Installation magazine reports that the Royal Opera House has ‘upgraded its sound system’ with ‘eight KP102s mounted each side of the proscenium arch.’

The system comprises the aforementioned KP102, colour matched to the gold of the proscenium arch, with 24 KKS50 Compact Sub-Bass in six clusters of four subs, three clusters each side. As well as eight KK102 front fills built into the new thrust stage, two KA84 four channel amplifiers powering the main proscenium L/R system, a KA84 four channel amplifier powering all six sub bass clusters and a further KA24 four channel amplifier powering the front fills.

royal opera house covent garden



Does that mean singing voices will be subtly boosted? Here’s the none-too-categorical answer from ROH head of sound Steve Zissler: ‘As well as being an opera house, we also host commercial events,” said Zissler. “And for us, the K-array is a system that covers at least 90/95% of what we want to do.

‘When you walk into the auditorium, you’ve got the grandiose gold proscenium, rich red plush seats and you’re not expecting to see a loudspeaker hanging above your head. That’s the key to it for us; it’s all about people coming into the auditorium and not seeing a loudspeaker, or not having a sense of the sound being reinforced. For a commercial event, it’s fair enough, but generally, if we’re doing some of the more contemporary operas or ballets which may have electronic instruments as part of the score, you just want that sense of the sound being lifted, but not the sense of it coming from that loudspeaker over there.’

Hmmm. Must check this out.

royal opera house covent garden

According to the brief for the million-pound feasibility study, ‘The Feasibility Steering Group will present an interim report to the GLA and the DCMS in June 2015 and a final report in September 2015.’

Hadn’t happened, apparently, by close of play today.



Any chance they’ll sort it out before the next Heathrow runway?

Katherine Jenkins was delivered of a 7lb daughter today, she announced on Twitter and Instagram:

Introducing our daughter Aaliyah Reign Levitas, who came loudly into the world weighing almost 7lbs and surrounded by love. We are absolutely besotted with her & grateful for the beautiful blessing of this happy, healthy, little miracle. Cwtches all round.

Ms Jenkins has promised to sing Carmen in Wales next summer. Without the boring bits.


The American pianist George Li, silver medal winner in this summer’s Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, has signed for global management with UK agecy Intermusica.

George is currently enrolled in the Harvard-New England Conservatory joint degree program, studying with Wha Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman.

Where was the US music biz when he impressed in Moscow?

george li1

He was a fixture at Sadlers Wells in the 1950s and 1960s, often conducting Gilbert and Sullivan but even more frequently in light French opera. Alexander Faris was an authority on Jacques Offenbach and a man who never allowed himself to be troubled by the weightier aspects of music.

Away from the opera, he wrote a lot of television themes – most enduringly for the long-running serial, Upstairs Downstairs, itself a little lilt of genius.

alexander faris

Sandy died on Monday, aged 94.


The 50 critics of Opernwelt magazine, catering to a German readership, have voted the Bavarian Opera chief Kirill Petrenko conductor of the year, for the second year running.

kirill petrenko conducting

The Bavarian Opera orchestra is voted orchestra of the year, but the opera house of the year is not Munich – it’s a split decision between Frankfurt and Mannheim.

Petrenko is music director in waiting at the Berlin Philharmonic.


A young Italian composer, Alberto Giurioli, struggling in London, went last week to try out his latest songs without words on the forecourt piano at St Pancras International station, gateway to Eurostar.

A passing journalist filmed him and posted the clip on Youtube.

The railway station management, liking what they saw, loaded the improvisation clip onto their vast travel engines.

As of this morning, Alberto had 28,814 views and the possibility of a meeting with Universal and Warner.

See? It can happen to anyone.


Alberto Giurioli

Dymphna Halls-Smith, a violinist in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, decided when she was 29 to volunteer as a medic in the Australian Army Reserves.

That led to a nursing degree and career change. Recently, Dymphna joined Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Tanzania, helping refugees from the civil war in Burundi.

She tells the ABC about it here.

dymphna halls-smith

photo (c) Dymphna Halls-Smith

We are thrilled to report that Echo Klassik will give an award for lifetime achievement next month to Menahem Pressler, pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio for 55 years and now an international soloist.

Menahem, 91, is revered by four generations of musicians as a teacher, a thinker and a life-enhancing friend.


You can hear my BBC Lebrecht Interview with him here.

l-r: Ivry Gitlis, Paavo Järvi, Menahem Pressler

A Russian pianist who lives in Italy and refuses to play in the UK has refused an honour in Cremona because it was previously awarded to Norman Lebrecht. Some websites seem to think this is a news story.

The organisers of the award have clarified their position here.

Our response: The pianist is entitled to choose the company he keeps. Nobody is loved by everyone.



We have received a full account from Rachel Barton Pine on why she and her family spent the night on an airport floor after US Airways refused to board her precious Guarnerius violin. Rachel is at pains in her email to point out that the US Airways attendants were never rude. Just bloody unhelpful. Read Rachel’s tale below.

rachel barton pine

On Sunday night, my family and I were flying US Airways from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to Chicago O’Hare. Ironically, I had been in Phoenix to film a performance and interview for the upcoming Cremona violin exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum, an installation designed to increase the general public’s understanding of these special antique instruments.

My husband, daughter and I arrived at the airport in what should have been plenty of time to get to the gate early, but we had a “perfect storm” of delays with returning the rental car, checking in, and going through security, so we ended up being one of the last to board which was very unusual for us.

