From the League of American Orchestras:

On July 6, 2016, new rules will take effect related to both international travel and domestic commerce with musical instruments that contain small quantities of African elephant ivory. The League played a key leadership role in national conversations with White House officials, top leadership at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Congress, and conservation organizations to successfully seek solutions that would address urgent conservation concerns while also protecting international cultural activity.

The rules broaden access to travel permits, allow for domestic interstate commerce in musical instruments containing small quantities of ivory, and very helpfully clarify that legally-crafted musical instruments are not contributing to the African elephant poaching and trafficking crisis.

In announcing the rules to reverse current travel restrictions and provide opportunities for ongoing domestic interstate commerce in musical instruments, the USFWS stated that, “We listened carefully to the legitimate concerns raised by various stakeholder groups and, as a result, are allowing commonsense, narrow exceptions for musicians, musical instrument makers and dealers…to trade items that have minimal amounts of ivory and satisfy other conditions. These items are not drivers of elephant poaching and do not provide cover for traffickers.”

What does that mean?

For international travel, the new rules remove the current prohibition on travel with musical instruments purchased after February 25, 2014 that legally contain African elephant ivory. This removal of the purchase date restriction is a significant improvement. By July 6, the USFWS will issue a revised Director’s Order clarifying the policy change, and musicians who purchased instruments after February 25, 2014 that legally contain ivory will be eligible to apply for a travel permit.

That sounds good, but there will still be problems with over-zealous Customs officials.

Under the new rules, a musical instrument that contains African elephant ivory may qualify for a travel permit if the worked African elephant ivory meets all of the following criteria:
– The African elephant ivory contained in the instrument was legally acquired and removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976;
– The instrument containing worked ivory is accompanied by a valid Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) musical instrument certificate or equivalent CITES document;

– The instrument is securely marked or uniquely identified so that authorities can verify that the certificate corresponds to the musical instrument in question; and

– The instrument is not sold, traded, or otherwise disposed of while outside the certificate holder’s country of usual residence.
This is not over yet.

Further requests of the music community related to easing international travel restrictions will be under consideration in separate U.S. rulemaking procedures, and as CITES is renegotiated in 2016.

Watch this space.  

music airport 2

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Every few months I take my ears out for a cleaning. This is not as easy as it sounds. Finding music that is original, unfamiliar, astringent, elevating and altogether uncomplacent restricts the seeker to the dustiest corners of recorded repertoire. And no sooner do you find a box that fits the bill than what you thought was household detergent comes stuffed with sticky minimalisms.

Anyway, this week, I’ve struck lucky with some top-grade industrial ear cleanser…

Read on here. And here. Or here.

(You really should get to know these fabulous sites.)


The venerable film composer signed today with Decca.

morricone with decca
Ennio with Decca boss Becky Allen

press release:

June 3, 2016 (London/New York, NY) – World-renowned Italian composer Ennio Morricone has signed a major new record deal with Decca Records, celebrating his professional 60-year career and 600 compositions.  His new album Morricone 60 will be released on October 7 just ahead of his 88th birthday, and marks the start of a unique partnership between Decca and the Morricone family. 

Morricone 60 is the first album of Ennio Morricone’s greatest hits conducted, recorded and curated by Morricone himself – and aims to create a legacy for his fans to enjoy.  It sees the celebrated Maestro performing some of his greatest film music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to his recent Academy Award-winning score for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (released earlier this year on Decca internationally and Verve in the U.S.).  The album marks Ennio Morricone’s 60th anniversary as a composer and conductor and features brand new recordings with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has collaborated on major international movie scores. 

Upon signing the recording contract with Decca, Ennio Morricone commented: “After the success of The Hateful Eight score, I’m delighted to be returning to Decca with my own record deal – an extraordinary moment in my 60th professional anniversary year. It’s been a wonderful experience to be able to conduct my scores and to record these with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. The quality of their performance of my work is truly outstanding.” 

Rebecca Allen, Managing Director of Decca Records, said: “It is a great honor to be signing Ennio Morricone, whose iconic scores have inspired artists, film-makers and music-lovers around the world for generations.  We have waited over 60 years to sign this legendary artist and are thrilled to welcome him to Decca Records – also 87 years strong!” 

