Gianmaria Testa, a singer-songwriter who was part of the Italian landscape, died today of cancer. He was 57.

Testa has been described as a cross between Bob Dylan and Georges Brassens.
gianmaria testa

David Effron, conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, will preside over his last concert tonight, after 18 years as professor of conducting.

Notice from IU: Congratulations to Professor David Effron, who will retire from the Jacobs School of Music in May 2016, after 18 years on the faculty. This performance marks his final appearance conducting a Jacobs School of Music ensemble as a faculty member. We sincerely thank him for his many years of dedicated teaching, creative vision, and continued inspiration.

david effron

Every label should have one.

press release:


Ksenija Sidorova foto Aiga Redmane 03

Ksenija Sidorova signs exclusive Deutsche Grammophon contract and unveils fresh vision of Carmen in stunning yellow label debut album

Countless artists, authors and other sharp creative minds – from Manet and Peter Brook to Nabokov and Nietzsche – have drawn deep inspiration from Carmen. Ksenija Sidorova is the latest to reimagine the tragic heroine of Bizet’s opera. The Latvian accordionist, a massive musical talent with the blazing energy of a comet, marks her Deutsche Grammophon debut with an album driven by her identification with Bizet’s famously free-spirited femme fatale. Ksenija’s Carmen gives new life to some of the most popular of all classical melodies, presented here in seductively fresh arrangements. She describes the character of Carmen as, above all, “a projection of the heart’s most intimate desires”. In response, her album, influenced by Latin, Asian, European and North American musical styles, offers an intoxicating mix of tone colours and pulsating rhythms.

Ksenija’s Carmen, set for international release on 3 June 2016, presents an authentic reflection of the Riga-born artist’s charismatic personality. “Carmen fascinates me,” she notes. “Of course I wanted to bring something new to this music, to let Carmen speak with a different voice. The accordion doesn’t have to breathe like a singer, so there are no restrictions to what I can do with this music. I could be daring and passionate, just like Carmen, and share in the multicultural musical ideas created by my wonderful collaborators.” There’s much more Carmen to come from Ksenija thanks to a run of performances that opens in Dortmund in April and continues in Latvia and Chicago later in the year. “I feel that people of all ages are ready to connect with Carmen and so I want to take this project on the road.”

Northern Arizona University has communicated the death of Nando Schellen, former director of NAU Opera and before that of Netherlands Opera. He died  in Phoenix on Monday, aged 81.

Nando was managing director and associate general director of The Netherlands Opera from 1969-1986, after learning his trade at Bayreuth. He was also president of The Netherlands Wind Ensemble for 23 years and general artistic director of Indianapolis Opera, 1992-96.

Nando Schellen directed more than 70 operas, musicals, operettas and opera scenes in Europe and North America.



The Toronto Symphony are at pains to point out that Jeff Melanson was not fired this morning. The president and CEO departed by mutual consent, with immediate effect.

Melanson’s turbulent management style and private life ensured him a stream of unsought media coverage. Although the TSO sought to depict Melanson as a vibrant young innovator, ghosts from his past and present kept intruding into the working day. The orchestra is making no comment whatsoever about the cause of his peremptory departure.

He leaves, however, a big hole. Melanson is the author of the orch’s new strategy. His successor will need to implement it, if workable.

The TSO Board of Directors has formed an executive search committee to identify a new CEO. In the meantime, board member Sonia Baxendale will act as interim CEO.

There is one obvious Canadian candidate with outstanding experience, but he won’t be free for at least a year.

Long wait. Big gap.

toronto symphony

That said, there is a palpable sense of relief at the TSO at the restoration of calm normality. And Jeff Melanson will be off to rebuild his career, somewhere far away from classical music and potato chips.

Jeff Melanson is gone from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Here’s the statement.


jeff melanson eleanor mccain

TORONTO, ONTARIO  — 03/30/16 — The Board of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Jeff Melanson, President & CEO of the TSO, have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties that he resign from his employment with the TSO. The TSO has accepted Mr. Melanson’s resignation effective March 29, 2016.

Richard Phillips, Chair of the Board of Directors of the TSO, thanked Mr. Melanson for the many positive contributions he has made to the TSO. Mr. Melanson has been instrumental in developing a new strategic plan…

The dismissal was swift and sudden. It follows allegations about Melanson’s personal life, claims that arose from his contested second divorce. But there had been indications for some time that Melanson was proving far too colourful for the solid suits on the Toronto board. Here’s where the trouble started.

UPDATE: Swift departure leaves a gaping hole.

UPDATE: The mystery woman.

We’re hearing that a major orchestra has parted company with its boss.

Details still coming in.

Watch this space.

orch sad

L’Obs reports today that Anne Gravoin, wife of the French prime minister Manuel Valls, has maintained her professional role as an orchestral violinist. A few business friends offered to help her found an ensemble.

She is now concertmaster and artistic director of the Alma Chamber Orchestra.

Named after (yes, probably).

TUNIS, TUNISIA - FEBRUARY 20: Violinist Anne Gravoin (Front L) performs as Alma Chamber Orchestra presents a concert conducted by Lionel Bringuier at municipality theatre hall in Tunis, Tunisia on February 20, 2015. Ahmet Izgi / Anadolu Agency


photo: AHMET IZGI/Anadolu Agency


We try to avoid lists, but this one of the best music written for the lousiest movies is a bit of an earworm.

We haven’t seen most of the crap movies listed here and cannot therefore comment on the selection.

But on a personal level – Tim Page, help me out here – here are three stinkers with brilliant music.

1 Ludicrous love story redeemed by Marvin Hamlisch’s score

the way we were

2 Unwatchable troilism, rescued by Georges Delerue

3 The ultimate opposite to a Brexit film, with a score by George Auric of Les Six.


UPDATE: Tim Page adds:

“Interlude” (Delerue)
“Heaven’s Gate” (Mansfield)
“Help!” (Beatles — not a terrible film but much better music).

Seven Browning Sample, an engineer and musician who turned the University of Southern California into an arts and academic powerhouse under his long presidency, 1991 to 2010, has died aged 75.

Steven Spielberg said he made the USC School of Cinematic Arts ‘the greatest cinema school in the world.’

In a grey sphere of academic bureaucrats, he was a multicoloured polymath.

Appreciation here.


photo: Philip Channing

tiger piano

A rare, decorated Hamburg Steinway with hand-painted art scenes has turned up in in Connecticut.

Catch a minute of it here:

Lucinda Carver lost part of her middle finger to a defective restroom door in a movie theatre.

She has successfully sued the theatre owners and, her lawyers say, ‘will never regain the full use of her left middle finger and will have permanent pain and numbness in that area.’

The settlement has not been disclosed. Aside from pianism, Lucinda has been music director of the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra and has conducted at Wolf Trap, BAM and other festivals. She is vice dean at USC Thornton.

Do be careful out there.

lucinda carver