As we were about to board, the gate agent told me that there was no room left for my 1742 “ex-Bazzini ex-Soldat” Guarneri del Gesu in the overhead bins and indicated that it would have to be gate checked.  After I explained that this would not be possible, she allowed us to board the plane to see if accommodations could be made.  We found that there were a number of purses and bags in the overhead bins that could have been rearranged so that the violin could be placed behind them. Unfortunately, the flight attendants were unwilling to assist in rearranging the overhead bins. We didn’t want to make a fuss and delay takeoff, so we exited the plane and the airline booked us on another flight. As all of our luggage was still on the original plane and our next flight was in five hours, we waited through the night in the terminal for our morning flight.

I want to be clear that everyone at US Airways with whom we interacted conducted themselves professionally – no one was rude.  I sent out the tweets/posts because this is such an important issue for all touring musicians. There seems to be a real lack of awareness in the airline industry. I think that their belief that gate-checking the violin was a workable solution might have led to their lack of willingness to help us rearrange the bins so that everything fit.


Very few label founders can claim to have changed the face of modern music.

Bob Hurwitz can.

The Nonesuch president – the label is now owned by Warner – changed the face of contemporary music by making it unexpectedly popular. He backed the Kronos Quartet, Steve Reich, Chris Thile, Henry Mikolai Gorecki, John  Adams and any number of chart-busting newcomers. No-one did more than Bob Hurwitz in the past 40 years to break the serial and academic strangleholds on musical creativity.

Now he’s easing off. Bob, 65, has decided to give up the desk job and focus on what he does best – making records.

Release below.


bob hurwitz


NY – September 29, 2015: Nonesuch Records President Bob Hurwitz has announced his intention to gradually step away from the day-to-day running of the label. Under his transition plan, Hurwitz, who has been head of the iconic label for the past 31 years, will remain President through the end of 2016. He will become Chairman Emeritus in January 2017.

This move will allow Hurwitz to continue working at the label in an A&R capacity, including as Executive Producer on ten to twelve albums a year, while also being able to devote more time on a variety of ongoing interests, among which are teaching, writing, and archival projects. Hurwitz’s successor as President will be announced shortly.

WMG CEO Steve Cooper said, “For the past three decades, Bob’s vision, intelligence, and impeccable taste have driven Nonesuch to an incomparable level of musical artistry and distinction. Under his guidance, Nonesuch has discovered and championed many of the most original and influential performers and composers of our time. I know I speak for everyone at WMG when I thank him for his extraordinary service to this company. The entire music world is much richer because of all that Bob accomplishes.”

Cooper added, “In typical unorthodox fashion, rather than retiring, Bob has chosen a less well-beaten path for the years ahead. While I respect his desire to pursue fresh avenues, I’m also thrilled that he has decided to remain with the label that bears his unmistakable stamp. Among Bob’s most impressive accomplishments is the fact that he has populated the label with extraordinary people, most of whom have been with Nonesuch for many years. The label’s unique approach lives in all of them, ensuring that Nonesuch will prosper by continuing to surprise and delight us all.”

Warner Bros. Records Chairman & CEO Cameron Strang said, “It is a privilege to have Nonesuch as part of the Warner Bros. family of labels. As a young person coming up in this business, I always thought that Nonesuch helped set the bar for record labels – a place where artistic excellence and integrity ruled supreme, regardless of musical genre. It was only when I joined WBR that I was lucky enough to experience first-hand Bob’s determination to maintain the highest standard of quality at every step of the creative process – from signing to recording to packaging to marketing. I echo Steve’s thankfulness that Bob will remain an active force at the label, and that David Bither, Peter Clancy, and the rest of Bob’s handpicked Nonesuch team will be there to carry the torch.”

Bob Hurwitz said, “I have been at Nonesuch for 31 years, and during that time there has not been a single occasion when someone said, ‘You have to sign this artist; you can’t sign that artist; you have to change that record; you can’t let the artist do this or that; you have to drop this artist.’ Not once was there any creative interference. Instead, on the Warner Bros., Elektra, and corporate sides, there has been trust and support; and on our side, taking our responsibility with utmost seriousness. I have nothing but tremendous gratitude to have had the rare opportunity to operate in this manner.” “I think it’s the right time to give up my day-to-day responsibilities to my wonderful colleagues, all of whom have a great love of music, as well as the intelligence and talent needed for Nonesuch to thrive. And I am grateful to still be involved with them, especially the part of the job that I have loved the most – signing performers and composers, making records, and being involved with the living artists who mean the most to me.”

Hurwitz, an accomplished pianist, came to New York City from his native Los Angeles at the age of 21. He started his career in the music industry at Columbia Records, where he was hired as a publicity writer. In 1975, the 25-year-old Hurwitz became head of American operations for ECM, the German-based jazz and new music label, which was being distributed in the U.S. by Warner Bros. Records. Nine years later, on Valentine’s Day 1984, he was asked to run Nonesuch, twenty years to the day after the label’s launch by legendary Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman. The first artists that Hurwitz signed to Nonesuch were two contemporary music icons, Steve Reich and John Adams, both of whom remain with the label today. Since then, Hurwitz has never taken his eye off the fundamental premise that it is all about the music – about unique artists with unique visions and unique voices, and about providing those artists with the environment and freedom to flourish and do their best work. The range and depth of musicians who have called Nonesuch home is remarkable, as the label branched out from its classical and world music roots into folk, jazz, Americana, rock, bluegrass, musical theater, film soundtracks, and a myriad of releases that resist neat categorization. In 2014, Nonesuch celebrated its 50th anniversary and Hurwitz celebrated his 30th anniversary with the label. Today, the label’s eclectic, award-winning roster ranges from the Black Keys to Kronos Quartet, Emmylou Harris to John Adams, Randy Newman to Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Reich to Robert Plant, Brad Mehldau to Adam Guettel, Caetano Veloso to Audra McDonald, Chris Thile to Josh Redman.