Gary Hanson, in his parting week as executive director, has left the orchestra with a healthy surplus, a growing audience and an endowment of more than $180 million.

Read the numbers here. Gary has earned himself a break.

gary hanson

photo: Roger Mastroianni

The world we live in, part 73.

This is Andrew Huang, from Toronto.


The guitarist Milos launched an album of Beatles covers at Abbey Road this lunchtime.

He opened with ‘Yesterday’ in the slightly futuristic transcription by Toru Takemitsu. Difficult to bring off but he took it slow and with great panache. He went on to talk movingly about coping with a hand injury.



milos kneecap


We did wonder, however, why Milos needed to sport a hipster hole in the right knee of his designer jeans. Must be we’re not hipster enough


Here’s a hipster track.





Kasper Holten’s departure as director of opera at Covent Garden removes a cornerstone of company stability.

The Dane has dragged the Royal Opera, often kicking and sometimes screaming, into a more adventurous production style and a more open relationship with public and media, not always to the satisfaction of the moneyed classes that put in the big donations.

Significantly, Kasper built a symbiotic relationship with the music director, Antonio Pappano, who had originally talked of leaving in 2013 but stayed on for the sheer stimulus of working with a sympathetic partner.

With Kasper going, Tony will feel unsettled. The pair have laid long-term plans running into the 2020s, but that could change with a new director. There are undertones of uncertainty ahead in today’s press release.

Covent Garden will have to rethink itself, never an easy task.

Here’s an obvious, top-of-the-head shortlist of possible successors:

Pierre Audi (Netherlands Opera)

John Berry (ex-ENO)

Wasfi Kani (Grange Park)

Michael Volpe (Holland Park)

Alvis Hermanis (ahem)

Ruth Mackenzie (Holland Festival)

Graham Vick (Birmingham – now, there’s a thought)

royal opera house covent garden


Kasper Holten, the energetic and occasionally controversial director of the Royal Opera, has decided to leave in 15 months time. The reason? He wants to raise his kids in Denmark.

You read it here first (as usual). UPDATE: Who’s next? 

Read on:

kasper holten



Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, announced this morning that Kasper Holten, Director of Opera at The Royal Opera, will be leaving the Company at the end of March 2017. The search to find his successor will begin in the New Year.

In a letter to staff Kasper Holten has written:

‘Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you as I want to share with you that I have decided to leave my position at The Royal Opera in March 2017.

I love working at ROH – and with all the amazing colleagues here – and it feels very painful to let go of that in 2017. But when I moved to London, my partner and I didn’t have children. Now we do, and after much soul searching we have decided that we want to be closer to our families and inevitably that means we make Copenhagen our home where the children will grow up and go to school.

So when Alex offered me an extension of my contract for another five years beyond summer 2016, I have decided only to ask for an extension of seven months, giving the ROH time to plan for my succession and for me to continue the work as long as possible. I will therefore leave my position in March 2017 after Tony and I open our new production of Wagner’s Meistersinger here at ROH. But my work isn’t done yet, so please don’t do too many farewells quite yet!

I will continue to work hard for The Royal Opera until the day I leave, and Tony and I will put strong plans in place for The Royal Opera until 2020 and beyond, with a varied repertory and many exciting new commissions and productions.

It is with a very heavy heart that I send you these lines, but at the end of the day this decision has been inevitable for me. I am deeply grateful to ROH and to all of you for the amazing adventure it has been to work here – and will continue to be for a while yet!

Warmest regards

Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera said: ‘Kasper Holten has been electric during his time at the Royal Opera House, demonstrating an uncanny energy, perseverance and vision for the future of our great institution. My collaboration with him on Król Roger was one of the most fruitful experiences I have had during my time at this theatre. I am very sad that he has decided he must leave, as I believe it will be a major loss for our Company, and for me personally. I wish him and his family the very best wishes for their future. Thank you Kasper for all that you have given to the ROH.’

Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House added: ‘Kasper Holten is a wonderful colleague and a good friend, and continues to bring extraordinary energy and vision as our Director of Opera. While I had very much hoped to work with him through to 2020 and beyond, I understand and respect his reasons for moving back to Copenhagen. Although sad that Kasper will be leaving, I am pleased that he has agreed to extend his contract until his new Meistersinger opens here in 2017.’

