press release:

Berlin, Germany- Seventy-eight years after Kristallnacht, Berlin is bringing back the sounds of Jewish liturgy, which were silenced during the Holocaust, to Europe’s most important and prestigious concert hall. On November 2, 2016 at 8 p.m., the Berlin Philharmonic Hall hosted “Jewish New Years Concert” with cantors Netanel Hershtik and Avraham Kirshenbaum.

“This is the first time in the history of the Berlin Philharmonic Hall in which cantors will perform Jewish liturgy and this is a great message,” said Netanel Hershtik, cantor of the prestigious Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, New York. “The German people are expressing their remorse for the actions of their ancestors and it’s most appropriate to bring the music that was silenced and celebrate it in Europe’s most important musical venue.”

The concert featured Cantor Netanel Hershtik of New York and Cantor Avremi Kirshenboim of Jerusalem, who was accompanied by the Orchester Jakobsplatz München, conducted by Daniel Grossmann.

Orchester Jakobsplatz München, Jüdisches Neujahrskonzert, Kantorenkonzert, 2. November 2016 im Kammermusiksaal Philharmonie Berlin
 Netanel Hershtik, Kantor Avraham Kirshenbaum, Kantor Richard C. Schneider, Moderation Daniel Grossmann, Dirigent Copyright (C) Thomas Aurin Gleditschstr. 45, D-10781 Berlin Tel.:+49 (0)30 2175 6205 Mobil.:+49 (0)170 2933679 Veröffentlichung nur gegen Honorar zzgl. 7% MWSt. und Belegexemplar Steuer Nr.: 11/18/213/52812, UID Nr.: DE 170 902 977 Commerzbank, BLZ: 810 80 000, Konto-Nr.: 316 030 000 SWIFT-BIC: DRES DE FF 810, IBAN: DE07 81080000 0316030000

Note: The old Philharmonie hall was destroyed by British bombing in 1944. The new Philharmonie opened in 1963. No chazan sang in either since 1933.

CBS has a report on Dorian Rence, a member of the Philharmonic violas for 40 years who looks after abandoned cats in her spare time. They have made a documentary about her double life.

“Feral Love” is being screened as part of DOC NYC, America’s Largest Documentary Festival.  It will be shown at the IFC Center on Sixth Avenue on Friday, November 11th at 1pm and Thursday, November 16th at 7:15pm.

Click here for tix.


‘I hope some of (my fellow players) will catch it,’ she says.

Robert Trevino, 32, has been named principal conductor of the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra in San Sebastian, capital of the Basque region of Spain.

He succeeds Jun Märkl next September.

Trevino, from Fort Worth, has only conducted the Basque orchestra twice.


Chris Millard is leaving after 16 years, and a certain amount of internal executive reshuffling. Monday’s always the best day to submit one’s resignation. Gets the week off to the right start.

Here’s his farewell note:


Dear Colleagues

I am in the unusual position of having to make an announcement about myself for once.  I am delighted to have been offered a new position at the Royal College of Art as their first ever Director of Marketing and Communications. The RCA has ambitious plans for both a physical and academic expansion over the next five years and, operating  in the challenging international environment all of us in the creative and cultural  industries find ourselves, they were searching for somebody to assist them in realising these plans, and I am delighted to say they found me.

I start at the RCA in mid-January, and  will finish here after the opening of Der Rosenkavalier on Saturday 17 December.

A big thank you to all  for making the sixteen years here a truly rewarding  experience, and special thanks to the press & communications team here, especially Elizabeth Bell, Hywel David, Ann Richards and Ashley Woodfield who await your calls, emails and texts as normal.

I hope very much our paths will continue to cross in the future.


All best wishes



royal opera house covent garden

Two weeks ago we reported that the Heath Quartet had called off a US tour for unspecified ‘personal reasons’.

Today, violinist Cerys Jones has posted the following:

Seven  years ago, I stepped onto the stage of the Wigmore Hall for the first time, to perform my first official concert as a member of the Heath Quartet.

In a week’s time, I will perform my last concert as a member of the Heath Quartet.

I look back on the last 7 years with pride: it has been a huge privilege to be part of such a wonderful string quartet, and I will always love Ollie, Garyand Chris like family.

