david garrett andkavakos

San Francisco Opera has lifted the lid on its next world premiere. It almost shares a title with a Puccini opera. Homage, or brand blurring?

John Adams conducting Prom 4, 2012

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company will present the world premiere commission of Girls of the Golden West, an opera set during the 1850s California Gold Rush, by the internationally-renowned team of composer John Adams and director/librettist Peter Sellars. Presented at the War Memorial Opera House for seven performances opening November 2017, San Francisco Opera will announce casting, conductor, design team and ticket information in January 2017 as part of the Company’s 2017–18 repertory season.

Joining San Francisco Opera as co-commissioners and co-producers of this new project are The Dallas Opera, Amsterdam’s Dutch National Opera (De Nationale Opera) and Teatro La Fenice, Venice. Girls of the Golden West is presented by arrangement with Hendon Music, Inc., a Boosey & Hawkes company, publisher and copyright owner.

Comprising two acts and sung in English, Girls of the Golden West is scored for eight characters, men’s chorus and orchestra including musicians on guitar, accordion and piano. The libretto by Peter Sellars, who also directs the opera, is drawn from historical sources and interweaves stories of three Gold Rush women whose lives intersected in a small mining community in the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1850. The opera is based on factual events and persons that typify the mix of wildness, optimism, greed, violence, humor and racial prejudice of the era, all played out against the rugged beauty of California’s mountain surroundings.

Read more here.


The annual piano festival and triennial Honens Piano Competition has named Neil Edwards as its next president, succeeding Stephen McHolm. Edwards is presently CEO of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.

Looks like they avoided the expense and risk of an international search.

luca-buratto honens

press summary:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the USC Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI), and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), launched a five-year longitudinal research collaboration to investigate the impact of music training on children’s well-being and development in 2012. Now after only two years of music training (2013-15), the BCI has published preliminary results in a recentarticle in the notable brain science journal, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, that clearly demonstrates that these children already show marked progress in two vital areas: they are better at processing sound as shown by an enhanced ability to discriminate pitches i.e. being better at identifying changes in the auditory  environment, and the maturation of their brain has accelerated, as suggested by specific EEG changes occurring during the processing of sound. These results add new insights and rigorous findings to the emerging discussion about the role of early music engagement in learning and brain function.




These interim results strongly support the idea that music training during childhood, even for a period as brief as two years, does accelerate brain development and improves sound processing and can benefit language acquisition, speech perception, reading readiness and consequently the intellectual development of children. The results also demonstrate that community music programs, such as YOLA at HOLA, can offset some of the negative consequences that low socio-economic status has on child development, including improving the trajectory of language development of this group. The findings suggest another attractive possibility that the acceleration of intellectual and brain development that is currently observed will continue to have beneficial consequences on the children’s intellectual and emotional capacities well beyond the end of the intervention, providing a platform for further development in the future.

Through a collaboration with the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles at Heart of Los Angeles (YOLA at HOLA) program, a partnership between the LA Phil and HOLA which provides free instruments and musical training to children from the Rampart District of Los Angeles, researchers at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute – directed by acclaimed neuroscientists Hanna Damasio and Antonio Damasio – are tracking how children respond to music from the very onset of their participation in systematic, high intensity music education.

Starting with children between the ages of 6 and 7, the researchers use cutting-edge neural and psychological assessments and advanced brain imaging techniques to track brain, emotional and social development. The group of children involved in the YOLA at HOLA program is being compared to two control groups of children matched in age, socio-economic status and cognitive abilities – one involved in sports training but with no musical training and one group with no systematic training.

All children are being followed for five consecutive years, providing a rare chance for researchers to discover the effects of musical training on emotional, social and cognitive aspects of development as they actually occur, rather than inferring later-life effects.

Dr. Assal Habibi, a senior research associate at the Brain and Creativity Institute and a musician herself, USC University Professors Hanna Damasio and Antonio Damasio, directors of the Brain and Creativity Institute and the Dornsife Neuroimaging Institute at USC, and Dr. Beatriz Ilari of the USC Thornton School of Music, are conducting the study. Along with graduate students and research assistants, they work directly with YOLA children and their families, and collect data for the assessments. Research results and summaries of findings are being reported to the scientific community and are being made available to the public.


And then some.

Interview with Nicolette Fraillon, music director of Australian Ballet.

‘I’ve had managers of orchestras say to me, “We love your work, but we can’t employ you because you’re a woman,” as though that was an explanation in itself.’

More here.


Alex Beard, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, tells Managment Today that he worries about his waistline, his divas and his seating capacity in the instant caption.

But, in an unusually candid and lengthy conversation, he discusses two deaths in the family as vital motivation:

He is the oldest son of an eminent plastic surgeon who worked in Manchester and Preston specialising in burns, and a flute teacher. His father, Charles, sang the ‘Vivat, vivat Regina’ solo at the Queen’s Coronation but died at the age of 42 from inoperable lung cancer. Alex was doing his A levels.

