Announced today, a call has gone out to ‘elite young instrumentalists aged 22- 31 from all over Spain’ to audition for the Bankia Symphony Orchestra (OSB). Full details here.

Hang on a minute.

Bankia is one of the rogue Spanish banks that had to be bailed out with taxpayers money in the past decade. Now it can afford an orchestra?

Not sure whether to laugh or cry.




Bizarre cover for the NY Philharmonic’s season brochure.

ny phil season

Alan  Gilbert has a thing for Finns.

Magnus Lindberg was his first composer in residence. Now he has chosen a fellow-conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen. Will New York warm to the former LA Phil music director? Does his music warrant the extra attention?



Here’s what the musicians think.

And the man himself.

press release:
The New York Philharmonic announced today that Esa-Pekka Salonen will be The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence for the 2015-16, 2016–17, and 2017-18 seasons. The residency opens in the fall of 2015 with music director Alan Gilbert conducting the New York premiere of Salonen’s LA Variations, which Salonen wrote when he was the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. LA Variations has since become a modern classic played by orchestras around the globe. In the spring of 2016, Gilbert will conduct the New York premiere of Salonen’s latest composition, Karawane, for orchestra and chorus, which was co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony, and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and premiered in Zurich in fall 2014.

Additionally, Salonen will lead the Philharmonic in Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie(with pianist Yuja Wang), the centerpiece of the Philharmonic’s Messiaen Week. An evening at SubCulture as part of CONTACT!, the Philharmonic’s new-music series, will be curated by Salonen; he will serve as advisor for CONTACT!, and he will co-curate the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL with Alan Gilbert, where a new Salonen orchestral work, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, will also be performed. Salonen’s LA Variations will be performed during the first of annual residencies by the Philharmonic with the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan taking place in October 2015, and selections from Karawane will be performed at a Young People’s Concert. 

I’m giving a talk on the evolution of Berlin as a musical epicentre as part of Mahan Esfahani’s concert this weekend.

In Notting Hill, of all places.

Do come if you can.


ASP15 BerlinAE A5 img

Click here for ticks.

Michael Schønwandt, 61, is the new chief conductor at Montpellier. Full info here.


agent’s pic

We hear that Martyn Rose has quit, as predicted.

His interim successor is Dr Harry Brünjes, a sometime Harley Street doctor who presides over a small medical industry and is married to a choreographer (official bio below).

The good doctor is an avowed supporter of ENO’s artistic ambitions. Whether he can raise a small fortune and sort out several malfunctioning departments before the cash runs out remains to be seen. ENO is at the threshold of A&E.




Dr Harry Brünjes initially graduated from London University and then qualified in medicine at Guy’s Hospital. The Premier Medical Group developed from his Harley Street practice. There was an initial period of organic growth, followed by an acquisition strategy which culminated in a trade sale to Capita in 2010, with Harry remaining as Chairman of PMG. He is also Group Medical Director of Capita, non-Executive Director of The Good Care Group and Chairman of Woodsta Investments.

Harry is Chairman of Lancing College, Vice-President of the College of Medicine and a Board member of the Expert Witness Institute, Valderrama Golf Club and the English National Opera. Outside of medicine, Harry enjoys all sport, is a former professional pianist and has a lifelong interest in music and theatre. He is a regular writer, broadcaster and lecturer. Harry is married to the choreographer/director Jacqueline Storey and they have four children.

UPDATE: Press release at 1400


21 January 2015

ENO chair Martyn Rose to leave, Dr Harry Brunjes to become acting chair

English National Opera (ENO), has announced today that its chairman, Martyn Rose, intends to step down from his role on 15 February 2015. Dr Harry Brunjes, currently serving as a non-executive trustee at ENO, will become acting chairman from 15 February 2015.

Speaking about his decision, Mr Rose commented,

“It has been a privilege to serve as chair of ENO, one of the world’s most renowned opera companies, recognised for its innovative and groundbreaking productions. ENO has faced a challenging and testing period during my time as chair. Working closely with the ENO executive, my priority has been to help shape and prepare the organisation for the changes necessary to ensure that it can continue to flourish with reduced public funding and maintain its production and artistic excellence. I wish ENO every success for the future.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Dr Brunjes commented: “We have been fortunate to have Martyn as our chair through a very demanding period for ENO. He has led the organisation successfully through his time, ensuring that we have the right commercial and artistic plans to thrive with the reality of less public subsidy in the future.”

