Derek James, a well-known trombone player in the London orchestras, died on New Year’s Eve, aged 85.

Born in Llandybie near Ammanford, South Wales, in 1929, Derek won the Trombone Solo Competition at the Welsh National Eisteddfod three years in a row. In 1955, he joined the Royal Opera House Orchestra, in 1964 the London Philharmonic, and in 1981 the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Here are his tips for young players.

derek james


Our friend Holly Mulcahy, concertmaster at Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, has some useful tips for concertgoers.


Afternoon Matinee Concert
Women: Pants are fine. Jeans are fine, just bump it up a notch. If you wear jeans, wear a dressier top, wear fancier shoes, and add an interesting piece of jewelry. Dresses and skirts are fine, but keep the sparkles for the evening concerts.
Men: Slacks or jeans with a button down shirt.


More here.


The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, founded by Carnegie Hall, is heading to China this summer. Dutoit conducts. Players to be announced in March.




(January 7, 2015; NEW YORK, NY)—Carnegie Hall today announced details for an extensive tour to China by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) in July 2015. This remarkable ensemble, created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, annually brings together some of the most talented young musicians from across the United States, ages 16-19, offering them an opportunity to train at the highest level with some of the world’s greatest artists while also serving as cultural ambassadors for their country, connecting with people around the world through their passion for music.

The orchestra will perform nine concerts in the US and abroad from July 1026, visiting many of China’s greatest concerts halls in several different regions of the country, including the National Centre for the Performing Arts in China’s capital city, Beijing. This historic first visit to Asia by NYO-USA follows acclaimed inaugural year performances in Washington DC, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and London in 2013 and a coast-to-coast US tour in 2014.

The 2015 NYO-USA China tour schedule is as follows:

July 10 Purchase, NY Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, SUNY
July 11 New York, NY Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
July 15 Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts
July 17 Shanghai Shanghai Oriental Art Center
July 19 Suzhou Suzhou Cultural and Arts Centre
July 21 Xi’an Xi’an Concert Hall
July 23 Shenzhen Shenzhen Concert Hall
July 24 Guangzhou Xinghai Concert Hall
July 26 Hong Kong Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Celebrated conductor Charles Dutoit, Conductor Laureate of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Artistic Director of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, leads NYO-USA this summer, joined by internationally-renowned pianist YUNDI as guest soloist. The orchestra’s 2015 concert program to be performed at all tour venues will include the premiere of a new work from award-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun, commissioned by Carnegie Hall especially for NYO-USA as well as Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”) with YUNDI; and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.


Alison Pybus was one of three senior agents who were fired in IMG’s latest loss-cutting venture last September. She was vice president in charge of the vocal division.

Today, we hear from her that IMG are refusing to pay the reasonable travel and entertainment expenses she ran up in the course of her work.

Here’s what she says:

IMG Artists is refusing to pay me outstanding T & E expenses. They owe me well over $10,000 and refuse to respond to phone calls or letters from my attorney.

Another example of abuse of power by IMG and completely unacceptable. Upon termination at IMG after 20 years, I was asked to take trips to consolidate clients and smooth over relationships with them and IMG. Now they will not reimburse me.

Reflect a moment.

If this is how fraudster-owned IMG (pictured) treats its agents, imagine what they are doing to artists.

The orch has retrieved this pic from archives of the recently deceased Bess Myerson at its 1962 gala.

The beauty queen played Rach 2 with the Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall on May 31, 1946, exactly a year after she won the title. Not just a pretty face.

bess myerson

Kan (Khan) Bonfils, who played the King opposite Elaine Paige in London in 2000, has died during rehearsals for Dante’s Inferno at London’s Rag Factory.

His agent said: ‘During rehearsals for an upcoming performance, he collapsed and was unable to be resuscitated.’

kim bonfils

Larry Johnson at South Florida Classical Review reports that Florida Grand Opera is pulling out of Fort Lauderdale.

Susan T. Danis, FGO boss, said if she doesn’t receive $400,000 from local donors by January 31, FL gets cut off.

‘It’s not the way I want to do it,’ said Danis. ‘But I’ve tried everything else.’

Losing Fort Lauderdale would confine FGO to Miami base and a shrinking supporter base.


south florida

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has named Regina Han general director of Korea National Opera. It’s a key post. South Korea is producing many of the winners of international singing contests.

Regina, 44, also known as Han Ye-jin, enjoyed a stage career as an international soprano before entering academic life.

regina han


Bachtrack has published its annual account of who did what in 2014. As usual, women conductors and composers are somewhere way below the radar and the busiest orchestras are mostly American.

That, however, is a slight distortion.

The rankings are based on concerts listed on the Bachtrack site. That’s quite limiting.

Many European orchestras are busier by day than some US orchs are by night. They are recording games and film tracks, bustling abaout on social and educational missions and generally fulfilling more ‘services’ (the US term) than their transAtlantic counterparts.

So, while the rankings are of interest, they are not a valid reflection of the productivity of orchestras.

Let alone conductors.

world orchestra for peace

It’s 60 years ago tonight – January 7, 1955 – that Marian Anderson finally broke the Metropolitan Opera’s colour barrier.

We think now of American apartheid as belonging to the former slave-owning southern states. It didn’t. It existed, too, in the metropolitan heart of liberal New York.

Anderson, whose cause had been championed by no less than a president’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, had to wait until her late fifties to make her Met debut. On breakthrough night, she sang Ulrica, in Ballo in Maschera.

Too late for her, perhaps, but she broke the ice for others to follow.

NPR has a short feature, here.

Sixty years is not a long time. It’s within the living memory of many Met subscribers. The house should pause tonight to remember.


They have a series of New Year concerts throughout January at the South Denmark Philharmonic.

In order to rouse the bucolic audience from festive stupor, the enterprising conductor David Riddell decided to absail down from the roof – a matter of 15 metres – while the orch struck up the Radetzky March.

The effect was so exhilarating, a spokesperson said, that the orch is thinking of making it a requirement for all other conductors.
absail conductor

photo (c) SDP/Slipped Disc

Might work well in Vienna.