The musician Sally Beamish relates movingly in the Guardian how the theft of her instrument in 1989 changed her from a performer to a composer.

A friend found the two bows in an alleyway. In the following weeks, I scoured markets and antique shops, convinced I would find the viola. These unique instruments don’t just disappear – any dealer would have recognised it immediately. But the years went by, and it has never been found.

I made a conscious decision back then that something positive had to come out of this. I wanted to be able to look back and say: “If my viola hadn’t been stolen, then I would never have …” And what I wanted most of all was to become a full-time composer.

Sally has a premiere at the Proms this weekend. Read her full story here.


sally beamish


…. play Elgar.

Newly posted on Youtube: When musicians of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra flew to Spain in June 2016 for a concert tour, one of the flight groups was stranded at New York’s JFK airport after their flight was cancelled at midnight. In response, they all took out their instruments.

Check out as 55 out of 120 BPYO musicians played the Nimrod Variation from Elgar’s Enigma Variations in the terminal. The cellos and basses sang their parts as their instruments had been packed underneath the plane! Conducted by the Boston Philharmonic Fellow, Kristo Kondakci.

The magnificent Herb Alpert has put up $10.1 million to enable Los Angeles City College to teach music majors for free.

Now that’s what we call brass.

The pianist Ilana Vered has announced that ‘because of the earthquake we cancelled the rest of our musicfestperugia.’

No further information has been posted on the official site.


In the new issue of Standpoint, I survey the post-referendum arts wasteland.

The further we get from the Brexit referendum the less we know about the ultimate outcome, be it in this lifetime or the next. All we know for sure is that predictions are not worth the paper they are printed on and, as far as the performing arts are concerned, less will definitely mean less in every sphere of operation. I hear immediate concerns for orchestral tours and operatic exchanges between the UK and continental Europe. At the most basic level, an Estonian diva summoned at short notice from Turin to replace a Desdemona at Covent Garden will never get on stage in time if she has to obtain a UK work permit and clear the endless “all others” queue at inhuman Heathrow. Opera chiefs are spending their summer working out alternative scenarios.

Not one person in authority in British arts, not a single one, believed that Brexit would be a good thing. And the view from the grass roots is even gloomier, judging by messages from thousands of professional musicians on my social media. I promised to make no predictions, so let’s wait and see.

What is incontrovertible, however, is that when the summer festivals end and the real world reopens its box-office everything will have changed. Horizons have shrunk. Expectations are shorter, ambitions curtailed. Lines of disengagement are being drawn.

Which, let it be clearly stated, is no bad thing.

Now read on here.



Truls Mork is out of tonight’s Liverpool Phil Prom.

He’s replaced by Alexei Stadler in the first Shostakovich concerto.


Not much time to rehearse.

UPDATE: From Sandra Roberts of the RLPO: I got the call at 9.35 and thanks to BA being ahead of schedule he landed at Heathrow at 1529 and was playing on stage by 1640. Genius and such a lovely guy – Alexey Stadler – remember that name!

The death has been quietly announced of Derek Smith, a British pianist who played with MJQ when he migrated to New York in 1957. He played much of his career with Benny Goodman.

Derek was 85.

derek smith

mariposa symphony glacier point

Dancing on the edge of the volcano:

This is the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra Performing at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.

Video below.

They are on sale in the Met store for prices ranging from $19,000 to $83,000.

Go on, treat yourself. It’s just what you need for those big moments.

And the Met desperately needs your cash.

met chandelier


From an FT interview:

… He constantly hears music in his head: “Sometimes I notice it, sometimes I try not to. Sometimes it’s something I’ve already heard, or played or composed, sometimes it can be difficult to discern what it is.”

He has even been known to “practise” in his sleep (“I’ve been told by my girlfriend,” he mutters). Does he remember, on waking, what he has been practising? Apparently not. “Often in the morning on a tour you wake up and you have to immediately rush to the airport,” he says, “so there is not much chance for remembering.”

trifonov engaged

The orchestra has bought a downtown block to house offices and rehearsal rooms for €14.5m.

The building cost €4.5m and the orch will need to raise €10m for adaptation.


The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will present its new music director, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, at the BBC Proms on Saturday night.

Mirga is smart, sharp and 30.

London orchs are conducted by grizzled blokes who have been doing the same thing for years.

Richard Bratby in the Spectator explains why Brum gets it right where London goes wrong.

Birmingham’s energy comes from a very un-English willingness to live in the moment: and then to push on to the next big thing. New is good. Tastefully repurposed heritage building, or shiny new shopping centre? No contest. Birmingham has always been about commerce, progress, change: the values embodied by 18th-century innovators like Matthew Boulton and James Watt, whose statues, coated in dazzling gold bling, stand across Broad Street from Symphony Hall. It doesn’t yell about how tolerant, lively and diverse it is: it just gets on and does it. Birmingham has had three Muslim mayors.

Read on here.

laura_mvula st pancras

pic: Brum’s Laura Mvula