Dr Brunjes added: “Now that our plans for the future are agreed and ready for review by  Arts Council England (ACE), our focus must be on the execution of these plans. That is the immediate priority for me, the board, and the executive team.”

The board will now embark on a search process for a new chair. Dr Harry Brunjes will remain acting chair until a new chair is appointed.

The Vienna State Opera has announced the death of Waldemar Kmentt, aged 86.

He made his debut with Karl Böhm in 1950 and appeared on all major European stages and festivals, including Salzburg and Bayreuth.

He sang in Carlos Kleiber’s only performance of a work by Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde in June 1967.


press release:

Die Wiener Staatsoper trauert um KS Waldemar Kmentt

Die Wiener Staatsoper trauert um den österreichischen Tenor KS Waldemar Kmentt, langjähriges Ensemblemitglied und Ehrenmitglied der Wiener
Staatsoper, der am heutigen Mittwoch, 21. Jänner 2015 im 86. Lebensjahr in Wien verstorben ist.
“Wir sind sehr traurig über den Tod von KS Waldemar Kmentt. Mit ihm ist gewissermaßen der Doyen des Sängerensembles der Wiener Staatsoper, ein Familienmitglied von uns gegangen. Mit seiner unvergesslichen Stimme und großen Persönlichkeit war er eine tragende Säule des berühmten *Wiener Mozartensembles‘ der Nachkriegszeit. Über dreieinhalb Jahrzehnte war er in vielfachem Einsatz seinem Haus und seinem Ensemble treu, das er wie kaum ein anderer Gesangssolist verkörperte, prägte und bei seinen Gastspielen an allen großen Opernhäusern der Welt vertrat”, so
Staatsoperndirektor Dominique Meyer.

KS Waldemar Kmentt wurde am 2. Februar 1929 in Wien geboren. Seine musikalische Ausbildung erhielt er an der Wiener Musikakademie bei Adolf Vogel und Hans Duhan sowie bei Elisabeth Radò. 1951 debütierte er als Prinz (Die Liebe zu den drei Orangen) an der Volksoper Wien (damals das Ausweichquartier der Wiener Staatsoper) und wurde kurz darauf Ensemblemitglied der Wiener Staatsoper. In diesem Haus verkörperte er
insgesamt 79 Rollen in 1.480 Vorstellungen. Zu seinen meistgesungenen Partien zählen Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (89 mal), Hans in Die verkaufte
Braut (80 mal) und die Titelpartie in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (54 mal). Weiters war er an der Wiener Staatsoper u. a. als Belmonte (Die
Entführung aus dem Serail), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Lenski (Eugen Onegin), Laca (Jen*fa), Tom Rakewell (The Rake’s Progress) sowie in
der Titelpartie von Ödipus Rex zu erleben. Bei der feierlichen Eröffnung der Staatsoper am 5. November 1955 verkörperte er den Jaquino (Fidelio).
1982 wurde er zum Ehrenmitglied der Wiener Staatsoper ernannt, wo er zuletzt am 25. November 2005 als Haushofmeister (Ariadne auf Naxos) zu erleben war. Weitere Auftritte führten ihn u. a. an die Volksoper Wien, die Mailänder Scala, die New Yorker Met, nach Rom, Paris, Amsterdam,
Brüssel, München und Stuttgart sowie zu den Festspielen nach Salzburg, Bayreuth und Edinburgh. 18 Jahre lang war KS Waldemar Kmentt
Leiter der Opernschule des Konservatoriums der Stadt Wien und war Träger des Großen Goldenen Ehrenzeichens für Verdienste um die Republik
Österreich und zahlreicher weiterer Auszeichnungen. Von April bis September 2013 widmete das Staatsopernmuseum KS Waldemar Kmentt eine Retrospektive, die in seiner Anwesenheit eröffnet wurde.


