The stalemate, after eleven hours of discussion, has ended in disaster. The orchestra cannot meet again tomorrow to vote on a music director, because it has rehearsals.

An agreement was reached tonight to have a new election ‘within one year’.

There is talk of a date early in December 2015. Until then, ‘discussions will continue’ among the players.

But the brand is damaged. This is an orchestra deeply divided, within and against itself.

berlin philharmonie beethoven 9

UPDATE: Here’s the press release:

The voting for the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker brought no results today.

Orchestra Board member Peter Riegelbauer said: “After an orchestra assembly which lasted 11 hours, we have unfortunately come to no decision. There were positive and lively discussions and several rounds of voting, but unfortunately we were unable to agree on a conductor.”

123 members of the orchestra who were eligible to vote were present.

Riegelbauer continued: “We must continue this process and this election. That will have to take place within one year. We are very confident that we will come to a decision then. The process of this election will be continued, and the orchestra assembly will meet regularly, but we will take the time that is necessary. That can last one year.”

The mood during the assembly was described by all participants as very constructive, cooperative and friendly.


The 123 players have spent all day closeted in a church in Dahlem, the longest election debate anyone can remember for a chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. A mid-afternoon rumour, based on a tweet – apparently from horn player Sarah Willis and circulated by two UK magazines – called it for Andris Nelsons. The tweet was swiftly deleted.

Shortly after 8pm, the players gave up for the night. An official tweet went out: @BerlinPhil: No result following today’s election for new chief conductor of @BerlinPhil. More details soon.


berlin philharmonie

I shall go on the BBC’s The World Tonight at 10.15pm to explain why the Berlin Philharmonic failed to agree over 10 hours over the choice of a chief conductor.

We were expecting a puff of white smoke at 1730.

We’ve just heard a press conference has been called for 1900 – and the players will be locked up in the church until then.


LATEST (2000): They are still locked in debate.

berlin philharmonie

Hours after the installation of John Whittingdale, a licence fee sceptic, as secretary for culture, media and sport. Labour announced Chris Bryant as his shadow.

He is a former head of the BBC’s European Affairs unit.

Not the most objective defender of the status quo. And limited experience on the culture front.


This week’s ice-breaking Cuba trip by the Minnesota Orchestra will cost close to $1 million, it has been disclosed. 

The expense is being met by a single donor.

The average monthly salary in Cuba is $20.

Funny old world.

musicians for minn

A woman provost and dean, rare among US music conservatories.

Press release:


The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Kate Sheeran as Provost and Dean of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Currently Assistant Dean at Mannes School of Music of The New School, Sheeran takes up her new position on July 1, 2015.  She succeeds Robert Fitzpatrick, who retires from the Conservatory after ably serving in this role in an interim capacity since January 2014.

“I am delighted to appoint Kate Sheeran as Provost and Dean of the Conservatory,” says David H. Stull, President of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. “She is a tremendous advocate for young artists, and her experience as an innovative leader, performer and teacher make her an outstanding choice for SFCM. Kate will play a critical role in executing the Conservatory’s strategic plan to pioneer a new standard of conservatory education, one which provides a transformative experience for our students and prepares them for a lifetime of success.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the SFCM leadership at this truly exciting time for the school,” says Kate Sheeran.  “I am looking forward to working with the entire community to strengthen our curriculum, incorporate many of the wonderful things that are happening in music today, and implement our new strategic vision and plan. Together, we’re going to build an unparalleled education for 21st century musicians, who will be equipped to have an important impact on the music field and the world.  I can’t wait to get started!”

As the institution’s chief academic officer, Provost and Dean Sheeran will oversee all aspects of the school’s academic program.  She will ensure the Conservatory’s compliance with the standards of the WASC Senior College and University Commission, which approves accreditation. She will lead, support and build the faculty and work with them to implement curricular modernization and development. She will oversee the assessment of student learning outcomes and academic performance and seek to attract students of the highest caliber to the school.

As an Assistant Dean at the Mannes School of Music, Sheeran directed Mannes Prep for students aged 4-18 and continuing education through Mannes Next, which together serve more than 700 students and whose faculty number more than 100 members. During her tenure, Sheeran has modernized curricula, strengthened composition and improvisation courses and introduced a robust series of visiting guest artists. She overhauled its adult learning offerings and developed Mannes Next, a forward-thinking continuing education program awarding certificates and diplomas, and launched two new minors for matriculating Mannes students, Post-Genre Music and Composition.

kate sheeran
A professional hornist as well as an energetic administrator, Sheeran is also an accomplished musician and educator. She has performed with such cutting-edge ensembles as the Wordless Music Orchestra and Alarm Will Sound and has recorded for the Tzadik, Warp, New Amsterdam and Nonesuch labels, among others. Sheeran has served on the horn faculty at Mannes Prep, Dickinson College, Susquehanna University and Bucknell University. She earned a B.M., Performer’s Certificate and Certificate in Arts Leadership from the Eastman School of Music and an M.M. from the Yale School of Music.

They tried to keep the election location a secret. In the past, it has been a rich man’s villa in the Berlin Woods.

Today, Austrian media are reporting that the 124 players have gathered at the Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin-Dahlem to elect their next conductor.

The church has immense spiritual significance for Berliners. From 1931, it was the pulpit of pastor Martin Niemöller, one of the most outspoken Christian opponents of Nazism. Niemöller, who spent seven years in concentration camps, is the source of the moral exhortation to confront evil:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


UPDATE: A Berlin Phil spokesperson has said she does not expect a result before 4pm, and that there are no toilets for journalists in the vicinity.

Lovely Graham Spicer interview with Barbara Frittoli on Gramilano.

Rushed into emergency surgery at seven years old with peritonitis, she says, ‘I sang throughout the operation.’

Read here.

barbara frittoli

My album of the week on is a new interpretation of Mahler’s ninth symphony that dares to go against the grain of grand maestro gestures in this deeply troubling work.

Objective, dry and slightly detached, this is an immersive Ninth, played with moments of dazzling zest and courage (the soloists should really be named in the booklet) and rising to an altogether credible, entirely open conclusion.

Since the conductor is an outside candidate at today’s Berlin Philharmonic election, I’d better not mention his name for fear of being arrested by the thought police and charged with abusing due process. But you can read it here.

mahler cigarette

Far from the Berlin election, rehearsing Das Rheingold at the Vienna State Opera.

simon rattle vienna

David Cameron has named John Whittingdale as UK secretary for culture, media and sport.

As chair of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee throughout the last Parliament, Whittingdale knows more about the business of culture than any politician in years, and he has demonstrated a healthy scepticism towards BBC, Arts Council and Culture Department bromides.

His appointment augurs well for those of us who believe failing arts officials should be held to account.

What it lacks is any hint of passion. Whittingdale is a dry stick.

john  whittingdale


Intendant Johannes Reitmeier and the theatre and symphony orchestra of the Austrian Tyrol have announced with great sadness the death of their opera director, Roger E. Boggasch, a few days before his 50th birthday.

Boggasch, a Berliner, started out as a conductor, becoming Generalmusikdirektor in Lower Bavaria. But in 2001 he gave up the baton to apply himself to directing opera, musicals and stage plays, winning his post in the Tyrol in 2012. He also composed musicals and appeared on stage in a comedy act as a hapless pianist. He will be sorely missed.

Boggasch Roger __ Larl