Ji-Yeong Mun, 19 years old, has taken the 22,000 Euro first prize at the International Ferruccio Busoni piano competition in Bolzano. She’s the first Korean to win the distinguished contest. Watch her here.

Second prize went to an Italian, Alberto Ferro, also 19. Third to the Ukrainian Roman Lopatynskyi, 22.

ji yeong mun

His third symphony is the biggest selling symphonic record by a living composer, shifting well over a million copies. His fourth has just received its recorded premiere.

Any good? It’s my Album of the Week on sinfinimusic.com. Click here to read.



photo Lebrecht Music&Arts

Tonight’s performance of Platée has been cancelled. Miserable way to open the season.


Vesa Siren reports from Helsinki:


jon anderson

photo (c) Helsingin Sanomat

Jon Anderson, a founding member of Yes, one of the most central bands in progressive rock, was seen at the Sibelius Festival in Lahti, Finland, this year, night after night. He told me: ‘My beautiful wife had asked what I would like to have for my 70th birthday and I said: tickets to all of concerts of the Lahti Sibelius Festival, please.’

Jon had heard many Sibelius concerts from London to Paris and Los Angeles, but this was the first time he listened to Sibelius in Finland. ‘I had never witnessed such emotion from the stage and from the audience as here in Lahti,’ he told meThere were tears in his eyes when he listened to the first concert with the Helsinki Philharmonic and Leif Segerstam. ‘This Santa Claus -like conductor must be very famous here… Those hands, that emotion! I listened to that concert again from my iPad.’

After that he heard Sinfonia Lahti with Osmo Vänskä, BBC Symphony with Sakari Oramo and Okko Kamu, and Sinfonia Lahti with Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Okko Kamu. ‘Every night was the best’, he told me (40 % of the festival audience was from abroad, many from Britain, so the hotels, restaurants and Lahti’s few taxis will not complain).

With Jon it all started when Yes recorded their hit album ”Fragile” in 1971 and opened their concerts with Firebird’ by Stravinsky (But even before, Sibelius was part of The Beatles White Album in 1968; just listen to Revolution 9 at around 2.20. and for example at 5.50. and find that loop, from symphony no 7 just before it ends; Yoko Ono explained this to me in this interview). And The Nice with Keith Emerson recorded part of Karelia Suite in 1969.

But after ”Fragile” Jon watched BBC Wales and saw a film about a man ‘searching for white stallion across the mountans’ (I guess it must have been the BBC production ”The Stallion”, directed by John King), and when the man finally rides the white stallion, Jon heard some extraordinary music. ‘I phoned BBC Wales and they told me it was Sibelius, third movement of Symphony no 5.’

Jon immediately bought all of the Sibelius recordings he could find. Though their manager and record company told Yes to continue what Fragile had started, he got interested in the way Sibelius ‘shows his main themes gradually, making these beautiful journeys’. He got interested in ‘long form structures’ and that is why the next album by Yes (Close to the Edge, very central album in progressive rock) had a long form piece. ‘And the audience followed us’, he says. ‘Through Sibelius I realized there is so much more in music than pop songs.’

Jon also told me he made lyrics to one melody by Sibelius to one of his solo albums and used violin concerto as influence when he made the ”Violin Stories. ‘He is my favourite composer in all music”, he tells Helsingin Sanomat.


Dr. Ephraim P. Engleman was destined by his mother to be a great violinist. Instead, he became an important rheumatologist, working with many musicians (and others) to alleviate their pain. Every Monday night Eph and three pals played string quartets to a high standard at his San Francisco home.

Eph was physician and friend to Itzhak Perlman for 45 years.


photo (c) Emma Silvers

Anna appeared last week at Beiteddine Festival. Here’s how it all ended, shoeless and wild.

netrebko lebanon

netrebko lebanon

Claus Moser, who died at the weekend aged 92, came to Britain as a Jewish fugitive from Hitler’s Germany and rose to become adviser to three prime ministers, chairman of the Royal Opera House, chief fundraiser for the British Museum, warden of an Oxford college and a member of the House of Lords.

In each of these roles he was living proof of the economic and social benefits of a liberal immigration policy. He served Harold Wilson, Edward Heath  and James Callaghan as head of the Government statistical office, often telling uncomfortable truths to those in power and refusing to massage the figures before a general election.


At Covent Garden, which he chaired for 17 years, he struggled to raise sufficient state or private funds to keep the house competitive with world leaders. His personal tastes were conservative and unadventurous. The house fell steadily into stagnation until Moser, as a parting shot, replaced its general director John Tooley with a television executive, Jeremy Isaacs, who breathed fresh life into the enterprise. After leaving the ROH, he managed to raised £100 million to build the Great Court at the British Museum, leaving a permanent mark on the cultural landscape.

A cordial man, widely read and intellectually curious, Claus was unfailingly courteous even to critics like myself whose appreciation of his Covent Garden role differed from his own. He discussed with me various points of contention in my book Covent Garden: The Untold Story, but asked for only one small change in the paperback edition – a detail which, he felt, might cause unnecessary distress to his wife, Mary.

I happily obliged.

covent garden the untold story

Bavaria’s Minister for the Arts Dr. Ludwig Spaenle has just announced the young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša as music director of the Bamberg Symphony.

Hrůša, 34, will be the fifth chief since the orchestra was founded in 1945, made up of refugee musicians from the teutonically cleansed, soon-to-be Communist Czechoslovakia.

He says: ‘Even before I had a chance to conduct this jewel among European orchestras, I had been a huge admirer. They are an embodiment of orchestral culture, with everything imagined by this term. And with the Orchestra having its origins in Prague, we breathe the same musical air, sharing our cultural backgrounds, being artistically and historically very close. With the Bamberg Symphony, every phrase can turn to be a little miracle, and every concert is a transfiguration.’



On their fully-booked homebound flight from a wildly successful European tour, three members of the orchestra were told they could not board their instruments. The reason? New BA regulations.

A heated discussion ensued.

The outcome: everyone boarded, and BA apologised.

The moral: it’s tougher for an airline to fight a whole orchestra than it is to pick on a lone travelling musician.

Always remember: airlines are not our friends.


singapore airlines

The Vienna Opera boss Dominique Meyer and Vienna Philharmonic chairman, Andreas Grossbauer, have given Der Standard an insight into their priorities. At the opera, the orchestra expects to be consulted on all future plans.  They have a fruitful dialogue with the Frenchman Meyer and expect the government to renew his contract when it expires in 2017.

Their relationship has grown closer since Franz Welser-Möst walked out as music director of the opera house. Meyer says he won’t be looking for another music director if he stays on for another term. ‘One can find good solutions, and we have done,’ he says.

The orchestra, however, liked Welser-Möst. Don’t they miss him? ‘No, because we still have him,’ says Grossbauer. ‘We’ve just worked intensively with him in Salzburg and toured with him in Scandinavia. Fundamentally, we do not feel the absence of a music director.’

That begs the question: does any opera house still need one?


First deal of the week (and the press release is not out yet): HarrisonParrott have signed the classical accordionist, Ksenija Sidorova, giving her a potential platform on the mainstream concert stage.

Ksenjia has been represented until now by boutique management Annie Roseberry Productions. She has made records for a major label but has few orchestra dates. Her next big gig is a duet with Sting at Bryne Terfel’s 50th birthday party, next month at the Royal Albert Hall. HP will look to raise her concerthall profile.

Ksenija Sidorova foto Aiga Redmane 03