Christian Thielemann has cancelled this week’s Dresden concerts on medical grounds.

Bild reports he has heart problems. Dresden strongly denies it.

The Staatskapelle music director is 57.

thielemann sport1

From our weekend diarist, Anthea Kreston of the Artemis Quartet:


artemis play

We have all been reading the stories about trouble travelling with instruments.  Somehow, with my small bullet-case, an over-the-shoulder strap, and a scarf covering my strap from the front, I have escaped any problems. A big smile, confident carriage, and a way of agreeing first with any airport personnel, then attentively and patiently listening as the work out the solution has taken me this far without fail.

As I write now, I am covered in a thick patina (wait – isn’t a patina by definition thin?) of sweaty film, looking out the window of our flight from Cincinnati to Toronto. The cello, today’s culprit, sits scroll down, across from the aisle from me. It is 11:03, and our scheduled flight of 10:50 has just begun to taxi.

Why the sweat?  Today as we showed up for checkin, there was, for some reason, an inability to track the cello ticket which was purchased for this flight. The 6 digit code would not produce any results, last names either – and they reported that the flight had checked in full. The quartet kept its cool – each member naturally assuming a different role as things continued to unfold in a negative way, each solution proposed ending in a deadlock.

We are flying Air Canada, and somehow the checkin staff seems lethargic, uncreative and defeatist. I want to say – “come on, Chelsey, Jennifer – we can do this!!”, but I fear this would have a negative reaction. The quartet splits up – at this point they said we would not make the plane in any case. Vineta ran ahead, able to go through security with her gold status, and worked the gate to hold the flight.  Gregor was furiously typing to get any more details about the ticket. I tried to check in the cello on-line while Eckart was on the phone to Germany with Bruno, our mad-genius travel agent.

As the minutes ticked by – now 20 minutes to take-off – Gregor has run ahead to go through as Eckart and I try our last ditch efforts.  I am checking alternative flights – nothing is available – and also drive time (now 10:38, and 8:00 concert in Toronto, and a drive time of 8:27).  We realize we must run – they can only hold the flight so long!

We run to security, and into the TSA pre-check.  I politely, with flushed cheeks and a pant, explained how I am traveling with a famous cellist – there is a concert tonight – can we go ahead?  Everyone lets us go to the front of the line, but of course we do not have TSA pre-check – it was just a trick to get us to the front. The person lets us cut to the front of the regular line, and we take off our shoes and coats in motion as we head to the conveyor belt. The person in front of us says – “please go ahead – anything for a cello!” and somehow we are through.

Vineta and Gregor have held the plane as long as they can – but still the situation remains – no ticket has been found and the cello is heading for a dire fate of gate-check purgatory. We skip the train and run – no time to wait. Thank goodness Vineta has been keeping us (our group of three – Vineta, myself and Eckart) on track during the tour – running her own version of High Interval Intensity Training sessions for us – run, sprint, bursts of push-ups and ab work, and I have added some kick-boxing manoeuvres to the routine.

We make it to the gate as we see Gregor getting on the plane – we are the last ones. Sometimes, when you are really late, and exhausted, and you do the series or spring/run/long-legged walk to get to your destination, you realize at the end that every movement you made was utterly necessary. If I hadn’t run up that last escalator, or ditched re-tying my shoes, I would not have made it. Every little push is integral to the goal.

So we make it – and as we do, they say – we will let you board – you can take the cello. Oh my goodness. Unbelievable. My breathing has calmed, my cheeks still burn with exertion, but we are here. All four of us.

From the Fort Wayne Philharmonic:

Ronald Ondrejka, former conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, died suddenly early in the morning of April 7, 2016 at his home in Carpinteria, California where he lived with his wife, Elise Unruh.

Ondrejka was born into a musical family in 1932 in Manhattan. His Italian-American mother was a pianist; his Czech father was a concert violinist. … After military service in Europe with the Seventh Army Symphony, he was a prize winner in the Royal Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1961. … He became assistant to Richard Lert, at the annual Association of Symphony Orchestra League conducting workshops, then to Josef Krips at the Buffalo Philharmonic and William Steinberg in Pittsburgh.

As music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony (1967-1979), Ondrejka taught in the Music Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His final post was as Music Director of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic (1978-1993). Under his artistic leadership the Philharmonic more than tripled its budget, increased the number of full-time core orchestra musicians and expanded its programming to include chamber music, pops and chamber orchestra series.

ronald ondrejka


We learn with sadness of the death on April 5 of the Australian soprano Elsie Morison, second wife of the Czech conductor Rafael Kubelik. Elsie was 91. After a ceremony in Prague, her remains will be flown for burial in her family tomb at Ballarat, Victoria.

Elsie was a staff soprano at Covent Garden in the 1950s when Kubelik, nursing a gravely ill wife, was the music director. They performed and recorded together until their marriage in 1963, after which Elsie decided that she would sing no more.

I met them both, separately and together. They shared a quietude and humility that is rare among great artists. Elsie, though she liked to laugh, was discretion itself. I last saw them together in Prague in 1990, on Rafael’s return after more than 40 years’ political exile.


Brian Kellow, the magazine’s veteran features editor and Diane Silberstein, recently appointed publisher, have been laid off by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, effective immediately.

The reasons given are cost cutting. The dismissals came two days after the annual Opera News awards gala.

Peter Gelb has long resented the magazine’s moderate critical voice.

opera news

Rachel Barton Pine is something of a legend.

Survivor of a Chicago train accident that claimed one of her legs, she has endured 45 operations to enable her to perform standing and in full command of her instrument.

This week, her new Bach sonatas and partitas album is fourth in the Nielsen Soundscan classical sales charts, the only violinist in the top ten.

There’s a feature on her today on CNN. Watch here.


rachel barton pine class

The American whistleblower, idle in Russian asylum, has been working on a record track with film composer Jean-Michel Jarre.

Exclusive video interviews on Rolling Stone here.


Among the many changes at Universal Classics, Graham Southern lost his job as COO. Graham, formerly of EMI, is a man who walks around with the entire recorded catalogue in his head.

Delighted to hear he has found a new job as COO of Presto Classical, a mail-order and download firm.


graham southern pope

He’s the one to the right of the Pope.

It’s with the Vienna Philharmonic in June, conductor Daniele Gatti.

The tenor sections should present no problem for his vocal range, but why tamp down the colours in the piece by having the same voice sing the mezzo/baritone role?

Not sure this is such a good idea.


As the Met prepared to roll out news of James Levine’s demission, Lincoln Center decided it was a good moment to announce the departure of its president Jed Bernstein, after less than two years in the job.

At a time when the Center is facing a half-billion-dollar renovation of its concert hall, this might appear to be a disaster. But word in the corridors is that Bernstein was not getting on with his chairperson, Katherine Farley, and the board felt it was better if they were all singing off the same sheet.

Bernstein was formerly a commercial producer on Broadway.

Anyone care to apply for the vacancy?


lincoln center