The Helsingin Sanomat has been worrying about turning into a one-symphonist state. According to assessments by Kalevi Aho, a living composer, Sibelius accounts for 40% of all Finnish classical music performed in concert halls, home and abroad.

So, what else is there?

The Sanomat offers seven [Finnish] symphonies from the shadow of Sibelius, here (with links):

1. Aarre Merikanto: Symphony No. 2 “War Symphony” (1918)

2. Erkki Melartin: Symphony No. 6 (1924)

3. Leevi Madetoja: Symphony No. 3 (1926)

4. Einar Englund: Symphony No. 2 “The Blackbird” (1947)

5. Einojuhani Rautavaara: Symphony No. 3 (1961)

6. Paavo Heininen: Symphony No. 2 “Petite symphonie joyeuse” (1962)

7. Joonas Kokkonen: Symphony No. 4 (1971)

Oddly, none of Aho’s 16 symphonies made the cut. Or Leif Segerstam’s 285.

leif segerstam

Anyone else they missed?

The German soprano Christine Schäfer announced a month’s sabbatical a year ago, extending it to a full season. 

It now appears she needs still more time off, cancelling the Handel Festival in Halle in June on ‘personal grounds’. Early this year, Ms Schäfer began teaching as a professor at the Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule in Berlin.


UPDATE: Christine Schäfer’s sabbatical from singing has proved indefinite.

James MacMillan, Scotland’s most successful composer for centuries, spent the last days before the general election campaigning for a Liberal Democrat candidate in the Gordon constituency against the SNP ex-leader Alex Salmond.

He called the SNP ‘a divisive force’ and said ‘the arrogance and bullying of nationalism has come from the very person of Alex Salmond.’

Salmond went on to win.

james macmillan no

We present today’s press release without comment. Only in Vienna and one or two Balkan republics is Eurovision taken straight, without irony.

juan diego florez


Matinée in the Vienna State Opera

From May 18th to the 23rd, the Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Vienna. For this major worldwide television event, that has its 60th anniversary this year, the ORF as the host broadcasters have chosen the slogan “Building Bridges”.

Over a dozen nations will be represented, when the Wiener Staatsoper stays true to this slogan on Sunday 17th May at 12:00 in hosting a matinée where opera stars such as Juan Diego Flórez, ensemble members and musicians of the Wiener Staatsoper in cooperation with Eurovision Song Contest candidates as well as last year’s winner Conchita Wurst will build bridges between genres and different musical cultures: “Pop meets Opera”.

Dominique Meyer, director of the Wiener Staatsoper: “Suitably, the 60th Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Vienna – popularly dubbed “the world capital of music”. On this occasion we wanted, as the Vienna State Opera, to connect classical and pop music, with the aim to show that even seemingly opposite musical styles complement each other and are equally able to inspire each other’s audience. Thus, representatives of various artistic pillars of the Vienna State Opera – vocal soloists, orchestra, ballet, choral, opera schoolchildren – selected thoroughbred musicians will present themselves at a matinée on the stage of the Vienna State Opera with musical performances of a high level of various genres live and, largely unplugged. It may seem unusual at first glance, but I think it is always better to build bridges rather than to raise walls.”

Alexander Wrabetz, General Director of the ORF: “With this high-caliber matinee, ‘Pop meets Opera’, which the ORF III will be broadcasting on the day during the prime time, we are building – according to our ESC motto, ‘building bridges’ – together with the Vienna State Opera more bridges between people and cultures. When stars like Juan Diego Flórez and Conchita Wurst stand on a stage and sing with each other, the unifying power of music, genres and borders is much more noticeable. I am pleased that we can bring the ORF-footage of this TV event all around the world. In cooperation with our EBU partners, this outstanding cultural television highlight will be offered TV stations worldwide”.

