Not waiting for the Austrians to claim him as a Viennese tax-payer, the federal German government today announced a national festival for the 25oth anniversary of the great composer’s birth, in Bonn, in 1770.

‘The ideas he transmitted through music are more important today than ever. We need to pursue the ideals of freedom and brotherhood more than ever before, and Beethoven transmitted these in a universal language,’ said Culture Minister Monika Grütters.

Very true.

But surely German designers could have done better than this absolutely grotty logo.

beethoven 2020

There is no end in sight to the vendetta by South Korea’s powerful Park family against the Myung Whun Chung former music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

Chung will appear in court Wednesday to answer charges of defamation filed by the orchestra’s fired chief executive, Hyun-jung Park.

He has been subjected to a campaign of abuse by newspapers under Park family control. The orchestra has struggled to hire credible conducting talent since his departure.

myun whun chung

Yannick Nézet-Séguin ended a three-year residency at the Konzerthaus Dortmund on Saturday.

He never expected this kind of send-off.

Just watch.

yannick danke

Friends report the death last weekend of Catherine Wilson, a busy operatic soprano at Sadlers Wells, Opera North, Aldeburgh and Scottish Opera.

A versatile performer, she created the title role in Thea Musgrave’s opera Mary Queen of Scots and she was much in demand for Britten roles: Governess in Turn of the Screw, Helena in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nancy in Albert Herring and Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes. A full list of her roles with Scottish Opera, where she sang from 1960 to 1987, can be read here.

A strikingly beautiful woman, Catherine turned 80 this year.

She was married to the conductor Leonard Hancock, who died in 1999.

catherine wilson

When we reported two and a half weeks ago that Rune Bergmann has been named principal conductor and artistic director of the Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic in Szczecin, some readers said who? and where’s that?

Today, Rune was announced as music director of the Calgary Philharmonic in Canada from September 2017.

A 40 year-old Norwegian, Rune is being marketed by IMG Artists.

Will he stick at two jobs, or twist?

rune bergmann

The Jack Quartet has come apart, it was announced today.

After 11 years together, founding violinist Ari Streisfeld had landed an assistant professorship in South Carolina and  cellist Kevin McFarland has settled in Denver and wants to compose more.

The pair will be replaced by violinist Austin Wulliman and cellist Jay Campbell.

But it won’t be the same jack-in-a-box string quartet.


UPDATE: And there’s a knock-on effect. Austin is leaving the Spektral Quartet. They’re hiring.

From the running blog of an anonymous American opera singer in Europe:

My male friends have also constantly relayed endless stories about working with directors that feel that because they are out of the closet that they can say any filthy thing they like to the new counter tenor.

“He says I’m gay and I don’t know it, he keeps touching me and whispering filthy things in my ear.”

If I was a mechanic, I could point to how fast I could change someone’s oil, or as a lawyer: a conviction rate.  But for us musicians, it’s just up to someone’s “idea” of what they think a role should sound like.  Even when you seemingly have the facts on your side.  (I’ll list some of these facts a little later to demonstrate my point.)

Read on here.

robot berlin

Two mezzos discuss roles. Both believe in a religion of hard work.

Joyce thinks it can also be fun. Dame Janet stares her down.

Wonderful conversation.

didonato janet baker

Anja Kampe, Kirill Petrenko’s (former) partner (pic), has pulled out of Verbier ‘for family reasons’.

That’s a blow.

Until the great Swede comes off the bench to take on the August 4 Wagner concert.



UCLA psychiatrist and composer Dr. Kenneth Wells says:

‘I always wondered why there were so many stories of people going mad and killing themselves. Why couldn’t someone tell a powerful, compelling and entertaining story that lifts us up and gives us hope?’

Read on here.

shrink opera

From the Melbourne Herald Sun:

OPERA and pole dancing will make an unlikely match in a contemporary take on the classic La Traviata to be performed at table top dancing venue The Men’s Gallery from Saturday.

Award winning Opera Australia director Julie Edwardson says taking the classic tale out of the theatre and presenting the story in a real-life contemporary setting should appeal to a broader audience….

As part of the mission to engage a new and younger audience to experience opera the shows are free to under 25’s.

opera pole dancer

Desperate? It’s full-frontal opera fail.


photo: Ian Currie

What tune was on the departing PM’s mind? All can now be revealed.

It’s Gone with the Wind.