frank almond fingers

This was Frank Almond’s hand last night after he had finished playing the second Shostakovich trio in Milwaukee, where he is concertmaster of the symphony orchestra. We asked Frank what happened. Here’s what he says:

I was playing a concert last night with the outstanding musicians William Wolfram (piano) and David Requiro (cello). The first half was substantial, a Rachmaninov trio and the Prokofiev F min. Sonata (violin and piano). Everything felt really great, full house, great colleagues, etc.

We started the Shostakovich Trio (No. 2) and early on my fingerboard felt a little….sticky. We finished the first movement and there was blood all over my index finger (and the fingerboard). All I can surmise is that a small cut had somehow opened on the tip and things went from there. We stopped briefly while I tried to clean things up a little, then gave as impassioned a concert as I can remember, although I’d occasionally wipe off my finger or the board when I had a moment.


frank almond fingerboard

The photos probably look worse than it actually was, since my other fingers ended up pretty dirty as well. I’ve never had this experience before, although I’m told the weather can contribute; it was about 3 degrees outside, and fairly dry. On the other hand, stranger things have happened at that venue (scene of the crime, so to speak).

It was at this hall that Frank was brutally attacked two years ago by two men, who stole his Stradivarius. He got the violin back. Now, he says, ‘my biggest issue today is to figure out how to practice….’

Share your own violin injuries below.

Else Marie Pade, imprisoned under the German occupation, became an electronic music pioneer after a 1952 meeting in Darmstadt with the musique concrète inventor, Pierre Schaeffer.

Her 1959 breakthrough work, ‘Symphonie magnetophonique’, is composed entirely of everyday sounds.


Else Marie Pade

More here (in Danish).

The Israel Philharmonic with conductor Omer Meir Wellber, 34, has been named orchestra in residence at the 2016 Dresden Music Festival in May-June.

Other ensembles involved in the festival’s Israel-Germany theme are the Jerusalem Quartet and the German-based New Jewish Chamber Philharmonic, which performs works banned by the Nazis.

semper oper dresden

press release:

For its 39th festival programme, the Dresden Music Festival has taken as its motto “Time”, whose various facets will be examined from 5 May to 5 June 2016 in 52 concerts given by some of the most renowned figures in the international classical music scene such as Leonidas Kavakos, Andris Nelsons, Kristine Opolais, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Daniil Trifonov, Arabella Steinbacher and Semyon Bychkov, to mention just a few of the performers who have been invited.

“A good concert always also provides us with a magical intellectual discourse between the past and the future,” festival director Jan Voglersays of the motto for the 39th Dresden Music Festival. And such a discourse seems particularly vital at the moment, in view of current problems such as xenophobia, hostility towards refugees and resurgent racism. Vogler, a committed humanist, is convinced that the 2016 festival can make a significant contribution here: “Music always has a strong connective effect. Confucius said that music can prevent wars and guarantee peace in society. I think society still very much underestimates what music can achieve.”

The US composer David Lang is writing a major new work, Memorial Ground, for massed singers which will be premiered on 2 July 2016 at the East Neuk Festival and then taken up by choirs all over the country around 11-13 November for commemorations of the Battle of the Somme.

Lang is the composer of the score of the new Sorrentino film, Youth, starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz and Jane Fonda.  Its theme song, (Simple Song #3) is nominated for an Oscar.


Jane Stuart Smith, who has died aged 90, had a flourishing career in the 1950s in Italy, France and Germany. After a striking debut at La Fenice, she sang Turandot and Norma. The Italians called her Gianna Smith, or the Yankee Doodle Diva.

Then her plane nearly crashed in the Alps. She had already met Francis Schaeffer, founder of a Swiss evangelical Christian organization, and decided to dedicate the rest of her life to God. Her last performance was Brünnhilde at San Carlo, Naples, in 1959. Jane spent the rest of her life singing and composing hymns.

‘I felt the Lord saved me for this work,’ she said.

jane stuart smith

In a belated bid to cull his top-heavy management team, Tony Hall has scrapped the roles of BBC1 and BBC2 controller, as well as head of BBC4.

Charlotte Moore, presently in charge of BBC1, will run all three channels, as well as I-Player content.

BBC2 chief Kim Shillinglaw, who lost out on the top job, will leave the BBC.