Concert participants: Staatsoper soloists Alessio Arduini (Italy), Daniela Fally (Austria), KS Juan Diego Flórez (Peru/Austria), Aida Garifullina (Russia), Valentina Naforniţă (Moldova), KS Herwig Pecoraro with son Mario Pecoraro (Austria), the solo-dancer of the Wiener Staatsballett Ioanna Avraam (Cyprus), “The Philharmonics” (ensemble with musicians of the Staatsoper Orchestra/Vienna Philharmonic), the “Wiener Comedian Harmonists” (group of singers from Staatsoper Choir), the stage orchestra of the Wiener Staatsoper, the children’s choir of the Opera school of the Wiener Staatsoper, the repetiteur and musical studies director Thomas Lausmann, Conchita Wurst, winner of the ESC 2014, as well as five ESC 2015 candidates: Boggie (Hungary), John Karayiannis (Cyprus), Mørland & Debrah Scarlett (Norway), Molly Sterling (Ireland) and Nina Sublatti (Georgia).

Barbara Rett will take us through the event. The leading language will be English because of the international audience.


Terrific news in overnight from Cincinnati, where a quiet campaign has raised $26 million from local families and foundations.

Best of all, says orch prez Trey Devey, they will use the cash to recruit 14 players over five years, restoring the band to full strength of 90.

The money has come in over 14 months and is $6m above the campaign target. Detail here from Janelle Gelfand.

Cincy is the fifth oldest US orch.


pic: with music director Louis Langrée

Mariss Jansons, who will conduct the Berlin Philharmonic the night before its once-in-a-generation conductor election, today signed a new contract with Bavarian Radio, taking him up to 2021, when he will be 78.

He is the fourth candidate to say no to Berlin, after Dudamel, Nézet-Séguin and Barenboim.

That leaves a straight Thielemann vs Nelsons election on Monday, with Chailly coming up on the outside (though there is no guarantee he will take the job if offered).

jansons brso chris_christodoulou_4

press release:

Mariss Jansons will serve as chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir until 2021, extending his current contract which runs until 2018. Jansons and the director of the Bayerische Rundfunk, Ulrich Wilhelm, agreed on this in a meeting that took place after an internal voting process within the orchestra had come to an end in the last few days.

Mariss Jansons:

“It is a great pleasure for me to continue my work with these two wonderful ensembles beyond 2018. They are gems and I am delighted to be part of forming and building up their future. The musical professionalism and human quality are exceptional. It is my heartfelt wish to not only make use of these qualities, but to further support their development and present them to the audiences in Munich, Bavaria and the whole world.”

Ulrich Wilhelm:

“Mariss Jansons managed to consolidate and expand the worldwide recognition of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Under his artistic direction the number of subscribers nearly tripled. The orchestra and Maestro Jansons significantly contribute to Bavaria’s worldwide reputation as a cultural state. I am delighted about the commitment of such an exceptional artist towards Munich and pleased to see this story of success continue for three further years.”

Nikolaus Pont, Orchestra Manager:

“In their voting the musicians of the Symphony Orchestra clearly stated their wish to continue working with Mariss Jansons as their chief conductor beyond 2018. His decision to follow our invitation makes me very confident for the future of the orchestra. Welook forward to the continuation of a great artistic partnership and the realization of numerous ideas in the future.”

Andrea Jenkyns, the Conservative who beat Labour’s shadow chancellor in West Yorkshire, is a professional singer and songwriter who claims to have ‘a four-octave range up to F6’.

We got quite excited on spotting a Schoenberg clip on her music website. Unfortunately, it’s from Les Miserables.

andrea jenkyns

She needs to do something about that vibrato. And her arrangements.

There were murmurs of discontent when the Brazilian conductor last year flew in as principal conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic, an orchestra boycotted by international organisations for its brutal dismissal of mostly non-Asian musicians.

Today, we hear that Mechetti has resigned. He told a Slipped Disc source that he had been treated ‘unprofessionally, unethically and with disrespect’ by the orchestra’s management. He told the orchestra he had been prevented making improvements in ‘certain areas’.

He quit during a week of Mahler Sixth performances, delivering an unscheduled third (or fourth) hammer blow.

The MPO has reconfirmed its status as an international outcast.

Fabio mechetti

Though there will be no shortage of desperate applicants for its vacant podium.