We regret to report the death today of Brian Couzens, founder of the Chandos label. He was 82.

From an inauspicious base in Colchester, Essex, starting in 1979, he launched numerous international conducting careers – Mariss Jansons, Neeme Järvi, Jiri Belohlavek, Edward Gardner, Gianandrea Noseda and many more.

His repertoire tastes were broad and adventurous. Arvo Pärt and Mieczyslaw Weinberg made early appearances on Chandos, along with much neglected English music.

Uninterested in personal glory, Brian left the label in the capable hands of his son, Ralph. Our respects to his memory and sympathies to the family. Many artists will feel sad tonight.


UPDATE: How Brian Couzens twice saved the record business here.


Brian Couzens (l.) with Sir Charles Mackerras and son, Ralph.

Fascinating story on the struggle of  baritone Jason Duika, who suffers up to 500 ticks a day but has graduated from IU  Jacobs School of Music and is starting a professional career. Read here.

And watch Jason explain how he overcomes the condition.

jason duika

New School’s Mannes College of Music Prep has suspended David Oei, 64, after he was charged with forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child. Oei is accused of groping a 15 year-old female student during a private lesson at his West 57th apartment.

He denies the charge, which has shocked a wide circle of musicians in and around the city.  Oei, who has taught at the New School for 15 years, is also involved with Bennington. Friends believe him incapable of the alleged offence.

His wife, the violinist Eriko Sato, hugged her husband as he was allowed to leave court on his own cognisance. He will appear there again on May 11.


We may be reaching the point where unchaperoned lessons in a teacher’s apartment are simply inadvisable.

We hear that Mahan Esfahani is flying out to Chicago the week after next for his US orchestral debut.

The South African Kristian Bezuidenhout was due to play the Poulenc concerto but has pulled out for health reasons. Not many in Illinois have the Poulenc under their fingers. Mahan knows the piece back to front, is an Iranian-born US citizen and is about to release a Steve Reich/J S Bach disc on DG.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy or at a better time.

mahan esfahani dg

No more sitting on the fence.

A source in South Korea tells us that three days ago police raided the offices of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra for a second time.

A prosecutor was in attendance, explaining that this was an investigation into an alleged conspiracy against the former chief executive Hyunjung Park.  Ms Park left the orchestra after a petition of 17 employees was published in December 2014, accusing her of bullying, sexual harassment and violation of human rights. 

Two days ago, there was a further police raid on the home of a Seoul Philharmonic employee. The individual concerned is four months pregnant and required medical attention.

On the same day, this employee and another staff member received a letter from the Korean Ministry of Justice informing them that they are banned from leaving the country during the course of the investigation.

Ms Park, a member of one of Korea’s ruling families, is conducting a vendetta against the orchestra and its music director Myung Whun Chung. Justice has nothing to do with the case. South Korea is starting to look like a police state.

park seoul

Karl Kramer has quit as dean of the Sydney Conservatorium on the eve of its centenary. His letter has just gone out, late on Friday night, in the hope of minimising media attention over the weekend. The reasons? He’s not saying, but there have been rumbling personnel issues and accusations of bullying at the Con. Read the letter.

Sydney Con goes headless into its centennial.

UPDATE: Here’s a clue.

karl kramer


Dear Colleagues,

I notified Michael Spence Thursday that I will be resigning my position as dean of the Sydney Conservatorium effective July 17, 2015. For personal and family reasons, Jean and I will be returning to the United States. There will be a smooth and orderly transition over the next three months.

After 26 continuous years without a break of chairing, directing, and deaning in higher education, it is time for me to take a respite and consider my future plans. I want to thank everyone in the faculty for their hard work and perseverance, for joining me in pursuing a vision of musical excellence, and for congealing into a unified and trusting staff to serve the students and our art.

I am leaving the faculty in excellent shape artistically, and the morale of the school has improved markedly since my arrival. There is still work to be done; however, our student body is incredibly talented, our academic staff is world-class in its teaching and research, our professional staff is expert, clever and indefatigable, and our building is in excellent logistical condition. In addition, as a co-founder of the Pacific Alliance of Music Schools the Con holds a leadership position in the pantheon of tertiary music institutions in the region.

The future of the Con is indeed bright and I wish you all the very best.