The death has been announced of Dave Swarbrick, the violin virtuoso at the heart of the British folk rock group, Fairport Convention. Swarb was 75 and had been suffering for years with emphysema.

dave swarbrick

Anthea Kreston, American violinist in the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet, has given up her space this week to the German-speaking Italian composer Eduard Demetz, based in the Alto Adige, who won a competition to write a new work for the group. Anthea asked him to describe the process, first pencil to applause. Here’s what he writes:


photo: USP/Teßmann

I sit looking at a blank sheet of music on my desk.  My hopes are it will be filled in two weeks.

I have an idea: I’d like to use the unfinished score of my first string quartet, now 10 years old, and create a new work. I have it here – exactly where I left off. The formal structure still swims in my head – I am ready to pick up from where I was.  The idea – a suite-like series of short sections, each individual, with their own texture – each with a different tonal language. I need a lot of completely empty time to accomplish this task. No calendar, no cellphone, no internet. I sit and think for two or three days. Then something begins to move inside of me.  Sketches come to me – wherever there is paper or a notepad there are a few notes written down – a few words, sometimes just a graphic or picture drawn.   Ideas are rated, ranked – thoughts consolidated.

Then, the time in the leather seat begins.  The following three things are before me: pencil, sharpener, eraser. The fourth thing is the required time: about 12 weeks. This is a daily discipline – a daily hike.

I am now on the plane to Berlin, in my bag is the score of my Broken Islands, that quartet which already resides with each Artemis member in their own home.  How will the first meeting go, I wonder. What is it like to work with a world-famous string quartet?  We have never met, and before the Artemis Quartet Composition Competition they did not even know of my existence.

Islands I bring with me, sound islands, 8 in number. Suddenly I realize that I am seeing everything as an island – as if I have put on a pair of glasses which makes everything into islands. The string quartet genre itself – the king of musical tradition – is itself an island in the musical universe. Further – contemporary music itself is an island which exists inside the archipelago of classical music. I think to myself, as our lives progress, all of us who have been able to emerge ourselves in chamber music each live on our own island. An island of the fortunate.

In Berlin I ask the taxi driver for the University of the Arts. He does not know where it is.  Just think!  Because it is an island!  Stop the islands – they revolve around each of us.

I arrive at the University of the Arts, looking for an Artemis face that I recognize from the Internet. Suddenly the front door opens and an Artemis face stands before me: Vineta. With a quick eye she scans the hall and with the other she looks at me as if we have know each other for a dozen years. A few days before, she emailed me with a clarifying question about the octave glissandi in the first movement, adding that the Artemis will come to the first Broken Islands rehearsal with a “can-do” attitude. We stand for another second and then make our next move.

We head to the cafeteria. Anthea is already sitting there and does not know my English is catastrophic. I look into her lively eyes, and immediately I remember what Gregor told me excitedly on the phone the first thing on the day when Anthea was found after such a long search by the quartet.  “She is a wonderful person” he says – and I begin to see how priorities are set in this quartet. When cappuccinos are retrieved, another hand is held out to me – “Hi – I am Ecki”.  Again – a feeling that we have known one another for a long time. In some ways this is true – we have long been inside one another’s heads: these four musicians have delved deeply into my quartet (myself), and I have written this piece thinking of them day after day. Gregor cannot come – he is in bed with a fever. Of all of them, I know him best – months of contact by phone or email.  We record the rehearsal in entirety for him.

Rehearsals are both extensive and intensive. Rhythmically complex sections are balanced and clarified. The teeth of the interlocking gears work perfectly – like clockwork!

Oh – and Vineta’s octave glissandi – they appear before me. A compressed 4-second rock concert.  And most important – the utmost care to put together the structural and phonetic peculiarities of the score. Like archaeologists – squatting on the ground and with fingertips sweeping the dirt for hidden clues. This takes time and dedication. Time and dedication: that is perhaps one of the secrets of this quartet.

I gradually realize that my islands have become independent and no longer need to ask me which way to go.

The premiere is up and running: energy, plasticity, sensitivity, subtlety, intensity, momentum. I am happy!

A total warm embrace backstage. Gregor is already thinking of the next performance. He tells me: “It will be beautiful!”