I am stepping down to pursue new musical collaborations that allow me to be a better mother to Harry and Scarlett. As a violinist, being in a successful string quartet is as good as it gets, but it has come with huge sacrifices for my family. As I look forward to a new musical chapter in my life I wish Ollie, Gary and Chris all the love and best wishes in the world, as they start their new chapter with the Heath Quartet. For all those who have shown fantastic support for the quartet during my time, I want to say a huge thank you – I will join you in continuing to support the quartet from the sidelines rather than from the stage.


Cerys assures us that the two events are unconnected.

Jasper Hope, former CEO of the Royal Albert Hall, is running the new opera house in Dubai.

Last week he booked a series with the BBC Proms.

Today, he’s importing Welsh National Opera (see press release below).



Welsh National Opera to Perform Madam Butterfly and La bohème at Dubai Opera in March 2017

Dubai Opera is proud to host the renowned Welsh National Opera (WNO) for the first time at the stunning venue in March next year (2017).

Performing two of the world’s most beloved Giacomo Puccini operas; Madam Butterfly from 2nd – 4th March followed by La bohème from 9th – 11th March, tickets will go on sale for all performances on 9 November at 9am. We are delighted that these performances are part of UK/UAE 2017, a year of Creative Collaboration led by the British Council, who are also supporting a programme of learning activities with Welsh National Opera.  This will involve WNO working with schools and colleges across Dubai, where young people will have the chance to take part in workshops and masterclasses with WNO singers and orchestral players and will get to see behind the scenes of an opera company at open rehearsals.  WNO will also be offering ‘Come and Sing’ workshops where anyone who enjoys singing can get involved, and a special Access All Arias – a pop-up opera event taking place in public spaces.

Our friend the pianist and videographer Zsolt Bognar did his civic duty this weekend in some of the most deprived areas of his hometown. Not many musicians venture this far off the beaten track. Here’s Zsolt’s report:


(I thank Mr. Norman Lebrecht for publishing my story of canvassing with large teams of volunteers in the poorest and most dangerous communities in Cleveland. I’m doing it to get out the vote, but also to examine what it means to be a musician and an American in today’s world—with the hopes of adding to the growing number of people joining the effort. In the 2004 election, this state of Ohio was the last to be declared, as the tipping point in the entire neck-and-neck national election. Had 12 more votes been received per precinct, the state would have gone in the opposite direction. And it all came down to a wait on the count of votes here in Cuyahoga County. ZB)
The great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter stated in an interview for the Hungarian press–in typically contradictory fashion–that he saw his artistic duty as the same thing as his patriotic duty. Elsewhere throughout his life, Richter never hesitated to say he had no interest in politics or other worldly matters. And yet, during the 872-day seige of Leningrad, he dodged shelling and crossed front lines to play for wounded Russian troops in hospitals, and for starving citizens in freezing halls.

Here in Cleveland—a representative cross-section of a country in the midst of a tumultuous political climate and election season—I have often wondered about the role of a musician in the world today. Is art intertwined with politics? In most cases, the answer throughout history was yes: look at Beethoven’s fervent fascination with Napoleon and the birth of the “Eroica” Symphony, for example, or Wagner’s exile from Germany for his participation in a failed 1849 uprising in Dresden. Leonard Bernstein famously declared after the assassination of President Kennedy that a musician’s reply to violence and world events is to play music with renewed intensity, beauty, and devotion. But is that really enough? Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was allegedly involved with the Italian resistance in the capacity of fighter pilot. After the war, Alfred Cortot and Willem Mengelberg were scrutinized for their allegiances, and others were criticized for remaining silent in the face of injustice.

I believe that with the elections on Tuesday America is at a crossroads in every way. Not only do they have implications for the future of the country, but also for the moral character of its citizens, and the values we choose to uphold as Americans and in the world. I have shared in the national anxiety surrounding the rise of extremist voices, and I found myself volunteering with many people in small teams to knock on doors in Cleveland’s Hough and Glenville neighborhoods, and nearby East Cleveland .

One hundred years ago, Cleveland was the sixth largest city in the country, and home to the greatest wealth outside of New York City—the same wealth that established such great institutions as the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and our nationally-recognized universities, hospitals, and parks. The Hough district was exclusive, white, and wealthy, and house concerts in the neighborhood hosted performances by such artists as Enrico Caruso, Amelita Galli-Curci, and Mischa Elman. Glenville was largely a white and Jewish resort community. East Cleveland was home to John D. Rockefeller’s sprawling Forest Hill Estate—where he took violin lessons during visits from the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.


