As of today, Airberlin has posted on its website that you can carry small instruments, apparently including violins, free of charge as cabin baggage.

Here’s the wording:

Following registration, musical instruments with maximum dimensions of 86 cm x 33 cm x 19 cm (including instrument case and/or bag) and a maximum weight of 8 kg may be transported in the aircraft cabin in place of hand baggage. For larger instruments, it is mandatory to book an extra seat through our Service Centre!

Here’s the link in case you need to show it to a recalcitrant check-in agent.

They used to be the worst of airlines. Let’s see if they mean what they say this time. (They have gone back on their pledge before.)


Pittsburgh Symphony COO Christian Schörnich is today trying to play down the letter he sent to striking musicians, reserving the right to replace them if the strike continued.

Schörnich said the letter, published in, had been written by the company legal counsel – did he not read it before it went out? – and that he had no intention of replacing musicians.

‘I don’t want to even go there,’ he told the local paper. ‘There’s no intention behind this.’

So why did he sign the letter?


The Canadian early music ensemble Les Violons du Roy has named Jonathan Cohen to succeed its founder, Bernard Labadie, who has stepped down.

Cohen, 39, associate director of William Christie’s Les Arts Florissants, took over a tour for Labadie two years ago. He is founder-director of Arcangelo and artistic partner of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. Labadie has welcomed his appointment ‘with great pleasure.’

Jonathan Cohen, Conductor Photo: Marco Borggreve

The Mayor of Berlin announced today that he ad signed a new music director and general manager for the philharmonic orchestra. Release follows.



New General Manager for the Berliner Philharmoniker

Contract signing of Kirill Petrenko and Andrea Zietzschmann

The chairman of the board of trustees, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, today signed the contracts with Kirill Petrenko as chief conductor, and Andrea Zietzschmann as general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. Kirill Petrenko will take up his position on 19 August 2019.

In the spring of last year, the Berliner Philharmoniker elected Kirill Petrenko as successor to Sir Simon Rattle who will leave the post in 2018. The orchestral and cultural manager Andrea Zietzschmann will become the new general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation on 1 September 2017, taking over the position from Martin Hoffmann who is leaving at his own request.

The Governing Mayor Michael Müller: “I am delighted that we have succeeded today in signing the contracts of both Kirill Petrenko and Andrea Zietzschmann. We now have two internationally very well-connected, innovative and creative personalities at our side for the future work of the Berliner Phiharmoniker. In Andrea Zietzschmann, who takes up her position in 2017, a highly experienced cultural and orchestra manager will become the general manager of the most important orchestra in Germany. This forward-looking personnel decision has the full support of the orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle and Kirill Petrenko.”

Kirill Petrenko, future chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “I am delighted that Andrea Zietzschmann is to be the new general manager of the Berliner Philharmonker. She is very personable and as a result of many years of experience with various orchestras, she knows best how a musician’s soul functions. As such, Andrea Zietzschmann is perfectly equipped for the task.”

Knut Weber for the orchestra board: “We orchestra musicians are also looking forward to working with Andrea Zietzschmann. In addition to her wide-ranging experience in challenging management positions, she has proven skills and imagination in the development and planning of concert programmes. Moreover, we also share the experience of working closely together with Claudio Abbado at the same time. We look forward to a fruitful future and another exciting chapter in the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker.”

Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “Andrea Zietzschmann has a remarkable portfolio of experience dealing both with large institutions and the delicacies of a self-governing orchestra. She is knowledgeable, smart and tough, all qualities which she will need in this famously demanding and difficult job. I am delighted to welcome her to the Berliner Philharmoniker family!”

Andrea Zietzschmann on her new position: “I see it as a great pleasure and privilege to accompany the work of the Berliner Philharmoniker from September 2017. I look forward to working with Sir Simon Rattle – and also to shaping the future of this extraordinary orchestra at the side of Kirill Petrenko and the musicians.”

