Before tonight’s opener of the London concert season, I asked various friends and acquaintances around the hall when they had last seen a live Verdi Requiem.
Answers ranged from three years to twenty.
The Requiem is not something one attends often. It is a rare treat for the soul, to be chosen with care with a cast of singers and a chorus and orchestra that must match the best.
Tonight’s performance met those criteria. Gianandrea Noseda conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and chorus in a reading of rare intensity and integration, the tension broken only once by a tubercular section of the audience.
The soloists – Erika Grimaldi, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli and Michele Pertusi – were exquisitely contrasted and almost faultless in pitch. Grimaldi, heavily pregnant, crested the choral waves without apparent effort. Noseda, batonless, shaped the unwieldy mass into a precision force.
The closing Libera me was almost unbearably cathartic. Grimaldi was epic, indelible.
Why am I sharing this? (We are not a review site.)
Because tonight’s concert has launched the LSO’s Youtube channel tonight, will be shown on Medici.tv and will be repeated next month on tour in New York. It is one you may not wish to miss.
The great German lyric tenor died in a domestic accident on 17 September 1966.
He was weeks away from his 36th birthday and his Metropolitan Opera debut.
Wunderlich’s final appearance was on September 4 at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh.The pianist was Herbert Giesen.
You may never hear a more heartfelt account of Schumann’s song, Ich grolle nicht.
The last song of his short life was Schubert’s An die Musik.
The orchestra has proposed cuts to its players’ wages. The musicians have gone on strike. Behind the rhetoric are the worsening lives of real people, family people, who struggle to make ends meet in a rich city that has lost the will to listen. Here is a firsthand account from one of the musicians. Her anonymity has been protected.
Mine is the Great American Immigrant Story. Music and marriage allowed me to leave my home country, and brought me to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. An audition for a position in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) was announced, and I won the job! This salaried position actually made me the primary breadwinner, which gave me a deep sense of pride.
I joined the FWSO, perhaps in its salad days. The Music Director, John Giordano and President, Ann Koonsman, had big dreams to give Fort Worth a “real” orchestra; so they were raising enough money to increase the number of salaried musicians. They were taking the orchestra on international tours to China and Spain. They were actively (and successfully) building the symphony’s “family” of audience members and supporters.
My spouse and I had two children. Unfortunately, we divorced a few years later, and I became a single parent, financially responsible for my children.
The issue of health insurance was always a family problem. The FWSO only covered its employees, and my spouse was self-employed. With family coverage costing as much as 40% of one’s salary, I was forced to look for dependent coverage elsewhere. For many years, my children were covered through CHIP (for low income families), or weren’t covered at all. All this despite a salaried position with the FWSO!
Classical musicians are highly-skilled, well-educated people. The fact that their salaries don’t mirror those of other “professionals” doesn’t usually stop them from pursuing their chosen career. As a parent, I knew that my children needed the best education I could afford. I happily sacrificed everything I had to send my children to one of the best private schools in Fort Worth, thanks to financial aid from the school.
I was intent on raising my children well, but always had limited funds, so I had to get creative. My oldest child received the Golden Hammer award from Habitat for Humanity for completing 350 volunteer hours. The skills he learned came in handy. He – and I – did many home repair projects on our own to save money.
The oldest child graduated from high school and entered college. I had to carve those costs out of my FWSO salary of that time, while still raising another child at home. I was appreciative that my salary was in the ballpark of $60,000 then. (By that time, Bass Hall had been built. A new music director had been hired. The FWSO Board had committed to making us a 52-week orchestra with 72 musicians.) Then my second child entered college.
I have always had the best interests at heart for my children, but my efforts came with a cost, albeit one I was happy to pay. I carried balances on my credit cards as I tried to manage college payments, car, and house payments. I never ate out, and I didn’t buy anything I didn’t really need.
Then 2008 happened. The market crashed. The FWSO started losing paid performance opportunities. The FWSO contract negotiations in 2010 could only bring musician cuts. And we took them – 13.5% (a reduction of 7 paid weeks). Here I was, with one child still in college and another pursuing post-graduate work.
Since the cuts in 2010, I have managed. My children are underemployed or paying off school loans, so I do what I can to financially support them as they pursue their own careers.
My parents, now in their 80’s and still in in my birth country, are poor and starting to have real health problems. My children and I visit every year, and I send them money as well.
The proposed cuts of 2016 for the FWSO may seem inconsequential by itself. Someone really can live on $50,000/year in North Texas in 2017, right? Perhaps they can. These days my salary covers all of my financial obligations, but I LIVE on what I make outside the symphony. So, perhaps that question is just too simplistic. When the Fort Worth household median income in 2014 was $59,530, my FWSO salary was almost $5,000 below that. A 2017 salary of $50,000 only widens the gap.