Most sincerely,

PROFESSOR KARL KRAMER | Dean and Principal
Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Conservatium of Music

Jessica Krash has been laid off after 28 years teaching piano at George Washington University. ‘They are decimating the (music) department,’ she tells us, ‘laying off many of the adjuncts, or reducing people’s hours to practically nothing.’

Underpaid and unappreciated, Dr Krash has written a letter to the Washington Post, noting that the George Washington University president and vice president are both earning over $1,000,000 a year. The suits swiftly responded with the usual equivocations. Read Jessica’s letter here. And share this. Music is at risk in the US capital.


Harry S. Beall, who also looked after Jessye Norman, Gary Graffman, and the Guarneri String Quartet in a select group of artists, has died at the age of 88. Starting out as the first fulltime press officer at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he joined Arthur Judson in a new agency in 1964 when the CAMI founder was kicked out of his own firm. Harry set up an indepedent agency, wound up on his retirement in 1991. He was gentle, modest man, devoted to his family and his artists.

jessye norman youtube

Ex-IMG and ex-Universal execs have tied the knot. Press release below, beneath one of Cros‘s new artists.

priscilla ahn


International Classical Artists are delighted to announce a new exclusive partnership with Cros Music, the Chinese music management company based in Taipei and Beijing. Cros Music was formed in 2014 by Janis Chang, who has formerly held senior executive positions with Universal Music in Asia, as well as Warner Music in China and Taiwan.  ICA will work exclusively with Cros Music to develop classical music management touring into the Greater China region (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau).  ICA and Cros Music will present the world’s best classical artists and orchestras to the Chinese market. Cros Music will also be handling sponsorship and endorsement deals, and advising on promoting our artists’ performances in China through digital platforms.

New Co-Chairman Ian Smallbone will partner Stephen Wright in managing the ICA side of the partnership.  Ian has extensive experience of event management and orchestra touring in Greater China and Asia from his years as a director of IMG Artists, and his knowledge of the area will be invaluable.

Billboard reports that the government of Ontario has just allocated C$14 million (US$11.5) to 123 music companies, including the world’s largest.

The grants include Universal Music Canada Inc. ($1.2 million), Warner Music Canada Co. ($750,000), Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc. ($475,000) … and The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall ($200,000 and $175,000).

Justifying the awards, Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport, told Billboard: ‘We want to make sure that groups like Universal and the other multi-nationals are developing Canadian-based artists. For example, the Canadian Tenors* are recording here in Ontario, versus previously, their last album was cut in Europe. It’s about making sure that there’s an incentive to keep our talent here and allowing them to record in Canada.’

He added: ‘Ten years ago no one knew an international star like Drake or people like Justin Bieber. These are people 10 years ago that were just learning the craft, breaking into the scene, and here they are now with top 10 hits internationally. So we need to continue to support those artists and the business side of that art form as well. It’s a very important piece for us.’

canadian tenors


* Wikipedia: The Tenors (formerly known as The Canadian Tenors) are a vocal quartet consisting of Remigio Pereira, Victor Micallef, Fraser Walters, and Clifton Murray.

Doesn’t the Govt know they are ‘formerly the Canadian Tenors’?

The architect claimed his concert hall had been ‘martyred’ in a rushed, botched finish. The judges disagreed.

Case closed. More here.

Paris Philharmonie04

The publication of our best and worst PRs of 2014 drew a flurry of emails, some pointing out notable omissions.

One that escaped attention, perhaps because it works so hard to remain inconspicuous, has managed to distinguish itself this morning and can expect a high ranking in the 2015 list.

Disgruntled German colleagues tell us that the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is about to ‘announce’ its 2015-16 season. Announce is not quite the mot juste. It will be kept very quiet. A few Munich journalists have been invited to a [redacted] suite in the Altstadt, 3rd floor “Saal und Foyer” at Literaturhaus on Salvatorplatz, to be given the word over drinks and canapés.

The gathering could have been held on BR premises, but that would be too … inhospitable.

The BRSO lays claim to being an international orchestra, possibly one of Germany’s top three, but you wouldn’t know it from the cosy activities of its uncommunicative press office. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, will you?


jansons brso chris_christodoulou_4

photo (c)  Chris Christodoulou/Lebrecht Music&Arts

UPDATE: The little BRSO gathering has been timed to coincide with the national memorial service for the victims of the Germanwings plane disaster.


Btw, to avoid possible confusion and hurt feelings, the press offices of Bavarian State Opera and the Munich Philharmonic are outstandingly professional.