ECM)                               820

7 Joshua Bell (Sony)                                 284


downton abbey

Irina Tarasova, Russian arts minister, has announced a five-point tick-box that will be distributed to audiences at state-sponsored theatres from next year. She said that those theatres which get low audience ratings will be penalised with loss of subsidy.

She added: ‘If the state spends 30 million rubles on a production, it has the right to take into account audience reaction when most of the reviews are negative.’

Reaction from cultural leaders has been predictably hostile. One artistic director said: ‘In theatre there is no ‘like’ and ‘don’t like’. We are dealing with more sensitive distinctions. The state should fund innovation.’