How do these proposed additional cuts affect me? How do I, a hard-working individual who financially helps my children and parents, manage to get ahead on $50,000/year? I live and work day-to-day. I am proud of what I have accomplished, but my story is not an unusual one. I am not alone with the financial realities I have faced. And I would make the same decisions if I had it to do it over again. In the end though, I guess people just have different views on how much $5,000 really is to a person.
(c) Slipped Disc
Her wonderfully composed television interview with Bernard Gavoty has been published with English titles.
She is Juliette Bausor, signed from the Royal Northern Sinfonia in Gateshead, where she was principal for 11 years.
A former National Youth Orchestra member, she also plays principal flute with the London Mozart Players.
Fort Worth is on strike. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are beck-pedalling desperately to achieve some kind of back-dated agreement.
Far from the metropolitan limelight, the Pacific Symphony has joined the post-deadliners.
As of Thursday, the Pacific Symphony’s musicians have no contract. Negotiations between representatives from Local 7 of the American Federation of Musicians and symphony management ended on Aug. 31, the day the last contract expired, without an agreement.
“This is very disappointing. We started bargaining on July 12, and we’ve put in more than 60 hours at the table,” said Adam Neeley, a violist with the Pacific Symphony who has served as chairperson of the orchestra committee for the last year. “The musicians have made four contract proposals that we feel have been more than fair.”
It is widely accepted that Robert Schumann died of the effects of tertiary syphilis, a disease he contracted while very young, possibly from his father’s household maid.
Amid renewed discussion of Schumann’s condition, Dr George Dunea, editor of the Hektoen journal of medical humanities, gives an up-to-date assessment of the evidence.
Schumann’s illness has given rise to considerable controversy, continuing even after his medical records emerged in 1991 and were published in 2006. His history of mental illness was an embarrassment to the Nazi authorities, whose laws mandated compulsive sterilization of schizophrenics and manic-depressives, giving rise to the claim that he had hypertension leading to vascular dementia. But surviving records indicate otherwise. In his diary he wrote that ”in 1831 I was syphilitic and treated with arsenic.” It has been postulated that he may been infected as a student. Less credibly, that he caught the infection from his sister (who had a chronic skin disease and mental problems) perhaps by contact with wet towels or sharp objects – so-called syphilis innocens.
Drifting aimlessly since Ronald Wilford’s death, Columbia Artists Management International, the biggest classical agency, has been subject to various takeover and slimdown reports.
On Friday, we hear, it shut down the entire CAMI Theatricals Department. All staff were let go. The only survivor is Gary McAvay, who led the group.
Further cuts are expected.
We are saddened to report the death of Basil (Nick) Tschaikov, former Director of the National Centre for Orchestral Studies and for many years a stalwart of London’s orchestral scene.
Nick, who died on Wednesday, had been fading away unhappily in a nursing home. He was 91.
As second clarinet of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1943-47) and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1947-55), Nick was a member of the Thomas Beecham elite. Even after he moved on to the Philharmonia Orchestra, where he served for a while as chairman, he continued to rise to Sir Thomas’s magic and played, in fact, in the old man’s final concert in May 1960.
He went on to become Director of the National Centre for Orchestral Studies and a wonderful teacher.
Here‘s a memoir by the rock musician Rick Wakeman:
My clarinet professor, a wonderful man called Basil Tchaikov, a fabulous player. I went to his lesson one day and he said “What’s troubling you?” And I told him. I said “I don’t know what to do. I’ve got a real problem. I’m doing all these sessions. I’m learning an awful lot. I’m playing with all sorts of different people. The doors are really opening for me in that area. But I’m now getting offered so many sessions that it’s starting to interfere. I’ve been skipping a few lectures, things I haven’t been able to get to. I just don’t know what to do.” I said “I’m frightened if I finish the course, which is another year and a bit, then those doors might close.” He said to me, “What you need to do is go and empty your locker. Walk out of the Royal College Of Music. Walk across the road.” Right opposite the Royal College Of Music is the Royal Albert Hall. He said “Walk up the stairs of the Royal Albert Hall. Do not look back. Walk around the Royal Albert Hall and go That’s where I want to be. That’s my next step.” And I said “Yeah!” And he said “And don’t come back.”
Nick’s autobiography, The Music Goes Round and Round is fully readable now online. It appears that both of his grandfathers were Jewish musicians. One was second clarinet in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
He is seen here in 1978 with the Philharmonia’s music director, Riccardo Muti and its financial supporter Ian Stoutzker.