When we ran the question of best country past opera singers a few months back, the consensus seemed to be that Germany offered the most opportunities, the best living conditions and the greatest satisfaction.

It’s tougher for orchestral players.

Scandinavia and the Netherlands offer great family lifestyle but below-average pay.

Britain has lots of work but not always the job security to go with it.

Switzerland has lovely views and moos.

Across the US, conditions vary widely.

cellos beach

Actually, it comes down to cities.

London, Berlin and New York are magnets for orchestral musicians because of the sheer diversity of work and contacts.

Vienna, Los Angeles and Paris are getting to be that way. Munich may well have the best lifestyle for singles, followed by Amsterdam, Sydney and possibly Shanghai .

Or do you find otherwise?

Where would you choose to live as an orchestral player? And where would you avoid?

What’s the best (and worst) city for a classical musician to live in 2015?

(If we get enough responses, we’ll create a chart).


DG are about to release their first harpsichord album in three decades.

Mahan Esfahani convinced Steve Reich that his Piano Phase would work just as well on an instrument of Bach’s time, and even better with a Bach companion piece.

The result? Well, here’s a forestaste.

mahan esfahani nl

It is the ineluctable fate of unknown music by unfamiliar artists on quaint-named labels with brown-on-black covers to fly unopened to the nearest bin. So it’s something of a miracle that you are reading about this release, and something of an act of contrition that I am designating it Album of the Week.

Click here for my Album of the Week on sinfinimusic.com.


Just in from our associates at Chicago Classical Review:

Chamber orchestra Ars Viva’s season-closing concert next month will be its final performance.

Music director Alan Heatherington made the announcement at Sunday’s Ars Viva concert at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

Gayle Heatherington, Ars Viva excutive director, said Monday morning that the ensemble was in “excellent financial health” with record subscription and single ticket sales and that the decision to draw the curtain was purely “a personal one.”

More here.


Our observer at the German Music Council’s search for conductors of the future came away dejected.  There were 24 candidates. Only one woman made it into the second day, and she was soon discarded.

Unlike past rounds that produced such winners as Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and Shi-Yeon Sung, both of whom found posts at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, this week’s winners were drearily male.


l-r: Dominic Limburg, David Niemann, Hossein Pishkar, Nuno Coelho Silva, Jiri Rozen

Our observer thought the Portuguese candidate had possibilities.

Two judges from Zurich and Hamburg each had two of their own students among the winners. So it goes.

Here’s the press release:

Das Förderprogramm des Deutschen Musikrates für den dirigentischen Nachwuchs nimmt neue Stipendiaten auf.

Nach Sichtung der Bewerbungsunterlagen und des eingeschickten Videomaterials wurden 24 Kandidaten zum Auswahldirigieren mit der Philharmonie Südwestfalen nach Hilchenbach eingeladen. Eine fünfköpfige Jury unter dem Vorsitz von Prof. Johannes Schlaefli bewertete sowohl die Probenarbeit der Kandidaten an verschiedenen Werken als auch das Begleiten eines Solokonzertes. Nach zwei Durchgängen entschieden sich die Juroren für die Aufnahme von Nuno Coelho Silva (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste), Dominic Limburg (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste), David Niemann (Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg), Hossein Pishkar (Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf) und Jiří Rožeň (Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg).

Die neuen Stipendiaten erwartet im DIRIGENTENFORUM ein umfangreiches Arbeitsprogramm mit Berufsorchestern unter Anleitung von renommierten Dirigentenpersönlichkeiten. Proben und Aufführungen in den Bereichen Musiktheater und Sinfonik stehen dabei im Zentrum. Darüber hinaus gibt es regelmäßige Kooperationen mit Kammerorchestern und Spezialensembles für Alte und Neue Musik. Assistenzen, Förderkonzerte, Preise und Stipendien ergänzen die Förderbausteine des DIRIGENTENFORUMs.


Justina Gringyte who will sing Carmen

This is (we think*) Justina Gringyte who will sing Carmen at English National Opera from May 20.


And here’s the unalloyed Jenkins who once talked of singing opera but never did.

At first glance, we thought ENO had finally talked her into it.

h/t: Yehuda Shapiro


* Memo from the Department of Dirty Tricks: Apparently, ENO uses models in some poster campaigns, perhaps because they are less sexy than proper opera singers and hence unlikely to offend users of the London Underground.

This (below) is the real Gringyte, the genuine article.  Much more appealing than the KJ-lookalike.