Absurdly, the BBC still maintains an extra role of (acting) director of television.

bbc broacasting house

Our W1A swingdoor correspondent adds: Remember, they’ve also saved Danny Cohen as “Director of TV” and Yentob as “Creative Director” salaries. But this is also in line with their worrying strategy about seeing BBC as less ‘channel’ driven and more a producer of ‘content’ which they’ll curate online… hence the very worrying threat of the closure of the BBC News Channel.


Simon Goldstone’s claim to (modest) fame is that he signed Joyce DiDonato after she was shunned by other agencies at auditions.

When Simon decided to quit IMG, Joyce went with him to Intermusica. Not long after she dumped him for ‘more innovative’ management. Since then, Simon has been reconfiguring his future.

Today, he waltzed off from Intermusica to Rayfield Allied, taking with him 20 artists, including one fast-rising star. The defectors are:


Sopranos Venera Gimadieva and Soile Isokoski;

Tenors Eric Cutler, Sam Furness, Norman Reinhardt, Sergey Romanovsky and Boris Rudak;

Baritones John Chest, Igor Golovatenko, Scott Hendricks, Alexey Lavrov, Brett Polegato, Dan Shelvey,  David Stout and George von Bergen.

Basses Joshua Bloom and David Shipley;

Conductor Gianluca Marcianò;

Stage Directors Jack Furness and James Robinson.

Simon says: ‘I’m delighted to be joining Rayfield Allied – I feel it is currently the most exciting and energetic agency in the UK with an illustrious history going back over 40 years and a fantastic existing roster of artists. Ben Rayfield’s ethos is very much focused on personal and knowledgeable artist management reflecting my own style perfectly. I am thrilled to be a part of Ben’s team at Rayfield Allied, and to continue to work with so many of my artists.’

Small pond, large storm.


A former orchestra violinist who had been reduced to living in his car in Portland, Oregon, lost everything when the vehicle caught fire. The man’s name is not known. First reports say he once played in the Oregon Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra.

violinist lives in car

The neighbour who posted the picture, says: The person helping him out says what he is most sad about is the loss of his jazz music collection and a few jazz music theory books he was reading.’

As soon as we have further details, let’s see what we can do to help out.

The episode calls to mind the tragedy of Anne Naysmith, a London concert pianist who wound up living in her car.


UPDATE: The homeless man has been tentatively identified as David Wright, a member of the Minnesota Orchestra for 28 years. See more here.

The dowager dame has been telling kids back home that she was beaten by brides of Christ – and it toughened her up.

The opera star stunned a Whanganui audience with the revelation during a speaking event with opera singer and Baptist Church minister, Rodney McCann, the Whanganui Chronicle reported.

“I am as tough as I am today because from age 12, when I was at a convent school in Auckland, I was beaten by the nuns,” she told a crowd of several hundred fans.

Not sure what her message is here. Tick one of the boxes below:

kiri nuns chorus
Children need to be whipped

Masochism is underrated

Opera is not all beauty

I should have gone to church more

I should never have gone to that school

You kids are so soft today. We used to get whipped before breakfast, forced to play nude rugby all morning, no lunch, arpeggios all afternoon, hakas at tea and cold showers before bed. That’s how I got where I am.

Reports through the night from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra indicate that the musicians have taken a pay cut – another one – and the organisation will struggle through to the end of the season.

No confirmation until later today. Beyond that? Hartford needs to show it really wants and deserves an orchestra.

hartford symphony

The German composer Timo Jouko Herrmann believes he has found a score in the Czech National Library that was composed jointly by Mozart and his arch-rival, Antonio Salieri.

It’s a solo cantata, listed in Köchel as K477a, and long believed to be lost. The text is by Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart’s librettist, and the piece is thought to have been written for the English soprano, Nancy Storace, the original Susanna in Marriage of Figaro. At the time, Salieri was writing Ofelia for her in his opera La Grotta Di Trofonio.

nancy storace


The premiere of K477a by Storace was widely reported, but no-one since then has had sight of the score. It contains, says Herrmann, a ‘Song of Joy’ jointly written by Mozart and Salieri.

Sensational, if authenticated.

mozart cantata prague

Timo interview here. (Spoiler alert: expect Classic FM to steal this story.)