‘He was diagnosed at Christmas and died in November,’ he recalls. ‘During his life we got on but hardly spent any time together. He worked the whole time. I was at school. During the year of his death we grew close. Went sailing. Our relationship was conditioned by the fact he was going to die. This was slightly strange. I behaved in classic fashion after his death by putting it all in a box and locking it away. It took me a long time to comes to terms with it – I drifted a lot for the next few years, never going completely off the rails… no smack, or anything. But I had a pretty poor sense of who I was, what I wanted to be. It was a dark decade.’

Read on here.


A Carl Becker 1928 violin belonging to Slippedisc columnist Anthea Kreston was stolen today on the 2pm train from Berlin to Freiburg.  The train was travelling from Berlin to Basel, via Frankfurt and Mannheim.

Anthea is with the police at the moment, together with her Artemis Quartet cellist, Eckart Runge.

She says: ‘I just stood to go to the bathroom – the person sitting next to me said – a young man came and took your violin.’

Anthea is staying positive (see below, with cop) but she needs all the help she can get.

anthea with cop



Anyone offering a Carl Becker violin for sale in Germany or elsewhere, please be aware it may be Anthea’s.

Share this post as widely as possible please to alert the violin trade.

anthea violin2

anthea kreston becker violin


The respected Timothy Mangan has been ‘restructured’ by the owners of the Orange County Register.

‘This time it’s me!,’ he writes.

‘I was told that they are restructuring, and going in a different direction.

‘What can I say? I’m stunned and looking for work. Perhaps that’s enough for now.

‘Though I’d like to say at least one more thing: Long Live Music Criticism!’

Now a whole stretch of the west coast becomes a classical desert.



UPDATE: More thoughts here.

Oleg Karavaichuk, a Shostakovich student who worked mostly in film because that was all the KGB would allow, has died at 88.

Some considered him a genius and a martyr. He lived with his mother, dressed in beret and galoshes in all weathers and was viewed by the authorities as half-mad.

In public recitals, he would play the piano with a pillow on his head.

His father, chief music editor at Lenfilm, introduced him to the studios and encouraged him to compose.

oleg karavaichuk

A British violinist who booked her London-Rome ticket on British Airways found that the flight was operated by Vueling, one of the worst offenders towards travelling musicians.

Ordered to put her instrument in the hold, the violinist offered to buy an extra seat and was told she could not. She has requested anonymity.

LESSON 1: When booking BA, make sure the flight is not with a cheap subsidiary or partner airline.

Yura Lee, an international soloist (pictured), was thrown off a United Airlines flight, Washington Dulles to Detroit yesterday. She writes: ‘I bought a first class seat because my violin-viola double case sometimes doesn’t fit overhead (it usually does, but newer ERJ it can be tricky). It didn’t fit overhead this time. However, the first seat economy had a large (space) under the seat, which had bags of the passengers sitting there. I politely asked if they’d be willing to put their bags somewhere else so that my violin and viola doesn’t have to get checked and put in luggage, and I offered them to buy drinks, which they happily complied. While this was happening, the flight attendant (her name is Allison P.) said “you are creating a disturbance, I don’t want you on this flight” and threw me off the flight.

‘I don’t understand how she could do this. I didn’t raise my voice once and just tried to fit my precious instruments somewhere safe, and found a solution. My luggage is now on its way to Detroit without me and I will miss my rehearsals tomorrow. Most of all, I can’t believe what just happened (is this even legal?!).’

LESSON 2: Air crew have limitless powers of ejection. United are particularly awful.

yura lee

The indefatigable Anita Lasker-Wallfisch has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours list.

Anita, also 90, survived Auschwitz as a player in the women’s orchestra. She came to London after the war as a refugee, co-founded the English Chamber Orchestra and has served ever since as a moral presence at the heart of English music life.



Among other music honours:

a knighthood for Universal chief Lucian Grainge for services to business and inward investment;

a knighthood for Simon Robey, outgoing chair of the Royal Opera House;

Companion of Honour to Dame Vera Lynn, singer;

CBE for composer John McLeod;

CBE for Paul Lewis, pianist;

CBE for Colin Lawson, director of the Royal College of Music;

OBE for lawyer and impresario Ian Rosenblatt, 56, founder of Rosenblatt Recitals;

OBE for Alison Balsom, trumper virtuoso.


Teaching staff at the Mozarteum are demanding the replacement of all members of the University’s governing body before a new Rector is chosen.

They originally voted 19-1 against the appointment of the disgraced Siegfried Mauser, who has now left after being convicted in Munich of sexual assault on a female colleague. Now they want the governors to be sacked for their misjudgement.

The university council presently consists of: Viktoria Kickinger, a public functionary; Volksoper Director Robert Meyer; Heinrich Magometschnigg, a mecial practitioner; Nike Wagner of the Bonn Beethovenfest and Karl Ludwig Vavrovsky, a lawyer.

The teachers may have a point.

More here.

kickinger mauser

Kickinger, Mauser