Kirill Petrenko, born in Omsk, Russia in 1972, moved with his family to the Austrian Vorarlberg in 1990 when his father found a job as a violinist with the local symphony orchestra. In 1995, Kirill Petrenko made his debut as an opera conductor with this orchestra at just 23 years of age. When he was 30, Petrenko came to Berlin where he was music director of the Komische Oper Berlin from 2002 to 2007. He appeared as a guest conductor with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Petrenko has been general music director of the Bayerische Staastsoper since 2013.

Andrea Zietzschmann, born in 1970, studied musicology, business administration and art history in Freiburg, Vienna and Hamburg. While graduating with a Master of Arts, she worked in parallel with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. In 1997, she founded the Mahler Chamber Orchestra together with Claudio Abbado, and worked for six years as general manager of the ensemble. In 2003, she became the orchestra manager at Hessischer Rundfunk (HR), and in 2008, took on the role of head of music at HR, including responsibility for the broadcaster’s orchestras and festivals. Since September 2013, she has been manager of the four Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestras and is head of NDR’s orchestral, choral and concert activities.



We’re hearing that Allison Vulgamore, president and chief executive officer of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, was nowhere to be seen while talks with the musicians were heading for crisis.

In fact, she’d left the business of negotiating to deputies and kept postponing meetings with the player.

Negotiations did not start until late August when the musicians were in Saratoga Springs. The only deal her eam put on the table was a 5-year contract with percentage increases of 0, 0, 1, 1, 1.

Vulgarmore’s deps had no power to improve on that. So the musicians went on strike.

Panic ensued.

In less than two days, Vulgamore came up with an offer of of 2 percent in year one, and 2.5 percent rises in each of years two and three. The musicians quickly accepted by a 73 to 11 vote. It was a respectable offer. They would have accepted it months ago.


There was never any need for a strike. It was caused by bad management.




An orchestra titled Symphony Musicians of Fort Worth are playing in the pit this week for Texas Ballet Theater’s production of Carmen.

That’s unusual.  What happened is that the Fort Worth Symphony and the musicians discreetly agreed to allow third-party hires during the wage strike. Special dispensation was also given in to keep Miguel Harth-Bedoya on the ballet podium. Texas Ballet Theater plans to increase its budget by 50%. Who knows, maybe the enlarged ballet will offer the musicians a better deal.


FWSO musicians at ballet (c) 

Less happily, the striking musicians found that Bass Hall has padlocked their lockers and scraped off their names.

Just mean.

The St Paul Chamber Orchestra has filled 22 out of 28 permanent posts with the recruitment of Curtis grad Eunice Kim, a lifer who has been playing professionally since her debut aged seven with the Korean broadcast orchestra.

Last week, St Paul signed Francisco Fullana with the title of principal violin.


Onward and upward.

Dutch National Opera has kicked off a video campaign, You Don’t Know Opera, aimed at persuading young people that opera should be part of their lives and that opera people are, really, quite normal.

The first release introduces Frank Engel, professional tenor and amateur boxer.

Book your ringside seat here:


One year into his contract, the NHK symphony orchestra have asked Paavo Järvi to extend it by three years, to 2021.

Paavo says: ‘I have enjoyed my first season with the NHK Symphony Orchestra immensely and am delighted to extend the contract knowing that I will have the opportunity to work with these fine musicians over an extended period of time. We have much to look forward to in the upcoming year including both our first European tour in Spring 2017 and our first CD release with a focus on the orchestra works of Richard Strauss. This season is especially important as the orchestra celebrates its 90th birthday and tonight we celebrate an additional birthday by having the honour to perform as a part of Suntory Hall’s 30th anniversary celebrations here in Tokyo.’


The family have announced the death of Neil Kristof Ertz, the Edinburgh violin maker. He was 50 years old.

It is with profound sadness that we must share the news of Neil’s passing today, Wednesday 5th October. Neil suffered from a ruptured aneurysm on Monday and had been in hospital on life support since then. He left us today peacefully, surrounded by his family.