The Sage in Gateshead tonight named its next managing director.

She is Abigail Pogson, head of Spitalfields Music in the east of London and a champion of that Arts Council mantra Learning & Participation.

She ticks the right boxes. Gateshead, in the northeast of England, needs to diversify its audience by age and origin alike.

abigail pogson

Christmas is coming and the diva’s doing crossover with Broadway actress Kelli O’Hara. The light-voiced Ms O’Hara is amazingly pitch true. Not sure if Ms Fleming is bang on the  note throughout the track. Check those opening measures.

fleming o'hara

Our first seasonal offering features the clarinet class at Shenandoah Conservatory playing the Icelandic Hymn Heyr Himna Smiður deep down in Virginia’s famous Luray Caverns. If feels like the end of the world. You will want to hear it again.




Here’s the standard choral version.


h/t: Garrick Zoeter.

You may recall this train station version which was last year’s Christmas sensation.


It’s my five-star album of the week on Click here.

schubert on the beach1

This, on a boutique label, is Schubert playing at the Schnabel level.

The death of Beryl Rubens, the viola-playing sister of a music-literary tribe, has called to mind these reminscences she recorded of the utopia she tried to found in the Catskills. ‘We were fed up with New York…. we lived together, and we got involved.’

beryl rubens

Catskill Reds from Louis Proyect on Vimeo.

Simon Dobson is  passionate, expressive composer. He writes mostly for brass bands. Not much brass in that.

Last year before Christmas, he sold the last of his instruments to avoid becoming homeless.

This month he was named British Brass Composer of the Year for this quirky and original piece:

simon dobson

Go, Simon.

The Sydney café siege has shut down the nearby opera house. Tuesday’s children’s shows are cancelled, as is a Damon Albarn performance in the concert hall.

The site was evacuated after reports of a suspicious package.

The world prays that the siege will end safely.


sydney opera evacuated

Irene Dalis, who sang at the Met, Milan and Berlin before returning home to found the San Jose Opera, has died aged 89.

Lovely profile here:

irene dalis

The Italian film composer is extremely disgruntled with his recent work for Quentin Tarrantino.

The pair worked together on Inglourious Basterds, and parts of Kill Bill. Morricone, 86, has cooked more spaghetti westerns than hot breakfasts. Tarantino, he says, ‘places music in his films without coherence.’ Ouch.


Never fail to be astonished at the munificence of US music supporters. A $20m gift for LA Phil last week, $11.5m for education this weekend.

Press release follows:




PHILADELPHIA, PA—December 15, 2014—The Curtis Institute of Music announces a combined $11.5 million in gifts from Board Chair Nina Baroness von Maltzahn, including a $10 million endowment gift to establish theNina von Maltzahn President’s Chair held by Roberto Díaz. Baroness von Maltzahn has directed an additional $1.5 million from the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation to support Curtis On Tour, the school’s global touring initiative and the program which first introduced her to Curtis in 2007. Her gifts are among the largest the school has received in its 90-year history.

“Since becoming board chair in June I’ve been even more impressed by the excellent work of the school’s leadership to envision the best possible education and training of these young musicians,” said Baroness von Maltzahn. “These gifts reflect my confidence in the administration and also my passion for Curtis’s programs and for student support.”

We have been talking to various friends of José Feghali, the 1985 Van Cliburn gold medallist who took his own life last week.

The person who was closer to him than any other was Jim Denton, a cellist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Jim and José shared an apartment with a third musician in 1982-83 and remained good friends. They released a joint recording only last year. Here’s Jim’s story:

José accompanied me (in London) at all my lessons with William Pleeth, which is how he learned the cello repertoire. I was back in Houston in 1985, when I found out he was in the semifinals of the Van Cliburn. I drove up to Ft. Worth (my home town) to hear him play an absolutely stunning Schumann Carnival! I believe he played Tchaikovsky in the Finals. I sat right next to him at the awards ceremony, which is on film from a TV special. They got down to the Bronze, which my friend, Barry Douglas, took and José’s name had not been called yet. Then when the Silver went to Philippe Bianconi, José and I hugged each other because he had won! Then there was an intermission and he played the 1st mvt. of Tchaikovsky. After the concert, José and I went to the reception together. I spoke in depth with Barry, who would win the Tchaikovsky Competition the following year.

jose feghali jim denton2

Jim and José, 1988

José and I were at a 1983 Jorge Bolet masterclass in London. Barry Douglas, who was in the audience, asked Bolet a question. José is at the piano playing Rachmaninov 3rd and he’s reached the cadenza. He plays it faster than hands should be allowed to move and Bolet is attempting to get José to slow down. José listens politely and then plays it FASTER! I’ll never forget that day. José and I were still laughing about that 30 years later.

