That’s music director Theodore Kuchar on leaving the Fresno Philharmonic after 15 hectic years.



The orchestra president says: ‘It is fair to say that the relationship between music director and exec director in professional symphony orchestras is a complex one. Both the music director and executive director are charged with making the organization successful and fulfilling its mission in a financially sustainable way. For an organization to be successful, it absolutely has to be a partnership. That’s absolutely true.”

Read the full breakdown article here. They should teach these things in music school.

The Iberian age of high fees and seat prices is over.

Tickets to this week’s Madrid concert of Anne-Sophie Mutter, Lynn Harrell and Yefim Bronfman have been cut to half-price and the hall is still unsold.

mutter & co discount

More details here.

Heather O’Donnell has written a thoughtful and disturbing piece for Van magazine on the strategies that musicians employ to mask a physical or mental disability – and how the subterfuge impacts on their fellow-musicians.


A violinist who plays with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where Levine was music director from 2004 until 2011, described the stress of working under Levine to me as “absolute fucking hell.” The orchestra members endured years of uncertainty in which the illness was treated by Levine and those close to him with denial and painfully inadequate attempts at compensation (for example, Levine began speaking more and more at rehearsals to conceal his inability to physically model the intended musical gesture). The musicians felt powerless to exert any influence on the situation.  

Read on here.

james levine wheelchair

Maria José Siri tells Graham Spicer she hadn’t even sung the role when Riccardo Chailly chose her to open his season.

I am honoured and excited as I have been preparing to tackle this role for quite some time. I am especially happy because I have never sung before with Riccardo Chailly, and had never even sung Madam Butterfly when Maestro, who is a superlative interpreter of Puccini, heard me and chose me. I am also delighted to be singing in the critical edition of the opera, which is part of Chailly’s project at La Scala to present Puccini’s operas in their original versions.

More here.

maria jose siri

This is a new version of Duke Ellington’s Cotton Tail from Sylvain Bertrand and the Big band du Conservatoire de Saint-Étienne, led by Ludovic Murat.


Grievous embarrassment at yesterday’s FA Cup Final.


Er, when you hear the drum-roll, it means, like, now.

The Japanese conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura has started work as music director of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in Manila.

Fukumura, 69, started out as a Tokyo wild child in long hair and jeans.

He has made most of his career with Asian orchs.


The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will play tonight at a memorial service for Jane Little, who died last Sunday in mid-concert after a record 71 years in the orchestra.

Her fellow-bassist Michael Kurth pays tribute here:

Jane Little was standing next to me last Sunday when she played her last note. She was doing what she loved, surrounded by people she loved, in a place that was like home to her. Kurth and Jane Little (on the back row) in concert two days before her death. (Photo by Jeff Roffman)Kurth and Jane Little (in the back row) in concert two days before her death. (Photo by Jeff Roffman)

Much has been said of the    “appropriateness” of the circumstances of Jane’s passing; it certainly seems poetic, dulce et decorum est and all that. Perhaps she wanted it that way, perhaps many of us would like to pass our years without a moment wasted, wringing every drop of passion and purpose out of life, sharing ourselves until the last heartbeat. But I would eagerly trade that Hollywood ending for just a few more heartbeats, a moment, one last opportunity to tell Jane how beloved she is and how much she means to our orchestra family, and how grateful we all are for her life and her gifts.

Read on here.

Cristina Cassidy’s new documentary film Concerto delves into the lives of Charles and Christopher Rex, who survived a traumatic childhood. Christopher Rex (left, below) is principal cellist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 1979. Charles Rex (right) has played violin in the New York Philharmonic since 1981.

The film will show at the Madrid Intenational Film Festival.

First report here from Mark Gresham.

christopher rex

Nicola Benedetti was replaced last night at the Vancouver Symphony in the Mozart 3rd concerto by concertmaster Dale Barltrop. The orchestra tweeted that its intended soloist ‘will not play tonight at the Chan Centre, due to a very bad flu’.

