Friederike Starkloff has taken over as first concertmaster of the NDR Philharmonic in Hannover.

Originally from Chemnitz, she has won any number of competitions and plays a J.B. Guadagnini, on loan from the Baden-Württemberg State Collection. She has recorded Mozart sonatas on the Oehms label and is a fearless performer.

She succeeds Volker Worlitzsch, who has retired.

friederike starkloff

Joshua Gersen his name is, and he starts in September.

A Curtis grad, he has been music director of the New York Youth Symphony for the past couple of years. WQXR have an interview here.

joshua gersen

In rugby news….. the chief executive of Welsh Rugby Union will step down after the World Cup this autumn.

Roger Lewis, who will be 61, is a former head of BBC Radio 1, Decca Records, EMI Classics and Classic FM.

He has one more job left in him.

Obvious vacancies: BBC Proms controller, Classic FM, English National Opera… IMG Artists…


roger lewis

Don Puryear of Steinway Piano Gallery of Houston writes:
Last week in the Steinway Showroom, I met Betty Ruth Tomfohrde. She asked me to play Chopin’s Ocean Etude on the Horowitz Steinway for her, and after I finished, I asked her to play Chopin for me. I’m not sure what I was expecting….but I wasn’t expecting THIS!

Ruth is the mother of Janis Susskind, managing director of Boosey & Hawkes music publishers, who is happy for this video to be widely shared. Juilliard trained, Ruth was professor at the Moore School of Music in Houston, and regular recital partner of Andor Toth (Sr.), Fredell Lack, and Laszlo Varga.

ruth betty tomfohrde

h/t: Rosie Johnson

Barely had they broken on Women’s Wear Daily as the new power couple of the opera stage than soprano Ailyn Pérez and tenor Stephen Costello are getting divorced (our social affairs correspondent reports).


Rumours had been floating for a while. Pérez is currently singing Micaela in the Met’s Carmen. On February 9, she told Latin Post: ‘I’m about to start a new page. A different life but I don’t know what it looks like. This one has been intense, I don’t know how I am going to lighten it up but maybe I’ll hang out with friends more, meeting new people, getting a hobby.’

The following day Costello announced on his web page: It is with great sadness that I share the news that my wife Ailyn Pérez and I have separated, with the intention of divorcing.  I am very grateful for all of the love we’ve received over the years from our friends, family, colleagues and fans, and hope you will continue to show your support for us by respecting our privacy at this difficult time.’

Their debut album, Love Duets, was released ten months ago. Sad.

Our social affairs editor reports the debut, on February 23 in Belgium, of Mila Elina, daughter of Mischa and Evelyn. We wish much happiness to the whole family.

maisky baby2maisky baby

John Luther Adams, this year’s Pulitzer and Grammy winner, reflects on his change of priorities:

john luther adams


When I was younger, I was a full-time environmental activist. In the 1970s and ’80s I worked for the Wilderness Society, the Alaska Coalition, and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center…. But the time came when I realized that I had to choose between a life as an activist and a life as an artist. In that moment, I decided that someone else could take my place in politics; and no one could make the music I imagined but me. So I took a leap of faith, in the belief that music and art can matter every bit as much as activism and politics. And over the years, as climate change and other global environmental threats have accelerated, and as our political systems have become increasingly dysfunctional, I’ve come to believe that, fundamentally, art matters more than politics.

Read the full, fascinating article here.

Charles Dutoit’s return to Montreal next year has not been universally applauded, reports Arthur Kapitanis in the Gazette. It is being quietly intimated that any musicians who have bad memories can drop out of the concert. Here’s what Arthur writes:


‘I think this will be a great concert and I am very much looking forward to it,’ Stéphane Lévesque, principal bassoon and president of the OSM Musicians’ Committee, said in an email.

Lévesque would not directly confirm rumours that musicians who harbour hard feelings would be given the opportunity to opt out of the concerts.

‘The administration has been supportive of the fact that Charles Dutoit’s return may still be a difficult topic for some,’ he said. ‘We are discussing with management how to best accommodate and be supportive to our colleagues.’

It is a measure of the sensitivity of the matter that the Musicians’ Committee has instructed players not to talk to the press.

Probably won’t impact on soloist fees, but might be accommodated in Suzuki teaching.

seth goldstein robot violin

Read more about Ro-bow here.

The UK Government is claiming a breakthrough in winning the first Chinese sponsorship for a British arts company. It’s worth half a million pounds over five years and it’s between Wuliangye Yibin Company, makers of a rice liquor, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, who don’t mind a drink.

whelton china 2


Liu Zhongguo, chairman of Wuliangye, said at a Downing Street reception: ‘This historic collaboration will integrate one of China’s premier beverage brands with classical Western music and we hope the sponsorship will inspire people to enjoy the harmonious balance of drinking fabulous alcohol while listening to world-class classical music. We look forward to strengthening the understanding and recognition between Eastern and Western culture for both the Chinese and British, and the great revitalization of the arts that this will bring.’

David Whelton, the Philharmonia’s managing director, is quoted in Chinese media saying: ‘ With the help of our orchestra, Wuliangye will get Royal favour and enter the UK market, and the global market.’ The Philharmonia’s patron is HRH Prince Charles. In Wuliangye’s press campaign in China, Prince Charles is mentioned several times as the ‘one who invited the chairman of Wuliangye to UK’.


whelton china


The composer’s son fled the Soviet Union in 1981, in what he describes as the ‘era of stagnation’. He has told  Russian interviewer that he wanted to tell the truth about his father and make a political protest.

But he has moved back now. ‘I want my children to grow up in Russia, to feel like real Russians. Even in America, I lived next door to a Russian Orthodox monastery. When we moved to St. Petersburg, there were no schools that were right for our children. So my wife, Marina, created her own school at the Church of St. Catherine… Much of my father is here, in St Petersburg.’

Full interview (in Russian) here.


photo: NYPL, 1938

The BBC has announced 20 contestants for this summer’s televised singathon.

Among them are three South Koreans, three Americans, two from Belarus and one each for a dozen other nations.

A Swansea soprano, Céline Forrest, is included by virtue of winning the Welsh Singers Competition.

celine forrest

No contestant made the cut from any other part of the United Kingdom at eight international auditions.

Imagine the Tchaikovsky Competition without Russians?

BBC. National broadcaster. Plot. Lost.