The senior sister at Bayreuth, who turns 70 tomorrow, will be stepping down this summer with few signs of regret.

Although she has kept her own counsel about losing the joint directorship with her half-sister Katharina, sources close to Eva have been letting it be known that her departure is gentle and consensual. She will remain a consultant and a partner in the family enterprise.

Eva was evicted from Bayreuth after her father Wolfgang divorced her mother to marry PR chief Gudrun Mack, a woman one year older than his own daughter. But she was reconciled with Wolfgang before his death and those traumas are long past. In a rare press interview last year, Eva said: ‘With my half sister all is going well.’

eva wagner

We have received an eye-witness account from a musician who was on the British Airways flight to Sao Paolo from which members of the Svetlanov Orchestra (artistic director Vladimir Jurowsky) were removed at Heathrow Airport. The orchestra itself has blamed BA for harsh measures. British Airways has declined to comment.

Here is unedited testimony from the musician, who has requested anonymity.


svetlanov orchestra


Hi Norman; well, we were told by the captain that there would be a delay due to some unspecified passenger problem……

Then the police turned up and according to one of the stewardesses there were some drunk Russian musicians who were being escorted off the plane. The number 41 was mentioned……. After a short delay, they left the plane with no trouble apart from a couple of of slightly rowdy characters who were clearly intoxicated……

After they left, the captain explained more fully: two of the group were drunk and abusive to staff and other passengers on the flight from Moscow, yet somehow had managed to be allowed on the São Paulo flight. The Captain wasn’t having any of this and took measures to eject the two culprits. However the rest of the group then insisted that if they go, then they all go, so all 41 left the plane…….

We then had to hang around until the crew checked all the hand baggage holds and of course wait for the luggage of 41 passengers were off-loaded. We eventually departed 2 hours and 20 minutes late. The crew and cabin staff were brilliant and despite everything, the atmosphere on board remained amiable. The captain even offered views of the flight deck, something quite unusual in this day and age……..

I was not able to find out what sort of a musical group was involved, whether it was a small classical orchestra …. Incidentally, there was a group of young Portuguese folk musicians and dancers also on board who were giving concerts in São Paulo: they behaved impeccably…… The crew were able to make up some time, and we arrived in SP 1 hour and 50 minutes late.


Arabella Steinbacher tells Bild she can’t bear standard concert wear.

Too many sequins. Too tight in the wrong places.

So for the past nine years Arabella, 33, has designed her own. She takes the sketches to a hometown dressmaker in Munich to be made up.


Ralph Sharon, the London-born jazz pianist who gave Tony Bennett his greatest hit, has died full of years in Boulder, Colorado. In 1961, Sharon found ‘I Left my Heart…’ in a pile of old music an brought it to his new partner.

tony bennett ralph sharon

Bennett wrote of him: ‘Hooking up with Ralph was one of the best career moves I ever made.’

Sharon retired as Bennett’s musical director in 2002.


Ian Pace, a paid-up member of the tenured tribe, has a confession to make:



I have encountered too many academics – not a majority, but still too many – who have very little interest in listening to music, at least in a manner which requires any sustained attention. Some even have a sneering and superior attitude to anyone who really cares about music at all, and exhibits any enthusiasm for it. I have even had the misfortune to be faced by the argument that playing music in lectures is a waste of time. I find those people of this persuasion, and much of their work, life-denying, bleak and depressing, and this tendency is fundamentally in opposition with every reason I wished to be a scholar myself, and all the values I wish to encourage in students.

There are various disciplines which, at worst, serve in large measure to enable the scholar to ‘dominate’ the object of their study. These enable the scholar to stand in a position of superior judgement to other people or the fruits of their endeavours, dissecting them in a judgemental fashion, frequently of a dismissive variety. Amongst the disciplines I would characterise as prone to this are psychoanalysis, some varieties of anthropology and ethnography, and indeed some types of ideology critique and other forms of cultural ‘interrogation’ (including some undertaken from the position of gender studies, post-colonial studies, orientalism and so on). Ultimately, many serve to flatter the scholar, and thus inflate their scholarly capital within the field of academia, but what is their wider value?

I fear that this is equally the case with musicologists not interested in engaging with, listening to, and opening up their own ears and minds to music, treating it instead at most as something to be consumed and then even excreted, or basically ignored in an aural sense.

I fear Ian may be right. And they may be a majority. Read Ian’s full post here, and discuss.