One more reason why young people – and minorities – are loath to go to the opera:


collier meyerson1



On Christmas morning, my parents gave me two tickets to the Opera for the first weekend in January. “It’s the orchestra, Collier,” my Poppi says. “Real good seats. You’re going to get to see the action up close.” My eyes bulge something wild when I look down and see the ticket prices: $307.50 each. They’re an aging middle class pair who don’t got millions in the bank.

I take my friend Allison because I know she’ll revel in the hundreds of dead animals draped over the hundreds of close-to-dead humans with me. I love the opera more for the pageantry of New York’s stale, geriatric elite than I do for the ornate costumes, the larger-than-life sets.

In the theater, a man taps my shoulder. “Excuse me, dear,” he says, with that almost-extinct thick New York accent. “Can ya put yah hair up? My wife has to sit on her coat in order to see past all that. And then you know of course the people sitting behind my wife won’t be able to see past my wife because she has to sit on the coat.”

I feel woozy. A giant fat frog crawls in my throat, then jumps like lightning straight down to my bowels. I’m on a roller coaster with a drop so high it’s illegal. I can’t find the words to reply to him. I only have a vision of my mom popping me real hard across my face for letting the old white man see me cry. She’s a militant “do not let the white folks win” type of broad.

Read the full Collier Meyerson here.


In his first break as assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony, Ken-David Masur takes over the coming weekend’s concerts from flu-stricken Tugan Sokhiev.

ken-David Masur1

press release:

In his first subscription concerts as BSO Assistant Conductor, Ken-David Masur will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a program of works by Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, and Rimsky-Korsakov, substituting at the last minute for Ossetian conductor Tugan Sokhiev who has had to withdraw from his BSO appearances due to illness; the flu and a sinus infection have prevented him from traveling to Boston this week.

Thursday, January 22, 8 p.m.
Friday, January 23, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 24, 8 p.m.
Ken-David Masur, conductor
Johannes Moser, cello

BERLIOZ Le Corsaire Overture
SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto No. 1

We heard earlier in the week that the chairman of English National Opera had sent a letter to his colleagues saying he wanted out. In a detailed analysis of the company’s structural and financial problems, Martyn Rose concluded that it would take more time than he could give to put the place to rights.

The Times has a slightly different version of events this morning. Maybe the chair just couldn’t be arsed.

Rose, a Conservative appointee, has been in the job less than two years. His predecessor, Peter Bazalgette, lasted just a few months before leaping off to the Arts Council where he imposed a swingeing $5 million cut on his former company.

What ENO needs in its present straits is a chairman of substance who believes in its artistic destiny, not a political muppet who is waiting for the next honours list.

Anyone know any white knights? The alternative could be dark nights at the Coli.  UPDATE: New appointment here.

coliseum eno

The coloratura soprano Siobhan Stagg has been summoned to rehearsal at a few hours’ notice to deputise at tomorrow’s Brahms German Requiem, and for the following two performances with Christian Thielemann.

She replaces Sybilla Rubens.

Siobhan has been winning hearts and minds at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where she’s singing Pamina next month. Christa Ludwig has gone on record saying her voice is one of the loveliest she has heard.


siobhan stagg

The artistic director of the Palau de les Arts in Valencia has been set free on police bail.

Her passport has been confiscated and she will be called in for further questioning.

Helga Schmidt and her predecessor, Ernesto Moreno, are being investigated for misappropriation of funds at the art centre since it opened in 2005.

The  judge is a prominent anti-corruption investigator.

So far, so legal and fit and proper.

But was it necessary to arrest a woman in her 70s at her hotel*, drive her to her workplace for five hours of evidence gathering and then subject her to daylong police interrogation?

The woman is artistic director of an opera house. She is an expert in casting operas, no more, no less. The money that passed through her hands was trivial compared to, say, anyone handling government defence or utility contracts. In a long career, she has never previously been accused of financial malfeasance.

The investigator in Valencia has taken a hammer to crack a peanut. It is possible that Helga’s human rights were breached. Without prejudicing the case in any way, one has to ask: was this an appropriate way to treat a lady of advanced years and impeccable character who has devoted her life to the arts and brought Valencia more opera than it has ever known?


*correction to earlier post