Some years ago we received an article from Emma Ayres, an ABC Classic FM breakfast presenter who had been working with young musicians in Afghanistan.

Emma is now Eddie Ayres. The journey to Afghanistan was a revelation in more than one sence.

The extraordinary story is told in this weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald.

But the hardest thing for Ayres in Afghanistan, after 15 years of denial, was being recognised every day as a woman. Ayres was surprised how much the kids constantly singing out “Miss Emma” affected him. He began to despise his headscarf. “I’d weep at being stuck in this female body, it just wasn’t me,” he says. “I’d weep and I’d try to let it go, move on with my life.”

Ayres’ housemate in Kabul, Jennifer Moberg, once told Ayres that Afghanistan “holds a mirror up to you” – that living there is so stressful that you learn who you really are. For Ayres, Afghanistan made him finally confront being transgender.

Read the full article here.

Photo: Andrew Quilty


New on Youtube: John Ogdon, between triumph and tragedy.





Gunhild Carling, on Jazz Bayern

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

In the spring of 1985 I saw three opera world premieres in London in as many weeks. There was Busoni’s Doctor Faust in the restored original ending, Birtwistle’s breakthough opera The Mask of Orpheus and last, and smallest, Michael Nyman’s chamber opera on a troubling case history by the neurologist Oliver Sacks.

I felt confident at the time that Nyman’s opera would be revived soon and often, but that’s not how it goes. Chamber operas are notoriously hard to get staged, falling as they do between too many institutional stools….

Read on here.

And here.

nyman liverpool

And here.


Raymond Daveluy, organist of Saint-Joseph Oratory in Montreal from 1960 to 2002 and a considerable figure in Canadian musical life, has died aged 89.

A prolific composer, he was president of the Quebec Conservatoire.


The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, has chosen Cristian Macelaru as music director, succeeding Marin Alsop who headed the fest for 25 years.

Winner of the 2014 Solti conducting award and Conductor-in- Residence of the Philadelphia Orchestra, this is Macelaru’s first music directorship. He is 35 years old.


The English tenor will take his first steps on Verdi’s stage next week when he sings Peter Quint in Kasper Holten’s new production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.

Christoph Eschenbach conducts.

In other Britten news, Frankfurt Oper next month presents its first staging of Paul Bunyan, alternately described as an early folk opera, or Singspiel.

Conductor: Nikolai Petersen; Director Brigitte Fassbaender.


Ever flown Vueling? It’s a cheap airline owned by Iberia-British Airways. It makes its own rules.


Here’s what happened to the young violinist,  José Manuel Jiménez García:

And so it is going to travel my violin thanks to the understanding and effectiveness of vueling airlines. After inviting me to get it down to hold me down or I with him, the only solution has been the one that I myself have offered. It’s a shame that a flight operated by Iberia, where clearly specifies that the measures are the maximum of the guitar, and clearly my “Guitar” (as the efficient stewardess has called it), no worse than those measures.

And these are the situations with which, unfortunately, the musicians we have to deal every time I want to go outside, go out to fight for our future out of a country where we get the dirt for the eyes… and that is that is clearly In this type of situation the little (null) support to the culture in this country of bass drum and tambourine. Impotence, rage. Evidently, my guitar and I are going to put a complaint as soon as I arrive in Spain. Thank you again, vueling.

Alpesh Chauhan, 25, is to be principal conductor of La Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini in Parma, the maestro’s birthplace, from September 2017.


A truck driver’s son, Alpesh was Andris Nelson’s assistant conductor in Birmingham and made his Proms debut this summer.

He says: ‘I really enjoy working with the Filarmonica Toscanini, and we have already developed a great relationship performing Beethoven’s Eroica, Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony and Brahms’s 1st Symphony. Next season, we have three programmes which I have thoroughly enjoyed putting together: a programme of Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, Mozart’s D-minor Piano Concerto with Olli Mustonen and Sibelius’s 1st Symphony; a Mozart-Stravinsky programme; and a concert of Gubaidulina and Bruckner 9.’

Renato Zanella is the new head of the ballet company, replacing Johan Kobborg.

And Marcello Mottadelli is music director of the opera, in addition to being principal conductor at Opera Iași.


Given the recent xenophobia, it seems odd that foreigners have again been chosen – and odder still that they have agreed to serve.

From an interview with the September issue of Opera Now magazine:

It’s what keeps me up at night… It’s knowing that we have an incredibly proud and successful workforce, but one that is not realistically compensated.

He goes on to say: We have to be constantly looking at expenses because revenue is more or less stuck.

Sounds insoluble.


peter gelb1