Liza Ferschtman complains that busy old Heinrich Biber, a predecessor of Bach, requires four different tunings in the same piece, forcing her to switch between two violins.

In the baroque era, composers had nothing better to do with their time so they made it tough for musicians.


The music’s not bad.

A permanent place has been reserved for a young Australian to play in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, as part of its Academy.

Two philanthropists – Naomi Milgrom and Peter Weiss – are paying for the arrangement and the candidate will be selected from students at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).

Simon Rattle said: ‘It gives me great pleasure that a dedicated position for young Australians is now to be established at the Orchestra Academy, thus ensuring that this mutually rich exchange may be guaranteed for many years to come.’

A similar post exists at the Academy for young Israeli musicians.

berlin phil academy

Carlo Fontana, sovrintendente of La Scala from 1990 to 2005 until claiming that ‘Muti stabbed me in the back’, is still a player on the park.

Today Fontana, 69 and looking good, was re-elected President of AGIS, the Italian Association of Performing Arts.


The Berlin government has put 1.1 million Euros into a fund for promoting new music.

Brits need not apply.

(Thanks, Boris).

Story here.

berlin philharmonie

A survey commissioned by the Arts Council (pictured) shows a marked drop in public support for state subsidy for the arts.

The poll of 1,700 people showed 45% wanted cuts to arts and culture spending; 9% favoured an increase.

The cuts vote was highest among the over-65 group – 54% – lowest (26%) among the 18-24s.

This may be the kind of country we have become.

eno arts council picket


The cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 17, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year, has joined Kathryn Enticott Management.

That’s smart. Too many young winners have vanished in mega-agency warehouses.

sheku kanneh-mason

Ukrainian media are reporting the death of Vasily Slipak, 42, a baritone who returned from a flourishing career in Paris to fight in a volunteers’ brigade against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass.

‘Vasily Slipak, Ukrainian opera singer, who left the French Opera in order to protect Ukraine, was killed in the East of Ukraine,’ reports an official source.

He was, as you can hear, a fine singer.

A graduate of Lviv state Conservatory, Vasily won a competition at Clermont and decided to settle in France, where he received many engagements. But the outbreak of revolution and war in his home country drew him to vlunteer, in his late 30s, for a fighting unit on the frontline.

vasily slipak

UPDATE: First tribute from Zoryana Kushpler at Vienna Opera: Сьогодні в АТО загинув мій однокурсник, талановита людина-Василь Сліпак… Серце стиснулося від цієї жахливої звістки. Багато хто дізнався про Василя, коли він вже був в АТО, а я його знала ось таким веселим, талановитим, єнергійним молодим, дуже гарним собою хлопцем.
Спочивай з Богом, Васильку…. Мої най щиріші співчуття родині

The company has been granted a patent for a device that does this:

An infrared emitter can be located in areas where picture or video capture is prohibited, and the emitter can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands to disable the recording functions of devices. An electronic device can then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and temporarily disable the device’s recording function based on the command.

This is positive progress. Can it also disable phones from ringing?

Alan conducts the Stars Spangled Banner after the Serbian National Anthem, 8:10pm, 10/24/10. Photo by Chris Lee

Three years ago, archaeologists dug up the remains of Gaspare Pacchierotti (1740-1821), one of the great mezzo castratos, vastly popular in Venice, Milan and London. ‘Pacchierotti’s voice was an extensive soprano, full and sweet in the highest degree: his powers of execution were great, but he had far too good taste and good sense to make a display of them where it would have been misapplied, … conscious that the chief delight of singing and his own supreme excellence lay in touching expression and exquisite pathos,’ according to a London observer.

Pachierotti was unusually tall – over six foot – and politically indiscreet. He was twice jailed for speaking his mind.

The archaeologists’ report has just been published; a summary can be read here.

Among its conclusions:

The anthropological analysis of Paccherotti’s remains underlined the presence of many characteristics related to castration: high stature, open epiphyseal lines in the hips, lower cortical bone density related to vertebral fractures. That “castrati” were particularly tall has been known since antiquity, even Aristotle observed that “all animals, if operated on when young, become bigger than their unmutilated fellows”….

A correct postural attitude requires the cervical spine to be maintained in an erect position, in nuchal elongation, avoiding the lordosis, the extension and lifting of the jaw. This particular posture determined the progressive erosion of Pacchiarotti cervical vertebrae. A correct postural alignment of the head and neck, in fact, is a necessary element in the optimization of voice production. Finally, the great bodily size of Pacchiarotti, in particular of his chest, was positively associated with the power of his voice, described as an “extensive soprano”.

Fascinating stuff.



From the conductor’s blogpost:

The vote in favor of Brexit is, in my view, a very sad decision for Great Britain and Europe. It is, however, senseless to bathe in pessimism and desperation as Brexit is now an unchangeable historical fact…

Nationalism is the opposite of true patriotism, and the further fostering of nationalist sentiment would be the worst case-scenario for us all. Instead, we need a unifying, European patriotism.

Neither of these conclusions seems altogether realistic or achievable.

Read the full post here.

Daniel Barenboim

Janna Sailor spent much of last year auditioning for conductor vacancies across North America. She found the experience uncomfortable.

Back home in Vancouver, she asked some women friends to come together as an ensemble with which she could practise for her next audition.

‘People approached me afterwards and said, “We really enjoy working with you. If you ever want to create an orchestra, we’d be happy to be involved,” she said. ‘It occurred to me … that all those people were women. So I thought this would be a really interesting way to bring people together.’

The new Allegra Chamber Orchestra admits only women ‘and those who identify as women’ and it play the works of female composers.

More here.

Your thoughts, please?


janna sailor