‘We were makin’ honey,’ says the First Lady.


John Gruen, who wrote authorised coffee-table books about famous musicians and dancers, has passed on at 89.

His subjects included Bernstein (who was also his lover), Menotti, Erik Bruhn and Keith Haring.

He defined himself in a late interview as ‘ a writer, critic, journalist, bon vivant, gadfly, busybody, father, husband, queer, neurotic workaholic. Let’s just go back to my old self as handmaiden to the stars, reveller in reflected glory and needy intimate of the super famous.’

His final book blew the whistle on his partners.

john gruen


…. according to this BR report (in German).

Police checks are said to have shown a ‘potential for violence’ among several applicants.


bayreuth fest fake account

Small notice in the NY Times:

GREENOUGH–Meredith H.,

56, died July 3, 2016. She loved Welsh Corgis, and was predeceased by her parents Beverly Sills and Peter B. Greenough. She is survived by her brother Peter Jr., three sisters, Lindley, Nancy and Diana and Joel L. Carr, her friend.

Buffy was born deaf and suffered from multiple sclerosis.

Her father died in 2006, her mother the following year.

Muffy, with her parents


The pianist Peter Donohoe has been disturbed, on more than one occasion, by people sitting in the front row. 

A few days ago he wondered: ‘Why are those who least want to go to a concert & least capable of decent behaviour so often in the front row nearest the soloist?’

Now he shares an even more perplexing incident that occurred late last year. It raises several issues, not least whether the guidance is clear enough as to what you can, and cannot do, in a serious concert.

Here’s Peter’s account of what happened:

peter donohoe



It was a concert devoted to the works of Sir Malcolm Arnold, to celebrate what would have been the composer’s 95th birthday, and took place in Northampton (the composer’s birthplace). I played his Fantasia on a Theme of John Field with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Martin Yates. Arnold’s Philharmonic Concerto and Seventh Symphony were also in the program.

A family of four (parents and two children) were so noisy during both the Philharmonic Concerto which opened the concert and the Fantasy on a Theme of John Field (for piano and orchestra) that I insisted on a complete repeat of the performance of the latter after the concert had finished – for which a very large percentage of the audience very kindly stayed. I would have done everything in my power to prevent the Radio Three broadcast on [the following] Tuesday had we not done this repeat performance; the disruption was greater than any I have ever experienced, even though to all intents and purposes the actual playing went very well. The repeat will of course have run up a very large overtime bill for the orchestra – whose members could not have been more cooperative, and who played both performances brilliantly.

Whilst I was offstage in the interval negotiating the repeat performance, unbeknownst to me, but witnessed by my wife and several friends, a gentleman in the audience shouted very loudly to the family concerned – right across the hall – that he hoped they were going to show the rest of audience and performers a lot more courtesy and consideration during the second half than they had during the first (or words to that effect). This was greeted with an ovation of support from almost everyone in the hall.

The father of the family retorted that the BBC announcer had asked the audience to talk normally during the concert – this was a misunderstanding of the announcer’s rather strange and somewhat unnecessary mention that the audience should feel able to talk normally and not be inhibited by the BBC’s microphones, so that lonely listeners at home would know that there is a world ‘out there’. [I must say that I have never before experienced an audience being beseeched to make MORE noise; nevertheless, I can only assume and hope that he meant his request to apply only to the moments between pieces rather than during the performances; having said that, he was talking to the audience during all the intervals between pieces, so I am actually at a loss to explain it. I would also feel somewhat patronised if I were listening on the radio, but then that bit would probably have not been broadcast.

I gather that the resulting tension between the family concerned and the rest of the – extremely good and attentive – audience was verging on the violent. Some of those colleagues and friends who witnessed the atmosphere at the start of the interval were half-expecting a ‘Sacre du Printemps premier-style’ riot. Fortunately it did not get that far, but it was very serious.

Apart from the specific issues of the evening, it does raise the point that it is very difficult to know where to draw the line whilst onstage – to make a decision to stop the performance, and risk upsetting large numbers of the audience, or to carry on and regret not stopping as we did. It also begs the question – what were the hall staff doing whilst this was going on? As the two works in the first half of the program added up to around forty-seven minutes, surely someone in authority at the hall had enough time to deal with it. The BBC production team were presumably too busy with monitoring the recording – or perhaps did not hear how disruptive the noise was in the hall (as it was an OB, the team was in the BBC truck outside) – to do anything.

