Our man in Moscow says there are plenty of chamber orchs that are led by women, but the main symphony orchestras maintain a male closed shop.

Anyone know of exceptions?

Soccer Euro 2012 Poland Russia

UPDATE: Our man in Moscow is wrong. Here’s a list of woman concertmasters from reader Max Grimm:

Lyudmila Tchaikovskaya, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra
Tatiana Porshneva, Russian National Orchestra
Alexandra Zhavoronkova, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
Elena Reznichenko, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia
Olga Dzerzhinskaya, New Russia State Symphony Orchestra

UPDATE 2: Our man in Moscow says these are all second (or deputy) concertmasters, who don’t qualify as occupants of the first seat.

This morning, they were six.

Tonight, jury president  Sakari Oramo announced three candidates for tomorrow’s Final Round:

david niemann

    Tung-Chieh Chuang (Taiwan)

    David Niemann (Germany, pictured)

    Jesko Sirvend (Germany)

A Minnesota-based study in Musicae Scientiae says live music calms patients down and takes their mind off their woes and how late their appointment is running.

If your practice can’t afford a decent piano and performer, book a classical guitarist.

An opera singer is probably not advised (though we’re thinking of funding a study).



In Budapest on other business, I stopped by Franz Liszt’s old place to examine his keyboard collection. No artist on any instrument did more to challenge manufacturers to make improvements to what he played. Over Liszt’s lifetime, largely driven by him, the piano matured from tinkle to thunder. Here’s what’s left in the apartment:

Two US-made Chickerings, the summit of 19th-century technology, still play thunderously well. An 1873 Bösendorfer, whose Viennese manufacturer was Liszt’s close friend, is distinctly more anaemic.

Concert grands aside, Liszt packed his rooms with every variety of keyboard: a groaning harmonium, for organ-like sonorities; a mute keyboard, for keeping the fingers supple on long journeys; a glass piano that pings out perfect pitch, never needing to be retuned. Best of all is a Bösendorfer keyboard that slides out of his desktop, relieving Liszt of the need to walk across the room to find a chord while writing a score. It is the prototype of the modern executive’s retractable computer keyboard, an ingenious romantic convenience.

Away from the apartment, I attended the first concert performance of Gergely Boganyi’s revolutionary new piano, the first to dispense with a third leg, a wooden soundboard and a traditional shape. If looks could kill, it would have knocked me dead on the spot. But what about the sound? you ask. I write about it in the new issue of Standpoint. Read the full essay here.



Regardless of the Berlin Philharmonic vote on May 11, Andris Nelsons is bringing his Boston band to Europe this summer for their highest profile tour in many years. Press release follows.


Andris Nelsons


Andris Nelsons will lead his first tour as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducting the famed ensemble in an extensive 12-concert, 8-city European tour, August 22-September 5, to include stops in the major music capitals of Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. The BSO’s 2015 European tour will feature the orchestra in performances at London’s Royal Albert Hall (8/22&23), Salzburg’s Grosses Festspielhaus (8/24&25), Grafenegg’sOpen-air StageWolkenturm (8/28), Lucerne’s Kultur und Kongresszentrum(8/30&31), Milan’s Teatro alla Scala (9/1),the new Philharmonie de Paris (9/3), Cologne’s Philharmonie (9/4), and Berlin’s Philharmonie (9/5).

[Yo-Yo Ma (photo by Todd Rosenberg)]Internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Strauss’s Don Quixote) and trumpet virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger (Brett Dean’s trumpet concerto Dramatis personaecomposed especially for Mr. Hardenberger) will join the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons for several tour performances. In addition, the BSO’s tour repertoire will include Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, Barber’s Second Essay for Orchestra, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 90. (Complete tour concert scheduleavailable here and at end of this release).

Among volumes of responses to our groundbreaking survey of woman concertmasters comes one from a well-known music director who wonders whether there is an appreciable difference when his orchestra is led by a woman, or a man. This particular maestro has a woman concertmaster at his orchestra, and his question is offered in the soirit of honest inquiry.

So what do our readers think? Especially the concertmasters among you.

And the conductors, of course.

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Hot on the heels of Milos, the NY agency has signed Pablo Villegas, a Spaniard. Who’s next?


David Zinman has pulled out of three June concerts with the Tohalle and – more seriously – from an international conducting course he was supposed to be heading.

They’ve called in a Latvian, Andris Poga, to cover the concerts. The course will now be given by Christopher Seaman, the retired Rochester conductor who wrote a book of tips for young conductors.

We wish David a swift recovery.

david zinman

UPDATE: And here’s why he cancelled.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has announced its post-Nelsons audition season when it will be running the eye over a gamut of possible music directors.

Two Israelis – Lahav Shani and Ilan Volkov – get repeat dates.

Shani, 26, winner of the 2013 Mahler competition, is an unknown commodity. Birmingham has a habit – Rattle, Nelsons – of going for a young unknown.

lahav shani

The only other contender with three chances to impress the orchestra is the Londoner, Nicholas Collon, a pro-Palestine sympathiser. Should be interesting.

It’s not unusual for major divas to join – and even chair (Beverley Sills) – boards of management once they go into retirement. But we can’t recall one who’s taken a seat at the mahogany table while at the peak of a busy career.

Joyce DiDonato just did. Rub your eyes and read the press release.


At a meeting on April 28, Joyce DiDonato was elected as a member of Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees. The news follows her hugely successful Carnegie Hall Perspectives residency this season, which showed off a wide range of her interests and talents not just as a leading opera star, but as an educator and passionate advocate for young singers.


Consolidating her place as a great favourite of Carnegie Hall audiences, Perspectives included a complete performance of Handel’s Alcina with The English Concert; a ‘Journey through Venice’ with pianist David Zobel, and a celebration of bel canto with The Philadelphia Orchestra. A particular highlight grew out of her participation in the Weill Music Institute’s Lullaby Project—a Carnegie Hall programme that engages young mothers from local shelters and prisons in song-writing workshops — when she selected and sang lullabies written by the participants in commissioned arrangements by Luna Pearl Woolf in a Zankel Hall concert with the Brentano String Quartet. She also led a set of public master classes for young singers which had an unprecedented number of views on themedici.tv website, nearly 300,000 to date, and worked extensively with New York City middle school students.


As a Trustee of Carnegie Hall, she joins an illustrious list of great artists including Emanuel Ax, Renée Fleming, Marilyn Horne, Yo-Yo Ma, Audra McDonald and Jessye Norman.


Joyce DiDonato said:

I am deeply humbled to have been invited to join Carnegie Hall as a Trustee, for joining an organization that so gloriously exalts music, harmony and peace not only in New York City, but around the globe, is precisely where I want to be. I’m particularly motivated to lend any help I can to the Weill Music Institute, which I think is truly leading the way for communities around the globe to use the music and the arts to heal and to uplift every member of their community.  I look forward to this being a most inspired and explosive collaboration!

Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director, Carnegie Hall said:

“We’re delighted that Joyce has agreed to join Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees.  Coming off a highly successful Perspectives series this past season, including wonderful performances and in-depth engagement with Carnegie Hall’s music education programs, we’re excited to continue our work with her in this meaningful and ongoing way.  Joyce’s experience as a leading international artist and her keen insights into music, education, and service to audiences will make her a great asset to our board.”

The Malko Competition jury has halved last night’s dozen to just six. Here are the survivors:




Giedre Slekyte (Lithuania)

Stilian Kirov (Bulgaria)

Risto Joost (Estonia)

David Niemann (Germany)

Jesko Sirvend (Germany)

Tung-Chieh Chuang (Taiwan)