Norman Scribner, who died two months ago, founded the Washington Choral Arts Society in 1965 and conducted it until 2012.  Steven Honigberg, cellist in the National Symphony Orchestra, has produced a documentary tribute.

Scribner is especially perceptive about his fellow-conductors.

You see the video here first.


Out of 103 applicants, the Dallas Opera has selected the following candidates for its inaugural Institute for Women Conductors:


    • Jennifer Condon (Australia/Germany)
    • Jessica Gethin (Australia)
    • Natalie Murray Beale (UK)
    • Stephanie Rhodes (USA)
    • Anna Skryleva (Russia/Germany, pictured)
    • Lidiya Yankovskaya (USA)     

anna skryleva

The IWC will consist of master classes and one-on-ones with Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume and Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement.

It’s Martha’s birthday. She’s 74 today.

So the Cleveland-based pianist Zsolt Bognar whipped out his diary and retrieved a record of the week he spent, two years ago, with Martha and his teacher, Sergey Babayan.


I am struck again and again by the highly sensitive, even vulnerable nature of creative artists—their refusal to trust themselves and their abilities without unimaginable reserves of work. I witnessed all-night rehearsals and repetitions that seemed superhuman. For performers to give so openly and emotionally of themselves, time does not leave room to build illusions of personal defenses.


martha argerich

Suddenly, the Pace Changes

Long nap in the hotel—but suddenly the call came at 8.30pm. “A car will pick you right away to bring you to the Radio Studio. Be ready.” A quick ride up the mountain ended at the pizzeria. We picked up food and beverages for the artists. When we arrived, I saw the radio control room with the engineers, artists, and directors surrounding some concentrated task of unspecified intensity. I waited in silence backstage, guarding the pizzas. From everywhere, the sounds of rehearsing musicians. Fragments of Shostakovich Trio from the recording studio from the Maiskys. A Rachmaninov prelude from upstairs. A Chopin Sonata somewhere else. Noticing the backstage aesthetic is characteristic—austere, almost clinical, and yet it is the scenery behind the scenes for stage musicians.

I can only sit and wait–alone. My heart pounds. I have no idea how long the night would last, but surely it is long haul. My teacher and other musicians joined for food briefly to recharge. This pizza late night was breakfast for most of us. The Maiskys passed through and the cellist used the opportunity to recount more stories and tales—a favorite pastime of musicians. Suddenly the voice of Martha Argerich. She joins us and we all start telling stories as though purposely defying the fact of the grueling work lies ahead. We discussed physical conditioning routines and I demonstrated a stretch I learned in Cleveland. She asked me to help her learn. Then she showed even better ones. Suddenly the impulse for work began. Without words, they started.

Read more here.


A Brazilian craftsman who numbered Menuhin, Ricci, Kremer and David Nadlen among his clients and friends, Luiz Bellini has died at 79.

luiz bellini

pictured: Bellini, with S. F. Sacconi

The magazine Music & Literature has published a somewhat unidiomatic translation of an interview given by the great violinist in Kiev last November. It contains some sublime and surreal reflections on the state of the world, as well as Gidon’s strongest statements yet on the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

To draw any newsworthy conclusion would risk taking his humane and principled views out of context. But read the paragraphs below and you will catch the drift of his thinking.

Ôîòî Íèêîëàÿ Òèì÷åíêî 18.11.14 Ôèëàðìîíèÿ. Ãèäîí Êðåìåð. Êèåâñêèé êàìåðíûé îðêåñòð. Äèðèæåð Ðîìàí Êîôìàí

When I think about the events of the past year, I find that the concept of “human life” has been profoundly devalued. What we are all given is a single life to share. If that sounds sentimental, so be it: it was Ostrovsky’s opinion, and Brodsky’s, and that of many others. And there are those today who want to destroy this notion of life as a physical and spiritual gift. It doesn’t matter what they hide behind—politics, economics, ethics, religion. When talk turns into destruction, everything within me rises up. The Nazis murdered, the Bolsheviks killed, the Latvian gunmen fired. Once you have followed them, unable to respect the right to life of your neighbor, colleague, or brother, then it’s a very short stretch from one victim to one million victims. How terrifying, that the person who sends another to kill and the person who is sent to kill are both infected with the belief that murder is the key to moving forward, to perfecting justice. The very people defending “their land,” “their language,” “their homes” become the unwitting victims of a tragic calculus. Some, denying others the right to question anything, call it “belief in an historic mission.”

Let me reduce this to a formulation so simple as to seem trivial in comparison with today’s tragedy: when a couple splits up, one of them inevitably has to pack a bag and leave first. It happens sometimes that the one who ups and goes is in the right. Or that the one who stays behind is. But it rarely happens that both people pack their bags at once.

Now click here to read the full interview.

We hear that the iconic London star of Fiddler on the Roof was in the audience to see Bryn Terfel on opening night at Grange Park Opera.

terfel fiddler

First review just in, here.

The Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca has pulled out at very short notice due to a serious illness in the family.

She is replaced as Santuzza in a new staging of Cavalleria rusticana by the Lithuanian, Violeta Urmana.

Luxury recasting. Opening night June 12.


violeta urmana

Tong Chen, a former assistant conductor of the Shanghai Opera, has been named music director in the fourth largest city in New York state. She teaches at NY City University.

tong chen

Temple University has appointed a new music professor and artistic director, a full-time, year-round job.

He is the German conductor Andreas Delfs, formerly music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (1997 -2009) and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

It’s highly unusual for an active conductor to move in mid-career to an academic post. Delfs, 55, gets to conducts seven concerts a year with the university orchestra. And he’s available if anyone drops out at the Philadelphia Orch.


The South Korean tenor Keonwoo Kim took first prize (C$30,000) and his compatriot soprano Hyesang Park second at the Montreal international musical competition last night. A Quebec soprano France Bellemare came third.

montreal winners

It was after six weeks of learning Madame Butterfly for Opera Holland Park that I knew I no longer had it in me. Singing, and everything associated with it, made me sad. So sad. Nights crying to my ever-supportive boyfriend knowing I just had to make that decision and pull the plug. So I did, and now I don’t sing anymore.



Katie McAdam, a rising soprano on the UK opera circuit, found herself grappling with vocal health issues in the way that many singers do. Only hers would not go away. So Katie took a bold decision, no turning back.

Two years on, she writes about her struggles with a vein of hope and humour that may help others to cope with the widely misunderstood side-effects of a professional singing career.

Read Katie’s story here.