The Baltimore conductor has used her second Last Night of the Proms to pitch once more for greater equality in classical music. She shouldn’t have to do that. It ought to be taken for granted.

Let’s hope we never have to hear that speech again.


marin alsop Chris Christodoulou_17marin selfie

press notice:

Due to urgent family matters Danish String Quartet has to cancel its performance at Musikfest Berlin TODAY 12 September 5 pm and TOMORROW 13 September 11 am at Chamber Hall of the Philharmonie.

berlin philharmonie

kurzak alagna meyer

Season opening at the Vienna State Opera last night with Roberto Alagna, Aleksandra Kurzak and intendant Dominique Meyer holding the baby.

While he’s singing Rule, Britannia at the Royal Albert Hall tonight, his partner Christiane Lutz is directing a performance of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria in Mainz.

She will be working for the first time with her father, the conductor Martin Lutz, director of Schiersteiner Kantorei and an authority on period instruments.

German media routinely refer to Kaufmann and Lutz as ‘life-partners’.



It appears the first keyboard instrument was brought to China on January 24, 1601 by an Italian Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci. ‘Musical instruments are quite common and of many varieties,’ he noted, ‘but the use of the organ and the clavichord (pictured) is unknown, and the Chinese possess no instrument of the keyboard type.’

Fascinating article here by Sheila Melvin.


The lengthy programme list, sorry programme notes, did though tell me something about her. It informed me breathlessly that she “has performed at major international concert halls and festivals.” Pass the smelling salts. One of the world’s leading virtuosi has performed at major concert halls. How am I meant to cope with such a startling revelation and concentrate on the music?

The Independent’s David Lister has discovered, rather late in the day that they are full of agent-purpled puffery and contain no useful information. Nothing new about this: I must have written three or four such pieces down the years. But the people who organise concerts pay no attention to what’s in the booklet, or what numbing effect it has on the audience they rip off. It makes one despair of any possibility of progress.

Read David’s piece here.

If you are an artist, tell your agent to cut the crap from your programmes.


bbc proms

The founder of the Swingle Singers, who passed away at 87, adds some late reminiscences to a lovely track on the group’s new album. Listen here.

Ward’s life will be celebrated in London next week.


ward swingle

When I was a 1950s kid, growing up in London, the anthem was sounded before important opera performances and concerts. Also before the first and last screenings at the local cinema. And at the theatre.

And then it stopped. When? Why?

I was reminded of its absence when a journalist in Fort Worth contacted me about a debate they are having at their symphony orchestra about playing the Star-Spangled Banner.

You can read his Qs and my As below, and here‘s the full article. But I’m wondering what you think. When and why did the anthem stop playing?
joyce on her knees

Q. You say you don’t miss the days of the National Anthem being played at various events in England, including symphony performances. Why do you feel it is out of place?

A. Times have changed. There was more pomp and circumstance about a live performance 50 years ago. Now it’s less formal. I prefer the informality.

Q. Do you feel that it ruins the mood that the conductor is trying to convey with the rest of the evening’s programming? Does it make the concert feel more like a football game?

A. It’s a distraction. I go to a concert for art and elevation, not national service.

Q. Would you worry that it panders to an empty, rote form of patriotism?

A. At a football game, it creates an illusion of unity in a divisive atmosphere. It can feel false. Myself, I’d prefer the anthem to be reserved for solemn and state occasions.