Weiße leere Notenblätter liegen vor mir auf dem Schreibtisch. Wetten, dass sie in einigen Wochen voll Noten sind!

Ich habe eine Idee: irgendwie lässt mich etwas nicht los, ich möchte bei meinem ersten Streichquartett anknüpfen, das ich vor ungefähr 10 Jahren komponiert habe, und ein neues Streichquartett komponieren. Es soll dort ansetzten, wo ich damals aufgehört habe. Die formale Anlage von damals spukt immer noch in meinem Kopf herum. Ich möchte sie wieder aufgreifen und verbessern. Die Idee ist jene der Suiten-artigen Aneinanderreihung von kurzen Abschnitten, wobei jeder einzelne Teil – bei knapper Tonsprache – seine eigene Textur haben soll.

Viel leere Zeit brauche ich, um ein neues Stück beginnen zu können. Zeit ohne Termine, ohne Mobiltelefon, ohne Internet. Zwei / drei Tage lang. Dann beginnt sich in mir etwas zu bewegen. Skizzen entstehen, überall liegen dann Blätter oder Zettel herum, wo ein paar Noten oder ein paar Wörter drauf stehen, manchmal auch graphische Zeichen. Ideen werden geordnet, Gedanken aneinander gereiht.

Dann beginnt die Zeit des Sitzleders. Diese Zeit gehört folgenden drei Dingen: Bleistift, Spitzer und Radiergummi. Das Vierte Notwendige ist Zeit: ungefähr 12 Wochen. Es ist wie ein tägliches diszipliniertes Training, eine tägliche Bergtour.



Ich sitze im Flugzeug nach Berlin, im Gepäck die Partitur meiner broken islands, jenes Streichquartett, das jedes Artemis-Quartettmitglied schon bei sich zuhause liegen hat. Wie wird die erste Begegnung wohl werden, frag ich mich. Wie ist es, wenn man mit einem der weltweit berühmtesten Streichquartette arbeitet? Wir haben uns noch nie gesehen, und vor dem Artemis-Kompositionswettbewerb wussten die Artemisianer gar nicht von meiner Existenz.

Inseln bring ich ihnen mit, Klanginseln, 8 an der Zahl. Plötzlich wird mir bewusst, dass ich nur mehr in Inseln denke, wie wenn ich eine Brille aufgesetzt hätte, die alles als Insel erscheinen lässt. Das Streichquartett als Königsformation der bürgerlichen Musiziertradition ist im musikalischen Universum eine Insel. In diesem Projekt streckt sich diese hinüber in den Bereich der zeitgenössischen Musik, ebenfalls eine Insel. Und überhaupt: wenn ich überlege, was so in den letzten Jahren weltweit passiert ist und immer noch passiert, dann sind wir alle, die wir uns mit Kammermusik beschäftigen (dürfen), eine Insel. Eine Insel derjenigen, die Glück gehabt haben.

In Berlin frag ich den Taxifahrer wo die Universität der Künste ist. Er weiß es nicht. Eben! denke ich, weil es eine Insel ist!

Schluss mit den Inseln, sie kreisen um sich selbst.


In der Universität der Künste eingetroffen warte ich und schaue durch die Gegend, vielleicht gibt es irgendwo ein Artemisgesicht, das ich von den Internetfotos kenne. Plötzlich springt die Tür des Haupteinganges auf und ein Artemisgesicht steht vor mir: Vineta. Mit einem Auge scannt sie die Eingangshalle und mit dem anderen schaut sie mich so an, als würden wir uns schon seit einem Dutzend Jahren kennen. Ein paar Tage vorher hatte sie mich angemailt und mich über Details zu den  Oktavenglissandi im ersten Satz gefragt – und hinzugefügt, dass sie zur ersten broken islands-Probe kommen wird um „volle Kanne“ zu spielen. Genau so steht sie jetzt da: volle Kanne! Ungefähr eine Zehntel-Sekunde hat sie gebraucht, um ganz vor mir zu stehen. Ich brauch da etwas länger.

Wir gehen in die Cafeterìa. Anthea sitzt schon da und weiß noch nicht, dass mein Englisch katastrophal ist. Ich schaue in ihre quirligen Augen, und sofort fällt mir ein, was Gregor mir am Telefon als Erstes an dem Tag zugejubelt hatte, als Anthea nach langer Artemis-Durststrecke endlich die Vierte im Bunde geworden war: „Sie ist ein wunderbarer Mensch!“  Ich beginne zu verstehen, wie die Prioritäten gesetzt werden.

