We like Taylor Swift.

She might be a mass phenomenon, but she makes donations to her local orchestra and she keeps her music clean.

Now she has hooked up with the hottest classical pianist in China to make a motor ad.

You see it here first.


UPDATE: No longer here. Lawyers acting for Toyota have claimed corporate copyright in the video and asked us to take it down. You can continue to watch it on Yundi’s Facebook page.

Sorry for the extra click.

martin majkut

18 Apr 2015

Rogue Valley Symphony surprised recently naturalized American citizen, Music Director Martin Majkut, with a surreptitiously planned & rehearsed audience-flag-waving rendition of “God Bless America” at their concert in Ashland, OR on April 17, 2015. Kudos to organizer Tom O’Rourke & tip of the cap to arranger Bruce Dresser.

h/t: Galen Johnson

Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer, of the Chicago area, were sentenced today in Bali for the murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose body was found in an abandoned suitcase in August last year.

Schaefer, 21, got 18 years. Heather Mack, 19, went down for 10.

The victim, Sheila von Wiese Mack, 62, was the widow of James Mack, a prolific Chicago composer and conductor. She was previously an aide to Senator Ted Kennedy.

Read Reuters’ trial report here.

sheila mack



The Vienna Opera has announced that Simon Keenlyside is out of its Rigoletto revival in June. He is replaced by Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Paolo Rumets.

Keenlyside, 55, was forced to withdraw on the opening night of Pierre Audi’s production last December and has scarcely been heard since.

Vienna said he had been prescribed ‘a period of complete vocal conservation’ by his doctors.

We wish Simon a swift and full recovery.


It may come as a surprise to find an pill-popping artist who worked at night and slept by day being employed as a teaching aid at Apple HQ, but it appears the late Steve Jobs was a devotee of the Goldberg Variations.

So Boston Review editor Joshua Cohen has been hired full time by Apple to lead three-hour seminars in Gould studies for prospective executives.

Read about it here.


Joseph Calleja has reported the death of  Paul Asciak, his teacher, aged 92.

He writes: ‘His is a death that I won’t really accept or register for a long time. His trumpet like voice is legendary but it is his gentlemanly demeanour and caring tuition and mentoring that I shall miss most.’

Paul Asciak was part of the ROH Covent Garden company from 1952 to 1954 and guest artist up to 1958, retiring in 1961.

paul acsiak

Acsiak, pictured between Domingo and Calleja


Since the Barenboim bandwaggon is now up and rolling, here are a few counter-arguments for the players to consider on May 11.

1 He’s too busy

with East-West Diwan, Mideast politics, world events.

2 He’s too well-known in Berlin…

as music director of the Staatsoper since 1992, there would be no novelty value.

3 He’s been everywhere, done everything….

at Paris Opera, Chicago Symphony, La Scala. Does he really need Berlin Phil?

4 He’s 72.

5 He’s available.


6 The Berlin Phil needs to show fresh direction and new thinking.

7 It needs someone who gets new media.

8 Someone who can look beyond the history, beyond the image.

9 It needs a 21st century citizen.

10 In any business, music or motorcars, it’s always a mistake to hire someone you rejected last time round.


The company is part-time and severely depleted.

It has just presented Stuart Stratford, a hard-working stalwart of the UK circuit, as the new music director.

The last man in the job, Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, resigned after just 58 days.


Following our mini-feature on composers who smoked, it turns out that a reader happens to own Gustav Mahler’s initialled cigarette case.

mahler's cigarette case

He was never, by all accounts, a heavy smoker, but he clearly needed to have a pack at all times about his person.

The Spectator magazine thrives on turning the clock back. Here’s its associate editor, Damian Thompson:

who knows what might have happened if the Berlin Philharmonic hadn’t chosen Rattle instead of Barenboim? Sir Simon is coming back to London in 2017. And bear in mind that Claudio Abbado gave the greatest concerts of his career as he was being eaten away by cancer in his seventies. Surely there’s still time to give the Berlin job to the man who should have got it in the first place.

Full article here.

barenboim argerich

UPDATE: For the other side of the argument, why Barenboim would be wrong for the job, click here.

one minutes silence

Musicians of the Ribeirão Symphony of Sao Paolo haven’t been paid in four months. Their orchestra, one of the oldest in Brazil, is facing closure. So on Saturday night they stopped the concert and warned the audience of the likely consequences.

Report and video here.

‘MIT researchers and violin makers at Boston’s North Bennet Street School have analysed measurements from hundreds of Cremonese-­era violins, identifying features that contribute to their acoustic power, or fullness of sound.

‘…The researchers found that a key feature affecting a violin’s sound is the shape and length of its “f-holes,” the f-shaped openings through which air escapes: the more elongated these are, the more sound a violin can produce…’

So what else is new? Read full article here.

strad stolen