Thirty years ago at the Hiroshima Peace Ceremony, Leonard Bernstein conducted the European Community Youth Orchestra in Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and his “Kaddish” Symphony with the Hiroshima Boys Choir, soprano Barbara Hendricks, and Mendy Wager as narrator.

Bernstein shared the podium with Eiji Oue, who conducted Tomiko Kojiba’s Hiroshima Requiem, and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5 with soloist Midori Gotō(then 14 years old).

In 1985, Bernstein assembled a “Journey for Peace” tour, which began in Athens, and went to Budapest and Vienna following Hiroshima. Bernstein was a life-long advocate of nuclear disarmament. Following the concert, Bernstein was interviewed live on Good Morning America. He said, “I hope it does some good to grant us the wisdom that war is obsolete and that we should stop all this nonsense once and for all.”

We share with you this photo of Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa singing Hiroshima Requiem at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on August 6, 1985.

bernstein ozawa hiroshima

[Photo courtesy of Chugoku Shimbun, article courtesy Leonard Bernstein Fb page]

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has named three new players, of whom Austin Huntington is the most ey-catching.

A former child prodigy with a string of solo dates in his record, Austin starts work in the hot seat this season at an age when most of his contemporaries are still in college.

Story here.


Kenneth Alwyn, a formative conductor at Covent Garden and Sadlers Wells, landed on a golf course in a helicopter to celebrate his latest decade. Report here.

kenneth alwyn

photo: Derek Martin

He is one of the most recorded conductors of film music, and has also left accounts of much neglected English music.


Robert Black, whose instrument was lost two weeks ago by the Brazilian airline TAM, has been told it has arrived in New York. No thanks to the airline, says Robert:

‘ I now know that the bass is at the JFK airport in NY. If possible, I will pick it up on Friday, otherwise it will be sent to me via Fed Ex on Saturday (arriving Monday). I’ll let you all know when I actually have it in my hands. Once again thanks for all of your support and thanks to social media – because of a post of the photos on Facebook, a colleague who just happened to be passing through the international baggage claim area of the Toronto airport saw the case, sent me a photo, which I sent to TAM airlines. So it was all of you on Facebook who did what TAM could not – you found my bass.’

double bass

Earlier this week: ‘The unthinkable has become the unbelievable. A friend saw my bass case in the baggage area at the Toronto airport. I was sent a photo of the ID tag and a photo of the case sitting in a locked office. How it got from Fortaleza to Toronto without TAM being aware of it is crazy.

I immediately reported this to TAM airlines but, 3 days later, they still haven’t confirmed that they have it!’


Final report, Sunday, August 9th:

IT’S OVER. Today at 11:00 AM, Fed Ex delivered my B-21 double bass to me. It was shipped directly from the Toronto airport to my home in Hartford Connecticut. The case was undamaged, the bows were undamaged, and the instrument was undamaged. I reassembled the bass and it was even in tune!

Thus ends my worst airline experience to date and the most inept and frustrating customer service I’ve ever experienced. TAM really needs to get it together.

Once again, thank you all for your concerns, kind thoughts, good vibes, words of encouragement, prayers, positive energy, and vigilance. An alert colleague in Toronto saw the posts, saw the case, and set this reunion in motion. Social media can be amazing.

Fascinating new release coming up from the Emerson Quartet and Renée Fleming, their first collaboration.

After the Berg Lyric suite, they perform Sonnets for Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Egon Wellesz and Komm, süsser Tod by Eric Zeisl.

Wellesz was a Viennese Hitler refugee who settled in England. Zeisl wound up in Los Angeles.

In the second half of the last century neither could get a mainstream hearing for their music anywhere on earth. Now, their time is coming round.

wellesz zeisl release
(Anybody seen my Klimt?)


The king of the high Cs has acknowledged that his voice has undergone changes in his late 30s. He has paid more attention to technique and now, at 41, feels comfortable once more. He is weeding out roles that no longer suit his voice and adding some.

As for recordings, ‘nothing’s selling – not me, not anyone – except Cecilia Bartoli’.

Full thoughtful interview here (in Spanish).


From a correspondent:

I saw that in his review for the Telegraph Rupert Christiansen claimed that Orfeo at the Proms was amplified. I thought it wasn’t true. [He wrote that he] “was rather disturbed by evidence of opera’s equivalent to doping in athletics: electronic amplification.” (
Today, that portion has been removed, without any explanation or apology.

If one googles “christiansen orfeo proms “opera’s equivalent to doping”” this result still appears:
Proms 2015: Prom 25, Monteverdi – Orfeo, review: ‘…/proms2015-prom-25-monteverdi-orfeoreview…

1 day ago – Francesca Aspromonte sings in Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Proms Credit: CHRIS CHRISTODOULOU. Rupert Christiansen … was rather disturbed by evidence of opera’s equivalent to doping in athletics: electronic amplification.

I was there with some fellow enthusiastic amateur opera-goers. We discussed the possibility when we saw the microphones worn by principals – but radio 3 certainly doesn’t economize with the number of microphones it uses. It didn’t sound to us like it was, given the considerable variation based on direction and location of singers; if it was amplified it was done so as to be undetectable from where we sat. We did not have the very best seats (choir) and when the singers pointed the other way, there was a variation in quality. Certainly there was amplification of some of the keyboard music but I have always understood that as fair game for early music in larger venues.