Beim Cappuccino wird mir die nächste Hand entgegengestreckt: hallo ich bin Ecki. Wiederum hab ich das Gefühl, dass wir uns schon seit langer Zeit kennen. Irgendwie müssen wir schon sehr lang im Kopf des jeweils anderen drinnen sein: die vier MusikerInnen  in meinem als Interpreten meines Streichquartetts, und ich in ihrem als Komponist des von ihnen ausgelobten Werkes. Gregor wird nicht kommen, sagen sie, er liegt im Bett mit Fieber. Von allen Vieren kenne ich ihn am besten, weil wir in den Monaten davor häufig in Kontakt waren, allerdings nur telefonisch oder per mail. Von dieser ersten Probe wird er trotzdem alles mitbekommen, weil die gesamte Probe aufgenommen wird.


Geprobt wird ausgiebig und intensiv.

Bei rhythmisch komplexen Stellen wird die Auftaktvergabe reihum durchorganisiert. Manchmal wird das so detailliert abgewickelt wie beim Zähne-zählen von ineinander greifenden Zahnrädern. Und: es funktioniert wie geschmiert!

Ach ja, und Vinetas  Oktavenglissandi: sie piekt sie heraus und führt sie mir vor. Das klingt wie ein ganzes, auf 4 Sekunden komprimiertes Rock-Konzert. Und das Wichtigste: wie Luchse setzen alle alles daran, um den strukturellen und klanglichen Eigenheiten des Notentextes auf die Schliche zu kommen. Wie Archäologen, die, am Boden hockend, mit den Fingerspitzen die im Erdreich verborgenen Teile freifegen. Das erfordert Zeit und Hingabe. Zeit und Hingabe: das ist vielleicht eines der Erfolgsgeheimnisse dieses Quartetts.

Und allmählich merke ich, dass meine Inseln sich verselbständigen und mich nicht mehr fragen, in welche Richtung sie gehen sollen.

Die Uraufführung läuft fabelhaft: Energie, Plastizität, Sensibilität, Differenziertheit, Intensität, Schwung. Ich bin happy!

Allgemeines herzliches Umarmen Gleich nach der Aufführung hinter der Bühne. Gregor denkt schon an die nächsten Aufführungen und sagt mir: „es wird schön werden“.

Best known for her sympathetic best-sellers on David Bowie, Patrick Swayze and Liza Minelli, Wendy Leigh was an assiduous and productive celebrity biographer. She was found dead beneath her riverside balcony in London.

Wendy was 65. She had been suffering from depression, following her mother’s death.


The pianist Peter Donohoe, a judge at last month’s Queen Elisabeth Competition, is distressed at the low attention received by this historic and prestigious event. He writes:

That the Queen Elisabeth Competition ends up being described as ‘low-key’, as a result of the shamefully thin media coverage this great event has received is sad. I realise that the main thrust of this is to observe that it was not covered so much outside Belgium, which when one is in Belgium is quite difficult to detect or otherwise. Within Belgium, however, it was as major as any classical music event could be.

I did, however, realise that the coverage of this event by the British media was almost zero. If the same applies to Germany and France and elsewhere, that is also a shame. Time after time I find myself feeling concerned that my own country’s media only seems interested in a music competition – please don’t mention the depressing unmentionables as an example of my being wrong – if there is a chance of a scandal – (as they always seem to expect in Moscow, only to be disappointed in recent years.) Even the coverage of our own Leeds competition has been relegated to a shadow of its former self; one would have expected that the colourful personality of Dame Fanny Waterman would have kept things interesting enough for the competition to be deemed a major event, but not so. And now, DFW has retired from the competition. Even BBC Young Musician of the Year seems sidelined in the present anti-cultural and anti-intellectual climate.