I can’t tell you very much about his musical life because that’s not what we talked about when we were together. We talked about each other’s lives aside from music. Ever since José moved to Fort Worth in 1990 when he became Artist-in-Residence at T.C.U., he also became an extended member of my family. If he was in town, he would always share Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner (or both!) with me, my mother (who had an undergraduate degree in piano), my cousin and my aunt. Just 2½ weeks ago he spent Thanksgiving with my Mom and my cousin, Ben. I couldn’t be there due to Houston Symphony conflicts, but both Mom and Ben said he appeared very happy. José asked Ben for his contact information because he wanted to get together with Ben for lunch sometime before Christmas.

José and I talked on the phone right after that Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted to know how everything went and if he was going to be in town for Christmas or if he was going to Rio. If José was in town when I came to see Mom. José’s brother committed suicide about 4 years ago, so José had been commuting back and forth to Rio a lot to be with his mother during the Christmas holidays. He said he thought he was going to stay in town this year and we were both going to Mom’s and meet Ben for Christmas dinner. He sounded fine on the phone with me. I would’ve thought if something was bothering him, he would have brought it up then. But not a hint.

José knew a LOT about recording. He had engineered and produced his colleague John Owing’s CD “The American Piano” for Koch International; he had produced, edited and mastered his student, Adam Golka’s CD, “Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 1 and Beethoven: ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata” for First Hand Records; and he had mastered the discographies from “Marilyn Horne: The Song Continues” and “Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy”. He also did a lot with the early Cliburn Competition tapes. These are but a few of the many recording projects he had been involved with.

Just a few weeks prior to this time last year – 2013 – I was staying with José in Ft. Worth. We were desperately mastering the recording of our recital together from 25 years ago in Honolulu to get it out before Christmas. We had recorded it back then on VHS (which was the best way to record in stereo at the time) and it had to be digitized and mastered with no editing! José rose to the occasion … no great surprise there!

José’s depression was not exactly a secret to those of us who knew him well. He and I talked about depression at length on numerous occasions. I believe he was under the care of a psychiatrist because we would talk on each of my visits about which antidepressants he had tried – which seemed effective and which weren’t, which ones I had used and which had worked for me. If it was something he hadn’t tried, he’d ask his doctor. But José ALWAYS did his own research about pharmaceuticals … what the side effects were, success rates, etc.

You asked me what José wanted from life? I participated in José’s wedding back in the early ’90s which ended badly for him, along with several relationships afterward. I was widowed almost 8 years ago, so one of the things I know we both wanted was someone to grow old with together. This was very important for him.

jose feghali jim denton

Jim and José, 2009

Katherine Jenkinson, cellist of the Aquinas Piano Trio, was booked last week to play with her group at the Oriental Club in London’s West End.

oriental club

The club is one of those crusty relics of empire that cling to the London scene by dint of a wealthy membership and a book of rules that makes the old boys feel distinguished. Katherine, to her dismay, fell foul of one of the club’s rules.

katherine jenkinson

Katherine has an 11 week-old baby, Olivia. She turned up at the Oriental Club with Olivia and a baby-minder in the reasonable expectation that they could stay in her dressing room during the concert.

Not a chance. The club bye-laws, Katherine was told, refuse admission to children under the age of 12. No exceptions.

The Aquinas Trio performed Haydn G Major (Gypsy), followed by Saint-Saens from their recent CD. The second half was Mendelssohn C Minor.

During the concert, Katherine’s baby-minder had to walk Olivia around Marks & Spencer. In the interval, she brought Olivia to be breast-fed – not in the august premises of the Oriental Club, but in their car nearby on a freezing street.

Katherine tells Slipped Disc: ‘I’d arranged a second babysitter to be at home with my 4 year old son as I’m fully aware that it is often inappropriate to take children to such events. Does this really apply to a breastfed 11 week old babe in arms?

‘Our dressing rooms were two floors down with beds (prefect for looking after a baby). No sound could possibly have spilt to the concert or other events. I found the way they handled the whole situation very upsetting.’

The Oriental Club describes itself as ‘a Private Members Club with a colourful past and a bright future’. One somehow doubts that, on this form.

We have not approached the club for a comment. Dinosaurs cannot speak.


baby olivia