It appears to me that this has been very quietly removed. As an amateur without any musical training, I might be fooled. But isn’t the point of a critic that they can tell the difference? Or was the line about doping just too clever to cut? The silent removal doesn’t say much for editorial standards at the Telegraph either.

orfeo proms

photo: Chris Christodoulou/Lebrecht Music&Arts

The Times and the Mail this morning broke with critical convention to review a preview of Hamlet, starring the hotter-than-hot Benedict Cumberbatch. The Times review trashed it.

One of Slipped Disc’s professional correspondents who was present last night offers this assessment.

cumberbatch hamlet

So the morning after, sensible first thoughts on last night’s Hamlet.

1) It was a first preview. As such it was pretty amazing.

2) There is some work to do on pacing and tightening up – especially the second act.

3) He’s very very good – but it’s not quite finished – there are flashes of real torture but not enough in my opinion (and that is what it is – just mine as a seasoned theatregoer).

4) There are two stand out scenes – the comedy of BC which is just brilliant and yet again makes me wish he’d do more comedy – he’s very good at it and Ciaran Hinds (who almost steals the show in my view) with Claudius’ soliloquy at the end of the first part. Both really fabulous performances and staging.

5) Es Devlin who has designed the sets and Jon Hopkins who has done the music get extra special mention – it looks and sounds incredible – again almost over-powering the actual acting.

6) I’m reminded yet again that I actually still think that Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s less coherent plays. It’s got some great soliloquys but the story isn’t that exciting to be honest…..and as for Ophelia it’s a bloody thankless role. Done as well as you can expect here.

7) And finally, the newspapers in this country really are scum. (No spoiler there!) I was waiting for my sister in law who came with me and there was some nasty desperate little toerag outside trying to get interviews with “Cumberbitches”. But it was noticeable that she was not approaching all the “normal” middle class theatregoer types – she was just approaching the younger women and the more obviously middle-aged goth-types. Oh and of course she was from the Daily Fail. Thankfully everyone sent her packing – some with a flea in her ear….. Really quite despicable – a bit like that other right-wing excuse for a rag The Times today doing a review of a very first preview. Tacky. Very tacky.

So overall, if you are going to see it it is absolutely worth it – any production with this good a cast and crew will be interesting whether you like it or not. I can’t wait to see it again in 3 weeks time to see what has developed.

cumberbatch hamlet

This will go down forever as a quiz question for violin geeks.

Whatever happened the the Ames Stradivarius that vanished after a May 1980 concert from Roman Totenberg’s room at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass?

Well, we don’t yet know what happened, but the FBI has somehow found it. More details here.

Roman, a celebrated virtuoso and teacher died aged 101 in May 2012, teaching to his very last day. He never saw the violin again but he had strong suspicions it might have been taken by a man who loitered around his college office. The unnamed woman in whose possession the violin was found is thought to be that man’s daughter. She is not suspected of wrongdoing.


Here’s what the FBI and the family are telling US media.

Depending on condition, the Ames Strad would be worth several million dollars today.

The artist brings home the enduring personal tragedies of an act that ended the war, 70 years ago today.

yoko ono hiroshima


YOKO ONO: ON HIROSHIMA DAY – August 6th, 2015
Dear Friends,

The 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a tragedy of the greatest magnitude.

Even now, 68 years later, many victims of the violence of atomic weapons are still suffering, physically, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

People make a point of it. They don’t want us to forget. Of course, we are not forgetting.

But when you actually visit Hiroshima as I did in 2011, you will be totally surprised by what you see and experience. Hiroshima now is a beautiful shining city with healthy people and great food!

How did they do it?

“All that we are is the result of what we thought.” – Buddha

Yes. It’s the thoughts of the Hiroshima people who brought this incredible recovery.

In 2011, the 3/11 tsunami hit us hard. And for us and for our planet it is important that we make the fastest recovery from it.

Let’s start with having good thoughts – especially about ourselves.
Don’t waste time being angry at greed-ridden corporate guys and lying-through-the teeth politicians.

We have to focus on what we can do, and do it.

Believe in the power of goodness which we all have.
Be an oasis for people who are suffering from spiritual thirst.
Have a vision of a society that has ridden itself of social injustices.

This time, we are challenged to make a mass enlightenment.
It’s not any different from other challenges we have had to take care of.
We always did take care of them, and came out of it.

The Human Race is a miracle race.
We can do anything we want.
Just focus on what to do, and how simple it is.

Look into people’s eyes.
They are your eyes.
They are beautiful.
They are smiling.

Let’s go!

I love you!

Yoko Ono
Hiroshima Day
6 August 2015

‘This is where the best sound is,’ says Jay Hunter Morris, warming up for his current role with the toilet seat in the up position. ‘It’s my favourite spot. It’s where the best acoustics are.’

Jay is singing in Santa Fe in Jennifer Higdon’s new opera, Cold Mountain.

More here.

nathan gunn (c) Ken Howard
photo: Ken Howard

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a London band without a role. It survives (on £1m of public subsidy) by slipping in between the cracks, going boldly whether no other orchestra can be bothered to go.

So the announcement that the RPO has recorded backing tracks at Abbey Road for a souped-up reissue of Elvis Presley hits draws no more than a yawn. It’s only the RPO. And Elvis is too long dead to object.

This disc comes out late October.

elvis rpo