Anyway, readers will be happy to hear that the competition was completely without scandal, exceptionally well supported by Belgian TV, radio and press, attended consistently by members of the Belgian Royal Family – in particular Queen Mathilde, who showed an interest in the competition that far exceeded token Royal support – and very large numbers of the Belgian public were glued to it from the word ‘go’. There was of course an increase in coughing and fidgeting from the audience during the last night, indicating that we had amongst us a large contingent of the sort of people who only wanted to be there at the climax. However, no competition in the world could hope for more community-spirit than this, and I was very happy and honoured to have been involved.

As far as the final result is concerned, nothing happened that isn’t inevitable at competitions. Everyone knows that no jury can – or at least, should –  enter into any post-competition public discussion of the various candidates. However, I, too, was very sad at the absence of a prize for certain competitors. In one case, in conversation later I did not find a single jury member who did not feel the same way. To those who have never experienced competitions from the inside, this seems impossible, but it happens more often than not; it is therefore something about the system that needs to be constantly re-thought. It is agonised over by many of those running competitions – certainly the organisers in Brussels did so.

As stated many times before, the jury did not ‘see fit’ to ignore the talent of certain people; such an absurd, although oft-trotted-out statement, implies the usual assumption that everyone on the jury felt the same way – they did not and never could. No musician has the same opinion; if that were possible, we would be involved in a dead art. What is possible is to be respectful of each other, and we were.

No, we did not cynically remove good pianists from earlier rounds, in order to eliminate any threat that they might pose to the expected winner; we are grown-ups. If it is true that anyone has ever succeeded in doing that, they form a disgrace to their profession; however, I don’t know of it.< lukas vondracek

The placing of Lukas Vondracek as first prize was as inevitable as it was popular with the public, and I – along with all the other jury members, I am sure – wish him the very best with his future career. Comments that he is 29 and already has a career, and therefore should not be entering, touch a nerve with me; I was 29 and already had a very satisfying UK career when I did the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1982 (I had my 29th birthday in the middle of the competition). I hope it meant that I had the experience to follow through after the media storm that the prize created had subsided. The same might apply to Lukas Vondracek, and those who wish to prejudge what will occur need to cork it; you do not know, and neither does Lukas, nor, indeed, does the jury. We do not have a crystal ball; all we can do is our best to be fair, genuine and objective at the time of the performances presented to us, vote and then respect what transpires as an average. I speak for the whole jury when I say that we did all of those things.

Playing Rachmaninov 3 at a competition final should not comprise a black mark. The only reason a repertoire choice of any sort has any relevance is that it often demonstrates program-planning abilities, which form an intrinsic part of being an artist, particularly at this level. Of course the end of Rachmaninov 3 is a crowd-pleaser, but it is also one of the great landmarks of the piano concerto repertoire. The jury can see beyond the fact that a major audience reception, in this case including a unanimous stand ovation, is almost written into Rachmaninov’s score; we are in theory experts in our field – at least give us credit for that.
(c) Peter Donohoe/Slippedisc

Ayana Tsuji, 18, from Ogaki, Japan, won the first prize at the 2016 Montreal International Musical Competition, sweeping up all the special prizes to collect $40,500.

You can watch her winning performance of the Sibelius concerto below.

ayana tsuji

Bomsori Kim, 26, from South Korea, came second. Minami Yoshida, 17, from Japan, was third.

Sofya Tsygankova, 32, estranged wife of Vadym Kholodenko, has been indicted in a Texas court for the capital murder by suffocation on March 17 of their two daughters, Michaela and Nika, aged five and one year old.

She pleaded not guilty and was returned to jail, with bond set at $2 million.

Report here.


Kholodenko, in a Los Angeles interview, said he finds meaning in the music of Scriabin, who also suffered the loss of several children. ‘His personal tragedies and the way he kept going through them are perfect examples of a strong spirit inside the man, and I thought about that a lot during the past few months. In any case, I believe that music is not necessarily obliged to express feelings in our human sense. Playing the music of Scriabin has a different meaning for me, and I don’t implicate here my own intrinsic feelings and experience. Everyone has his own path of life, and we all should go through whatever life gives to us with dignity.’

The Met’s new music director has been speaking to media beyond New York.


He tells Peter Dobrin in Philadelphia: ‘I will keep a minimal presence in Montréal until 2020-21, this is when my actual contract is up with Orchestre Métropolitain.’


