Amateur video, filmed in a European capital under state of siege, where the Metro has been shut down for security reasons.

Els Ampe tweeted: Strange atmosphere in  thesedays … Armoured vehicles with cello sounds in background.

cellist brussels

We have been informed of the passing of Richard Cowan, an American bass-baritone who sang leading roles in major US and European houses and in 1998 founded the Lyrique en Mer opera festival in Belle Île, France.

Richard had been struggling for several years with illness; his death was announced by the festival.

As a performer, Richard came first to attention in Berg’s Lulu at the Maggio Musicale, Chicago and San Francisco. In 1990, he played the opening night of the Met as Chaunard in La Bohème.

His signature role was Bluebeard in Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard Castle, which he played at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Geneva, Turin, Melbourne, Liège, and at his own festival.

Our sympathies to his widow, Uliana Kozhevnikova, his daughter, Alexandra Cowan, and loved ones.

A memorial service will be held in Pittsburgh, early next month.


richard cowan

The Chinese pianist has been named the first Ambassador to Château de Versailles.

He reports: ‘I’ve fallen in love with Versailles and I’m excited to help raise awareness about the ongoing need for its preservation and restoration. I’ll give outdoor concerts in the gardens in 2016 and 2017. Merci beaucoup!’

lang lang versaillesLouis-XIV

The Bach birthplace museum in Eisenach has announced the purchase of a lifetime portrait of the composer. The painting below, attributed to the Dresden painter Johann Emanuel Göbel (1720-1759), was discovered in private ownership 30 years ago and will now go on permanent display.

j s bach eisenach

No sooner did that new item land than a collector in Dortmund, Wolf-Dietrich Köster, claims to have authenticated by carbon-dating to 1748 a Bach portrait he bought at auction last year.

If both of these pictures are what they are said to be, the number of lifetime likenesses of Bach has just gone up from one to three.

Dieses Bild eines unbekannten Malers hat der Dortmunder Unternehmer Wolf-Dietrich Köster 2014 auf einer Auktion ersteigert. Jetzt untersuchen es Kunsthistoriker auf die Echtheit hin - ist das ein Porträt von Johann Sebastian Bach oder sieht es nur so aus?

The West African singer-songwriter Sekouba Bambino has emerged as a hero of the Malian hotel siege, feeding the authorities vital information about the attackers from his besieged room.

He identified the murderous jihadists as English speakers with a Nigerian accent.

‘Initially I thought they were petty criminals,’ Bambino told NBC News. Then, ‘it felt like this wasn’t just simple pistols… There were shots from military weapons.’

Bambino is a huge star in West Africa.

Sékouba Bambino Diabaté - Badenya


The Israeli-born, New York-based mezzo Rinat Shaham is presently singing Preziosilla in English National Opera’s production of Verdi’s Force of Destiny.

That means being holed up in London for three of the greyest months of a singularly colourless year.

So she does what singers do when it’s dark: she sings.

And the songs she is recording seem perfectly attuned to the present mood.

This is ‘Second Childhood’ by the contemplative singer-songwriter Matti Caspi.


rinat shaham

‘Virgil steals to pay for cello lessons…’

woody allen