With best wishes,

Amanda Saunders
Director of Development

kasper holten

Not to be outdone by the Orchestre de Paris, here’s the new intake from last week’s orchestra auditions at the Royal Opera in Stockholm.


swedish violinists

L-R: Elise Eide (cello), Emily Honeyman (double-bass), Jenny Samuelsson (flute).

Emily is from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Elise is Norwegian.

The justly popular and energetic Lindsey Stirling has taken Leonard Cohen’s profane account of King David’s sexual obsessions and turned it into a Yuletide ‘testimony of Jesus Christ’.

Lindsey affirms on the video: ‘ Maybe you think that no one sees the beauty in you, but there is one person that I have learned that always sees the beauty in us, and that’s our Saviour Jesus Christ, and this is the time of year that we have the opportunity to celebrate his birth. He was the greatest gift that we’ve ever been given, and his gospel allows us the knowledge to know that we can be with our loved ones forever.’

Lindsey, that’s not what the song’s about. This is a total distortion, but one million fans watched the video in the first 24 hours.


The audience at the Opéra de Paris did not wait for the final curtain last night. They booed the Latvian director Alvis Hermanis at the interval curtain, apparently – or partly – in protest at ugly remarks he had made about the reception of Syrian refugees in Europe.

His production of Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust was exceptionally well sung by a cast that included Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel and Sophie Koch, Philipped Jordan conducting.

Faust is reconceived as a kind of Stephen Hawking figure out to conquer Mars.

First review here by William Saintagne (en francais).


photo: Opera de Paris

The next Hermanis production is Il due Foscari in February at La Scala.

As reported by Sarah Niblack (Fb profile picture), one of the lucky entrants:

sarah niblack

A great class of academicians have again been selected by the principals of the Orchestre de Paris from the conservatories CRR de Paris : Sarah Niblack (viola), Magdalena Probe (cello) and Nohora Munoz Ortiz (double-bass) and from Pspbb – Pôle supérieur d’enseignement artistique Paris Boulogne-Billancourt : Luxi Lavielle (violin), Clara Lefevre (viola) and Marc-Antoine Novel (cello).

These six young musicians will have the exceptional opportunity to integrate into the string sections of the Orchestre de Paris for the following concerts :

25-28 January 2016 – Paavo Järvi, conductor
Anton Bruckner, Symphony n° 5

7-10 March 2016 – Jaap van Zweeden, conductor
Dmitri Chostakovitch (Shostakovich), Symphony n° 5

14-19 March 2016 – Yutaka Sado, conductor
Igor Stravinsky, Firebird

photo (c) Camille Cier

From the Communauté Juive de Paris (and we thought he was there for climate change).


schwarzenegger dance chabad


Click on link below.

arnold Schwarzenegger danse pour hanouka !!arnold Schwarzenegger danse pour hanouka !!



A Guardian reader has complained to the newspaper that Ryanair, the cheap-and-nasty Irish airline, refused to let a 16 year-old take his violin case on the plane, and further refused to let him pay for it in Euros or by credit card.

Ryanair has recently claimed to have changed its public face. Not yet, apparently. Read here.

music airport 2

This appears today in the Times:

Sir, We write in support of Humphrey Burton’s letter (Dec 8) about the serious situation facing English National Opera’s chorus. ENO is first and foremost a company of musicians. Plans to reduce its chorus members’ contracts and limit its productions to eight a season threaten to destroy ENO. Decisions have been made about the future of the company without public consultation despite its public subsidy. We call upon ENO’s board to engage in a public examination of ways to protect the company and reinstate a full season of opera at the Coliseum before irreparable damage is done to this much-loved organisation, which has played such a central role in the cultural life of this country.

Dame Janet Baker; Graham Clark; Dame Anne Evans; Sir David McVicar; Sir Antonio Pappano; Sir John Tomlinson


They are so right: the ENO situation requires a public inquiry, starting with its bullying, unconstitutional and altogether inept handling by the last two chairs and chief exec of Arts Council England.