‘My guest-conducting in Europe will be sensibly reduced. Just select dates in Berlin, Vienna, and Munich, and that’s pretty much it. So I made the choice to be a very much Northeast American.’


He tells Christophe Huss in Le Devoir that his next three opera at the Met will be Germanic, starting with Flying Dutchman. After that, he wants to do some Britten, with a smaller orchestra, away from the Met stage:  un peu plus de Britten, avec un orchestre un peu plus petit, ailleurs que sur la scène du Met.


He wants to reduce Gelb’s reliance on European co-pros: C’est une très bonne politique de Peter Gelb de faire des coproductions afin de reprendre les créations qui se font ailleurs et d’en donner une version optimisée au Met, mais ce qui me fascine, c’est d’accompagner le processus de création depuis le début. Il faut que le Metropolitan Opera programme davantage de créations.

Outreach work in Philadelphia?

‘Geographically with New York being so close and the way I rehearse a new production of an opera, and there are five or six weeks of rehearsal, that doesn’t mean I am required every single day. So there are moments when I can commute and have two days to do meaningful things with the community outside the subscription series and come back to Philadelphia to do a pop-up or play-in or work with All-City Orchestra.’

And Montreal, again? Il est trop tôt, je n’ai pas d’idée sur ce qu’il adviendra de ma relation avec l’Orchestre Métropolitain après 2021. Une chose est sûre : j’aurais toujours des liens avec le Métropolitain. La forme est à définir.


yannick nezet cover

On a bad day to announce good news, with the Times filled with Yannick’s appointment at the Met, Carnegie Hall quietly let out a press release that it had found a new chairman.

He’s Robert F. Smith, an ex-Goldman hedge fund billionaire, and he’s the first African-American ever to hold a senior post in the New York music establishment.

Carnegie’s board was rocked eight months ago when its incoming chairman, Ronald Perelman, quit after failing to sack the chief executive, Clive Gillinson. There has been a nervous interim while a new chair was sought. Robert Smith, who joined the board just two years ago, appears to fit the bill in every way.

He’s the founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners, which has $25 billion in assets under management.

He plays piano. He’s not decrepit – only 53 – and he has a son called Hendrix, named for Jimi.

According to Forbes, he’s the wealthiest African-American in the country.

He recently gave Carnegie a million dollars, but that will be just the downpayment on future gifts.


robert f smith

press release:

NEW YORK, NY—Carnegie Hall today announced that Robert F. Smith has been elected as Chairman of Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Smith—a trustee since 2013—succeeds Carnegie Hall’s Acting Chairman Mercedes T. Bass. A longtime trustee, Mrs. Bass will continue to serve in a leadership role, resuming her position as a Vice Chair. Both Mr. Smith and Mrs. Bass will assume these posts effective immediately. Mr. Smith was elected today at a meeting of the Hall’s trustees.

Robert F. Smith said, “I am humbled and honored to serve as Carnegie Hall’s next Chairman, working with the board, staff, and entire Carnegie Hall community to advance this iconic institution. Carnegie Hall is perfectly placed to champion not only artistic excellence, but also access and exposure to the best music in the world. During my time on the board, I have enjoyed working with Clive Gillinson on this mission and look forward to building on the Hall’s already considerable outreach efforts into communities to reach our next generation of music lovers and performers. I am excited to continue our partnership and to have this opportunity to work with so many who care about Carnegie Hall, building on its extraordinary legacy to take it to even greater heights in the future.”

Mercedes T. Bass said, “It’s been an honor to serve as Acting Chairman over this past season as we have marked 125 extraordinary years of Carnegie Hall. Now, with the completion of our search, I am delighted to move into this new chapter of our history as we welcome Robert. Through our work together, I know him to be a thoughtful and inspiring leader, and someone with great ideas and a wonderful sense of humor. Robert is devoted to classical music and to securing a successful future for Carnegie Hall. I look forward to working with him as our new Chairman.”

Sanford I. Weill, Carnegie Hall’s President, said, “I join all our trustees in congratulating Robert Smith on his new role as Carnegie Hall’s Chairman. Robert is a dedicated trustee, a highly respected business leader, and a visionary in the technology world. He recognizes that music education is important to the intellectual development of young people and that we must play a role in returning music to our schools. His own example and strong belief in education has inspired a legion of students to study engineering to equip themselves with the skills that will be in demand in the future. It’s exciting to pass the torch to the next generation of leadership. On behalf of everyone at Carnegie Hall, I especially also want to express our deep gratitude to Mercedes Bass for her hard work and excellent leadership over the last season. As always, we admire and appreciate her unwavering dedication to the Hall.”