[It was suggested that one of the two children was autistic. I do not know whether this was true or not. If not, the family should simply not have been there in the first place because none of them knew how to behave in a concert, failed to take their cue from the rest of the audience, and should have been ejected from the hall at the first opportunity. If the child was indeed autistic, it opens up a very sensitive issue, to which I do not pretend to know the answer, except to say that, if that is ever the case, the performers need to know beforehand, so that they can continue to perform without anger.] However, it seems that it was the BBC announcement – that several hundred people understood was best ignored, but one family of four saw as a green light to behave as if they were at the Pantomime – that was partly responsible. And it was the father, not the child, who came back with a very aggressive defensive response that nearly caused a riot.

Anyway, the second performance was listened to extremely attentively by a splendid and understanding audience, to whom I am very grateful. That was the one that was broadcast on BBC Radio Three.

Ben Gernon, 27, has left AskonasHolt to join Intermusica for general management.

Winner of the 2013 Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductor’s Award and a former Dudamel Fellow in Los Angeles, Ben seemed to be doing nicely in his career but something has clearly gone askew.

It’s unusual – albeit decisive – for a young artist to drop one major agency for another.



Yo-Yo Ma and cellists of the Chicago Symphony have fun with Mike Block’s The Block Strap in the lobby of Symphony Center during dress rehearsal back in June.

Click here to watch video.


yo yo ma civic

The NY Phil commissioned a concerto for its principal viola, Cynthia Phelps, from the composer Julia Adolphe.

A Lincoln Center world premiere was scheduled for November.

Er, no.


Phelps’s representative asked Gerard Schwarz, music director of the Eastern Music Festival, if she could premiere the concerto this weekend with the EMF’s faculty orchestra in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Schwarz agreed – why not? – to an unsought feather in his festival’s cap.

But why did the NY Phil give up its first-night rights so lightly?

Has the chance of presenting a world premiere lost all of its New York prestige?

Pittsburgh Symphony principal timpanist Ed Stephan has won the San Francisco Symphony audition and will take a year’s leave of absence while trying out for tenure on the West Coast.

Ed arrived in Pittsburgh in 2011 from the Dallas Symphony.

He says: ‘I’m so excited for the new adventure ahead in San Francisco. Killer orchestra. Amazing city.’

ed stephan

UPDATE: Michael Tilson Thomas said: ‘Ed is a remarkable virtuoso and musician. We all look forward to the exciting contributions he will make to our orchestra.’

Lloyd Arriola, pianist and conductor, touched the lives of thousands of musicians and friends. His life ended far too soon last weekend, at the age of 43, and tributes have been pouring in across social media.

Now an official tribute page has been started here.

Please add your memories of Lloyd for the benefit of his grieving family and his numerous friends.

Lloyd was an occasional commenter on Slipped Disc. Looking back at his contributions, I cannot find one single post that fails to be generous, gentle and affectionate about his fellow musicians. We shall miss him.

lloyd arriola

Be there if you can. Message received:

TONIGHT 5:30PM: “New York Musicians Pray and Play for Nice”—Broadway Performers and Professional Musicians to Honor Victims of Bastille Day Attack

Times Square performance, led by Nice native, calls for courage and community

NEW YORK, NY—July 20, 2016—A week, almost to the hour, since the horrific Bastille Day tragedy in Nice, France, Broadway musicians and other NYC professional musicians will gather TOMORROW AT 5:30PM to play French anthems in Times Square.

This tribute will take place at the George M. Cohan statue in Times Square (47th Street and Seventh Avenue)—a gathering place like Nice’s Promenade des Anglais. Musicians will perform a repertoire including the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” and “Nissa La Bella,” the hymn of the city of Nice.

The event is being organized by trumpeter Dominic Darassee, an immigrant from Nice, currently playing inAn American in Paris, with involvement of the Consulate General of France in New York.

WHAT: A grassroots “flash mob” performance of La Marsaillaise, on the one week anniversary of the Bastille Day tragedy on the Nice Promenade.
WHO: 50-plus brass musicians currently performing on Broadway and elsewhere in NYC Organized by trumpeter and Nice native Dominic Darassee, currently playing in An American in Paris and founder of the FILMharmonic Orchestra, a 92-piece orchestra dedicated to the live performance of music written for film and television. His career on Broadway includes over 25 shows.
WHEN: Thursday, July 21, 2016, at 5.30 PM
WHERE: George M. Cohan statue, Times Square (47th Street and Seventh Avenue)