We wish her better.

benedetti (1)

Some serious inside talk this week from Anthea Kreston, American violinist in the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet. What do you do when someone says, you made a mistake? Essential reading for all musicians. 

Jonas Salk, the man who discovered the polio vaccine, said,  “life is an error-making and error-correcting process”.

When I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota at age 16, my first semester’s plate of courses included an “Intro to Sociology” course which made big impressions on me in many ways. Firstly – I was one of 350 students in a cavernous sub-basement bunker-type hall, and the teacher stood behind a large desk, miked, and used a wall of chalk-board and an overhead projector. I was completely overwhelmed by the situation as well as the amount, complexity and speed of learning we were expected to master. I couldn’t even really make out the features of the teacher, whose name I have forgotten, and who had the stage presence of a plate of steamed cauliflower.

But – in retrospect – this class and the materials have affected me greatly and I often find myself casually ruminating on a point or two from those articles and books. One thing has made a huge impact on my life – an article on “Self-correction vs Other-correction”.  Here is the full title – I just found it again on Google Books and it is still a tough read. “The Preference for Self-correction in the Organization of Repair in Conversation” by Emanuel A Schegloff, Gail Jefferson and Harvey Sacks. Although this is a linguistic study and part of a large linguistic field which studies the ways of language acquisition, I found it was and is completely related to string quartet rehearsals.

The premise is (I will spare you the abstract) that humans naturally recognize their flaws, correct them automatically, and learn them deeply and with pride when they correct themselves. Humans do not learn as well when others correct them, and they begin to lose their own self-correcting initiative when there is too much other-correction (correction by an outside source).  Think about this and how you feel differently when playing:

a. by yourself

b. in a quartet

c. in an orchestra

artemis quartet new


As a classical musician, the balance between self- and other-correction is a constant teeter-totter. Firstly – let me sum up the list of other-correction which pervades the classical music learning experience. We have lessons from a very early age, many of us practiced with parents for years, and play in large ensembles under a conductor.  I am not saying that other-correction is bad – for classical music it is an absolute necessity and is a pleasure in many ways. But if we loose the balance, we lose ourselves and the trust and support of our colleagues.

Self-correction occurs in the practice room – but we practice a type of other-correction in those rooms as well – metronome work. Small ensemble work is one of the only places where true democracy and individual control can occur. Not the only place of course, but a very important one.

In quartet rehearsals, I am always painfully aware of my flaws. I think everyone is. I once had a boyfriend who described playing classical music as “a series of small disasters”.  I care a lot about my role in an ensemble – I want to be my best and am often frustrated or disappointed in myself. I want to get better. I am proud of my small victories – a note ended absolutely with others, a complicated rhythm pulled off without hitch. How do I feel when someone points out my flaw immediately and tells me what they think is wrong? Defensive, annoyed, and looking forward to pointing out that person’s next flaw. Am I shallow?  Probably. I correct the fault but I am not proud – I wait for the approval of the person who pointed it out. How often does someone point out a flaw which you are not aware of?  Very rarely.

So – my philosophy is – let that person figure it out themselves. Let it be terrible three times – and if they need some help on the fourth I use the YoYo Ma Deflection Tactic. I say “I would love to do bar 242 slowly once – I just don’t feel like I am with everyone”.  That way we can do the bar, the person who needs help can get help, and no one is defensive or upset. Play it 5 times. Blame yourself first. Have pride in your improvements and desire to improve, rather than looking at others. Everyone in your group is an excellent musician who is highly trained and wants to do their best.  Let them do it.

The first night of Les Feluettes sold out last night at the Opéra de Montréal despite some subscribers returning their tickets.

The opera, co-commissioned with Pacific Opera Victoria is based on a play by Michel Marc Bouchard with music by the Australian composer Kevin March.

First report here.



photo Yves Renaud