Joshua Nash, chair of Carnegie Hall’s succession committee said, “Our committee members have spent considerable time in recent months consulting our trustees as part of this process. We were delighted to unanimously recommend that Robert F. Smith be appointed as our next Chairman and we are very pleased that our fellow trustees agreed.”

Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director, said, “I’m thrilled that Robert has agreed to become Carnegie Hall’s new Chairman, and I personally look forward to working closely with him to chart the future course for the Hall. I have greatly enjoyed our work together over his time on the board and have valued his passion for music and his global commitment to young artists through his rich and varied philanthropic efforts with the Menuhin Competition and the Sphinx Organization among others. Robert’s appreciation for connecting underserved communities to the arts combined with his keen understanding of the transformational power of digital technology will bring capabilities that will be very important to us as we continue to evolve Carnegie Hall’s unique leadership role in the world of the twenty-first century.”

At Carnegie Hall, a recent major leadership gift from the Fund II Foundation, founded and led by Mr. Smith, supports the national expansion of Link Up, a music education curriculum for students in grades 3–5 developed by the Hall’s Weill Music Institute, which is now offered for free to over 90 orchestras nationally and in select international locations, and expected to reach five million students over the next ten years. It has also created PlayUSA, a new WMI initiative that works with orchestras and partner organizations to put musical instruments into the hands of low-income and underserved students across the country while also providing access to music instruction. Mr. Smith is a Founding Patron of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, created by WMI in 2013, and a supporter of Ensemble ACJW, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. In addition to his involvement with Carnegie Hall, Mr. Smith’s family foundation underwrote the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition’s first visit to the United States in Austin, Texas and with The Cleveland Orchestra in 2014.

The fast-rising New Zealand baton has been named resident conductor at the St Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Her job will be to ‘assist music director David Robertson, cover concerts led by him and guest conductors, serve as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and lead education and family concerts, community concerts.’

Gemma, 29, is also music director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Canada. She has an agent at IMG. She’s yet another Dudamel Conducting Fellow from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to hit the big time.

The new job takes her five rungs up the Slipped Disc comprehensive women’s power list.

gemma new1

photo: Roy Cox

press release:

(ST. LOUIS) – The St. Louis Symphony is pleased to announce the appointment of Gemma New to the position of Resident Conductor, effective at the start of the 2016-2017 season.

Renowned for her insightful interpretations and thrilling performances, New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New currently serves as Music Director for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Ontario, Canada, Associate Conductor for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra through the end of this season, and Founder and Director of the Lunar Ensemble, a contemporary music collective in Baltimore, Maryland.

In her new role with the STL Symphony, she will serve as the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Music Director and also lead various concerts on the St. Louis Symphony’s schedule, including education and family concerts, community concerts and Live at Powell Hall performances. Other duties will include assisting Music Director David Robertson and guest conductors in rehearsals.

“I’m very happy that Gemma New will be joining us in St. Louis,” said Robertson. “She stood out as a musician of great insight when we worked together a few years ago at Carnegie Hall. From the first moment in our audition, New opened a clear line of deep communication with our musicians, who responded to her clarity and passion. Her dedication to music education will be a true gift to the organization and the St. Louis community.”

“It is such a privilege and a joy for me to be joining the St. Louis Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra family,” said New. “I am grateful for this incredible opportunity to work with these inspiring and world-class musicians, conductors and staff, and cannot wait to begin!” 

As one of two Dudamel Conducting Fellows with the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the 2014-2015 Season, New led nine LA Phil “Symphonies for Youth,” “Symphonies for Schools,” and community concerts and covered frequently for Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen and other guest conductors.

Passionate about music education, during her time as Associate Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, New has enjoyed working with the NJSO Academy Orchestra and New Jersey All State Orchestra. From 2007-09, New conducted the Christchurch (New Zealand) Youth Orchestra, which grew from 40 to 70 players under her leadership and performed upwards of nine concerts a year.