Today, these are decimated and devastated communities. I wonder how many of my friends in University Circle know the extent of the poverty that exists just one mile from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Hough carries the shadow of the fiery and violent racial riots of 1966, and became the poster-child for national white flight from cities to the suburbs. Glenville followed two years later with a two-day shootout between the Cleveland Police Department and the Black Nationalists of New Libya, a Black Power group. East Cleveland was recently reported as Ohio’s poorest city, half of whose residents did not own a vehicle—a potential difficulty in mobilizing votes. Amidst fears and allegations of voter suppression and closed polling locations, I had heard from friends that driving citizens to the polls and knocking on doors to mobilize the vote with correct information are effective ways to ensure the democratic process of the nation.

In the neighborhoods I canvassed, I noticed that half of the houses were boarded up, demolished, or otherwise vacant and rotting. I felt as though I had arrived in post-Katrina New Orleans—a wasteland of despair, with hints of a storied past. Knowing these areas are centers of violence and murders related to drugs and gang activity, I made a decision to go anyway. I was far from alone. Americans from around the country had flown in to join to get out the vote in swing states. Energetic, fearless, empathetic, and passionate folks, whose energy was inspiring.

In the past year, we have seen the rise of a demagogue who openly marginalizes and antagonizes significant portions of the American people, with plenty of support behind him. I decided that on Election Night on Tuesday, November 8, I would not be able to sleep unless I did everything I possibly could to stand up for what I feel is right. I teamed up with two incredible partners for the day—Nora, a librarian from New York who has traveled across the country to do this in as many states as possible, and Anne, a retired inner-city schoolteacher from Cleveland Heights.

To my great surprise, most of the people who answered the door had proudly already voted. “Of course we have—you better believe it!” they announced. Most were aware of what is at stake in this election. Some were not familiar with where their polling locations were. Some greeted me with election-fatigued suspicion, but most were incredibly sweet and grateful to have an audience with somebody willing to listen to their stories. They told me of their wish for a better life, and how hard they are working to try for their families: long shifts and multiple jobs, and a bleak and hopeless future for upward mobility. We heard stories of loss, drug addictions, and prison time.



There were some surprises: an entire family saw us coming (contrasting with the neighbors, their house was well-maintained, and a Mercedes stood in the driveway), lined up on the porch, and chanted at us with fervent anger: “LOCK HER UP!! LOCK HER UP!!” Our team had to discuss why this was not surprising. A group of young men pointed and laughed at us, watching us from an attic window and hiding behind curtains. During lunch break in McDonald’s on St. Claire Avenue, our spot to recharge was full of locals—all minorities. It was mostly quiet until a young man in his 20s had his phone ringer go off—Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

Musicians are as passionate about the world they inhabit as any people I know. The film series I host, Elyria Pictures’ “Living the Classical Life”, has been examining the lives of musicians and their world with an increasing bent towards human interest and the artist’s relationship and engagement with the world and current events. We rushed our latest release featuring American operatic soprano Deborah Voigt as our further contribution to the dialogue of what is at stake. Ms. Voigt speaks with emotional candor about her musical successes, and goes into detail about her struggles with weight and addiction. At a time in which the public political figure in question engages in unabashed fat-shaming of women as definition of self-worth, we try to take a stand in portraying an incredible woman whose distinguished career and contributions go far beyond issues of appearance.

I have intelligent friends on both sides of the political spectrum. This election has been an exercise in patience, listening, and searching for the humanity behind the labels and differences. It is my belief that we as Americans can take the passion from our lives and work—including we as musicians—and contribute to this dialogue with our art, our civil rhetoric, and our actions in our neighborhoods. I hope many people will join in the process of canvassing on Monday and Tuesday, to make sure that as many people as possible vote and use their democratic voices, and build the best and most civil country and world for our children to inherit.

report and photos (c) Zsolt Bognar/

The Berlin Phil has announced its final US tour with its outgoing music director (see press release below).

Sad as that may be, two US orchestras are (we hear) showing interest in his downtime – especially if his London music directorship is foreshortened by the lack of a new concert hall.

Berliner Philharmoniker Embark on Last North American Tour with Sir Simon Rattle as Chief Conductor

Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle on Tour from 7 to 25 November with Eleven Concerts in Seven Cities in the US and Canada

The Berliner Philharmoniker set out on their last North American tour with Simon Rattle as Chief Conductor today. During eleven concerts in seven cities in the US and Canada they will play works by Anton Webern, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler and Pierre Boulez.

rattle screen grab